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FW: TMR 99.01.13, Levy, Gregorian Chant (Hen)
Poster: "Garrett, William" <WGarrett@sierrahealth.com>
> Kenneth Levy. <i>Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians</i>.
> Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Pp. x, 271.
> $49.50 (hb). ISBN: 0-691-01733-6
> Reviewed by Yitzhak Hen
> University of Haifa
> Kenneth Levy is well known to early medievalists for his work on
> early medieval music and neumatic tradition. For more than
> three decades Levy has written with sustained intelligence,
> opening up new subjects and contributing some lucid and
> comprehensive analysis to our understanding of early medieval
> music, and more precisely Byzantine and Carolingian plainchant.
> In <i>Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians</i> Levy seeks "to
> consider Gregorian chant's passage from oral to written
> transmission" (p. 3), and he does so by reproducing several of
> his most relevant papers and by adding to them some new
> studies. The result is an important and most illuminating
> book, which traces the evolution and dissemination of Latin
> plainchant in the early medieval West.
> The book itself contains eleven chapters. The first chapter,
> entitled "From Gregory to the Ottonians", is a general
> introduction to the entire volume, and in it Levy gives a short
> survey of the various problems he discusses in the following
> chapters. As he explains, "between the sixth and the tenth
> centuries, European plainchant went through three more or less
> simultaneous processes of change." (p. 6) First, local
> repertories were suppressed and substituted by a single,
> "authoritative" Gregorian repertory; second, a change from
> variable to fixed melos took place; and third, the solely aural
> transmission was gradually replaced by notational transmission,
> in which neumes served as memory aids. These three intertwined
> changes were all completed by the end of the ninth century.
> Given the fact that the fixing of melodic substances did not
> begin before the reign of Pippin III and Charlemagne, the
> inevitable question that needs asking is what happened to the
> music during the ninth century, before the initial neumatic
> According to Levy (pp. 10-13), three scenarios were suggested
> by scholars in recent decades. The first scenario, entitled
> "the late independent" scenario, argues that the Gregorian
> musical substances reached fixed, definitive melodic states in
> the late eighth century, and since then was maintained without
> change by aural means until neuming started independently at
> different places ca. 900. The second scenario, "the
> reimprovisation" scenario, agrees with "the late independent"
> scenario as to the late, independent start of neuming, but it
> also adds that no musical uniformity was maintained by the
> Carolingians. According to this scenario, improvisational
> strategies and great freedom continued to characterise
> Carolingian music, even after neuming was introduced. The
> third scenario, "the early archetype" scenario, perceives the
> neumes as essential agents in reaching a fixed melodic state,
> and accordingly it maintains that an archetype Carolingian
> model of neuming was developed ca. 800, and thereafter served
> as a basis for nearly all Carolingian neumations. This is the
> scenario favoured by Levy, and this is the theory he develops
> in Chapters 4 and 5, "Charlemagne's Archetype of Gregorian
> Chant" (originally published in <i>Journal of the American
> Musicological Society</i> 40 (1987), pp. 1-30) and "The
> Origins of the Neumes" (originally published in <i>Early Music
> History</i> 7 (1987), pp. 59-90).
> Chapter 2, "A Gregorian Processional Antiphon" (originally
> published in <i>Schweizer Jahrbuch fuer Musikwissenschaft</i> 2
> (1982), pp. 91-102) discusses the antiphon <i>Deprecamur
> te</i>, which, according to Bede, was sung in 597 by Augustine
> of Canterbury on approaching the city. After examining the
> various neumatic witnesses of this antiphon, Levy argues that
> "the Carolingian melody is likely to have been received already
> stylized from Italy, with little added in the way of 'northern'
> or 'Frankish' retouching" (p. 30), and that the ultimate
> Italian source was probably Roman and not Beneventan.
> Chapter 3, "Toledo, Rome and the Legacy of Gaul" (originally
> published in <i>Early Music History</i> 4 (1984), pp. 49-99)
> explores the antecedents for certain Gregorian offertories,
> suggesting that Gallican rather than Roman tradition is
> reflected in many of them. In this chapter Levy focuses on
> "close multiples", that is, neumed versions of a certain
> plainchant which, although written in different times and
> different places, have some melodic agreements. These "close
> multiples" point to a shared aural version behind the various
> neumed versions, and through these "close multiples" one can
> get a rare glimpse of the archaic melodic states, before
> neuming was introduced.
> "Close multiples" is also the subject of Chapter 6, "On
> Gregorian Orality" (originally published in <i>Journal of the
> American Musicological Society</i> 43 (1990), pp. 185-227).
> Here Levy compares the various neumed recensions of the old-
> Gallican offertory for Saint Stephen, <i>Elegerunt
> apostoli</i>. The melodic agreements which these recensions
> represent point to a stable melos, even before its music was
> neumed. However, the lack of a full agreement indicates that
> the melos was not yet firm during the period of neumless
> Chapter 7, "Abbot Helisacher's Antiphoner" (parts of which were
> published in <i>Journal of the American Musicological
> Society</i> 48 (1995), pp. 171-184), and Chapter 8,
> "Aurelian's Use of Neumes", are dedicated to particular texts.
> The former examines Helisacher's letter to Archbishop Nidibrius
> of Narbonne (dated to ca. 820), while the latter discusses
> Aurelian of Reome's <i>Musica disciplina</i> (dated to ca.
> 850). Both texts, according to Levy, discuss a melos that was
> rather fixed, down to the fine details, and quite possibly
> profiled in neumes. Thus, submits Levy, these texts "should
> lay to rest any notion that improvisation was a continuing
> option in the ninth-century Gregorian melodic transmission" (p.
> In Chapter 9, "Plainchant before Neumes", Levy turns to study
> differences of musical behaviour in the notational states in an
> attempt to understand the aural states, before there was any
> neuming. Consequently, Levy distinguishes between four classes
> of Gregorian chant, that is, "remembered melodies"
> (<i>idiomela</i>); "accommodated melodies"; "Psalmic matrices",
> and "<i>centonate</i> compilations", each of which "having
> something of its own behaviour, and each reflecting perhaps a
> different process of aural generation, or, a different path
> from aural to notational delivery" (p. 195).
> Chapter 10, "The Carolingian Visual Model", is, in more than
> one respect, the culmination of the entire book. It "ties
> together proposals made in earlier chapters, concerning neumes'
> origins and the start of neumed Gregorian states" (p. 15) and
> it persuasively presents "the early archetype" theory. By ca.
> 800, argues Levy in this paper, a full, authoritative Gregorian
> repertory was established (probably in Metz), in which melodic
> refinements were attained by visual-notational control. This
> repertory--Charlemagne's Archetype--provided choiremasters
> throughout the Frankish realm with the memory support they
> needed to maintain the Carolingian-Gregorian melodies. Thus,
> according to Levy, neumes were already in regular use during
> the late eighth century.
> Chapter 11, "Memory, Neumes, and Square Notations", concludes
> the book and in it Levy traces in broad lines the nature and
> development of melodic variance from the tenth to the
> eighteenth century.
> Although Levy's hypotheses and discussions may generate some
> criticism and controversy, there is little place to doubt that
> <i>Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians</i> is an important
> contribution to the study of early medieval music. It provides
> a strong and quite convincing case for the "early archetypal"
> scenario, and it contains much that will be of interest to
> academics and research students of early medieval music and
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