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Medieval Music and the Art of Memory$
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Anna Maria Busse Berger

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240285

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240285.001.0001

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Compositional Process and the Transmission of Notre Dame Polyphony

Compositional Process and the Transmission of Notre Dame Polyphony

(p.161) 5 Compositional Process and the Transmission of Notre Dame Polyphony
Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

Busse Berger Anna Maria

University of California Press

This chapter explores the possibility that the rhythmic modes of Notre Dame polyphony were used as a mnemonic device. It explains that the musical texts of the Notre Dame polyphony exhibit many features similar to those found in contemporary verbal texts, and it is increasingly clear that orality played a role in their composition and transmission. It suggests that the invention of modal rhythmic notation might be related to the contemporary passion for didactic quantitative Latin poetry, where difficult material was put into verse form so that it could be remembered better.

Keywords:   Notre Dame polyphony, mnemonic device, rhythmic modes, verbal texts, orality, modal rhythmic notation, Latin poetry, verse form

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