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Music History - Essay Example

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The paper will explore the phenomena of the Plainchant. The main part of the paper will occupy historical premises and religious constituent…
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Music History
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Download file to see previous pages According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Alleluia was introduced into Western churches around the fourth century and sung in response to the reading of the psalms (Bewerunge, Henry. "Plain Chant."). However, it is generally believed that the official recording occurred in the eighth century when St. Gregory made the effort to compile his beloved church music. It is at this time that the neum, the name of the strange characters, came into existence. (Bewerunge, Henry. "Neum"). The Alleluia was a melismatic composition which means that there were complex notes and melodies carried out on one syllable. The manuscript shows the squiggles streaming after the "a" in "Alleluia" which would suggest that the sound of the "a" is prolonged in the melody. The marks indicate how the sounds are sung or modulated, that is, whether there are glides or trills for example. Accent signs such as the acutus (/) written from left to right over a syllable would indicate a rise in the melody and the gravis, drawn downwards () would be the opposite, to lower the note. The gravis was abbreviated over time to only a dot, or punctum, and as a result was used in combination with
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other marks to determine the melody. For example, in the group scandicus it shows an ascending group of three or more notes, drawn from left to right, and in the group climacus (), a descending group of notes (Bewerunge, Henry. "Neum"). The Alleluia chant was first used at Easter Sunday, then extended for the entire Easter period, then, courtesy of St. Gregory, again extended for use during the entire year with the exception of the period before Lent (Bewerunge, Henry. "Plain Chant."). As a praise to God, it seems appropriate that it should be used more than one or two times a year.
The Agnus Dei is another example of plainchant or Gregorian chant as it is commonly called. However, the neums have evolved into another form in order to further convey the musical meaning. The Catholic Encyclopedia translates the Latin words ""Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis" to "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us" (Henry, Hugh. "Agnus Dei (in Liturgy)"). In Henry Hugh's same article, he states that the Agnus Dei is generally used toward the end of the service before the giving of the Holy Communion. He also mentions that it is also found at the end of litanies, with a slightly different wording and in Requiem Masses. Early Agnus Dei plainsongs were mostly syllabic, where each syllable was given its own note and were mostly sung during days of "penitential character" such as during Lent or Advent, except Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Henry, Hugh. "Agnus Dei (in Liturgy)"). This example of the Agnus Dei is more embellished, and it falls into the neumatic category, where two or more notes, are applied to one syllable. Sometimes up to a dozen notes are used in the neumatic form and it differs from the melismatic compositions where one will find a syllable carried for dozens of different notes.
At the beginning of each four-line staff, there is a notation on the upper line and this tells what mode or key the piece will be in. In this case, it is the mode of C. The other popular mode was the key of F and later, the key of G was introduced. Bewerunge notes in his article in th ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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