From monophony to polyphony

Manuscripts written around 1000 in France and England give testimony of a revolutionary step, which should shape European musical culture in a singular way: The polyphonic interpretation of monophonic chant.
The term "polyphony" isn't conceived here in the sense of independent voices but rather denotes the discovery of a new perspective in music.

The art of the so called organum can be found already in music theory treatises of the 9th century as within the famous Musica enchiriadis.

As examples of these early forms of organum we present three sequences which are connected to the monastery of Reichenau /Lake of Constance.

Around the turn of the millenium the rather schematic concepts of the theoreticians are adapted and further developped in a creative way by composers as in the organa of several manuscripts from Chartres written around 1000.

This artful embellishment of chant as produced by highly trained and skilled singers develops within the 12th and 13th centuries into a vast variety of styles which aim at the most splendid musical decoration of the liturgy.

A center for these activities is to be found in Northern France; also the organa of the so called Codex Calixtinus written for Santiago de Compostela are rooted within this tradition.

The art of organum reaches its hightime and at the same time last flowering with the monumental four-part organa of Perotin written around 1200 for the Christmas liturgy at Notre Dame in Paris.
They resemble the uprising pillars of the Gothic cathedrals this music once sounded in.

Codex Calixtinus | "Congaudeant Catholici"

Notre Dame | "Dic Christi veritas"

Further information:
  • Program information:

    • 6 singers, a capella; for small to medium-sized resonant churches.

  • Performances:

    • 20. 12. 2009, 13h und 15h
      The Cloisters/New York

    • 21. 09. 2007, 19h
      Fabian-Stift Hornbach

    • 21. 07. 2007, 18:30h
      Klosterkirche Bebenhausen

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