Aubert, Eduardo Henrik. 2013. “When the Roman Liturgy became Frankish - Sound, Performance and Sublation in the Eighth and Ninth centuries.” In «Notarum figura : l’écriture musicale et le monde des signes au IXe siècle» - Actes du colloque d’Auxerre (17-18 juin 2011), Études grégoriennes 40, pp. 57–160. At


See also "Nova cluniacensa" by this author.


Moran, Neil K. 2013. “Altrömische Offertoriums-Gesänge in medialen Tonarten. Zum Verhältnis des byzantinischen zum altrömischen und gregorianischen Choral.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 106 (1): 65–82. doi:10.1515/bz-2013-0006.


Worth to be discussed here…


Atkinson, C.M., 2008. The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music, Oxford, New York etc.: Oxford UP US.
Barton, L.W.G., 1995-2012. "Influence of Byzantium on Western Chant". In: The Influences of Byzantium and Syria upon Western Medieval Chant. The Neume Notation Project.
Bischoff, B., 1994. Manuscripts and libraries in the age of Charlemagne, Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Busse Berger, A.M., 2005. Tonaries: A Tool for Memorizing Chant. In Medieval Music and the Art of Memory, Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 47-84. Google.
Colette, M.-N., 1995. Grégorien et vieux-romain: deux différentes méthodes de collectage de mélodies traditionelles? In J. Szendrei & D. Hiley, eds. Laborare Fratres in Unum: Festschrift László Dobszay zum 60. Geburtstag. Spolia Berolinensia. Hildesheim: Weidmann, 37–52.
Floros, C., 1970. Die byzantinischen, slavischen und gregorianischen Tonfiguren und Formeln, Universale Neumenkunde, 3, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe: Bärenreiter.
Floros, C., 2005. Introduction to Early Medieval Notation, Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press.
Floros, C., 2009. The Origins of Russian Music: Introduction to the Kondakarian Notation, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Grier, J., 2003. Adémar de Chabannes, Carolingian Musical Practices, and „Nota Romana“. JAMS, 56, 43–59.
Grier, J., 2005. The Musical Autographs of Adémar de Chabannes (989–1034). Early Music History, 24, 125–168. doi:10.1017/S0261127905000100.
Huglo, M., 1982. Les débuts de la polyphonie à Paris: Les premiers "organa" parisiens. Aktuelle Fragen der musikbezogenen Mittelalterforschung. Texte zu einem Basler Kolloquium des Jahres 1975, Forum Musicologicum 3, Winterthur: Amadeus, 93-164.
Jeffery, P., 2001. The Earliest Oktōēchoi : The Role of Jerusalem and Palestine in the Beginnings of Modal Ordering. In The Study of Medieval Chant : Paths and Bridges, East and West ; In Honor of Kenneth Levy. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 147–209. Google.
Karp, T., 1998. Aspects of orality and formularity in Gregorian chant, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern UP. Google.
Levy, K., 1998. Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians, Princeton, N.J: Princeton UP. Google.
Levy, K., 2009. On the Origin of Neumes. In Early Music History - Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music. Cambridge, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne, Sydney: Cambridge University Press, 59–90. Google.
Levy, K. & Troelsgård, C., Byzantine Chant. Grove Music Online.
Martani, S., 2003. The Theory and Practice of Ekphonetic Notation: The Manuscript Sinait. gr. 213. Plainsong and Medieval Music, 12,15–42. doi:10.1017/S0961137103003024.
Pfisterer, A., 2002. Cantilena Romana: Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung des gregorianischen Chorals, Paderborn: Schöningh.
Phillips, N., 2000. Notationen und Notationslehren von Boethius bis zum 12. Jahrhundert. In T. Ertelt & F. Zaminer, ed. Die Lehre vom einstimmigen liturgischen Gesang. Geschichte der Musiktheorie. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 293–324.
Raasted, J. & Troelsgård, C. ed., 1999. Palaeobyzantine Notations II: Acta of the Congress held at Hernen Castle (The Netherlands) in October 1996. Michigan: A.A. Brediusstichting.
Ricossa, L., 2010. "Constantin Floros: Universale Neumenkunde. Quarante ans après, de nouvelles perspectives". Unpublished presentation made during the Colloque international «Musiques et Notations postbyzantines», 25-26 février 2010 à la Haute École de Musique de Genève. Homepage of the author.
Stäblein, B., 1967. Kann der gregorianische Choral im Frankenreich entstanden sein? Wiesbaden: Steiner.
Thibaut, J.-B., 1907. Origine byzantine de la notation neumatique de l’église latine, Paris: Picard. Google.
Troelsgård, C., 2001. What kind of Chant Books were the Byzantine Sticherária? In Cantus planus: Papers read at the 9th meeting, Esztergom & Visegrád, 1998, Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 563–574.
Treitler, L., 2003. With Voice and Pen: Coming to know Medieval Song and how it was made, Oxford, New York: Oxford UP.
Wolfram, G. & Troelsgård, C. ed., 2004. Palaeobyzantine Notations III: Acta of the Congress held at Hernen Castle, The Netherlands, in March 2001. In Eastern Christian Studies 4. Leuven, Paris, Walpole: Peeters Publishers. Google.

