IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 507: Musicology, I: Chant and Liturgy (i)

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Cantus Planus Group, International Musicological Society
Moderator/Chair:Benjamin Albritton, School of Music, University of Washington
Paper 507-aThe Melodic Structure of Oral Transmission
(Language: English)
Kate Helsen, Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Universität Regensburg
Index terms: Liturgy, Literacy and Orality, Music
Paper 507-bLiturgical Function and Musical Style in Melismatic Chants
(Language: English)
William Mahrt, Department of Music, Stanford University
Index terms: Liturgy, Music
Paper 507-cTheuto's Trumpet: The Cantor in Carolingian Theology
(Language: English)
Jesse D. Billett, St John's College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Liturgy, Music, Theology

These sessions present new research by musicologists of the Cantus Planus research group of the International Musicological Society (IMS). The topics vary but are all concerned with monophony in medieval liturgy. Session III takes up the general theme of the IMC: the natural world.

Paper -a
One of the challenges facing chant scholarship is to deduce the form and melodic character of plainchant prior to the introduction of musical notation. As a memory aid, singers often used standard melodic formulas, applied in the way most appropriate to the structure of the text to be sung. The Great Responsories of the Night Office are usually structured as three binary musical periods. I have analysed the 950 responsories found in the 12th-century antiphoner from Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, Paris Bibliothèque nationale lat. 12044, and recorded the tonal goals of each phrase. This information has allowed me to create a melodic ‘road map’ for each of the 8 modes. These ‘road maps’ show that most responsories rely on pitches in the ‘so la do re mi’ pentatonic series to define their melodic structure. This paper presents these ‘road maps’ and discusses the role of the pentatonic series in the melodic structure of responsories, using examples from Paris 12044 and other manuscripts, including the Antiphonale Sarisburiense, Worcester F. 160, Benevento 21, Lucca 601, Karlsruhe 60, Saint Gall 390-391, Utrecht 406 and Toledo 44.2.
Paper -b:
The Gregorian chants for the proper of the Mass and the office show a remarkable differentiation of style which corresponds to a differentiation of their liturgical function. This includes the most melismatic chants-gradual, alleluia, and tract of the Mass and great responsory of the office-whose liturgical function is often represented by the generic name, meditation chant. This paper addresses the differences in style between these four melismatic genres and relates it to differences in liturgical function. Included in the discussion is 1) the placement of melismas—whether on an
accented syllable or an unaccendted syllable at the end of a word, and 2) the place of the genre in the structure of the liturgy—its role as a complement to the sequence of lessons in Mass or office. The paper will conclude with observations on some negatives: the lack of thematic correspondence between lesson and complementary chant,
and the coopting of responsories as processional chants, a complete shift of liturgical function.
Paper -c:
The poem on Louis the Pious by Ermoldus Nigellus contains a fascinating account of the baptism of the Danish king Herold at Louis’s chapel in 826. Ermoldus mentions the court cantor by name. As the Mass begins, ‘Theuto’s trumpet sounds a mighty roar’. Donald Bullough identified Theuto’s trumpet with a particular musical instrument. But Ermoldus is almost certainly referring metaphorically to Theuto’s natural voice. The cantor’s voice as ‘trumpet’ appears in other texts as a Carolingian theological topos on evangelizing unbelievers, a theme highly relevant to a heathen king’s baptism and intrinsic to the texts that Theuto probably sang.