Abstracts of issue 19 (2007)

Dimitris Mantzilas

From the Origins of Roman Music to the Medieval Treatises (1st Century B.C. – 11th Century A.D.)

It took many centuries for the Roman music to reach a high level, so that it became necessary for theorists to study it thoroughly, even though a rich Greek background in that sector already existed. Once the Roman Empire fell, the creation of the Western European music, based on the Roman one, was natural. All treatises about music from the Roman years up to the 17th century are written in Latin, the world’s lingua universalis. Most of them were serving as manuals, at first for the Roman schools and later for the Catholic or monastic schools in Western Europe. There are many differences from writer to writer, concerning the style, the level of the language used, and the way the music theory is being analyzed. It is true though that behind those treatises one can find the deep research and study of teachers, pupils, singers, musicians, compositors and theorists, concerning rhythm, harmony, and melody. This study leads to the formation of the Medieval music theory, which is mostly based on the polyphonic systems.

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