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  • Topic: Organum, Medieval music, Gregorian chant
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  • Published : November 13, 2013
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In the later 9th century, the manner of singing simultaneously at more than one pitch level appear, added voice a chant melody to enhance the harmony. There were two types of organum, one at the fourth, the orther at the fifth, below the chant. The organum at the fifth was strictly parallel, but the fourth one mixed parallel fourths with oblique and converging motion between the voices in oder to avoid tritons against the principal voice. Over a half century after, the Italian more Guido of Arezzo used a differ fourth organum but the musical results are similar. Late 11th century theorists teach a radically different kind of organum based on a mix of fourth ,fifthts, and octaves. The two voices preceed in contrary, in parallel, directions and always begin or end phrases on unison or octave. The ornagal voice has moved from below to a position above the chant. Beginning in the 12th century Europe had begun to recover economically and stabilize after the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed. As a result a lot of money started being spent on ambitious architectural projects that were usually made for the Church.

.Notre Dame in Paris was one of these projects, with construction beginning in 1160, the full cathedral was not completed until 1250. However, as parts of the cathedral were completed, church services began to be conducted there, the first of which occurred in 1183.

It was at Notre Dame that two of the earliest composers we have any record of, Leonin and Perotin, were writing music and contributing to the development of polyphony. Leonin and Perotin's music became associated with what history referred to as the Notre Dame School of Polyphony. It's with these two composers that we can begin to trace modern Western music's roots with. Through their efforts, and the efforts of other composers from the Notre Dame School lost to history, they helped establish polyphony as a preferred style of music composition.

The events that Leonin, Perotin, and the Notre Dame School of Polyphony were a part of occurred a long time ago, and due to the chaos and lack of records being kept during the medieval times on music, there is only one source that exists to draw information about Perotin and Leonin.This source came from a treatise called Anonymous IV. It is in this treatise that we find Leonin and hissuccessor Perotin who are mentioned as important contributors to the music being written at Notre Dame during the 12th and 13th century.

Rhythmic Modes

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The six rhythmic modes used by the School of Polyphony at Notre Dame. (Wikidia) Musical Background
During the 12th century most of the music being written was being done in three different styles: plainchant, organum, and discant.
Plainchant - Music being written during and before Leonin and Perotin's time was mostly plainchant, or single line melodies being sung by a choir. Polyphony, where multiple voices sing together by moving independently of one another rhythmically, was just beginning to develop. Plainchant was more common during this time, but that began to change after Leonin and Perotin, as it was gradually replaced by polyphonic music.

Organum - This musical style can be defined as two or more musical voices singing together but on different notes with pleasant sounding harmonic combinations. There were several types of organum just beginning to be developed during Leonin and Perotin's time, and both composers looked to contribute to the newly developing style.

Discant - This is an organum style where the rhythm in both voices move using modal rhythms. Modal rhythms are basic rhythmic patterns that are used to make up a larger rhythmic landscape There were six different modal rhythms in use during this time (see rhythmic modes). This style of composition was specifically developed by the School of Polyphony at Notre Dame. Leonin

Leonin (1150's-1201) worked at the Notre Dame cathedral...
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