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Gregorian Chant and The Beginnings of Polyphony: from Ars Antigua to Ars Nova.

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Presentation on theme: "Gregorian Chant and The Beginnings of Polyphony: from Ars Antigua to Ars Nova."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gregorian Chant and The Beginnings of Polyphony: from Ars Antigua to Ars Nova

2 Icon of Blessed Virgin Mary Icon of Blessed Virgin Mary Byzantine The religious music of the Roman Catholic Church was borrowed from:  Byzantium (now Istanbul) contributed hymns (songs of praise).  Ambrosian Chant (Milan) contributed antiphonal singing.  Gallican chant (France);  Mozarabic chant (Spain). Pope Gregory the Great (6 th Century) is said to have been responsible for unifying this chant into a body of Christian music which would be used throughout the Christian empire for over a thousand years. The standardization of the chant and the shift from improvisation to composedmusic required the development of musical notation. Source: History of Western Music, Miller and Cockrell Gregorian Chant

3  Monophonic  Modal  A cappella  Non-metric (uses free/flexible prose rhythms)  Melodically conjunct  Limited range  Sung in Latin  Written in neumatic notation Gregorian chant remains among the most spiritually moving and profound music in western culture. An idea of its pure, floating melody can be heard in the following musical example. Source: History of Western Music, Miller & Cockrell Characteristics of Gregorian Chant

4 The main function of chant is to enhance the meaning of the church liturgy. This chant is from the mass for Christmas Day. The melodies of these Gregorian Chants were the main melodic sources for much of the music written during the next thousand years. (Cantus Firmus) Nave of Chartres Cathedral Gregorian Chant: Introit: Puer natus est nobisPuer natus est nobis

5 Sometime during the ninth century, Church composers began experimenting with the idea of having two melodic lines sung simultaneously at parallel intervals, usually at the fourth, fifth, or octave. The resulting hollow-sounding music was called organum. By the eleventh century, two or even three melodic lines were no longer moving in parallel motion, but contrary to each other, sometimes even crossing. The original chant melody was sung very slowly on long held notes called the tenor (from the Latin tenere, meaning to hold), and the added melodies were woven around and embellished the tenor. Music History 102 Music History 102 Notre Dame and the Ars Antiqua: Organum

6 Alleluia Justus ut Palma Alleluia Justus ut Palma (2:31) The strict organum (vocal harmony part) here is composed in parallel and contrary motion, mainly using the intervals of the 4 th, 5 th, and octave. The composer had discovered that moving from a sixth to an octave or from a third to a unison was an effective device. This piece demonstrates the origins of harmony and polyphony (more than one musical line played at the same time.) North Trancept Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral Organum (c.1100)

7 This music thrived at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and much later became known as the Ars Antiqua, or the "old art." The two composers at Notre Dame especially known for composing in this style are Léonin (fl. ca ), who composed organum for two voices, or motets, and his successor Pérotin (fl. early13th century), whose organum included three and even four voices. Pérotin's music is an excellent example of this very early form of polyphony (music for two or more simultaneously sounding voices), as can be heard in his setting of Sederunt principes.Sederunt principes Notre Dame Ars Antigua

8 (Melismatic Organum) Alleluia Alleluia by Leonin ( ) (0:59) GIOTTO, Madonna Enthroned, ca This excerpt demonstrates how plainchant settings were embellished in the 12 th c. by one of the first ascribed composers. An elongated form of the plainchant melody (the ‘tenor’) can be heard in the notes of the lower part. This emphasis on two dimensions in music can be compared with the flat painting style of Giotto. Organum Duplum

9 Salve, salus hominem Salve, salus hominem (0:58) In this motet (a piece of choral music in several parts) the different voices actually sing different texts. This elaborate motet demonstrates developments in polyphony: three separate voices sing away only linked rhythmically. The deliberate horizontal organization of the motet reflects the horizontal social organization of the time: more international than national, dominated by the Church, by Latin, and by the separate classes of feudal society. (Boyden 141) North Tower of Chartres Cathedral Motet by Leonin ( )

10 Jeu de Robin et de Marion Jeu de Robin et de Marion (1284) by Adam de la Halle This is a monophonic song with simple instrumental accompaniment: a drone and a melody doubled by lute and flute. Yet it is sung in French, the vernacular of the people not the prevailing Latin of sacred music. Its rhythms are varied. It celebrates the cult and code of chivalric love. (Boyden 144) The song comes from a secular musical play and was composed by Adam de la Halle, the last of the famous French wandering troubadours.troubadours (2:31) Images of Robin Hood through the Ages Secular Song: The Troubadours

11 by Gillaume Machaut (ca ) Rondeau: Rose, liz, printemps, verdure part onepart one, part two, part threepart twopart three LIMBOURG BROTHERS detail from Novemebr, from Les Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, This secular song uses the triple meter of the dance from which it is derived. The four vocal parts here are melodically and rhythmically independent. There is greater use here of the intervals of the 3 rd and 6 th (previously the 4 th and 5 th dominated) which gives the piece a sweeter, more harmonious and ‘modern’ sound. Machaut, the preeminent composer of the day, wrote both secular and sacred music and was also well known for his masses and motets. Secular Song

12 Mass: Agnus Dei: part one, part two, part threepart one part twopart three (2:48) by Gillaume de Machaut (c.1360) This is a four-part polyphonic setting of the Agnus Dei from Machaut’s Messe de Notre Dame. It is one of the earliest polyphonic settings of the mass. Note the more varied melodies and rhythms incorporated from secular dances. This piece features ‘isorhythmic structures’, long repeated rhythmic patterns (or talea) that had their origins in Indian classical music. (an indication of burgeoning international trade.) Jamb Figures Chartres Cathedral Ars Nova


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