Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leonin and Perotin, the School of Notre Dame

I'm taking Music in Western Civilization on-line. These are my comments from class discussion.

Sound and Architecture

Before the creation of notation, music belonged to the air. It called the tribe to the sacred dance and lured bison down for the hunt. The sound of daily life and worship, music faded quickly and could not be recreated. However, in the Middle Ages, mankind aspired to mimic the architecture of god. They built soaring Cathedrals and filled them with art. Among the early cleric-composers who developed the interwoven Gregorian chants, and the system for transcribing them, were Leonin and Perotin. Both were directors of the church of Norte Dame and deeply influenced by the space and grandeur of their surroundings. Leonin’s Allelua, Dies Sanctificatus drifts among the Gothic pillars, a strange and holy homage to man’s ability to create. Its timelessness is a mirror of the architecture and faith that inspired it.


hmmm...not hard to be considered influential when there's no written history of anyone before them? I find this style of music fascinating, but can't help but wonder about all the music lost to history. How does Leonin's work compare to that of the troubadours, for example? Since they left no writing/notation, the lay singers have no voice for us to hear today. I think it's fascinating to think of how different musical history would be if the Catholic Church had a ban on writing music down and the troubadours had figured it out instead. Would classical music be love songs instead of hymns? hmmm...Something to think about...

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