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  • I hope the Italians remember this history for the near future, before it is too late! It is so nice to meet you here again.

    Constantinople, Rome and Montecassino

    I appreciate very much Caspar's and Bruno Stäblein's opinion in this dispute (and his translation of "Giovanni di Montecassino" is so beautiful), but the fact that a melodic notation had to be developed and it developed so early as well in Rome as in Constantinople (Stoudios Monastery and Patriarchate) that generations will sing exactly the same (a cantor's nightmare by the way!), convinced me that I do not really share his hopes that the Sacco took everything, what he was looking for. Already by the end of the 10th century Adémar was no longer sure, whether the notation was Roman or French (you quoted this passage).

    Concerning the 8th century, I agree that for Constantinople, we need a lot of more imagination, because it had this very bad crisis of iconoclasm and there was a real need to move a tradition elsewhere. I am not so convinced about a contemporary need of notation among Roman cantors, so I guess it was a Frankish invention and definitely a ridiculous one for every musician at this time (let's say so useful to sing like a hammer). What I like very much is Kenneth Levy's example for a Frankish parody of Old-Roman "nota" (2003, p.14, ex.2). This is really funny! It has the arrogance of a notator like Petros Peloponnesios!

    Terra d'Otranto and Aspromonte

    Today we are so far from this 8th-century expectation that singers should know their tradition by heart. The Vatican Library and Grottaferrata have so many Italogreek chant manuscripts, and even a small part of the SS. Salvatore of Messina collection survived the Sacco in 1679 after the revolt and thanks to its new higher position after Charles V the collection even survived the earthquake and the Tsunami in 1783 and in 1908 (we know the reason why Greek mythology is talking about Scilla and Carridi). Today, there is hardly anybody who can just read them and they would not even dream of singing out of them. The Italogreek people at Terra d'Otranto and Aspromonte who were supposed to know their tradition by heart in medieval times, have now many other problems than to go to the Vatican library and study the own tradition (thanks by the way for the excellent article by Daniel Mendelsohn which you announced once for us!). First, they will have to refound their Greek monasteries, but you could see what happend at Bivongi, after they tried it with San Giovanni Teriste.

    Grier, Stäblein, and me

    Despite my opinion, my description fits very well to the stenographic shape of Kontakarion notation (you are the expert here) and it is not a real contradiction to Stäblein's theory and rather a slight addition to Grier's interpretation. I only wanted to emphasize that the "missing notation" can be something very different which is probably not expected ("hidden in plain sight").

    Whatever "nota" was and whoever developed it, it must have integrated the ekphonetic notation, whose contemporary existence is out of question.

