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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

“SYMPHONIA” AND ITS MODIFICATIONS

Chapter:
CHAPTER 5 Polyphony in Practice and Theory
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

To trace this trajectory we need to begin by reviewing some earlier, more or less scattered manifestations of written polyphony. As a performance practice associated with plainchant, polyphony makes its documentary debut (as noted briefly, with an example, in chapter 2) in the ninth-century treatise Musica enchiriadis. A contemporary commentary to it, called the Scolica (or Scholia) enchiriadis, describes two basic techniques of embellishing a melody harmonically. One consists of simply accompanying a melody in bagpipe fashion, with a drone on the final of the mode. That method—under the name of “ison chanting” after the Greek word for “the same note”—still survives as a traditional way of performing the so-called Byzantine chant of the Greek Orthodox church. The other technique consisted of “parallel doubling”—that is, accompanying melody with a transposition of itself at a constant consonant interval (for which the Greek term, used in the treatise, was symphonia). Three intervals were considered eligible as symphoniae for this purpose; they are the ones we still call “perfect” (fourth, fifth, and octave).

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Polyphony in Practice and Theory." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2017. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-005002.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 5 Polyphony in Practice and Theory. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-005002.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Polyphony in Practice and Theory." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 20 Nov. 2017, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-005002.xml
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