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Neumatizing the Sequence: Special Performances of Sequences in the Central Middle Ages

LORI KRUCKENBERG
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Vol. 59, No. 2 (Summer 2006), pp. 243-317
DOI: 10.1525/jams.2006.59.2.243
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jams.2006.59.2.243
Page Count: 75
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Neumatizing the Sequence: Special Performances of Sequences in the Central Middle Ages
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Abstract

Abstract In his liturgical commentary Rationale divinorum officiorum, the thirteenthcentury writer Guillaume Durand describes a special, “antique” way of singing sequences called “neumatizing” (“neumatizare”). According to Durand, a sequence could be neumatized either by singing certain phrases melismatically or by vocalizing the entire sequence without words. The chief focus of this investigation is the identification of which sequences were still being neumatized after the decline of that practice around 1100, where and at which feasts they were sung, and why. The evidence suggests that neumatizing was especially cultivated in northern France during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, especially in the cathedral towns of Rouen, Laon, Cambrai, and Amiens, as well as at various religious institutions in Metz, Andenne, Chichester, and Bamberg. The liturgical period of Advent, Christmas Eve, the Feast of John the Evangelist, and masses celebrating patron saints were the most typical liturgical occasions where neumatizing took place. The rationales for the singing practice appear to have been manifold, ranging from the practical and mundane to the spiritual and sacred. Motives for neumatizing include improving preexisting structures for purposes of fulfilling expectations about genre; using musical responses to highlight poetic topoi; lending solemnity and symbolic meaning to important liturgical feasts; and honoring ancient traditions while resisting some of the newer trends found with late examples of the genre.

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