    Il libro "Petrus Diaconus und die Monte Cassineser Fälschungen" di Caspar raggiungibile al internet
    Caspar, Erich Ludwig Eduard. 1909. Petrus Diaconus und die Monte Cassineser Fälschungen - Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des italienischen Geisteslebens…
  • “Nota romana” means “Roman notation” !!  For those who suggest that there is no traces of musical notation in Rome before the eleventh century might consult “Kann der gregoriainsche Choral im Frankenreich entstanden sein” (1967) of Bruno Stäblein: Von den über 100 Handschriften, die M. ANDRIEU seiner Gesamtausgabe der Ordines Romani zugunde gelegt hat, stammt keine einzige aus Rom” (p. 155).  With respect to the report of Johannes Hymnonides that the Franks were unable to perform the Roman melodies Stäblein writes:

    “Ihre angeborene alpine Körperbeschaffenheit hindert sie daran”, sagt er, und – so fährt er fort -- “gerade wenn ihre wilden Trinkergurgels sich bemühen, die infexiones und repercussiones zustande zu bringen, kommt ein Effekt heraus, der, statt der Gemüter der Zuhörer zu beruhigen, sie im Gegen teil verletzt und zum Widerspruch herausfordert”.  In diesem Zusammenhang steht auch der bekannte Vergleich mit einem Lastwagen, dier über eine Treppe holpert”. 

    Stäblein mentions that pope Nicholas III ordered that all the old liturgical books in Rome be destroyed.  Then there was the Sacco di Roma of 1527. 

  • One more remark about "nota," just to deliberate the mind of some preoccupations.

    Adémar's sentence about the Roman teachers during the second reform under Charlemagne together with James Grier's English translation:

    At ille dedit ei Theodoricum et Benedictum Romanae ecclesie doctissimos cantores qui a sancto Gregorio eruditi fuerant, tribuitque antiphonarios sancti Gregorii quos ipse notaverat nota romana.

    And the pope gave him Theodoric and Benedict, the most learned cantors of the Roman church, who had been instructed by Saint Gregory, and he also gave him antiphoners of Saint Gregory that the saint himself had noted with Roman notation.

    According to this translation, it is very interesting that we already suppose Adémar's contemporary understanding of notation as a medium of transmission, which should allow cantors to learn directly from Saint Gregory (over the centuries). James Grier also mentions an alternative interpretation by Franz Blatt who translated "nota" as singing style.

    Of course, neither concerning liturgy nor musical notation, there could be an "antiphonary of Gregory the Great," as Charlemagne asked for. Hence, this sacramentary was called Hadrianum or at least Gregorianum-Hadrianum.

    Maybe Franz Blatt's translation is not such a misunderstanding as Grier liked to regard it. Of course, Gregory the Great as the founder of the Schola cantorum (in fact it was founded later) was the authority to convince the Gallian cantors that they have to adapt to the Roman school.

    It was certainly not "neumes" as melodic notation, but we can think of something else, which rather belongs to the "aural tradition" as Kenneth Levy would have liked to call it. There are as well "aural" forms which allow a precise transmission between cantor and the singing congregation and they were certainly different between local schools.

    "Neuma" was often wrongly associated with πνεύμα by scholars of Western plainchant, but there is a much closer Greek term νεύμα which means "sign" or "command." The idea is that the command is not given verbally, but by a gesture; and gestures were very important in the communication between the congregation and its leader, while notation as scripture was completely irrelevant (it was a written communication between cantors which was not used at all in front of the congregation). "Nota" could be as well used to translate the Greek term "neuma." Unfortunately, cheironomia is often directly associated with Western forms of melodic notation, but in practice such gestures of a Byzantine domestikos or lampadarios did not mean just two or three notes, but a whole melodic phrase.

    In that case, Adémar's sentence simply means that the Roman cantors taught the Gallian cantors the cheironomia in the tradition of the Schola cantorum. The reference to Gregory the Great is finally not so wrong, because according to Andreas Pfisterer's and my opinion, the Roman congregation already imported allelouiaria in his time. Probably also the cheironomia which was used to communicate a certain melody type of the Constantinopolitan repertoire.

  • There must have been a notated "archetype" somewhere between 750 and 950, or if you prefer, a "model", this model might have been doubled, maybe with some errors. Then there were two or even three models. Most chants of the mass propers go back to these models, that is: a notated archetype.

    Maybe you are just too spoilt by the Carolingian "writing rage"… A Byzantinist might ask you, is this not enough? At least you seem to be convinced that Laon 239 belongs to the end of this period—much later by the way would not be plausbile, because we have already William of Volpiano's and Aquitanian innovations by the end of the century, only a short period for the first generation of chant manuscripts to become unreadable.

