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With Voice and PenComing to Know Medieval Song and How it Was Made$
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Leo Treitler

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199214761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199214761.001.0001

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‘Centonate’ Chant: übles Flickwerk or e pluribus unus?

‘Centonate’ Chant: übles Flickwerk or e pluribus unus?

Chapter:
(p.186) CHAPTER 7 ‘Centonate’ Chant: übles Flickwerk or e pluribus unus?
Source:
With Voice and Pen
Author(s):

Leo Treitler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199214761.003.0007

This chapter argues that the theory of centonization misrepresents both the practice that it is meant to explain and the criteria of value on which its products would have been judged in its time. It presents a static view of melodies and their component segments as objects, conceived as though fixed in writing, whereas they had to be made or remembered and apprehended in the flow of performance. Conceiving formulae as though they were stones in a mosaic, the theory cannot take account of their functions in the progression of melodic formulae. That constitutes not only a misrepresentation, but marks an inadequacy of the theory as an analytical theory. In its practice of labelling and classifying formulae it also falls short, for it raises but fails to resolve the problem of how formulae are to be recognized, identified, and compared. The chapter reinforces the demonstration of the preceding one that historical understanding must come from the analysis both of the evidence about the past and of the history of interpretation into the present.

Keywords:   Gregorian chants, theory of centonization, plainchant, melodies, melodic formulae

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