Antiquity and the Middle Ages: From Ancient Greece to the by James McKinnon

By James McKinnon

From the sequence analyzing the advance of track in particular areas in the course of specific occasions, this booklet appears to be like at historical and medieval song, from Classical and Christian antiquity to the emergence of the Gregorian chant and the medieval city and Court.

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The central activity of monastic life was of course the singing of the Office, and this in turn was at first the chief duty of cathedral canons: With the passing of time, however, they found themselves increasingly involved in the administration of the diocese and frequently in civic administration as well. It was necessary, then, to appoint a cadre oflesser clergy, choral vicars, who would take their place in choir. At Dufay's Cambrai the situation was somewhat more complex. Aside from the canons, there were nine 'greater' vicars (three priests, three deacons and three sub-deacons), who were chiefly responsible for carrying the plainsong that still formed the musical backbone of Mass and Office.

All this, of course, is the most informal sort of speculation; its purpose is simply to suggest that claims for the maturity of some branch ofWestern chant must be judged in a broad historical context. It seems 21 Antiquity and the Middle Ages only reasonable to assume that favourable conditions are necessary for the nurture of a sophisticated and stable ecclesiastical music, and as a corollary one must also question the notion of a chant developing gradually during several centuries of chaos and disruption.

All these organizations, including the court, the major churches and the town trumpeters, joined together in the great outdoor processions that marked the principal annual festivals; among some twenty of these the foremost perhaps was the procession on 3 May of the Holy Blood coinciding with the May Fair. As bells sounded from every church tower, literally hundreds of musicians sang and played while the people joined in the singing of their favourite chants. l4), static representations of scenes like the Nativity, the Resurrection and the Tree of Jesse - they were static, except for the playing of angelic and Davidic instrumentalists, familiar to us from the painting of the period.

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