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Music History I

Polyphony through the Thirteenth Century

Patrick Donnelly
Montana State University

Spring 2013

Patrick Donnelly (Montana State University)

Music History I

Spring 2013

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Rise of the Church


The church prospered during a period of economic growth for Europe between 1050 and 1300. Donors funded new monasteries and convents. New religious orders were founded by St. Francis (Franciscans), St. Dominic (Dominicans), St. Clare, and others. Scholasticism sought to reconcile classical (Greek) philosophy with Christian doctrine. St. Anselm St. Thomas Aquinas

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Rise of the Church

Large church buildings were erected. Romanesque style in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries: Round arches in the style of the Roman basilica Frescoes and sculptures decorated the buildings. Gothic style from the mid-twelfth century onward Tall, spacious buildings with soaring vaults Slender columns Large stained-glass windows

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Polyphony
At rst, polyphony merely decorated chant in performance, much as medieval art decorated manuscripts and cathedrals. Polyphonic pieces added extra grandeur to chants. Its function as commentary on a chant resembled the process of troping. Advances in theory and notation made more elaborate genres possible. Precepts of later Western music were established with medieval polyphony. Counterpoint, the combination of multiple independent lines Harmony, the regulation of simultaneous sounds Notation Composition, distinct from performance
Patrick Donnelly (Montana State University) Music History I Spring 2013 4 / 43

Early Organum

Early Organum has it origins in performance. Drone: Singing or playing a melody against a sustained pitch The drone pitch may have been the modal nal, and sometimes the fth above as well, as they have been in European folk traditions. Doubling in parallel consonant intervals was probably common before it was explained in anonymous ninth-century treatises.

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Ninth-Century Organum
Described in Musica enchiriadis and Scolica enchiriadis Two or more voices singing different notes in agreeable combinations Used for several styles of polyphony from the ninth through the thirteenth centuries Parallel organum: Duplication of a chant melody (principal voice) An organal voice duplicates the chant melody in parallel motion a fth below. In medieval thought, fths were considered perfect and beautiful consonances. Either voice could be doubled at the octave

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Music History I

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Mixed Parallel and Oblique Organum


Adjustments were necessary to avoid tritones. When the chant includes e, the organal voice may not move below c. When the chant includes b, the organal voice may not move below g. The organal voice instead remains on one note while the chant voice moves (oblique motion). HWM Example 5.2, NAWM 14c, and HWM Figure 5.1 combine oblique and parallel motion. Cadences converge on the unison. These adjustments to parallelism opened the door for more independent polyphony.
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Eleventh-Century Polyphony

Guido of Arezzo described a range of choices in his Micrologus (ca. 1025-28), some of which could be written down instead of improvised. The Winchester Troper (early eleventh century): A manuscript from Winchester Cathedral in England Wulfstan of Winchester (. 992-996), cantor at the cathedral, was the likely composer. 174 organal voices for chant, composed rather than improvised

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Music History I

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Free Organum (Late Eleventh Century)


Ad organum faciendum (On Making Organum, ca. 1100) is a set of instructions with examples. Organal voice is now usually above the chant rather than below. Motion is note-against-note (one organal note for each chant note). Parallel, oblique, and contrary motion are allowed. Consonances remain the unison, fourth, fth, and octave. Cadences on the unison or octave, sometimes preceded by a third or sixth. Sung by soloists in solo portions of the Mass and Ofce Also sung in troped sections of the Mass Ordinary
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Aquitainian Polyphony: The Early Twelfth Century


The main sources: Three manuscripts once held in the Abbey of St. Martial in Limoges, in Aquitaine, and copied in Aquitainian notation The Codex Calixtinus, prepared in central France and brought to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain in 1173 The repertory: Settings of chant, including sequences, Benedicamus Domino melodies, and solo portions of responsorial chant Most of the works are versus

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Music History I

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Aquitainian Polyphony: The Early Twelfth Century


Two styles coexisted. Both styles could be used in the same work. Discant: Both parts move at about the same rate. One to three notes in the upper part for each note in the lower voice Florid organum: The lower voice moves more slowly than the upper voice. For each note in the lower voice the upper voice sings note groups of varying lengths. The lower voice is now called tenor (from the Latin tenere, to hold) because it holds the principal melody.

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Music History I

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Aquitainian Polyphony: Notation


Written in score notation with both voices written above the text. Alignment of the voices suggests both voices sang the words. Durations are not indicated, leaving many possibilities open. The tenor proceeds at a steady pace, with the upper voice speeding up or slowing down depending on the number of notes in the organal style. The upper voice proceeds at a steady pace, with the tenor sustaining its pitches in drone-like fashion. The upper voice uses a type of metered rhythm that was never notated or discussed in a treatise, and has therefore been lost to history

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Notre Dame Polyphony: Late Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries


Musicians associated with the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris developed a more ornate style of organum in the late twelfth century. The cathedral is one of the grandest cathedrals in the Gothic style and took almost a century to complete.: Foundations for the cathedral were laid in 1160. The rst Mass was celebrated in 1183. The fade was completed in 1250. The new repertorys decoration of the authorized chant paralleled the intricate decoration of the cathedral.

