History of medieval music

The Roman official and philosopher Boethius, in his treatise “De institutione musica” (Instructions on Music), introduces three categories of music: world (mundana), human (humana) and practical (instrumentalis), and thus divides three aspects in a person who plays music. : theoretical, writing and web site performing. Boethius for the first time introduces the figure of a musician as a sage and priest of harmony, which actually sets the paradigm of composer’s creativity for more than one and a half thousand years. Boethius is also credited with inventing the Latin letter notation, the earliest monuments of which, however, have come down to us only from the 11th century.

For about three centuries, papal singers have selected and processed a huge number of versions of liturgical singing, both originating in Europe and coming from Byzantium, the Levant and North Africa. As a result, a book of chants was compiled – the antiphonary of Pope Gregory I the Great. The first versions of the antiphonary did not contain musical signs, but only texts: the tunes themselves were transmitted orally. Gregorian chant, or “plain chant”, became the main melodic fund of European music for many years.

In Constantinople, which from the 4th century became the main center of the singing culture of the Great Church (the Church before its split), a collection of church chants of the Eastern (Orthodox) Church was compiled, similar to the antiphonary of Pope Gregory.

Its main difference from the Gregorian chant was the principle of organizing chants (Christians also used the ancient musical heritage) in eight tones – eight different modes, which were used in turn in the annual liturgical cycle. Over time, Orthodox countries developed their own systems of osmoglasy, different from the Byzantine ones. So, Russia has developed its own system – the znamenny chant, which had a huge impact on Russian music. This is the operatic work of Mussorgsky, and the music of Rachmaninoff, who built on the znamenny chant one of the themes of his famous Third Piano Concerto (1909) and the theme of fate in the Third Symphony.

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