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Medieval Polyphony Development


discant vs. melismatic

• overlap between Notre Dame & St. Marchale
• who did it first?  for what reasons?
• reasons were not the same
• St. Marchel style applied to tropes
• Notre Dame:  chants
• style the same:  what kind of music was this applied to-liturgical or secular?
• HAWM #27:  no mentin of Discant
• Old school:  note against note:  discant becomes motet
• melismatic organum not most progressive

HAWM #27
• two styles:  melismatic & discant
• more note against note than melismas & ornamental; ends of phrases
• improvisatory; heterophonic

*Orals:  summarize in a few sentences how polyphony developed

• heterophony
• parallel, modified parallel
• chant on top

1. Early Organum: 850-1000


• organum an outgrowth from heterophony (closest to modified parallel)
• Magidizing: singing in octaves, consciously
• differences in voice ranges, accidental
• acoustical reasons
• mainly applied to troped portions of proper, solo sections of chant
• improvisatory, unnotated

A. Main types:

1. parallel-2 voices, duplication of 5th, 4th, octave
2. composite-3 or more voices; doubling
3. modified parallel-parallel motion abandoned; unison to oblique, parallel, back

B. Manuscripts

Musica enchiriadis; Scholia enchiriadis

C. Relationship of Voices


2. Free Organum: 1000-1150

A. modified parallel organum

• VP moves to top around 1100

1. Micrologus-Guido d’Arezzo (d. 1050)

• parallel, oblique, with emphasis on contrary; crossing of parts,
• 4ths preferred to 5ths
• VP still above VO
• more than one VO note to each VP; may be several VO
• cadences (occursus) on unison, octave, approached from M2, M3

2. De musica-John Cotton (ca. 1100)

• contrary motion, crossing of parts, cadences on unison, octave
• increased intervals; 5ths reinstated
• away from strict duplication, increasing melodic independence

3. Ad organum faciendum (How to construct organum)-anon (ca. 1100)

• cadences on 4ths, 5th, unisons, octaves
• several notes of VO to VP, which is now below VP

4. Winchester Troper (early 11th C)-2nd troper revised to include 150 organa

• first practical source; responsorial, melismatic chants (tropes, sequences)
• 2 voices, contrary, with parallel predominating; voice crossing
• all intervals with 4ths, 5ths most frequent
• note against note polyphony
• VP is generally below VO; VO becomes equal to VP, rather than support

5. Chartres “Alleluias” (11th C)

• set of 5 alleluias, sung responsorially
• increased contrary motion, increased number of 3rds

B. Melismatic Organum

• more than one VO to each VP
• each note of cantus firmus is held (tenere=to hold, thus tenor)

1. San Martial Manuscripts; “School of Limoges” (south France, 12thC)

• repertory may be contemporary with Notre Dame School
• 64 compositions of 3 types:

a. versus (conductus)-latin sacred songs for feast days
b. tropes of Benedicamus Domino
c. sequences

• 2 styles of organum, often in the same work:

i. discant style: older note against note, sometimes elaborated as neume against neume

• homorhythmic conductus usually set in this style
• clausula is a section of organum in which both parts are rhythmic

ii. organum purum: 2-voice organum in which tenor is sustained (also known as melismatic or florid organum)

• extended melismas, introducing dissonant passing tones

2. Codex Calixtinus of Santiago de Compostela (Liber Sancti Jacobi, ca. 1140)

• sustained tone or melismatic style as well as discant style
• first 3 part polyphony
• sequences, tropes, versus and conducti
• polyphonic settings of solo portions of responsorial chants are emphasized
• responsorial chants are set in melismatic, rarely appearing together with discant

3. Notre Dame: 1150-1300

A. Ars Antiqua, Early Gothic, Notre Dame

B. Manuscripts

a. Anonymous IV
b. Wolfenbuttel 677
c. Wolfenbuttel 1099
d. Pluteus 29.1
e. Madrid Bibl.

C. Composers

a. Leonin (ca. 1150-1185) Magnus liber organi; mixes mono, purum, discant/clausula sections

b. Perotin (ca. 1160-1220)-favored discant style, further developed modal rhythm, expanded organum to 3-4 voices

c. Petrus de Cruce

D. Compositional Types

a. Organum: Mass & Offices only

• 2-4 vcs, rhythmic modes, ordo added to 1 or more voices
• mixture of styles: organum purum, discant, clausula sections
• stylistic variety
• Leonin & Perotin

b. Conductus: non-liturgical polyphony

• 2-3 vcs, homorhythmic, text shared by all voices,
• 2 styles, distinguished by number of caude (textless) passages
• conductus simplex-few
• embellished conductus-lots
• dropped out of favor about 1250

c. Motet

• grows out of discant organum through application of words to upper voice of a clausula; becomes increasingly secularized

3 phases of motet development
i) 1225-50

• words added to VO of a clausula
• 3-4 vcs, latin & french texts
• ordo in tenor
• conductus motet

ii) 1250-75

• 3 vcs
• triplum most active
• french secular tenors
• voice exchange and hocket
• Franconian motet

iii) 1275-1300-Petronian motet, Petrus de Cruce

• triplum dominant
• 2-9 semibreves
• rhythmic independence & complexity
• french upper texts dominate
• (Roman de Fauvel)
• further use of hocket

4. Ars Nova

A. Philippe de Vitry

B. Guillame de Machaut 1300-1377 (fl. 1340-1360)

1. Style

Melody: distinct phrases, small; long continuous melodic line, 4-bar phrases
Texture: 1) treble dominated: 3 vcs
              2) equal voiced: 3-4 vcs
Vertical: 5ths, Octaves; close, many 3rds and 6ths; 2nds, 7ths, 9ths
Rhythm: duplum, syncopation, hocket

2. Output by genre

a. Lais-19

• 15 monophonic, 4 polyphonic ( ao ac ao ac )
• polyphonic lais are “chace”; intensely canonic
• attempt at modernizing lai, though no successors
• music is simpler than poetry

b. Motets: 23, which follow & develop procedures by de Vitry

• 6 in latin, remainder in French (regressive)
• 2 have fr triplum and ltn duplum
• 3 w/ Fr tenors; all other tenors have Latin incipits: chant origins
• 19 are 3-vc polytextual (double motets) above tenor; remaining 4 add textless countertenor (5, 21-23)
• 6/8 (major prolation) predominates in upper vcs of 15 motets

c. Ballades-42

• more experimental types (#1 is isorhythmic, only fixed form)
• 2,3, 4 vcs (no 37 is monophonic)
• # 34 is double ballade (upper voices sing different texts)
• first 16 originally for cantus and tenor
• differ from trovere tradition in reduction to 3 stanzas
• stanzas have 7-8 lines with rhyme scheme (ababbcC or ababccdD)
• lines of 8-10 syllables
• 2 musical types: ballade simplex (37 of 42) ao ac b C
ballade duplex ao ac bo bc (2 sections)

d. Rondeaux-21

• 2-4 vcs; 2 parts predominate in earlier
• standardized poetic form: 8 line rondeau with lines of equal length: ABaAabAB
• a few 13 line rondeaus with similar musical form
AB B ab AB ab b AB B
A B a A a b A B

e. Virelais-25

• 25 of 33 are monophonic; 7 in 2 parts, # 26 has 3 parts
• simpler syllabic style
• AbbA bbaA bbaA