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But this tradition is polyphonic, not notated and could be > 50,000 years old. At least historical records mention a performance for the Pharaoh Nefrikare in 2,500BC.


I also seem to remember reading about some Roman record of Germanic tribes singing in multiple lines
 

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The context of this discussion is whether Perotin drew on an established polyphonic tradition. I mean obviously he did because he was extremely familiar with two part polyphony, but the idea is that the sort of complexity of three part music was already familiar, maybe not notated.

Well, given that, I think that it's a bit of a non sequitur to mention something in Africa or China. I would like some examples in good old Europa please.

I'm sure Perotin was aware of polyphony by the way. Everyone who's taken a walk in the woods in Spring and bothered to listen to the birds is aware of polyphony. The question is whether he already understood three part polyphony as music before writing down some of it himself, and in doing so making some church hit songs.
 

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The context of this discussion is whether Perotin drew on an established polyphonic tradition. I mean obviously he did because he was extremely familiar with two part polyphony, but the idea is that the sort of complexity of three part music was already familiar, maybe not notated.

I'm sure Perotin was aware of polyphony by the way. Everyone who's taken a walk in the woods in Spring and bothered to listen to the birds is aware of polyphony. The question is whether he already understood three part polyphony as music before writing down some of it himself, and in doing so making some church hit songs.
It is a natural evolution from two part polyphony to adding third and fourth parts. I wouldn't read too much into it. It has been assumed that Pérotin pioneered the styles of organum triplum and organum quadruplum - since his are the only surviving examples. But it does not stand to reason that he was alone in this.

And it need not have been improvised, although it makes no difference even if it was - the style was eventually codified in the Magnus Liber Organi which Pérotin officially revised.

Much of this work was making more concise, shortening sections, in the wake of Leonin's duplum. This second part had to be sung fast, consisting sometimes in as many as 40 notes to a single syllable of text caused the meaning to become lost. Pérotin often added a third voice to these revised pieces. (Roesner, Edward (2001a). "Perotinus [Perrotinus, Perotinus Magnus, Magister Perotinus, Pérotin]". Grove Music Online)

"Two styles emerged from the organum duplum, the "florid" and "discant" (discantus). The former was more typical of Léonin, the latter of Pérotin, though this indirect attribution has been challenged. Anonymous IV described Léonin as optimus organista (the best composer of organa) but Pérotin, who revised the former's Magnus Liber Organi (Great Organum Book), as optimus discantor referring to his discant composition. In the original discant organum duplum, the second voice follows the cantus firmus, note on note but at an interval, usually a fourth above. By contrast, in the florid organum, the upper or vox organalis voice wove shorter notes around the longer notes of the lower tenor chant." (Berger, Anna Maria Busse (2005). Medieval Music and the Art of Memory; Vellard, Dominique (1986). Ecole de Notre-Dame de Paris 1163-1245: Monodies et polyphones vocales (Liner notes) (CD); Planchart, Alejandro Enrique (2000). Organum. pp. 23-51.)
 

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It is a natural evolution from two part polyphony to adding third and fourth parts. I wouldn't read too much into it. It has been assumed that Pérotin pioneered the styles of organum triplum and organum quadruplum - since his are the only surviving examples. But it does not stand to reason that he was alone in this.

And it need not have been improvised, although it makes no difference even if it was - the style was eventually codified in the Magnus Liber Organi which Pérotin officially revised.

Much of this work was making more concise, shortening sections, in the wake of Leonin's duplum. This second part had to be sung fast, consisting sometimes in as many as 40 notes to a single syllable of text caused the meaning to become lost. Pérotin often added a third voice to these revised pieces. (Roesner, Edward (2001a). "Perotinus [Perrotinus, Perotinus Magnus, Magister Perotinus, Pérotin]". Grove Music Online)

"Two styles emerged from the organum duplum, the "florid" and "discant" (discantus). The former was more typical of Léonin, the latter of Pérotin, though this indirect attribution has been challenged. Anonymous IV described Léonin as optimus organista (the best composer of organa) but Pérotin, who revised the former's Magnus Liber Organi (Great Organum Book), as optimus discantor referring to his discant composition. In the original discant organum duplum, the second voice follows the cantus firmus, note on note but at an interval, usually a fourth above. By contrast, in the florid organum, the upper or vox organalis voice wove shorter notes around the longer notes of the lower tenor chant." (Berger, Anna Maria Busse (2005). Medieval Music and the Art of Memory; Vellard, Dominique (1986). Ecole de Notre-Dame de Paris 1163-1245: Monodies et polyphones vocales (Liner notes) (CD); Planchart, Alejandro Enrique (2000). Organum. pp. 23-51.)
So can we all agree that there was no four part polyphonic music in Europe before Perotin, as far as we know?
 

