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 guess Neil Moran was just pointing at an idea by Jean-Baptiste Thibaut (see bibliography).

    I fear these particular comparisons by Floros can just prove that the Roman values, whatever they are, always depend on Hellenic or Byzantine culture (see Barton), despite the fact how inventive Frankish cantors were, when they developed "nota romana." It is impossible to prove that a melodic notation itself was a Byzantine invention, except for a particular way to use modal signatures as an addition to ekphonetic notation.

    But the comparisons in Aubert's and Moran's essay engage to explain differences between the Roman and the Frankish tradition after the Carolingian reform, and both traditions seem to be quite different. Some scholars still tend to ignore or to explain it in order to regard the Frankish as the Roman and some even argue that the Frankish is more Roman than the Old-Roman, despite the fact that every chronicle commented about the difference—with quite individual explanations, of course.

    A very few think about the odd circumstance, that Rome was always the place to authorize reforms, but not the place to realize them, at least not as long as the Roman liturgy was declared as the tradition which has to be followed by cantors with another tradition elsewhere. Hence, Roman cantors did not need to bother themselves with the invention of a melodic notation. Rome and Roman sources alone cannot offer the explanation, why Italian cantors started nearly 100 years later to write notated chant books. The 11th century is the period of reform papacy whose main target was the organization of South Italian church provinces, in a later phase their reforms did also care about a unification of the liturgy and its chant.

    The constellation became quite complicated, when clerics who were educated with the Frankish version of Roman chant, became Pope or at least a reforming abbot who had to supervise some these reforms in a certain region. The "origin" is just a certain period (the crisis of iconoclasm to be precise), when certain clerics at Rome and at Constantinople (Stoudios monastery) became engaged to establish common rules and to create new notated chant books, which claim to represent more than just one local tradition. The other way to regard them as a document of a local school is obviously much easier and more plausible, but local cantors did not need to invent notation just to codify their own school.

    The question with respect to both essays, is what exactly is the advantage to compare also Byzantine and other local traditions as well? What was the motivation of Mozarabic cantors to notate their own tradition who had not the aim to reform? If Frankish became Roman, how and when was this possible?

    Eduardo Henrik Aubert & Neil K. Moran about the Early Transmission of Plainchant during the Carolin…
    Aubert, Eduardo Henrik. 2013. “When the Roman Liturgy became Frankish - Sound, Performance and Sublation in the Eighth and Ninth centuries.” In «Nota…
  • I would also like to add that I do not refer to Floros for many reasons. His extremely speculative propositions - on which see Max Haas's lengthy review of his Universale Neumenkunde - are not at the top of my list. The foremost reason is that whether SOME SORT OF neumes originated in Byzantium is not relevant for my analysis of the Western sociocultural preconditions for their use. Whether they were created ex nihilo/ex veteris notis in the West, or adopted/adapted from the East does not change the viewpoint that there were specific sociocultural features in Francia that supported the use and diffusion of neumes. In a forthcoming article I will turn to the question of the earliest appearance of neumes in the West  ("origin" is a word social historians abhor since François Simiand, Henri Pirenne and Marc Bloch) and I will support my claim (which is totally independent from the article in Études grégoriennes) that a certain set of signs for writing music were graphically developed in Francia.

  • I entirely subscribe to what Geert has just written.

  • Although the Byzantine origin of Latin chant notation might seem obvious and I don't want to argue against it, a "conclusive proof" for this can not be based only on the origin of the "names" for the Latin neumes. Especially not since Michel Huglo in his "Les Noms des neumes et leurs origine" (1954) justified that these names are of later date then the neumes themselves.

  • To cite C. Floros, Introduction to Early Medieval Notation, p. 94:

    “Detailed comparative investigations of the Latin neumes and Peleobyzantine signs have led in this respect to extremely surprising results.  Then it becomes clear that many names of neumes are borrowed words or borrowed translations from Middle Greek, others represent original expressions in Latin, and other can be described as Graecized word formations. 

    Words borrowed from Middle Greek are the terms apostrophaapostrophos, distropha - dyo apostrophoi, quilismakylisma (roll), and oriscus, a term which perhaps comes from iporoi (outflow).  One observes that the corresponding Latin and Paleobyzantine terms designate the same neumes and the same figures. 

    The same applies mutatis mutandis for the following terms, which represent borrowed translations from Middle Greek: punctum, punctuskentema (prick / stab), bipunctumdyo kentemata (two stabs), tripunctumtria kentemata (three stabs), flexaperispomene (bending), scandicusanabasma (rising up), porrectusepegerma (re-erect), torculusstrepton (twisting), tremulatromikon, tremulikon (tremble), pes quassusseisma (shake), salicuschoreuma (dance figure), pressuspiasma (squeeze), franculusklasma (fracture), semitonushemitonion (the half tonal), and semivocalishemiphonon (half-voiced). 

    The names of the following litterae significativae could be shown to be borrowed translations from Middle Greek: equaliterison (same, even) supra -  ano (above),  sursum / altius / levarepsele (high, higher ) humiliter / iusum / inferiuschamele (low, deep), deprimaturbathy (deep),  mediocriter – oligon (a little),  mediocriter  (in the sense of in medio) – meson (middle step), cito vel celeritergorgon (fast), tenerekratema (hold) and a (augere?) / argon (slow. 

    To sum up, then, the great number of names of neumes that have been shown to be borrowed words or borrowed translations from Middle Greek provide conclusive proof for the Byzantine origin of Latin chant notation.” 

    However, the author of one of the rejection notices for my article writes: “Many of the author’s assumptions seem to be based on the work of Constantine Floros (here, perhaps, on his view that the Romans had Byzantine neumes), but the author does not make these assumptions explicit. Floros’s work is extremely notorious, controversial, and not certainly not widely accepted. (A look at Sam Barrett’s recent review of Moran’s recent translation of Floros will give a sense of the notoriety surrounding this work. )”

    It would seem that Cambridge fellow Eduardo Henrik Aubert subscribes to the same viewpoint as Sam Barrett.  C. Floros is accorded not so much as a footnote in his article! 

  • I changed now the title and added to Henrik E. Aubert's current publications another relevant one by Neil K. Moran, whose early ideas we already discussed together with an essay and a book by Rebecca Maloy (please click here).

    Discussing Neil Moran and Rebecca Maloy
    Neil Moran wrote: I have completed a study on MEDIAL MODE OFFERTORIES and have submitted it for publication. and continued with a quotation and a r
  • 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…
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