Musicology: Roman Chant and Liturgy

The outline that you find below has been a very helpful study guide to assist students using the book A History of Western Music. I strongly recommend this book. With its contents, art work, and media, it's just gorgeous!

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Roman Chant and Liturgy

  1. Office (Canonical Hours)
    1. Codified in chap. 9-19 of the Rule of St. Benedict (ca.520)
    2. Celebrations generally in monasteries throughout the day
    3. Matins (before daybreak), Lauds (sunrise), Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones (respectively at 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm), Vespers (sunset), Compline (after Vespers).
    4. Consists of prayers, psalms, canticles (New Testament passages), antiphons, responses, hymns and readings.
    5. Music for the Office is contained in a book called an Antiphoner or Antiphonale.
    6. Most musically significant hours are the Matins, Lauds, Vespers.
    7. Vespers includes the canticle Magnificat anima mea Dominum. Also was the only Office that admitted polyphonic singing in early times.
    8. Compline includes the singing of the Marian antiphons, one for each specific time of the church year.
  2. Mass
    1. Principle service of the Catholic Church.
    2. Culminating act of the service is the commemoration of the Last Supper.
    3. Basic types of services:
      1. High Mass (missa solemnis): includes singing by Celebrant, Deacon, Subdeacon, along with chanting or polyphonic singing by the choir.
      2. Low Mass (missa privata): simplified form of the mass in which a single priest takes on the Deacon and Subdeacon roles. Everything is spoken.
      3. Sung Mass (missa cantata): modern compromise between High and Low mass.
    4. Basic divisions of the mass:
      1. Liturgy of the Word
      2. Liturgy of the Eucharist
    5. Early form of the Mass as found in the Ordo Romanus (7th c. instructional for performance of the liturgy by the Bishop of Rome)
      1. Intriot, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect.
    6. Canon of the mass is fixed by 6th c.
    7. Sacramentaries (books of instruction for the celebrant) dating from 600 and later indicate the level of uniformity in the mass.
    8. Missal: a book containing the mass texts.
    9. Tridentine Liturgy
      • (Liturgy of the Word)
        1. Introit: originally an entire psalm with antiphon chanted during the entrance of the priest. Later, it was shortened to only a single psalm verse w/antiphon.
        2. Kyrie: each invocation is repeated three times by the choir.
        3. Gloria: (except during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent): begun by the priest with the words 'Gloria in excelsis Deo' and continued by the choir.
        4. Collects: prayers
        5. Epistle: scriptural reading
        6. Gradual & Alleluia: On Easter, Alleluia is followed by a Sequence. In penitential seasons Alleluia is replaced by a more solemn Tract.
        7. Credo: begun by the priest 'Credo in unum Deum' and continued by choir.
      • (Liturgy of the Eucharist)
        1. Offertory
        2. Preface
        3. Sanctus & Benedictus: sung by the choir
        4. Canon: prayer of consecration
        5. Pater Noster
        6. Agnus Dei
        7. Communion: sung by the choir
        8. Post-Communion Prayers: chanted by the priest
        9. Ite missa est: sung responsively by priest and choir.
    1. Proper of the Mass: parts of the mass which are variable according to the season of the year or particular feast.
      1. Proper: Introit, Collects, Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Sequence, Gospel, Offertory, Preface, Communion, Post-Communion.
    2. Ordinary of the Mass: parts of the mass that are invariable.
      1. Ordinary: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite missa est.
      2. Choir (or congregation) typically sings these parts.
      3. Since the 14th c. Ordinary texts were most often set to polyphonic music.
    3. Music for the Mass: Proper & Ordinary is contained in a Gradual
      1. Liber usualis: modern text contains a selection of most frequently used chants from the Antiphonale and Graduale. Texts of Mass and Offices respectively are published in the Missal and Breviary.
  3. Chant Notation
    1. Clefs indicate relative pitches
    2. Notes are called neumes
    3. Earliest chant notation is preserved in mansucripts from the 9th c. and later.
    4. One theory holds that notation was systematic recording of an oral tradition. Important proponents of this theory include Leo Treitler 'Homer and Gregory: The Transmission of Epic Poetry and Plainchant' (Musical Quarterly, 1974).