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So can we all agree that there was no three part polyphonic music in Europe before Perotin, as far as we know?
We can't know for sure, there's no way to prove a negative - but it is hard to believe Pérotin was alone. I don't think anything survives (even anonymous) other than Pérotin's works - so I suppose we have to be satisfied with that answer.
 

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So can we all agree that there was no three part polyphonic music in Europe before Perotin, as far as we know?
But how would we know? 3-part polyphony over a drone like Perotin's Viderunt Omnes can be found in folk music in Georgia and the Balkans, and scholars view this as predating the fourth century introduction of Christianity. We have no idea what pre-Christian German music sounded like.
 

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We can't know for sure, there's no way to prove a negative - but it is hard to believe Pérotin was alone. I don't think anything survives (even anonymous) other than Pérotin's works - so I suppose we have to be satisfied with that answer.
Sorry I should have said 4 voice polyphony. I'll edit the post.

I must say, looking at the English translation of Anonymous 4 on wiki, he doesn't say that Perotin invented it, only that it was the best.

This Magister Perotinus made the best quadrupla, such as Viderunt and Sederunt, with an abundance of striking musical embellishments
 

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But how would we know? 3-part polyphony over a drone like Perotin's Viderunt Omnes can be found in folk music in Georgia and the Balkans, and scholars view this as predating the fourth century introduction of Christianity. We have no idea what pre-Christian German music sounded like.
But that is beside the point since Pérotin and others would not have heard or known of it. What we know of music prior to the Notre Dame School is chant, is Jewish synagogue tropes - pre-Christian, but this is also where the early Christian prayer service originated.

When this Jewish chanting made it way to Italy and France, it became Gregorian chant, which then led directly to the organum of Leonin and Perotin. I think the traditions of Western Europe and the East you mention are distinct and one did not influence the other.

This is my objection to much of what Marcel Peres does, bringing in singing styles from Eastern styles in the performance of Western chant. I think he does it because he likes the sound of it, not based on sound scholarship. I could be wrong, but that is my gut feeling.
 

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But that is beside the point since Pérotin and others would not have heard or known of it. What we know of music prior to the Notre Dame School is chant, is Jewish synagogue tropes - pre-Christian, but this is also where the early Christian prayer service originated.

When this Jewish chanting made it way to Italy and France, it became Gregorian chant, which then led directly to the organum of Leonin and Perotin. I think the traditions of Western Europe and the East you mention are distinct and one did not influence the other.

This is my objection to much of what Marcel Peres does, bringing in singing styles from Eastern styles in the performance of Western chant. I think he does it because he likes the sound of it, not based on sound scholarship. I could be wrong, but that is my gut feeling.
If in the European backwaters of Georgia and the Balkans an older polyphonic folk tradition persists, it may be that this type of music was widespread from before antiquity or spread during Roman times. Dont think we know much about the pre-Christian folk traditions of Western Europe
 

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Discussion Starter · #111 ·
Another important composer that was left out by OP - Philippe de Vitry...
Is it Philippe de Vitry you want? I aim to please.

Level 1
No works

Level 2
No works

Level 3
Guillaume de Machaut: Messe de Notre Dame

Level 4
Dufay, Guillaume: Missa l'Homme Armé
Guillaume de Machaut: Douce Dame Jolie

Level 5
Dunstaple, John: Quam Pulchra Es
Dufay, Guillaume: Missa Se La Face Ay Pale
Dufay, Guillaume: Nuper rosarum flores
Landini, Francesco: Ballades inc. Ecco la primavera, Non Ara Ma' Pieta, Sì dolce non sonò chol lir' Orfeo
Dufay, Guillaume: Secular Songs inc. Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys, Se La Face Ay Pale, Craindre Vous Vueil, Hélas Mon Deuil, a ce Coup- Sui Je Mort, Ce Jour de l'An, Je Languis en Piteux Martire
Guillaume de Machaut: Ma fin est mon commencement

Level 6
Guillaume de Machaut: Le Remède de Fortune
Dunstaple, John: Veni Sancte Spritus
Dufay, Guillaume: Ave Regina Coelorum
Power, Leonel: Missa Alma Redemptoris Mater
Philippe de Vitry: Motets inc. Impudenter circumivi / Virtutibus
Seuse, Heinrich: In Dulce Jubilo
Guillaume de Machaut: Le Livre du Voir Dit
Dufay, Guillaume: Missa Ave Regina Coelorum
Philippe de Vitry: Roman de Fauvel Motets
Guillaume de Machaut: Felix Virgo / Inviolata / Ad Te Suspiramus
Oswald von Wolkenstein: Es Fuegt Sich
Dunstaple, John: Gloria in Canon
Dufay, Guillaume: Supremum est Mortalibus Bonum
Busnoys, Antoine: In Hydraulis
Busnoys, Antoine: Missa l'Homme Armé


