Notre Dame Polyphany
Rhythmic Modes – A system of six patterns, mixing long notes and breves (short notes).
The resulting rhythms always used a triple division of the basic beat – creating rhythm
analogous to our modern compound meters. The specific rhythm modes were notated through
the use of distinctive ligature patterns.
Leonin – Composer and compiler or Magnus liber organi. Includes music in organum
and discant styles.
Organum style – Used where the original chant sets the text in syllabic style.
Discant style – Used where the original chant sets the text in melismatic style.
Clausula – Term for a distinct, self-contained section of an organum, generally in a
discant style. Individual clausulae were often rewritten or replaced by later composers, the
new settings being turned into substitute clasulae.
Motet – A new genre developed within the Notre Dame tradition in the early 13th
century. First created by adding a newly written Latin text to the upper voice of a discant
clausula. Later motets commonly used two upper parts, sometimes three, each with its own
text and texts were often written in French. The slower moving part (tenor) was usually taken
from a section of chant. This lower part, based on an existing melody, may also be called
Franconian Notation – A new system of rhythmic notation codified by Franco of Cologne
in which duratinos were signified by note shapes.
Ars Nova (The New Art) – Term used in treatise from 1322-1333, which embraced the
use of new musical ideas, especially more variety in rhythmic notation.
Guillaume de Mauchaut – The leading composer of the era, also celebrated for his
poetry. Wrote 23 motets, notable for their use of isorhythmic techniques. Also composed 41
ballades and the “Masse de Notre Dame”.
The Ars Subtilior (“The More Subtle manner”) – Sometimes referred to as the late 14th
century French Avant-guard. Intended for an elite audience, including the papal court in
Avignon, this tradition included a great deal of music experimentation, complex rhythms, and
fanciful or ingenious notational details.
Trecento Music – Italian music that was created in the 14th century.
Polyphonic Secular song forms:
Madrigal – Idyllic, pastoral, satirical, or love poems set for two voices; may include brief
passages of imitation or hocket technique.
Caccia – For two voices in canan, accompanied by a lower instrumental line. Usually on
vivid themes such as the hunt, a battle, a fire, etc. which allows imitative vocal effects.
Ballata – Derived from an early monophonic dance song tradition.