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Leonin And Perotin Essay, Research Paper

Leonin and Perotin

Through my research of Leonin and Perotin I felt like I was conducting a highly magnified genealogy report. A lot of the information I found, went against each other and was estimations. The only reason we know of these two composers were due to a monk from Bury St Edmunds. He signed his writings anonymous roman numeral four. He was an English theorist who was familiar with the Cathedral of Notre Dame in some shape or form. It is not known to anyone his role with the cathedral. Although I found many things to support the reasoning that Leonin and Perotin were the first noticed composers for the greatest achievements in the world. That sounded pretty serious, but I feel Leonin and Perotin started the direction of music and made later on, way after their deaths, acceptable to everyone in any social standings.

Leonin lived from 1135c.-1201c. We only know him through illustrations from anonymous 4. Leonin became active at the Cathedral Notre Dame at the time of 1160c. Anonymous 4 says that Leonin was the best composer and singer of organum. Leonin is especially known for the compiling of songs in a book titled the Magnus Liber. The book of Organum. The only surviving copies directly from Leonin date from the mid 13th century.

The Magnus Liber no longer exists in its original form. The contents have survived in various manuscripts in Florence. This book contained enough music for the entire year. This included even all of the special holidays and everyday masses. Although no one knows if all the music was written by Leonin. In this time period composers didn’t always sign their work. Although we know Leonin still signed a couple of songs we can’t say he composed the whole thing. This book included polyphonic settings of those portions of plain chant that were reserved for solo singers. The chants set were Vespers responsories, mass graduals, alleluias, and some processional antiphons. Leonin probably used as a starting point, the music from the Codex Calixtinus of 1160. Where the chant is placed underneath a florid upper voice. The Codex Calixtinus is an account of the cult of St. James. It’s the book of the actual crusades of Charlemagne. What makes the Codex Calixtinus so important in accessing 12th century polyphony is its readability. This codex is the best source of music leading to the cathedral Notre Dame. The Codex Calixtinus does not use square-note notation. The neumes were modified into what is called glaician neumes. The polyphonic sections often distinguish between the two or three voices by writing one in red ink. I personally believe that if Leonin did use this as a basis it explains why he never really wrote for more than two voices. He rarely wrote for more than that. I never think or have found that Leonin wrote for four voices. There were difficulties in the interpretation of the musical text in the Codex. One of the difficulties was the alignment between the voices. In the note up against note style, which the Codex was written in, it is easily seen which notes went along with each other due to the separation. Although when the upper voice is allowed to have more than one note for every note in the bass, you must decide for yourself which note the voice is matched up with in the text. Another interesting thing was that in the Codex even dissonance of seconds and sevenths were allowed as long as it was quickly followed by a fourth, fifth, unison, or octave. The Codex Calixtinus, housed at the cathedral in Santiago, is a manuscript of the book entitled Liber Samcti Jacobi written between 1130 and 1140. It is considered by many to be the first tourist promotional book in history. Its several books describe the history of St. James and his importance in liberating Spain from the Moors, the miracles of St. James on the behalf of pilgrims and others, and information about the principal route leading to Santiago de Compostela. It wasn’t really written in Spain, evidence suggests that monks in southern France may have authored parts of it. Scholars believe that it was carried to Spain in the early 12th century by a man named Aymery Picaud, who also happens to be the editor of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, and perhaps the author of Book V. Which is the pilgrims guide. Aymery Picaud was the chancellor of Pope Calixtus II, and in order to give the book more authority and authenticity, he inserted into the text-forged letters from the pope and from other historical figures. The Codex has a definite story to it. In the 8th century, Charlemagne had a vision in which a knightly figure appeared to him, identifying himself as St. James, the apostle. St. James described to Charlemagne that his body was resting in a tomb in the furthest part of Western Europe, Finis Terrae, or what is known as the end of the earth. However, the infidels, or what the people knew as the Moors blocked the path to his resting-place. They had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula. Charlemagne was to follow the path of the stars, the Milky Way, through Spain, liberating this holy ground from Islamic influence. The book continues on to describe various battles of Charlemagne and other men in the reconquista of Spain. Throughout these crusades the name of St. James was invoked as a rallying point and became central to uniting all Christendom against the Moors. The huge influence of the figure of St. James contributed to a phenomenon known as the cult of St. James. Legends of miraculous healings and blessings attributed to the power of St. James began to spread. The faithful Christians of Europe, seeking to magnify their devotion, and began making small towns. According to legend, after the martyrdom of James in Jerusalem at the hands of Herod, his body was carried in a boat to Galcia by some of his disciples. Although the various stories differ significantly, the actual tomb was reported to have been discovered by Pelayo a local hermit, or Theodomir, a local bishop in Galicia. Nearly all the legends describe how bright lights or stars above the wooded area where the tomb rested, and angel who proclaimed divinity of the location accompanied the discovery of the tomb. A small church was constructed on the spot, which would later be replaced by the stately cathedral now present. The place was called Campus Stellae, or Field of Stars, later shortened to Compostela. Only Jerusalem and Rome surpassed the popularity of the towns to Santiago de Compostela. There are a couple of reasons for such popularity. First was the idea of Divine Grace or the intercession so saints either to provide a miracle or pardon from sins. Traveling long distances to pay homage to a saint who was considered a worthy price to pay to merit forgiveness. The other motivation for pilgrims was the medieval fascination with relics Oftentimes; these relics were believed to be endowed with healing or restorative powers. Relics located in other places as well. Such as slivers of wood from the cross, or individual bones of some saint, attracted fewer people. The entire body of St. James was considered to be one of the more significant relics of the middle ages. That’s pretty cool. I have found that this book most definitely had an influence on music. Without this book Leonin would not have had any basis to compose. It takes definite concentration and knowledge to compose.