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Music History I

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Notre Dame Polyphony


The new repertory was the rst to be primarily composed and read from notation rather than improvised. The rhythmic modes: Notation in notegroups indicates patterns of long and short notes. The six modes use only longs (long notes) and breves (short notes) in repeating patterns.
The basic time unit (tempus, pl. tempora) is grouped in threes. Longs could equal two or three breves. Mode 1: LB Mode 2: BL Mode 3: L (three breves) B L Mode 4: B B (two breves) L (three breves) Mode 5: all three-breve longas Mode 6: all breves

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Notre Dame Polyphony

The rhythmic modes (contd): A thirteenth-century treatise attributed to Johannes de Garlandia describes the notation, though it was devised in the twelfth century. Ligatures, notegroups based on chant neumes, indicated which mode by the pattern of groupings.
A three-note ligature followed by a series of two-note ligatures signaled Mode 1. In modern transcriptions, ligatures are indicated by horizontal brackets over the notes.

A piece could change modes, preventing monotony.

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Music History I

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Magnus Liber Organi

Great Book of Organum A treatise from about 1285 known as Anonymous IV names two musicians associated with creating polyphony for Notre Dame: Leoninus (1150-ca. 1201) Perotinus (late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries) Anonymous IV was probably an English student working at Notre Dame in Paris, most likely in the 1270s or 1280s.

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Leoninus (1150 - ca.1201)

Also known as Lonin, Leonius, or Leo. He was a canon at Notre Dame and was afliated with a nearby monastery (St. Victor). He wrote poetic paraphrases of several books of the Bible.

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Perotinus (late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries)

Also known as Ptrotin or Petrotin the Great. He must have held an important position at the cathedral. He may have held a master of arts degree at the school that would become the University of Paris.

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Magnus Liber Organi

Anonymous IVs treatise credits Leoninus with compiling a great book of polyphony (Magnus liber organi) for use at the Notre Dame Cathedral. The original great book no longer exists. The contents survive in several later manuscripts. Other composers added to the repertory in the great book. For some chants, several polyphonic settings survive.

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Music History I

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Magnus Liber Organi

Organum in the style of Leoninus Sung in two voices Features two types of polyphony: organum and discant Only the portions of the chant performed by soloists were sung polyphonically. The choir sang the remaining portions in unison. Memorization of complex polyphony was aided by the use of formulas and repeating patterns of the rhythmic modes.

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Music History I

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Organum Style (Organum Purum)


The tenor sustains a chant melody in long notes, like a series of drones. The upper voice, called the duplum, sings expansive melismas, moving mostly stepwise. Cadences arrive on an octave, fth, or unison, and are followed by a rest. Dissonances sometimes occur and are even prolonged by the organal voice. The notation doesnt suggest any mode, but some performers and scholars have tried to apply the rhythmic modes to this style. Most settings are in organum style.
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Discant Style

Both voices move in modal rhythm. Discant style is generally applied to the long melismas of the chant. Cadences end on a unison, fth, or octave, and most longs are perfect consonances.

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Substitute Clausulae

Perotinus edited the Magnus liber and made many better clausulae. Clausulae is from the Latin word for a clause or phrase in a sentence. It was a self-contained section of an organum that closed with a cadence. Substitute clausulae replaced original polyphonic settings of a segment of chant. Most are in discant style.

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Music History I

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Substitute Clausulae

The tenor repeats a rhythmic motive based on a rhythmic mode. The tenor sometimes also repeats the melody over a much longer span of time. The repetition of rhythm and melody in the tenor would become signicant in later motets.

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Music History I

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Perotinus Organum
Perotinus and his contemporaries created organa for three or even four voices: Organum duplum: two-voice organum Organum triplum: three-voice organum Organum quadruplum: four-voice organum Voice names in ascending order from the tenor: duplum, triplum, quadruplum Upper voices: All use rhythmic modes, enabling exact coordination among them. They move in similar ranges, crossing repeatedly.

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Music History I

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Viderunt Omnes (ca. 1198)

Anonymous IV attributes this work to Perotinus. Based on a Gradual. Begins with organum style The tenor sustains very long notes. The upper voices move in modal rhythm. Passages in discant style alternate with sections of organal style.

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Music History I

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Viderunt Omnes (ca. 1198)


Compositional devices give sections in organum style coherence and variety. Repeated phrases Restated phrases at different pitch levels Complementary phrases Voice exchange (voices trading phrases) Striking dissonances that precede consonances Each section uses distinct techniques. The upper voices were sung by soloists, with about ve singers on the tenor part.

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Music History I

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Polyphonic Conductus

Two- to four-voice settings of the Latin poetry: Same type of text as the monophonic conductus and Aquitainian versus Rhymed, rhythmic, strophic Latin poems Usually sacred or serious topics Tenor was newly composed, not from chant. All voices sing in essentially the same rhythm, called the "conductus style" when used in other genres.

