Medieval and Renaissance Music


Week 3    Improvised and Early Composed Polyphony


Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York and London, 1978), pp. 187–214. (library)

Fritz Reckow, Edward Roesner, Rudolf Flotzinger and Norman Smith, ‘Organum’ in Grove Music Online.

Sarah Fuller, ‘Early Polyphony’ in The Early Middle Ages to 1300, The New Oxford History of Music, vol. 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 485–556. (library)

Musica enchiriadis and scholia enchiriadis, transl. Raymond Erickson (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995). (library)

Hucbald, Guido and John on Music, transl. Warren Babb (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978). (library)

Susan Rankin, ‘Winchester Polyphony: The Early Theory and Practice of Organum’ in Music in the Medieval English Liturgy, ed. Susan Rankin and David Hiley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 59–99 (library)

Leo Treitler, ‘The Polyphony of St Martial’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 17 (1964), 29–42 (jstor).

Theodore Karp, The Polyphony of St Martial and Santiago de Compostela (Oxford, 1992) (library) A controversial edition of these repertories.

Hendrik van der Werf, The Oldest Extant Part Music and the Origin of Western Polyphony (author’s publication, Rochester, NY, 1993) (library) Another controversial edition, with extensive commentary, of the Saint Martial and Santiago de Compostela repertories.


Anonymous, ‘Musica enchiriadis’/‘Scholia enchiriadis’ (mid 9th century, see Erikson 19–24, 53–70)

Guido d’Arezzo, ‘Micrologus’ (c.1025, see Babb, 77–82)

Anonymous, ‘Ad organum faciendem’ (c.1100, see Fuller, 511; NG, §6)

John d’Afflighem, ‘De musica’ (c.1100, see Babb, 160–61)


Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 775 Troparium, ‘Winchester Troper’

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MSS Lat. 1139, 3549, 3719

London, British Library, Add. MS 36881

Santiago de Compostela, Cathedral Archive, ‘Codex Calixtinus’


Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1942) (library) See facsimiles 44–47.

Carl Parrish, The Notation of Medieval Music (London, 1958) (library) See plates XXI–XXXI.

Susan Rankin (ed.), The Winchester Troper (London, 2007) (library) K3.50.


Trace the gradual shift from parallel to other types of harmonic motion in improvised polyphony, c.850–c.1100.

In what ways does early polyphony resemble improvised part music, and with what stylistic development(s) may composition be said to have achieved a decisive departure from improvisation?


217 (department) 12th-Century Polyphony in Aquitaine


There are basically two styles in the repertories of Saint Martial of Limoges and Santiago de Compostela:

Discant style, also known as note-against-note style, or syllabic style.

Melismatic style, also known as sustained-note style, or florid style.