The normal church mode music never allowed such intervals such as the seventh or any tritones. It seems that these rules were even broken before they were even noticed to the population. It’s weird how when you hear music during a certain situation it creates that mood every time you listen to it.

Leonin wrote many of his songs similar to the style the Codex was written in. Leonin had a strong lower voice then a smooth melodic line on the top. Such a chant setting for two voices is known as organum.

Organum is polyphony used in liturgical music from the late 9th century to c.1250. There were several different types of organum developed at this time and they were parallel organum, modified parallel organum, and free organum. Parallel organum had a strict homophony with parallel 4ths, 5ths, and octaves. There was also just one note per syllable. Modified parallel organum began in unison. As it spread to parallel 4ths and then contracted again to unison. It was also syllabic like parallel organum. Free organum was a style of note against note. There were many notes per syllable between the two voices. It is syllabic in each voice as its own. The phrases ended in unison or in the octave. The voices were independent within the phrases. Organum was usually a neumatic and melasmatic chant section sang by the choir at the beginning and the end of a piece. The number of voices greatly classified organum. As in if there were two voices it would be organum duplum. If there were three voices it would be organum triplum and if there were four voices, it would be organum quadruplum and etc. Leonin is linked to mostly organum duplum as it was written in the Codex. Since Leonin wrote in organum duplum he wrote in three styles. Organal style with the tenor who was sustained with a moving duplum voice above. Discant style with all parts in rhythmic modes. A specific method to indicate particular rhythmic groups. Then the last style plainchant parallel organum where the two voices move at the same interval.

I also found that Leonin would have composed in the other popular forms of the time. Such as conductus. Because, he doesn’t sign all of his compositions.

Perotin was a composer who was active in the late 12th century and early 13th century. He was also active at the cathedral of Notre Dame. Like Leonin, Perotin is also known through the writings of Anonymous 4. Anonymous 4 implies that Perotin took Leonin’s liturgical chant settings as a starting point. As when Leonin might have used the Codex. Leonin never took things very far from the Codex if he actually used it. Perotin took music way farther from just the basis he had. He accomplished many things through simply making four parts. Perotin took Leonin’s ideas and modified them in his present day idiom. Leonin’s Magnus Liber was used up to the time of Perotinus Magnus, who shortened it up and made way better clausula or puncta. Anonymous 4 also wrote many of Perotin’s compositions down. Therefore I bet Perotin was more proud of his writings because he signed them. Anonymous never mentions Leonin’s exact compositions. Anonymous includes Perotin’s Sederunt and Viderunt.