    But what was 750 then, except of a cantors' workshop at Metz and the first sacramentaries? My argument was that Notker would have mentioned notation, if his composition was based on an interaction with the medium neume notation. This does not exclude the possibility, that a later generation used notation to leave a monument for his school. But does this virtual Gregorian chant course address local cantors who would like to learn Roman chant? Rather the own local tradition of the Abbey St. Gall I suppose, so they added some St. Gall neumes to the hagiographic icon of Father Gregory the Great and Frankish became Roman.

    Concerning Adémar's "chronicon," "nota romana" means Messine notation [!] and he regarded as well "organum" (a kind of note-against-note discant) and the "musica enchiriadis" as an integer part of the Roman tradition. Possibly there is the explanation, why so many tonaries of the 11th century (not those by Adémar and his uncle) used Dasian signs, often in an alternative way to the Dasian system after the polemics against its "myopia" by Hermann of Reichenau and Guido of Arezzo. Nevertheless, this is a vision of Roman tradition which clearly belongs to the time of the Cluniac reforms after the Ottonic times… Certain experiments to regain a new territory of the cantor's creativity had to be declared as Roman in order to authorize them.

    But the time distance we are talking here is like that between Mozart and Schönberg, you will never bridge that by some speculations about "archetypes!"

    Maybe our medial obsession and dependency on notation might be the clue to understand at least all these frustrated expectations. I wonder, for example, why nobody commented on Adémar's practice of adding modal signatures in a fully notated chant book (my example for a posteriori), while I was not even mentioning the earlier practice to add modal signatures in Carolingian Gradual-Sacramentaries (Roman numerals according to Hucbald's system or abbreviations "AP", "PP", "AD", "PTE" etc. according to the Carolingian terminology as it had developed by the study of the Hapiopolite oktoechos). Here, some might expect an additional tonary, where the psalmody and their "figurae" or "differentiae" are notated. But at that time their memories were not so empty, this was already "tonary" enough.

    But like Eduardo Henrik Aubert, we should not only reduce this discussion to issues of a history of notation. What about certain constellations in political and social history behind these bizzare inventions and innovations? The renaissance of Gallican chant under Charles the Bald, after the former tradition had dissapeared and he sent for singers at Toledo? What about the profound bad experience that Amalarius with his canons had to face? How does he treat them?

    Tonaires carolingiens (VIII-IX siècles) Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fonds. lat., Ms. 13159, fol. 167r-167v . Fragment du tonaire de St…
  • Cf. Ademar de Chabannes,

    et omnes Franciae cantores didicerunt notam romanam, quam nunc vocant notam franciscam, excepto quod tremulas vel vinnolas sive ....

    At ille dedit ei Theodoricum et Benedictum Romanae ecclesie doctissimos cantores qui a sancto Gregorio eruditi fuerant, tribuitque antiphonarios sancti Gregorii quos ipse notaverat nota romana.

    James Grier, JAMS 2003, Ademar de Chabannes, Carolingian musical practices, and nota romana. …“There can be no doubt that by "notaverat nota romana" Ademar means musical notation…”

    C. Atkinson, The critical nexus: tone-system, mode, and notation in early medieval music, (2009), p. 137: „I suggested earlier … that the standard Latin term for musical notation from Antiquity onward was nota“.

  • If there was a "notated archetype," it should be dated back to the times of the Carolingian reforms, otherwise notation was definitely not its medium. This is possible for the book tonary without notation (though finally not that useful, as Michel Huglo thought, when he published his doctoral thesis). Even Kenneth Levy's findings confront us with the fact that we are talking about exceptions and a random use of neumes which does certainly not prove the central role which was supposed to be the neumes function during Carolingian reforms.

