The New Oxford History of Music The Early Middle Ages to 1300 - Vol. 2

The New Oxford History of Music The Early Middle Ages to 1300 - Vol. 2

The New Oxford History of Music The Early Middle Ages to 1300 - Vol. 2

The New Oxford History of Music The Early Middle Ages to 1300 - Vol. 2

Synopsis

Drawing on the work of leading British and American scholars, this revised volume presents an informed, timely picture of music from the fourth through the fourteenth century A.D. It begins with a discussion of Christian chant in the Mediterranean and goes on to cover Gregorian chant, liturgical drama, medieval song, instrumental music, and early polyphony down to the monumental organa composed at the cathedral of Notre Dame in the twelfth century. The new edition has been revised to incorporate the wealth of new research on early music done since Hughes's first edition was published in 1954, and includes over 200 musical examples and an exhaustive bibliography.

Excerpt

Researches of the last thirty years have provided an abundance of material and new insights for this new volume on Early Medieval Music, and have also raised problems of organization that seem insoluble within the framework available. The problems mostly concern where to begin, and what to do with all the material that might be involved with the several possible beginnings.

The solution inherited from Volume I, Ancient and Oriental Music, was of a philosophical nature: that volume dealt with 'the music of the Non-Christian world' (which the editors described as a 'world in which music is regarded as a power creating a magic effect upon the listener'). Volume II, perforce, is to deal with music in the Christian world, in which 'Music could now be used primarily as laus Dei . . .'. The effect of this solution was not unlike that of some traditional Church historians, who recounted, under the rubric 'history of music', the legends of Judeo-Christian church music (Jubal, David, Christ, Gregory, Guido) with only sideways glances outside the Church. The same result seemed virtually forced upon us by the nature of the sources, the music of the Christian world being in evidence only in sources from c. 900 on. Since this is cult music, one naturally assumed that it had already existed for a long time more or less as it was in 900; its prior history could presumably be traced back through the cult -- and only there.

In this way, to study the history of Christian music, scholars had to study the history of the Church and its cult, even though on one hand this history had to be traced through almost a millennium until actual music appeared in the sources around 900, and on the other hand this history had to be traced more or less without reference to music of the wider world, the 'non-Christian world'. By extension of the same argument, if antecedents to Christian music were to be sought, then it should be in the antecedent to the Christian Church, namely Judaism. This argument was the more persuasive since alternatives were not very encouraging: attempts made to connect Christian music to what we knew of Greek classical music (namely, its theory) did not convince. Only gradually, with the model of syncretism as studied in other historical disciplines before us, have we come to see past the categories of 'Greek, classical', 'Roman, classical', 'Christianity', 'Judaism', 'Middle Ages', to find the historical continuum in which the study of early Christian music could more realistically be placed.

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