An Explanation of the Origins and Nature of Notre Dame Modal Polyphony in the Twelfth Century: A Musical Genre Integral to the Development of Gothic Art and Medieval Culture

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Through an interdisciplinary approach the author seeks to discover how composers created the modal polyphonic system. The reader is led from scholarly and theoretical issues to direct compositional creation.
A significant contribution and interdisciplinary approach to medieval musical research. The author not only researches the music history of the time, but incorporates the political, social and cultural conditions that gave rise to the birth of polyphonic thought in Western music.


“This book is a work of serious research, well organized and thought out. The author investigates the origins of the twelfth-century Parisian school of counterpoint from a new perspective and suggests his own persuasive idea of its evolution. The amount and diversity of material assembled, both historic and musical, is very impressive…very useful for music historians and music theorists alike.”
-Elena Kolyada,
Professor of Music History,
St. Tikhon Orothodox Theological University, Moscow

“By means of keen deduction induction and a creative intuitive philosophical attitude Flindell weaves intricately his rich, logical theory of the true origins of Notre Dame polyphony as found flowering in works of Leonin and Perotin…In short, we have before us a truly comprehensive, historical approach…” -Dr. Vincent Frohne, Composer From the Preface: “In this work, the author seeks to shed light on a question of crucial importance to scholars in medieval music, namely the question of the origin of modal polyphony at the Notre Dame school during the period of Leonin and Petrotin…a valuable resource for scholars interested in the modal polyphonic system…”
- Sidney Corbett,
Professor of Composition.
University of the Performing Arts, Mannheim

Table of Contents

Commendatory Preface by Elena Kolyada
Preface by Sidney Corbett
Chapter 1 – A Philosophy of Approach
Interdisciplinary Aspects
Influences and Motivation
Chapter 2 – The Gothic Spring
The Notre Dame School: Leonin and Perotin
Anonymous IV’s Listing of Works of the Notre Dame Composers
Dating the Notre Dame School
Anonymous IV on Leonin’s Method of Composing
Tracing the Origins of Notre Dame Polyphony
The Cultural Scene
The Rhymed Victorine Sequence
Some Twelfth-century Perspectives
The Economic Upturn
Aristotle and Arabic Science
Mastering the Latin Legacy
Accessus ad auctorem
Abbot Suger
Elocutionary Skills
Chapter 3 – The Nature of the Inquiry: Some Preliminary Considerations
Was Modal Polyphony a System?
An Unexpected Discovery
Chapter 4 – A Survey of Scholarly Viewpoints Respecting the Origin of the Parisian Modal Polyphony
General Observations
A Natural Development
Rhetorical Tradition and Dance
Lack of Testimony Concerning origins
The Greco-Roman Legacy
The Vatican Organum Treatise
Petre amas me in Both VAT and F.
New Perspectives
Leo Treitler and a Theoretical Framework
Sociological Arguments
Innovation and the Church
Guido and Metrical Songs
Stylistic Traits in the Notre Dame Music
The Modal System
Ernest Sander’s View
Hans Tischler’s Findings
Max Haas and Donatus
Accentual Latin Poetry
Once Again Alexander de Villa-Dei
The Nature of Medieval Latin
Bishop Odo de Sully
Chronological Considerations
Verse Feet and the enarratio poetarum
Summary of Viewpoints
Chapter 5 – Rhetorical Terms and Music Theory
Wilhelm Meyer’s Discovery
The Nature of the Treatises
Grammar and Music
Rhetoric and Music
Tables X, 1 – 15
Chapter 6 – Colores
ars intrinsicus and ars extrinsecus (1)
History of the colores
ars dictaminis
ars poetria
and ars praedicandi
Figurae elocutionis

Other Musical colores
Color and Dissonance
Color and Musical Practice
Color and pulchritude
Johannes de Muris
Prosdocimus de Beldemandis
Colores et organa quadrupla
Chapter 7 – Modus and accessus
Part 1 - Modus
The Problematic Sentence and modus superbiae
Translation of a problematic Sentence
Ancient Authority and Veneration of the Old
Part II – Accessus ad auctorem
Definitions of the accessus ad auctorem

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