  4. Classes, Forms and Types of Chant
    1. Text classifications
      1. Biblical vs. non-Biblical texts
      2. Prose vs. Poetic texts
        1. Biblical prose texts: lessons of the Office, Epistle, Gospel.
        2. Biblical poetic texts: psalms and canticles.
        3. Nonbiblical prose texts: Te Deum, many antiphons, 3 of the 4 Marian antiphons
        4. Nonbiblical poetical texts: hymns, sequences.
    2. Performance classifications
      1. Antiphonal: alternating choirs
      2. Responsorial: alternating soloist and choir
      3. Direct: without alternation
    3. Text setting classifications
      1. Syllabic
      2. Melismatic
      3. Neumatic
    4. Tonic accent: the principle that chant reflects post-classical Latin accents of the text.
    5. Forms
      1. Forms exemplified in psalm tones: 2 balanced phrases corresponding to the two balanced parts of a typical psalm verse.
      2. Strophic form: exemplified in hymns, in which the same melody is sung to several stanzas of text.
      3. Free forms.
  5. Reciting and Psalm Tones
    1. Reciting Tones
      1. Typically used with more syllabic settings
      2. Recitation of prayers, readings border between speech and song
      3. Reciting note is called the tenor
      4. Upper neighbor/lower neighbor used to bring out accent
      5. Initium: the 2-3 note introductory formula preceding the recitation tone
    2. Psalm Tones
      1. Used for psalms and Epistle and gospel.
      2. Psalm tone formula:
        1. Initium
        2. Tenor
        3. Mediatio (semicadence in the middle of the verse)
        4. Termination (final cadence)
        5. Final verse is followed by the Lesser Doxology ('Gloria Patri...')
      3. Outline of Office psalmody consists of:
        1. Antiphon: incipit sung by cantor followed by choir
        2. Psalm, initium sung by cantor, choir follows, mediatio, cantor begins second half of verse, choir joins, termination.
        3. Each psalm verse is sung through in similar fashion
        4. Anitphon repeated as at beginning
  6. Antiphons
    1. Most numerous type of chant: about 1250 in the modern Antiphonale.
    2. Many antiphons employ same melodic type, making slight variations to accommodate the text.
    3. Antiphons originally intended for a group of singers rather than soloist, so the text setting is predominantly syllabic or only slightly florid, stepwise motion, limited range and simple rhythm.
    4. Antiphons of the canticles are somewhat more elaborate than the psalms (Magnificat, Hodie Christus natus est).
    5. Originally antiphon was repeated after each psalm verse. Later practice is to begin and conclude psalm with antiphon.
    6. Recently only the intonation of the opening phrase of the antiphon is sung first and the entire antiphon is heard after the psalm.
  7. Responsory (or Respond)
    1. A form similar to the antiphon: a short verse is sung by a soloist and repeated by the choir before a prayer or short sentence of Scripture and repeated again by the choir following the reading.
  8. Antiphonal Psalmody
    1. Introit and Communion utilize antiphonal psalmody
    2. Tones for the psalm verses of the Mass are more elaborate than the Office
    3. Communion is similar to Introit, but employs a verse of scripture btw. the antiphon.
    4. Most developed chants in the mass are the Graduals, Alleluias, Tracts, Offertories.
  9. Graduals
    1. The Gradual is a kind of responsorial psalm. It has an introductory respond (refrain) followed by a single verse of a psalm. The respond is begun by a soloist, and the choir joins in shortly thereafter. The verse is likewise begun by the soloist with choir joining in later.
    2. They were originally developed in Rome and disseminated through Frankish churches
    3. Graduals occur in 7 of the 8 modes.
    4. Large number of mode 2 (Hypodorian) are variants of a single melodic type exemplified in the Easter Gradual Haec dies quam fecit Dominus
    5. Mode 5 Graduals (Lydian) give the impression of being in F major.
    6. Certain melismatic formulas recur in different Graduals. Oftentimes, melodies are a composite of these short formulas, a process called centonization
  10. Tracts
    1. Tracts are the longest chants in the liturgy using lengthy texts and long melismas
    2. All Tract melodies are either in mode 2 or 8. Melodic structure is similar
  11. Alleluia
    1. Consist of a refrain on the single word 'Alleluia', psalm verse, followed by refrain.
    2. Performance: soloist sings word 'alleluia', chorus repeats and continues with a jubilus, a long melisma on the final '-ia' of the 'alleluia', the soloist then sings the verse with the chorus joining on the last phrase. Entire 'alleluia' is sung by chorus with jubilus.
