Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Shopping Discounts



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
16                                          MUSIC OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
fourths, fifths, and octaves under the plain-song or chant, and of octaves (either to the plain song or to this base) above it. He suggests what he terms a smoother and more pleasing method of under-singing a plain-song, in admitting, besides the fourth and the tone, the major and minor thirds; rejecting the semitone and the fifth. " No advances or attempts at variety seem to have been made in counterpoint, from the time of Hubald, to that of Guido, a period of more than a hundred years ; for with all its faults and crudities, the counterpoint of Hubald is at least equal to the best combinations of Guido;" but the monk, Engelbert, who wrote in the latter end of the thirteenth century, tells us that all " regular descant" con≠sists of the union of fourths, fifths, and octaves, so that these uncouth and bar≠barous harmonies, in that regular succession which has been since prohibited, continued in the Church for four centuries.
Before the use of lines, there were no characters or signs for more than two kinds of notes in the Church ; nor since ecclesiastical chants have been written upon four lines and four spaces, have any but the square and lozenge characters, commonly called Gregorian notes, been used in Canto fermo: and, although the invention of the time-table extended the limits of ingenuity and contrivance to the utmost verge of imagination, and became all-important to secular music, the Church made no use whatever of this discovery.
That melody received no great improvement from the monks, need excite no wonder, as change and addition were alike forbidden; but not to have improved harmony more than they did for many centuries after its use was allowed, is a matter of just surprise, especially since the- cultivation of music was a necessary part of their profession.
We have occasional glimpses of secular music through their writings; for instance, Guido, who gives a fair definition of harmony in the sense it is now understood (Armonia est diversarum vocum apta coadunatio), says that he merely writes for the Church, where the pure Diatonic genus was first used, but he was aware of the deficiency as regards other music. " Sunt prceterea et alia musicorum genera aliis mensuris aptata." Franco (about 1050) just mentions Discantum in Cantilenis Rondellisó" Descant to Rounds or Roundelays,"óbut no more.
When Franco writes in four parts, he sometimes gives five lines to each part, the five lowest for the Tenor or plain song, the next five for the Medius, five for the Triplum Discantus, and the highest for the Quadruplum. Each has a clef allotted to it. Although many changes in the form of musical notes have been made since his time, the lines and spaces have remained without augmentation or diminution, four for the plain song of the Romish Church, and five for secular music.
He devotes one chapter to characters for measuring silence, and therein gives examples of rests for Longs, Breves, Semibreves, and final pauses. He also suggests dots, or points of augmentation. Bars are placed in the musical examples,' as pauses for. the singers to take breath at the end of a sentence, verse, or phrase of melody. And this is the only use made of bars in Canto fermo.