The Heritage of Antiquity

Charles M. Atkinson

in The Critical Nexus

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780195148886
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852185 | DOI:

Series: AMS Studies in Music

The Heritage of Antiquity

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It has often been said that Western European intellectual life in the Middle Ages rested on two bases—the heritage of Antiquity and the traditions and practices of the Christian church. The bifurcate nature of medieval intellectual history is nowhere better exemplified than in the formation of a theory of melodic classification into tones or modes and the concomitant establishment of a tone-system or scalar matrix for medieval music. Whereas in some areas the two main sources of influence stood in conflict with each other, the formation of a theory of both mode and tone-system in the medieval Latin West represents not so much a conflict as a construct of ideas from both Antiquity and the Christian church. This chapter begins with a brief look at two fundamental aspects of ancient Greek music that are particularly relevant to this study, and then turns to the ways the knowledge of Greek music was transmitted to the Middle Ages.

Keywords: ancient Greek music; tone-system; mode; Middle Ages; Christian church

Chapter.  19019 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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