MU1711 Medieval Terms
Plainchant: monophonic music of the Medieval Christian church.
Liturgy: body of texts prescribed for Christian worship services.
Eucharistic Mass: celebration of the Holy Communion. A distinctly Christian
practice with Jewish roots.
Chant Types – Roman: liturgical plainchant repertory of the Roman Catholic Church
– shares same liturgy and texts with Gregorian chant.
Ambrosian, , Gallican, Mozarabic/Visigothic: see lecture notes
Pope Gregory I (590-604): the “Father of Christian worship”
Pope Gregory II (715-731): Defied Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian
Metz (France): city in the northeast of France, where Gregorian chant developed.
St. Gall (Switzerland): a town in northeastern Switzerland
Memory: people remembered chant and passed it down generations.
Chant Transmission: the tradition of orally transmitting chant through memory
Neumes: Sign used in early chant notation. Indicates the pitch of notes.
Unheightened (non-diastematic): musical notation that does not indicate pitch
Heightened (diastematic): musical notation that shows, through the use of staves
or careful vertical placement, the pitches of notes
1) Melodic mode: a scale type with a specific pattern of whole and half steps.
Melodies of these 'church modes' of the medieval end of the final pitch – the
finalis, and move up and down within a particular ambitus (range).
2) Rhythmic mode: in the medieval era – one of 6 patterns of repeated units of
long and short duration (one of the two principal forms that is known as
major or minor since the 18 cenutry)
The Divine Office: Series of eight services held daily in monasteries, chanting
Matins, Lauds, The Little Hours: see lecture notes/textbook.
– Proper: texts which change according to the saint or season being
– Ordinary: texts sung at each service
The Liturgical Year: the church year – a cycle of seasons determining feast days,
and which portions of Scripture to be read during different times of year.
The Abbey of Solesmes: Benedictine monastery in Solesmes, France.
Gradual (Graduale): 1) The liturgical book containing the texts of the Mass
Ordinary. 2) The second element of the Mass Propers.
Antiphoner: The liturgical book containing texts (possibly chants) off the Mass
Liber Usualis: Anthology of many different kinds of plainchant for both the Mass
and the Office.
Syllabic Chant: chant where one note per syllable of text occurs.
Neumatic Chant: chant when there is two or more notes per syllable of chant –
primarly connected to plainchant.
Melismatic Chant: individual syllables of texts have more than 3 or 4 notes.
Recitation Tone: In plainchant (psalm tones), a central pitch used repeatedly in
succession to emphasize large amounts of text. Cadence: Point of musical closure indicated by pitch, harmony, rhythm, or a
combination of these elements.
Psalm Tones (8+1): Plainchant formula used to recite the psalms.
Antiphon: Plainchant sung before (sometimes after) the recitation of a psalm or
Hymn: Setting of a sacred, nonliturgical text – usually strophic and predominantly
Authentic/Plagal Modes: Any of the melodic modes with an ambitus running
approximately a fifth and fourth below the final note.
Hexachord: Any grouping of six pitches.
Gamut: Entire range of available pitches, conceived of a series of seven
interlocking hexachords beginning on C,F, or G (Eg. 1-4)
Musica Ficta: Tradition of the late medieval and Renaissance eras. Certain notes
were sharped or flattened in performed according to various conventions i.e.
Creating cadential leading tones or avoiding cross-relations between voices.
Historae (Newly Composed Saints Offices):
Trope: Musical or textural addition to an existing plainchant. Could be added to
the beginning or end, or inside the chant itself.
Prosula: Type of trope in which word were added to an existing chant.
Sequence: see textbook/notes
Musical Characteristics of Late Medieval Chant: see textbook/notes.
Glossing: notating the meaning of texts in the margins of a book.
Liturgical Drama: A liturgical passage in chant presented in a quasi-theatrical
manner during the service, with individual portrayals of the protagonists.
Rhymed Office: liturgical text drawn from parts of the Bible.
Council of Trent (1545-1563): Council of the Roman Catholic Church
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179): German composer who wrote theology of
visionary writings. Wrote treatises about history and natural healing.
Carmina Burana: manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts mostly from the
11 and 12 century (some from the 13th) th
Goliards (The Order Of): clergy who wrote satirical poetry in Latin in the 12 and
Jongleurs: Professional entertainers (singing, theatre etc) who often travelled in
Troubadours/Trouvères: Wandering minstrels (a composer, performer, and poet) th
entertained noble courts in N (trouvères) and S (troubadours) France in the 12
and 13 centuries.
Chanson de Geste: “songs of heroic deeds” - old French epic poems of the 11th-
14 centuries celebrating Charlemagne and his successors.
Chanson de Roland: heroic poem written in 778 about the Battle of Roncesvalles
(during the reign of Charlemagne)
Bernart de Ventadorn (ca. 1140-1190): troubadour who developed the cançons
into a more formalized style which allowed for sudden turns. He is remembered
for his mastery as well as popularisation of the trobar leu style, and for his prolific
cançons, which helped define the genre and establish the "classical" form of
courtly love poetry
Countess de Dia (Beatriz – d. ca. 1212): the most famous trobairitz (female troubadour) who wrote courtly love songs during the 12 and 13 centuries.
Peire Vidal (fl. 1175-1215): troubadour known as the greatest of singers
Cantigas: medieval monophonic song
Cantigas de Santa Maria: one of the largest collections of monophonic solo songs
from the Middle Ages – the Virgin Mary is mentioned in each song, and every
tenth song is a hymn
Minnesinger: Medieval German poet-composer-performer who sang songs of love.
Bar Form: Form associated with the repertory of the medieval minnesinger – two
Stollen followed by an Abgesang (AAB). th
Musica Enchiriadis: anonymous musical treatise from the 9 century. It is the first
surviving attempt to establish a system of rules for classical polyphony.
Organum: polyphonic work of the 9th-12 centuries consisting of an original
plainchant melody in one voice along with at least one additional voice above or
Parallel Organum: Type of organum in which the added voice or voices run parallel
to an established plainchant melody at a constant interval.
Vox Principalis: a preexisting melody, derived from Gregorian chant, to which
Medieval composers would add other voices to produce compositions known as
Vox Organalis: a plainchant melody with at least one added voice to enhance the
harmony, developed in the Middle Ages. Depending on the mode and form of the
chant, a supporting bass line (bourdon) may be sung on the same text, the
melody may be followed in parallel motion (parallel organum), or a combination of
both of these techniques may be employed.
Winchester Troper: compiled in the early 11th century and added to until the early
12th, was originally copied out and used at Winchester Cathedral. The settings
include Kyries, Glorias, Introits, Alleluias, Tracts and Sequences. It is regarded a
seminal text for the study of Anglo-Saxon musical and liturgical practice.
Ad organum faciendum: (ca. 1100) Initial interval is either a unison or octave (=
mode 1), or fourth or fifth (= mode 2). Intermediate notes are fourths and fifths in
alternation (= mode 3), occasionally a non-cadential unison or octave, i.e. not
coinciding with a new syllable (= mode 4). Conclude with unison, octave, or fifth
(examples show 4-1, 4-5, 5-8, 6-8) in note-against-note style, though occasionally
with a melisma in the organal voice (= mode 5)
Counterpoint: the relationship between polyphony. Independent in rhythm and
Perfect Consonance: stable intervals
Imperfect Consonance: unstable intervals
Melismatic Organum: Type of organum in which multiple notes in the added voices
run against the individual notes of an original chant.
St. Martial de Limoges: First Bishop of Limoges (now France).
Tenor: 1) The high voice range of the adult male – roughly from the G above
middle C to the B slightly more than