ORGANUM IN MUSIC THEORY SOURCES• Western art music is marked by one important characteristic: polyphony – the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent musical lines.• It is not known exactly how polyphony began – but is innate to human expression as singing itself.
Musica enchiriadis (Music Handbook; c890s)• Ascribed to Abbot Hoger (d. 906)• First surviving written description of early polyphony, or organum (pl. organa).• Intended to teach church singers how to improvise polyphonic music on the spot.• This practice made Gregorian chant sound more splendid by adding one or more lines around it.• Polyphony is called organum because voices singing in harmony show a resemblance to the organ.
Organum• Organum - a term used to connote all early polyphony generally.• Most organum in the Musica enchiriadis is parallel organum – organum in which all voices move in lockstep, up or down. • at first, parallel organum exists at the fourth or fifth • later, doubled at an octave.• The existing Gregorian chant is to be found in vox principalis (principal voice).• The vox organalis (organal voice) is the newly created line to be added to the chant.
• Micrologus (Little Essay; c1030) written by Guido of Arezzo (d. c1033): allows for contrary motion in organum and discuss the occursus – the coming together of voices at cadences (developed by Guido of Arezzo). [Note: In the second version, each voice is doubled at the octave to allow for a fuller texture.]
An example of two-voice organum from Guido’s Micrologus showing a clear occursus at the end• Oblique motion – one voice repeating or sustaining a pitch while another moves away or toward it.• Oblique motion was often used to avoid the interval of a tritone.• In order to avoid this, the vox organalis would stay temporarily stationary (as seen in the example above). [Note: occursus at end of line as well as contrary motion – early signs of counterpoint!]
ORGANUM IN PRACTICAL SOURCES• Winchester Troper (c1000): a book of tropes written in Winchester, England (Benedictine monastery), that includes the organal voice for about 150 two-voice organa. – were mainly tropes• The exact pitches of the polyphony cannot be determined with certainty as only one voice exists (that of the organa). – since the singers already knew the chant by memory.
Aquitanian polyphony• A collection of some sixty-five pieces of two-voice organum originating in monasteries in the southern French province of Aquitaine.• The notation of these manuscripts gives precise indication with regard to exact pitch.• Acquitanian polyphony often involves a style called sustained- tone organum – the bottom voice holds a note while the fast-moving upper voice embellishes it in a florid fashion. [usually occurs at the ends of phrases at a cadence]• The end of the opening phrase of the anonymous two-voice organum Viderunt omnes exhibits such a moment of sustained- tone organum.
Viderunt omnesAn anonymous example of two-voiceAquitanian polyphony Viderunt omnes
The anonymous Viderunt omnesas it exists in the original twelfth-century manuscript coming from southern France
Codex Calixtunus• (c1150; named after Pope Calixtus II) A liturgical book and travel guide – that includes twenty polyphony pieces for the liturgy of St. James the Apostle.• The Church of St. James (Santiago) in Compostela, Spain, was a pilgrimage site – in the West second in importance only to Rome.
An opening in the Codex Calixtinus Showing the three-voice organum Congaudeant catholici by Master Albertus of Paris.The Codex Calixtinus is the first manuscript to ascribe composers names to particular pieces.
Congaudeant catholociA transcription of Master Albertus’ Congaudeantcatholoci, the first example of three-voice music tosurvive in a practical source.