The Polyphonic Music of the Medieval Monastery, Cathedral and University

  • Marion S. Gushee
Part of the Man & Music book series (MAMU)


Through one of those inexplicable vagaries of historical preservation, what might have been regarded as nothing more than a rather eccentric treatise, Musica enchiriadis (‘A Musical Handbook’), is now known to every student of music history as the very source of a new concept in Western music — the simultaneous vertical combination of pitches in performance — which eventually led to the ultimate glory of Western art music: harmony. This treatise, presumed to be of northern European monastic origin from about ad 900, is the earliest extant European theoretical exposition of the basic craft of creating vertical combinations of sounds in vocal music.


Thirteenth Century Twelfth Century Eleventh Century Notational System Musical Style 
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  1. 2.
    Both treatises are included in E. Waeltner, Die Lehre vom Organum bis zur Mitte des 11. Jahrhunderts (Tutzing, 1975).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    His principal treatise, Micrologus, is available in English translation in Hucbald, Guido and John on Music, ed. C. Palisca (New Haven, 1978).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The poem, which celebrates many notable personages of Chartres and elsewhere, is by Adelman of Liège, a student of Fulbert of Chartres. The first redaction dates from 1028–33, the second from 1048. See J. A. Clerval, Les écoles de Chartres au moyen-âge du Ve au XVe siècle (Chartres, 1895).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    This event is chronicled, and the precise state of the remains of the library’s holdings documented, in Catalogue général des manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, liii: Mss. des Bibliothèques sinistrées de 1940 à 1944 (Paris, 1962).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    See Y. Delaporte, Fragments des manuscrits de Chartres, PalMus, xvii (1958). The three manuscripts known to contain polyphonic music are F-CHR 4, 109 and 130.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    See Y. Delaporte, L’ordinaire chartrain du XIIIe siècle, Mémoires de la Société archéologique d’Eure-et-Loir, xix (Chartres, 1953). Specific references to polyphonic performance are extracted in M. Gushee, Romanesque Polyphony: a Study of the Fragmentary Sources (diss., Yale U., 1965), appx. A.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    See A. Holschneider, Die Organa von Winchester: Studien zum ältesten Repertoire polyphoner Musik (Hildesheim, 1968), transcriptions.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    E. Sanders, ‘Consonance and Rhythm in the Organum of the 12th and 13th Centuries’, JAMS, xxxiii (1980), 271, n.25.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    See the facsimile and edition in Liber Sancti Jacobi: Codex Calixtinus, ed. W. Whitehill, G. Prado and J. Carro García (Santiago de Compostela, 1944).Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    So called from the position of his treatise (fourth anonymous treatise in the volume) in CS, i, 327. The most reliable modern edition, with commentary, is that of F. Reckow, Der Musiktraktat des Anonymus 4: Edition und Interpretation der Organum purum-Lehre (Wiesbaden, 1967).Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    See Reckow, Der Musiktraktat, or the translation, The Music Treatise of Anonymous IV: a New Translation, ed. J. Yudkin, MSD, xli (1985).Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Partial English translation in O. Strunk, Source Readings in Music History (New York, 1950/R1965).Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    See for example J. A. Knapp, ‘Musical Declamation and Poetic Rhythm in an Early Layer of Notre Dame Conductus’, JAMS, xxxii (1979), 383–407; and G. A. Anderson, ‘Mode and Change of Mode in Notre Dame Conductus’, AcM, xl (1968), 92–114.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    See L. Schrade, ‘Political Compositions in French Music of the 12th and 13th Centuries: the Coronation of French Kings’, AnnM, i (1953), 9–63; repr. in L. Schrade, De scientia musicae studia atque orationes (Berne, 1967), 152–211.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    See E. Reimer, Johannes de Garlandia: De mensurabili musica: kritische Edition mit Kommentar und Interpretation der Notationslehre (Wiesbaden, 1972).Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    See Cent motets du XIIIe siècle, ed. P. Aubry (Paris, 1908); facs. with commentary.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    See Y. Rokseth, Polyphonies du XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1935–9), facsimile, edition and commentary.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1990

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  • Marion S. Gushee

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