Prelude The Middle Ages produced two distinct bodies of song: – Sacred songs – Secular songs
Sacred Songs Sacred songs, known as plainchant or Gregorian chant – An important element in the worship service (liturgy) of the Western Christian church – Used for prayer and praise
Secular Songs Secular songs: courtly and elite or traditional and popular – Both communicated feelings and provided entertainment. – They celebrated heroes, voiced protest, and expressed love.
Common qualities – Monophonic texture – Each originated in oral traditions and was performed by memory – Chants and courtly songs were eventually written down.
Early Christian Music
Coming from Jewish roots, it spread throughout the Roman Empire. Over time, the music changed and was expanded, while the texts remained relatively stable. Theorists classified chants into church modes.
Music outside of church Music accompanied medieval dramas, both sacred and secular. Troubadours and trouvères wrote refined poetry and songs in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
WESTERN CHRISTIAN CHANT AND LITURGY
Chant and Liturgy Liturgy is the texts and rituals that make up a sacred service.
Chant and Liturgy Purposes – Glorify God and the saints – Teach the Gospels – Exhort worshippers along the path of salvation
Chant and Liturgy The texts are prescribed by the church calendar. Much of each service remains the same every day, but some texts are unique to the specific day.
Chant and Liturgy Readings from the Bible are at the core of the two principal types of services. – The Office centers on readings of the psalms. – The Mass includes readings, prayers, and a ritualistic commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus.
Eight services celebrated daily – Members of monasteries and convents structured their day around these services. – The Rule of Saint Benedict (ca. 530) codified practices for monastic life. – The most important services are Matins and Vespers.
Musical elements Several psalms, each with an antiphon (chant melody) sung before and after the psalm Lessons (biblical readings) with a musical response called a Responsory Hymns Canticles (poems from the Bible, but not from the Book of Psalms) Prayers
The Mass The Mass is the most important service in the Roman church. The central ritual is a symbolic reenactment of Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples.
The Mass Structure – Introductory prayers – Instructional: readings from the Old and New Testaments – Eucharist: bread and wine are consecrated and distributed
The Mass The Proper of the Mass has variable texts. – Introit – Collects – Epistle – Gradual – Alleluia – Offertory – Communion
The Mass The Ordinary of the Mass has unchanging texts. – Kyrie – Gloria – Credo – Sanctus – Agnus Dei – Ite, missa est
The emergence of a standard repertory of chant Fourth to eighth centuries – Chants were learned by rote, a process called oral transmission. – This transmission has been the subject of continued study and debate. – The process led to much change and variation of repertory.
The emergence of a standard repertory of chant Eighth and ninth centuries – Frankish kings, including Charlemagne, promoted a uniform liturgy. – Rudimentary systems of musical notation were developed. – Trained missionaries traveled north to stabilize the repertory.
The emergence of a standard repertory of chant A legend was spread that Saint Gregory created the music from divine inspiration, leading to its name: Gregorian chant.
The emergence of a standard repertory of chant After the ninth century, all of the important musical developments occurred north of the Alps – Christian centers were established in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, and Switzerland. – The monastery at Saint Gall in Switzerland was the birthplace of many new forms of chants.
GENRES AND FORMS OF CHANT
Genres and Forms of Chant Chants can be classified according to several criteria: – Text – Manner of performance – Text setting
Genres and Forms of Chant Text – Biblical or non-biblical – Prose or poetry Manner of performance – Antiphonal: sung by alternating choirs – Responsorial: choir responds to soloist – Direct: sung by choir
Genres and Forms of Chant Text setting – Syllabic: one note per syllable – Melismatic: many notes per syllable – Neumatic: between two and seven notes on occasional syllables
Chant melodies Types – Simple recitations of text – Fully developed melodies – Many chants use both types.
Chant melodies Treatment of text – Texts can be sung simply or ornately. – Musical contours often reflect how the words are pronounced. – Highly ornate chants tend to disregard the natural accents of words. – Repetition of words occurs only where it exists in the text. – Emotional or pictorial effects are rare.
Chant melodies Melodic contour – Phrases and periods correspond to the text. – Many phrases are in arch form; they begin low, rise, and then descend.
Forms Psalm recitation – Two balanced phrases alternate. – These phrases correspond to the two halves of a psalm verse. Strophic – The same melody is sung to several stanzas of text. – Found in hymns
Forms Free form – Can be entirely original in content – Can also incorporate some traditional melodic formulas
Trope Tropes expand existing chants in three ways. – New words and music before the chant or between phrases – Extending melismas or adding new ones – Adding text to existing melismas – The first of these was the most common, particularly with Introits.
Trope Purpose – Increase the solemnity of a chant – Help interpret the significance of an occasion
Trope Tropes flourished in monasteries in the tenth and eleventh centuries. – Tuotilo (d. 915), a monk from St. Gall, was known for his tropes. – Eventually, the Council of Trent banned tropes.
Sequence Sequences probably began as text additions to the jubilus in Alleluias, but became independent compositions. Notker Balbulus (ca. 840–912) from St. Gall was a prominent composer. Sequences were banned by the Council of Trent except for five, including Dies irae from the Requiem Mass and Victimae paschali laudes
Hildegard of Bingen Women were excluded from religious musicmaking everywhere but in convents.
Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard (1098–1179) was a prioress and abbess of her own convent. – She achieved great success as a writer and composer. – Her visions became famous. – Her music was known locally and was rediscovered only in the late twentieth century.
Hildegard of Bingen Ordo virtutum (The Virtues, ca. 1151) – Hildegard’s most extended musical work – A sacred music drama comprising eightytwo songs – Hildegard wrote both the melodies and the poetic verse. – A morality play with allegorical characters – All sing plainchant except the Devil, who can only speak.
Hildegard of Bingen The final chorus of Ordo virtutum – Functions as an epilogue – Incorporates Hildegard’s characteristic melodic motives, such as a rising fifth from e–b’ – The play ends with a prose speech by Christ followed by a short prayer.
MEDIEVAL MUSIC THEORY AND PRACTICE
Modes By the eleventh century, a theoretical system with eight modes, or toni, was established. – Each mode was defined by a sequence of half and whole steps in a diatonic octave. – The finalis, or final, of the mode was usually the last note in the melody.
Modes The modes were numbered and grouped in pairs. – Authentic modes: odd numbers – Plagal modes: even numbers
Modes Each mode has a characteristic note called the tenor or reciting tone. The modes were given Greek names.
Solmization Guido of Arezzo (ca. 991–after 1033) devised a set of syllables to use in sight singing: ut–re– mi–fa–sol–la. This pattern of six notes, called a hexachord, could begin on C, G, or F. This system is known as solmization.
Solmization The “Guidonian Hand” was created as a visual aid. – Each joint stood for one of the twenty notes of the system. – Teachers pointed to joints of the fingers to teach their students intervals.
Notation In early notation, signs called neumes were placed above the words. Later, a single horizontal line was drawn on the parchment around which neumes were placed, thereby suggesting relative pitch. In the eleventh century, Guido developed an arrangement of lines and spaces that evolved into the modern staff.