Book

Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

Anna Maria Busse Berger

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240285
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930643 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520240285.001.0001
Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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This book challenges conventional notions about medieval music, disputes the assumption of pure literacy, and replaces it with a more complex picture of a world in which literacy and morality interacted. Asking such fundamental questions as how singers managed to memorize such an enormous amount of music and how music composed in the mind rather than in writing affected musical style, the book explores the impact of the art of memory on the composition and transmission of medieval music. The study shows that although writing allowed composers to work out pieces in the mind, it did not make memorization redundant but allowed for new ways to commit material to memory. Since some of the polyphonic music from the twelfth century and later was written down, scholars have long assumed that it was all composed and transmitted in written form. Our understanding of medieval music has been profoundly shaped by German philologists who, from the beginning of the last century, approached medieval music as if it were no different from music of the nineteenth century. But this book demonstrates that the fact that a piece was written down does not necessarily mean that it was conceived and transmitted in writing. The book's new model, one that emphasizes the interplay of literate and oral composition and transmission, enriches current understandings of medieval music and opens the field to fresh interpretations.

Keywords: memorization; musical style; polyphonic music; German philologists; twelfth-century music

Book.  304 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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Prologue in Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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Tonaries in Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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Basic Theory Treatises in Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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Conclusion in Medieval Music and the Art of Memory

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