Some say that the Viderunt and Sederunt were the grandest of any compositions through out all of the composers of Notre Dame in the early 13th c. The Viderunt is a four voice composition for the Gradual of Christmas. The Sederunt was also a four-voice composition, but it was written for the Gradual of the Feast of St. Stephen. The feast was the day right after Christmas. The excerpt I have of the Sederunt consists of Perotin’s setting of the beginning, which he called the respond of the gradual. In a complete performance of the piece, this excerpt would be followed by the remainder of the respond section, sung in its unchanged chant form by a choir of male singers. Then by Perotin’s four voice setting of the bulk of the second section. Known as the voice. Then finally the choir sang the short concluding section. The entire composition lasts at least ten minutes in my calculations. Some say that these pieces written by Perotin were the greatest achievements throughout all of medieval music. Even though the other compositions were fine they never enhanced Perotin’s standing as much. Perotin lived during the time when it wouldn’t be unlikely if he wrote motets. Although Anonymous 4 gives no accounts of that. Although we do know he wrote in conductus.

I have found a lot of information on the Cathedral of Notre Dame where Leonin and Perotin worked. The bishop of Paris Maurice de Sully began the construction on the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Even before the first stones had been laid, this tribute to the Mother of God had begun to dominate the city of Paris. A road had to be broken through the crowded quarters of the city to facilitate the transportation of the building materials; the ancient basilica of St. Stephen, once the grandest edifice of the fortified island of Paris, was now converted into a work shop for the masons whose meticulous hand work was to be carried across the square and assembled upon the former site of the church of Our Lady, which had originally been only a dependent chapel of mighty St.Stephen’s across the way. Now, under the watchful eyes of the bishop Maurice and his successor Eudes de Sully, the vaulted spaces and soaring buttresses of the new cathedral began to form against the sky silhouette which has ever since been the image of Paris that all its inhabitants and visitors have carried in their hearts.

The bustling activities of the masons and architects attested the growing importance of this sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, but so did the schools, which had sprung up in the shadow of its walls. From every European nation students flocked to the schools clustered in the narrow streets and cloisters surrounding the cathedral. Here theologians and grammarians gathered to impart their knowledge of sacred and secular literature to the hordes of eager students. An intellectual ferment was taking place in the vicinity of Notre Dame and, even before the cathedral had been completed, its schools had been transformed into the University of Paris.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Cathedral of Notre Dame had become the focal point of intellectual Europe and its stones still stand as a testimony of the visions and aspirations of this age. Its portals tell with their sculptured friezes of a hierarchic world order in which every being has its place; its symmetrical fa?ade and ordered interior space portray a world where all is regulated by consonance and proportion. Indeed the Cathedral of Notre Dame, like other masterpieces of Gothic architecture erected in this same period, still sings the silent hymn of the men who created it, a paean of praise to a universe framed in musical proportions and linked from extremity to extremity by the harmonizing force of musical numbers. But, while Notre Dame even today bears mute witness to the medieval conception of a musical cosmos, the music, which once echoed form its walls and which by its very nature embodied I its tones the harmonies of the macrocosm and microcosm, has long since vanished and been forgotten. It is the great merit of the present recording that it restores to our age some of the compositions that were written expressly for performance in Notre Dame in the very years in which the cathedral was conceived and executed.

Some time around 1160 Leonin completed his grandiose plan of providing polyphonic settings for the responsorial chants of the mass and office for the major feast days of the church year. A project which in its own way was magnificent as Maurice de Sully’s plans for the new cathedral. Thirty years later Perotin, the successor to Leonin.

From my perspective I find Perotin the composer with the most skill. The point of learning history is to learn from it and build on its concepts. Leonin was such a chicken in the ways of not writing for more than two voices. He used the Magnus Liber as a guide for his music through out his whole life. That’s so horrible to think about. Perotin on the other hand used the Magnus Liber as basis and he totally built from it. He created some nice 4 voice pieces and had some serious harmonies going on. I found through my search that Perotin is the more likely composer to have started the change of musical concepts. I would even go as far to say that Leonin’s name paired up with Perotin is degrading on Perotin’s part. Leonin I have found was more on the performing side of music. Which is fine but I just don’t think he had much to do with the change of musical ideas. Although if he had not compile the Magnus Liber Perotin may not have done much at all. Perotin changed music by creating two melodies at once (polyphonic), and presenting it two the church. Which he received some persecution. After writing the Sederunt the feast after Christmas he wrote on the manuscript on the bottom, The rulers were seated in council, and they spoke against me; and my enemies persecuted me. That sounds intense. Its funny we still face the same stuff today in music. My final conclusion is that the biggest influence on the direction of music starting out was the Codex Calixtinus. It began everything. It is the first compiling of music that is widely known.

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