My listening today:



Dunstaple: Veni Sancte Spiritus
Power Missa Alma Redemptoris Mater

Hilliard Ensemble



Guillaume de Machaut: Remede de Fortune

Ensemble Ars Nova Project



Guillaume de Machaut: Le Livre du Voir Dit

Orlando Consort



Philippe de Vitry: Le Roman de Fauvel

Joel Cohen



Philippe de Vitry: Motets

Orlando Consort
 

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I don't know, don't they look at the iconography and medieval technical books on music? I'm out of my depth.

I guess it wouldn't be surprising if a band of four people got together at a party. Nothing follows!
When I started reading academic publications about this stuff instead of just liner notes this is exactly the thing that got me - the sheer insane paucity of sources! I mean you mentioned Anon 4 earlier - Anon 4 who is quite literally the sole source of information about Leonin and Perotin ("Other than a brief mention by music theorist Johannes de Garlandia in his De Mensurabili Musica" -wiki), the sole foundation of their contemporary canonization... some student's final exam essay answers which happened to be preserved in exactly one copy which was simply lucky to have survived all this time and to be rediscovered... Like, just imagine the contradictory or additional information which happened to not be preserved, or, imagine how different our picture of medieval music would be if things were reshuffled only slightly in this chain of preservation...

How many 'medieval technical books on music' do you think contemporary academics actually have access to? I think it would be not that difficult to define those terms such that the total comes out less than 10. And they all contradict each other, or are silent on the issues we really want to know about, or describe things in such a roundabout way as to be decipherable in many different ways...

This is one of those things where I'm like, is everybody else just not seeing the same situation as me, or what? How can it be that our picture of medieval music is routinely upended by new research, but every time the dust settles we say, 'ok, NOW we have a fairly clear picture of things, NOW we can confidently say Perotin invented four-voice polyphony in Europe'?
 

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but every time the dust settles we say, 'ok, NOW we have a fairly clear picture of things, NOW we can confidently say Perotin invented four-voice polyphony in Europe'?
Nobody would say that, I mean nobody would get away with it if I were in the seminar.

This is one of those things where I'm like, is everybody else just not seeing the same situation as me, or what?
What are you seeing exactly?
 

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Nobody would say that, I mean nobody would get away with it if I were in the seminar.
Certainly. But it seems to me implicit in, for example, any narrative of medieval music which takes Leonin and Perotin as the forefathers of the great polyphonic tradition, instead of something like, 'we know these two guys existed and at one time and one place were held in high esteem, but we don't know all these other things that plausibly could've been true that would totally reorient our understanding of their importance'.

I feel like this is Schmelzer's whole thing, which I used to see as a bit of schtick but now am totally in sympathy with - the idea that the only non-absurd response to the scraps of information we think we have, in the field of early music performance, is to just freely spin off into what might appear to be fantasy, because the results are genuinely just as 'historically informed' as the most straight-laced research-synthesizing people.
 

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Certainly. But it seems to me implicit in, for example, any narrative of medieval music which takes Leonin and Perotin as the forefathers of the great polyphonic tradition, instead of something like, 'we know these two guys existed and at one time and one place were held in high esteem, but we don't know all these other things that plausibly could've been true that would totally reorient our understanding of their importance'.

I feel like this is Schmelzer's whole thing, which I used to see as a bit of schtick but now am totally in sympathy with - the idea that the only non-absurd response to the scraps of information we think we have, in the field of early music performance, is to just freely spin off into what might appear to be fantasy, because the results are genuinely just as 'historically informed' as the most straight-laced research-synthesizing people.
I don't have any issue with Schmelzer or Peres performing these ancient works with stylistic interpretations coming from anywhere. But Peres, especially, tries to make a scholarly case that he is correct. This is my problem, what I see as propaganda parading as musicology.

Taruskin made the point decades ago that the HIP movement is really a manifestation of post-modernism, i.e. using whatever argumentation we wish to create a whiff of authenticity but really it is an expression of personal taste draped in the clothes of period performance.

That said, I vastly prefer HIP/PI performances/recordings over modern ones which incorporate no aspect of historical accuracy.

There have been some horrid performances of Early Music, Machaut e.g., in which over large choirs, brass instruments, and other inappropriate things are used, or people like Lucien Kandel and his group Ensemble Musica Nova abusing musica ficta to transform Machaut into a composer writing diatonic music.

Schmelzer and Peres are a breath of fresh air even if they err on the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e. trying to conjure an even more exotic sound from music for which we don't have enough information to know exactly how it really sounded.
 
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