    3. 'Alleluia' is florid, jubilus is melismatic.
    4. Form: AA+BA+
    5. Alleluias are relatively late chants, notion of 'composed' chants on account of motivic repetition rather than improvisatory nature of earlier oral tradition.
  12. Offertories
    1. Melodically similar to Graduals
    2. Utilize a variety of forms
  13. Chants of the Ordinary
    1. Kyrie
      1. Form: ABA (Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie)
    2. Agnus Dei
      1. Form: often ABA as well
    3. Sanctus
      1. Form: Tripartite (Sanctus, Pleni, Benedictus)
  14. Later Developments of Chant
    1. Carolingian Renaissance of 8th-9th c. led to codification, notation of chant
      1. Monastic centers: St. Gall in Switzerland
      2. Northern styles and developments incorporated into chant repertory
    2. Tropes
      1. A newly composed addition, in neumatic style with poetic text to one of the antiphonal chants of the Proper of the Mass (usually an Introit, less often an Offertory or Communion).
      2. Later tropes were also made to Ordinary chants, particularly the Gloria
      3. Tropes were either prefaces to regular chant or interpolations in its text and music.
      4. Important troping center was the Monastery of St. Gall where the monk Tuitilo (d.915) was distinguished for compositions of this form.
      5. Tropes flourished in the 10th-11th centuries and gradually disappear in the 12th century.
    3. Sequences
      1. Long recurring passages recurring in different contexts.
      2. Long, definitely shaped melodies either used in melismatic form or underlaid with different texts.
      3. Additions to the 'Alleluia' are called sequences
      4. When text is underlaid they are called prosa ad sequentiam or prosula. Prosa are set syllabically.
      5. Notker Balbulus ('the stammerer'; ca.840-912, St. Gall) tells a story of how he 'invented' the sequence to aid in memorizing tunes. Music probably existed first and Balbulus probably only added the text.
      6. The form flourished from 10th-13th centuries.
      7. Form: a bb cc dd...groupings of strophic pairs.
      8. Most sequences are banned by liturgical reforms of the Council of Trent (1545-1563)
      9. Dies irae from the Requiem Mass is one of the most famous examples of seq. that was retained.
  15. Liturgical Drama[Not much to say about this topic]
  16. Medieval Musical Theory
    1. Carolingian treatises more oriented towards practice than earlier treatises.
      1. Guido of Arezzo: Mircrologus (ca.1025-28)
      2. Musica enchiriadis: anonymous 9th c. treatise.
    2. Church Modes
      1. Standard by 11th century a system of 8 'modes'
      2. Diatonic octave built on finalis or final, usually last note in the melody.
      3. Authentic modes
        1. Even numbered
        2. Tenor (dominant) is a 5th above: most important note after the final. Exception: in cases where tenor would be 'B', next note is used instead.
      4. Plagal modes
        1. Odd numbered
        2. Begin a 4th below corresponding authentic mode
      5. Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian
    3. Hexachord system
      1. Patterns of 6 notes in which semitone falls between 3-4 steps
      2. G hexachord is durum (hard) because of B natural
      3. F hexachord is molle (soft) because of Bb
      4. C hexachord is natural because no question of accidentals
  17. Nonliturgical & Secular Monody
    1. Goliard songs: from 11-12th c. songs with latin texts.
      1. Typically recorded with staffless neumes, so melodic content is highly speculative
    2. Conductus
      1. Originally sung in the mass when celebrant was moving from one place to another.
      2. Texts were metrical verses
      3. By end of the 12th c. conductus was applied to any nonliturgical Latin song with metrical text, on either a sacred or secular subject.
      4. Melody was newly composed rather than borrowed or adapted from another source.

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