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Polyphonic Conductus
Syllabic text-setting: Simple style Strophic form Melismatic passages, called caudae (singular cauda, Latin for tail), in some conductus: At the beginning and end Before important cadences Most conductus with caudae are through-composed. Sometimes caudae feature phrase repetitions and voice exchange.

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Motet

Motets are polyphonic works with one or more texted voice added to a pre-existing tenor, which is set in a modal rhythm. Musicians at Notre Dame created this new genre in the early thirteenth century. Motets originally consisted of newly written Latin words added to the upper voices of discant clausulae. The French word mot (word) inspired the name for the genre. The earliest texts were often a textual trope of the clausula.

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Music History I

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Motet

Later motet texts were written in French on secular topics. Motets are identied by a compound title comprising the rst words of each voice from highest to lowest. The motet became the leading polyphonic genre for both sacred and secular music.

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Music History I

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Early Motets (to ca. 1250)


The text decorates or tropes the original chant text. Phrasing of the original clausula dictates phrasing of the added text. Sung during the Mass or as independent entertainment Existing motets were reworked: New texts for the duplum, in Latin or French New texts were no longer linked to the original liturgical context. Additional voices were added, with texts of their own. Double motet: a motet with two added texts above the tenor Triple motet: a motet with three added texts above the tenor The original duplum was discarded and another one (or more) composed.
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Early Motets (to ca. 1250)


Motets composed from scratch A tenor from a clausula was set to a different rhythm. New voice(s) above the tenor were added. Fole acostumance/Dominus : Newly composed duplum in a faster rhythm The text is in French, with a secular theme. The upper voice(s) were sung, but it is unclear whether the tenor was sung or played on an instrument. Rened and discerning listeners were the intended audience.

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Super te/Sed fulsit /Dominus


The top two voices set the rst and second halves of one Latin poem. The topic is the birth of Christ, making it suitable for Christmas (the season of the original chant). The upper parts rarely rest together or with the tenor, propelling the motet forward. Two other versions have added voices. A version in the Montpellier Codex, a major source of motets, has a third texted voice. An English source has an untexted fourth voice.

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Music History I

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Motets in the Later Thirteenth Century

By about 1250, three-voice motets were the rule. The two texts were usually on similar topics. The texts could be in Latin or French. Some motets had upper voices in both Latin and French. The tenor became a cantus rmus after ca. 1270. The term designates any pre-existing melody. The existing melody continued to be a plainchant.

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Music History I

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Franconian Notation
Franconian notation made it possible to signify more rhythms. Described by Franco of Cologne in his Ars cantus mensurabilis (ca. 1280) Noteshapes signied relative durations. Durations consisted of double long, long, breve, and semibreve. The tempus was the basic unit. Three tempora constitute a perfection (like a measure). A long could last two or three tempora. A breve could last one or two tempora.

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Franconian Notation
The system included signs for rests in specic durations as well. Layout of the parts could be separated: Each part would be in the same book but no longer in score format. The tenor extended across the bottom, with the other voice(s) above. Franconian motets: Motets written in Franconian notation, in a style made possible by that notation Each upper voice had a distinctive rhythm. Upper voices no longer needed to conform to the rhythmic modes.

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De ma dame vient/Dieus comment porroie/Omnes


Written by Adam de la Halle The triplum part concerns a mans point of view. The duplum part voices the womans point of view. The tenor part repeats the omnes melisma from Viderunt omnes twelve times. The upper parts use a modied rst mode rhythm, with many semibreves. The phrases are independent, with voices rarely cadencing together.

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Pierre de la Croix, . ca. 1270-1300

His motets take the Franconian motet one step further. Each voice has its own pace: The tenor is very slow-moving. The duplum is slow-moving, but not as slow as the tenor. The triplum has as many as seven semibreves in a tempus. The tempo was probably even slower than in a Franconian motet.

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Harmonic Vocabulary

Harmonic vocabulary of motets allowed thirds and dissonances, but the perfect consonance was still expected at the beginning of each perfection: The perfect fourth was treated like a dissonance. Cadence patterns developed

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English Polyphony
English culture was tied to that of France after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Although they adopted French culture, English musicians created a distinct style. Imperfect consonances were more prominent: Improvised partsinging in close harmony was documented as early as 1200. NAWM 21c shows many harmonic thirds and triads, including the nal sonority. Voice-exchange evolved into elaborate techniques.

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Music History I

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English Polyphony
The rondellus, in which two or three phrases are heard simultaneously, with each voice singing each one in turn: Triplum: a b c Duplum: c a b Tenor: b c a The rota, Sumer is icumen: A rota is a perpetual canon or round at the unison. Sumer is icumen in is the most famous. Two voices sing a pes (Latin for "foot" or "ground"). The canon produces alternating F-A-C-F and G-B-at-D sonorities. English melodies are relatively simple, syllabic, and periodic.
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A Polyphonic Tradition

By 1300, composition meant creating polyphony, not monophony. Writing down music of multiple parts in coordinating vertical sonorities to create a sense of direction would be a hallmark of Western tradition and set it apart from almost all other musical traditions. Medieval music rarely outlived its composers, but in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, composers drew on medieval music as an exotic element, making it seem more familiar to listeners.

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