The Blog

ca 890- 1150

ORGANUM( ca 890-1150)
• Form of polyphony but has additional vocal lines moved parallel (above or below)of the pre-existing chant by 4th or 5th.
• Monks sung chants for a months, years, decades. Starting harmonizing the chant
• Earliest form of polyphony in western art music
• Began as in improvised practice, evolved over several centuries
• 1st notated in the 9th century, the treatise Musica enchriadis
• Composers at Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris) further developed Organum in the 12th and 13th centuries
• The original pre-existing chant is referred to as the cantus firmus.
• 2nd voice is added on the top of chant melody (4th or 5th, octave paralleled)
• later developments by Notre Dame composers included free Organum which involved a wider variety of intervals and rhythms and newly composed upper parts

• Latin for “Music Handbook”
• anonymous 9th century treatise
• contains the earliest examples of notated polyphony in western art music
• Included parallels Organum with new melodic lines added above or below the original chant.

• In 12th and 13th a compositional school. 2 leaders were LEONIN and PEROTIN
• 1st composer of polyphony known to us by name
• Active in Paris in the later 12th century
• He produced 2part Organum using organal and discant style
• Wrote Magnus Liber Organi (Great Book of Organum)
• Active at Notre Dame Cathedral in the 13th century
• Expanded polyphonic techniques by composing 3 and 4 part polyphony
• Composed “substitute clausulae” to replace Organum originally composed by Leonin.