The musical, notational and codicological evidence of W1 for an oral transmission of Notre Dame polyphony to Scotland

Stutter, Joshua Joseph (2020) The musical, notational and codicological evidence of W1 for an oral transmission of Notre Dame polyphony to Scotland. MMus(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The repertory of thirteenth–century polyphony commonly known as the Notre Dame school has traditionally been thought of as one of the first repertories of music to have emerged through composition rather than improvisation. Often conceived of as a product of the work of two men, Léonin and Pérotin, who each contributed to the creation of a ‘Magnus Liber Organi’ and began this tradition, Notre Dame polyphony is frequently discussed as the first polyphonic music to have been conceived in writing. Of the central manuscripts that contain this supposed ‘Magnus Liber Organi’, D-W Cod. Guelf. 628 Helmst. (W1) is the most difficult to fit into the standard view of the repertory, as its provenance from St Andrews in Scotland places it far beyond the Parisian milieu that is usually associated with the repertory. The question of how this music came to be transmitted from Paris to St Andrews has never been satisfactorily answered, leaving open questions as to who, how, and why the music was transmitted to and written down in Scotland.

Reframing the discussion as an issue of cultural phenomena rather than literate music composition, I argue that indications of Notre Dame polyphony being transmitted orally rather than through exemplar manuscripts are not as far–fetched as many believe. This is due in part to our modern distrust of oral transmission, a conception of the Notre Dame repertory as a prototype of the Western art music tradition, as well as an academic failure to move beyond the flawed assumptions of much twentieth–century scholarship. Analysing the music and notation of W1 in comparison to concordant settings in other manuscripts, I bring to the forefront those large and small divergences between the music and its notation that indicate aspects of an oral tradition present in the writing of W1. I argue that these differences provide evidence to support a theory that Notre Dame polyphony was transmitted orally and was not likely to have been transmitted by direct manuscript transmission between far–flung liturgical institutions such as Notre Dame and St Andrews; rather, that Notre Dame polyphony was a pan-European cultural and musical phenomenon that spread gradually throughout Europe through oral–formulaic processes.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Notre Dame school, Notre Dame polyphony, Léonin, Pérotin, Leoninus, Perotinus, Magnus Liber Organi, orality, oral transmission, St Andrews, W1, D-W Cod. Guelf 628 Helmst, oral-formulaic, memory, medieval music.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: McGuinness, Dr. David and Tucker, Dr. Joanna
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Mr Joshua Joseph Stutter
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-79015
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2020 13:32
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2020 13:36
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