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Journal Article

Gregorian Chant and the Romans

Kenneth Levy
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring 2003), pp. 5-41
DOI: 10.1525/jams.2003.56.1.5
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jams.2003.56.1.5
Page Count: 37
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Gregorian Chant and the Romans
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Abstract

Abstract A central problem in plainchant studies has been the relationship between the two “Roman” repertories, “Old Roman” (ROM) and “Gregorian” (GREG). Many attempts have been made to penetrate the “mystérieuse alchimie” that links them. Almost without exception, these have embraced the notion that ROM music was the supplier of GREG. This paper advances an alternative hypothesis. It recognizes initial transfers of ROM musical material to the Franks under Pippin III (before 768)—ROM music that was generally improvisational in process and style. However, still under Pippin or later under Charlemagne, the Franks rejected the ROM music and, in their effort to establish GREG, turned to familiar Gallican chants, which tended to have fixed, memorable melodies. Later, perhaps during the tenth century renovatio imperii under Otto I, though perhaps even during Charlemagne's reign, the authorized GREG repertory reached Rome, where it was supposed to supplant the local ROM. But the Roman musicians resisted; rather than abandon ROM, they compromised by accepting certain portions of GREG music and remodeling them so they conformed with ROM style. This sequence of events would explain the musical relationships between ROM and GREG.

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