Aspects of Orality and Formularity in Gregorian Chant is a milestone publication in the study of medieval monophonic music. In its movement away from the concept of chants as products and toward the idea of chants as processes, it will markedly change accepted ways of thinking about this musical form.
The essays are loosely connected through their bearing on one or more of three themes: the role of orality in the transmission of chant circa 700-1400; varying degrees of stability or instability in the transmission of chant; and the role of the formula in the construction of chant. Throughout, Karp uses 202 musical examples.
The first essay evaluates forms of evidence that may shed light on the nature of orality that led to the surviving notational records of Gregorian chant and assembles evidence that supports the conclusion that fidelity of transmission represented an important goal of the Franks. The second essay treats formulas that cross the boundaries of individual liturgical genres and modes. The third essay defines the varying kinds of musical formulas in chant and proposes a chronological ordering of the genre of second-mode tracts.
The fourth essay treats the transmission of a stable melody and explores the ways in which one basic melody may be adapted to texts of widely differing structures and lengths. The fifth essay deals with a group of unstable melodies that furnished difficulties in modal classification. The sixth essay explores the problems faced by scribes seeking to represent in diastematic notation melodies employing tones not normally admitted into the medieval gamut. The seventh essay takes up the role of the formula in introits, a neumatic genre intended forchoral performance.
The two final essays look at second-mode tracts and at the interrelationship between Roman and Gregorian chant.
Studying Gregorian chant presents many problems to the researcher because its most important stages of development were not recorded in writing. From the sixth to the tenth century, this form of music existed only in song as medieval musicians relied on their memories and voices to pass each verse from one generation to the next.
Peter Jeffery offers an innovative new approach for understanding how these melodies were created, memorized, performed, and modified. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, including anthropology and ethnomusicology, he identifies characteristics of Gregorian chant that closely resemble other oral traditions in non-Western cultures and demonstrates ways music historians can take into account the social, cultural, and anthropological contexts of chant's development.
This book presents for the first time in English the fully documented history of the Gregorian chant restoration which culminated in the publication of the Vatican Edition ordered by Pope Pius X at the dawn of the twentieth century. It is based upon archival documents in the Abbey of St. Pierre de Solesmes.