Week 2 in Review

In order to briefly consolidate the reading of the week, quickly summarize themes and ideas on the blog, and touch on the issues in the text that never made it onto the blog, Mark and I are going to try to do quick and easy bullet-point reviews at the end of every week. We hope these little reviews help students and fellow travelers on the TC.

The Week in Blogging: This was the week of the trope! Unfortunately (or fortunately), tropes appeared at the very beginning of the week’s reading (p. 50-52) and thus eclipsed the rest of Ch.2 and beginning of Ch.3. We wrestled with the idea of troping through comparison (sampling), meditations on meaning (greater subjectivity and a way for monks to personalize liturgy), and ruminations on the primacy of the transmission media, a post which generated considerable discussion. The week also saw posts on the idea of oral composition and the critical perspectives needed to understand it, and the historiographical dilemma of focusing on sameness vs. difference.

The Week in Reading: Chapter 2 con’t –

  • Tropes (p. 50): But of course. Everyone’s favorite chant genre, involving the interpolation of new material into preexisting chant.
  • The Mass Ordinary (p. 53): The Mass was codified by the Franks and ordered into the format that endures today.
  • Kyries (p. 58): A hybrid genre and the only Greek text in the Mass. RT suggests that the use of double notation to convey necessary information in the Kyries may have played a major role in the invention of the staff.
  • “Old Roman” and Other Chant Dialects (p. 61): Frankish-Roman chant was not the only variety of the day. Other styles included: Old Roman singing, Milanese chant, Mozarabic (from Spain), Benevetan (southern Italy).
  • What is Art? (p. 64): The much-discussed philosophical essay.

CHAPTER 3: Retheorizing Music – New Frankish Concepts of Musical Organization and Their Effect on Composition

  • Musica (p. 69): Music was entirely theoretical and was considered the study of proportions. Active music making was considered a lower form of musical thinking. Musica mirrored harmony of cosmos; also had influence on human health and behavior.
  • Tonaries (p. 72): Notion of scale degrees developed; first foray in music theory. Musical analysis was developed to better understand older chants – descriptive body of knowledge started to become prescriptive.
  • A New Concept of Mode; Mode Classification in Practice; Mode as a guide to composition (pp. 76-86): Discussion of the Medieval modes and their codification in practice and role in guiding new composition.
  • Versus (p. 86): Late Frankish sequences. RT discusses the famous “Dies Irae” chant and Hildegard von Bingen here.
  • Liturgical Dramas (p. 92): Moral plays based on Biblical passages.
  • Marian Antiphons (p.94): Votive antiphons (Psalm-less) started to be attached to the ends of Office services to honor local saints and Mary.

Please respond if you have any suggestions for how to make these little reviews more useful for study. Stay tuned for troubadours, the invention of meter, secular genres, and much much more this week on the Taruskin Challenge!!

1 Comment

  1. Getting close to a year late, I found this review very helpful! I will be starting graduate school in the fall, and decided that spending the summer reading Taruskin seemed to be about as good an idea as anything else.

    Thanks for your blogging!

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