Music in History

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from 6th to 9th cent.

early middle ages


6th to 9th century


on   Boethius and Cassiodorus contribution
Ο Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius , known as "Boethius", was a Roman philosopher of the 6th century (480-525 AD).  An important work entitled "De institutione musica" is  among  the works of Boethius. It was written in the early 6th century and it  helped later  medieval authors  of the 9th century to understand the Greek music. The  usage of alphabetical notation is ascribed to Boethius.

Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, known as "Cassiodorus" ( 485-585 AD), was a Roman statesman and writer. Ηe collaborated with the pope Agapetus A' in order to create a library of Greek/ Latin texts and a Christian Roman school.  Cassiodorus spent his career trying to bridge the 6th century cultural divides: between East and West, Greek culture and Latin, Roman and Goth. In his retirement he founded the monastery of Vivarium on his family estates.
Cassiodorus has significantly contributed to the systematic preservation and copying old manuscripts. Before him, copying was a way of punishment for inexperienced and generally not very skilled workers. The Cassiodorus turned this process to an educational work in order to preserve the historical sources. His work is priceless





Musica Enchiriadis
This is a very important treatise written in Latin by an anonymous, during the end of 9th century. Previously, it was ascribed to  Hucbald. "Musica enchiriadis" is accompanied by "scolica enchiriadis".  They are the oldest treatises  concerning polyphony: the first  form of polyphony  (organum) is described in those works.
The music was written using  a special type of notation (daseian notation) on a system of lines (4-18 horizontal  lines in parallel). Despite the  fact that "Musica et scolica enchiriades"  were well known, generally daseian notation  was not  used. Neumatic notation was a common practice  until  the 11th century (Guido d 'Arezzo).

staff
Staff is five horizontal lines written in parallel. Music is written both on lines and between lines. In music, the first use of horizontal lines to represent pitch heights,  appeared in "musica enchiriadis" circa 900 AD.
It is said that Guido d'Arezzo (990-1050) found this system. Nowadays, the 4-line staff is in use for Gregorian chant notation.  A 5-line staff was used for first time during the 13th century, concerning the notation of polyphonic music.  In relation to  compositions like conductus (12th century " Notre Dame school")  a different system was in use, again horizontal lines. During 14th century, 6-line staffs were used occasionally. Sometimes, 6-line staffs were also used in the early 15th and 16th  century.







resources

On Musica Enchiriadis

                              Anonymous (Musica Enchiriadis, 9th century)
                                        sequence: Rex caeli Domine

                                       Rex Caeli Domine-Musica Enchiriadis

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