    Probably the word "archetype" itself is a little bit exagerated and connected with far too high expectations. Of course, Metz and Lorraine was the centre where we have testimonies of a personal exchange between a Roman magister and Carolingian cantors, and we should have in mind that this was probably the only form of exchange which was acceptable for this métier (at least for the 8th century). Notation (I mean the competence of reading and notating) became obviously much later part of it, especially among Cluniac cantors who usually proceeded as abbots, whenever they enter another abbey to introduce their tradition (Michel Huglo pointed at a necrologue of the mid 11th century and at certain conflicts among monks of the Abbey Saint-Maur-des-Fossés). Adémar de Chabannes continued the legend about the difference between Frankish and Roman traditions, but here it is no longer the "Frankish type" which has to be blamed for it, he simply characterized them as two types; the obedient Messine cantors and the disobedient, but creative Gallic ones which did not accept any teachers. This was probably a self-characterization with respect to the Aquitanian redaction (and by the way the one which had to convert the Mozarabic liturgy during the reconquista as it was proclaimed about Aquitanian aristocrats, it is no longer accepted to reduce the Castilian rulers to this role in Andalusia).

    Later the Cistercian order during Bernard's reform could not follow into these footsteps, so they ordered chant books at the scriptorium of Metz. There is this authority of Messine cantors again, but only as long as they got the books which the Cistercian reform groupe regarded soon as "corrupted". As in many other respects, they just followed also here their enemies and made the same "mistakes," just under the false pretention to do the opposite.

    If you see history as a whole, I am not sure that scripture and notation had for cantors the same authority that they have for such ignorant readers as we are today. Most of the musicians, Muslims or Jews, never thought it necessary to notate their music and they still maintained a living tradition, not unchanged, but uninterrupted. It seems that the risk to be lost for ever was considerably higher, since Christian cantors interacted with forms of written transmission.

    You can just ask an Arabistic student here at Berlin, and he will explain you something which might help us to understand, what a religious tradition is. As "a simple muslim" (with quite a privileged education), he does not remember every detail of the melody, he cannot tell you the recitation model nor the maqam, but he can recite the Quran, while he remembers the melody (it serves him as a vehicle of the text). Hafizes and cantors certainly knew better, and the latter had to know, because this was their role since the Carolingian reform. Please do not dare to say that she or he did not know, whenever they changed something, but they certainly did not follow notated books like ignorant fools.

    Even within the oral tradition, a Sufi might say: "I am a slave of Laila [the divine beloved], but I am not a slave of the melody!" Quite the opposite, those who got too easily lost, because they were occupied by such details, had been often characterized as highly uneducated (with a very weak memory as we have today) or even as obsessed by demons :D

    The same I tried to demonstrate with my Notker example who was not even talking about notation, but about sequence collections. No need to say that good musicians became quite often a target of intrigants who reclaimed their religious authority by demonizing them. But every tradition needs both, the orthodox aspect of a precise memory and the orthopractice which allows a tradition to continue thanks to individual mastership.

    The discussion about a later datation was in the main focus in the collection or proceedings published by Kenneth Levy as editor:

    Levy, Kenneth. 2009. On the Origin of Neumes. In Early Music History - Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music, by Iain Fenlon, 7. Cambridge, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne, Sydney: Cambridge UP. Google.

    For a more detailed presentation of the transmission disputes over several decades, I recommend Andreas Pfisterer's doctoral thesis "Cantilena romana". His list of Roman and Frankish chant books usually follows Michel Huglo's datation (graduals, missels) and those by Lipphardt, de Loos, and Kelly (antiphonaries), but it is usually just the whole century which is indicated in the list of sources:

    Pfisterer, Andreas. 2002. Cantilena Romana: Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung des gregorianischen Chorals. In Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kirchenmusik; 11. Paderborn: Schöningh.

    The Old-Roman Practice of Alleluia singing
    According to Gregory the Great (
  • Oh, yes! Absolutely right! I am afraid there are some mistakes of this kind in the paper. Also on p. 58, where Etudes grégoriennes left the indication: "par la suite, mettre chaque fois les citations en mode citation". I am sorry for this kind of problem! Thank you for pointing it out, Geert.

  • On page 151 you write "phenomenonological", I guess that should be "phenomenological".

  • Without going into all of the interesting arguments you are putting forward, let me just point out that Bischoff's and Contreni''s date for Laon 239 is IX 4/4. The late date proposed by Solesmes seems no longer acceptable. I would also be very grateful to Geert if he would enlighten me as to what he means by a slip of my pen. 

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