Reading Room Log: Exploring the World of Late Medieval Liturgy and Music, Part 2

Tony McMahon:

Really interesting blog on medieval music

Originally posted on John J. Burns Library's Blog:

In my previous post I gave an overview of medieval liturgical and musical books. One of these is the antiphonale or antiphoner, which contains the proper antiphons for the Divine Office. The Burns Library owns a beautiful (and now digitized) 14th century Franciscan antiphoner from southern Germany.

Like the Augustinian Gradual, this Antiphoner was made large enough to be used by more than one person at once. It was, in other words, a choir book.

Most of the Burns Antiphoner reflects the dominant musical tradition of the Middle Ages, monophonic Gregorian chant. This type of chant is “monophonic” because it contains a single line of melody sung by all. Monophony is not the same as monotony, which has no variation in pitch. Monophony can be, in fact, quite complex. (Listen to this classic example from the Gregorian repertoire.)

Among the more typical chants, however…

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