David Hiley's PhD thesis about Norman Chant

Hiley, David. 1981. The Liturgical Music of Norman Sicily: A Study centered on Manuscripts 288, 289, 19421 and Vitrina 20-4 of the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. PhD thesis, King's College, University of London, May 1981.

free download: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=1&uin=uk.bl.ethos.257504


Norman-Sicilian liturgical books are of mixed derivation. The bulk of the material they contain can be traced to Norman uses. Norman saints are prominent in the kalendar of Sicilian books; a Norman post-Pentecost alleluia series is found among them; alleluias, sequences and ordinary of mass chants probably composed in Normandy determine the character of some of the Sicilian collections. The dominant sacramentary type in Sicily (earliest source Pln XIV.F.16) is Norman (possibly from St. Evroult). Norman variants are found in Sicilian versions of many chants. This is easily explicable, historically; the books lend some support to Ordericus Vitalis' famous statement that the chant of one Norman monastery, St. Evroult, which had daughter houses in South Italy, was heard in the region.

Other liturgical raditions also influenced the Sicilian uses. The alleluia and sequence repertories of a Chartres exemplar affected Palermo cathedral use very markedly. The melodic variants of gradual chants in PLn.F.16 (Palermo, 12th c.) agree with Paris sources.

Mn 288, prepared for the household chapel of the Norman rulers c.1100, and its direct descendant Mn 289, of the Cappella Palatina, Palermo, c.1140, are witness to the creation of a new liturgical use: their repertories and variants are distimct from any other extant source, and are therefore not copies of imported exemplars. Mn V.20-4, by contrast, is a less accomplished amalgam: written c.1150 for Palermo cathedral, it contains the Chartres characteristics mentioned above, a Rouen version of the Humili prece litany; and the Palermo cathedral sacramentary to which it is linked (found in PLsd 8 and 11) is derived from the distinctive Mont-S.-Michel use. Mn 19421, from Catania, of the third quarter of the 12th c., contains one of the largest of all extant collections of sequences and ordinary of mass chants, dominated by material from Norman monastic uses. Native South Italian uses (Montecassino, Benevento) appear to have provided almost none of the material in the Sicilian books; and the traffic in the reverse direction is even slighter. Since the Palermo Cappella Palatina repertory has a distinctly independent character, it is likely that many of the conductus and Benedicamus songs of Mn 289 in particular are new, not imported compositions.

The whole thesis was written in typoscript with very beautiful hand-drawn maps and has 940 pages. A PDF with bookmarks trimmed to 25 MB can be downloaded here.

It is not easy to say, where exactly a study of Norman Chant starts and where it should end. Like Beneventan the name is associated with a certain local style of neumes, but also monasteries like St Bénigne in Dijon for which the Abbot Guglielmo Volpiano wrote his fully notated tonary, were like many others in Burgundy under Norman influence, which explains the open-mindedness of the repertory concerning musical innovations around the Cluniac reform.

An entry about "Norman Chant" in the standard encyclopaedias would also help to understand better the various liturgical traditions of Norman Italy, especially acclamations which were sung by the monks, when Abbot Desiderius received Richard Aversa at Montecassino Abbey.

Mainly Neil Moran and David Hiley published musicological studies about this topic.

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