Germany Music Part 2

Germany Music Part 2

At the banquets each guest was called, in turn, to sing the stanzas of these songs accompanying himself on the harp that was passed from one to the other, while the choir sang the refrain. Later a recognized line of highly learned epic singers arose, roughly as was the case in Homeric times (although epic singers were less well organized than bards). In Carolingian times the epic cantor was replaced by the professional mime, which was known in the Roman world since the time of Justinian.

We find ourselves on more solid ground with the spread of Christianity which, thanks to the convents, introduced the singing of psalms and hymns, first in the empire of the Franks, then in that of the Saxons. However, the introduction of Gregorian chant was not very easy, since the tonal system of the Nordic peoples (existing, almost certainly, since ancient times) was different from that used in Mediterranean civilizations: while the tonal system of these civilizations was based on the ancient ranges and on the ways of the church, the Nordic systems seem to have always been based on the three elements of the major perfect chord. In any case, however far we can peer into the centuries, we are always faced with a melodic scheme based on fifth and third intervals.

According to, Germany, despite its willingness to stick to Roman usage, throughout the Middle Ages preserved its own dialect in Gregorian liturgical chant: p. ex. where in Italy intervals of thirds appeared, often in Germany series of fourths were followed, where in Italy the fourths were used, in Germany the fifths were used and so on. Evidently the Nordic people gave their choral singing a more violent movement, a more tormented line than the southerners. The greatest effort to reach a sufficient unification of the liturgical chant was made by Charlemagne, who in the Roman liturgy also saw a useful means of merging ever better the different members of his empire; an effort in which he had Alcuin as his main help. During this period various scholae cantorum were founded, as in Aachen and Fulda; the first organs, a gift from those emperors, were received from Byzantium, while neumes in the chapels of Mainz, Trier, Cologne, Hildesheim and Minden began to be seen on the models of the Metz school. The further development of liturgical chant in Germany was mainly the work of the Benedictine monasteries of St. Gall and Reichenau, which received visits from the Saxon emperors with solemn ceremonies in which lauds rich in music were held. Of this period we remember especially the sequences of Notker and the tropes of Totila, as well as important imitations of the magnificent Roman and oriental models, such as the Ave praeclara by Henry of Limburg and the Laus Tibi Christe of his pupil Godeskalk, who died in Aachen in 1098. To these songs, which were renowned throughout Europe, we must add the noble antiphon Alma redemptoris Mater by Hermann of Reichenau (Ermannus Contractus) and the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes (1050) by the poet, musician and historian Wipo. Worthy of attention is, in the century. XII, the art of female monasteries, whose main monument is the codex of St. Hildegard in Wiesbaden, containing the Singspiel ” Ordo virtutum “with 80 intermediate songs (only the Devil recites it, instead of singing). Even in these times it was customary to draw from profane songs the musical material for religious songs, as happens in the religious sequences taken from sequences of lay bards, which are preserved in Wolfenbüttel and Cambridge manuscripts with the indication modus Ottincmodus Liebinc, etc. Church Latin still dominates everywhere, but the sangallese Notker Labeo (who died in 1022) already wrote the first music treatises in Old High German. The main theorists after him were Berno of Reichenau, the aforementioned Ermanno Contratto, St. William of Hirschau, Aribo of Freising. The last important exponents of Gregorian art and aesthetics were Hugh of Reutlingen (died in 1360) and Conrad of Zabern (died about 1480).

The Franciscan movement also has its manifestation in the history of German music, first determining the composition of cyclical offices (in rhyme) for St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua, due to the monk Giuliano di Spira chapel master of the Parisian church of S. Luigi (died 1250).

Polyphonic music begins its development especially in the work of Abbot Hoger of Werden (died in 902), author of the treatise Musica enchiriades (organum theorist), wrongly known under the name of Ubaldo, and of Francone of Cologne, Pontifical protonotary (died 1247) who was the main teacher of mensural theory. The art of the motetists of the Notre-Dame school spread in Germany, as we see in a famous Bamberg codex, and found there a new, properly German development, which is manifested in a brilliant page such as Brumans est mors.

Germany Music 02

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