Some Observations on the "Germanic" Plainchant Tradition

Blachly, Alexander

Anyone examining the various notational systems according to which medieval scribes committed the plainchant repertory to written form must be impressed both by the obvious relatedness of the systems and by their differences. There are three main categories: the neumatic notations from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries (written without a staff and incapable, therefore, of indicating precise pitches); the quadratic notation in use in Italy, Spain, France, and England-the "Romanic" landsfrom the twelfth century on (this is the "traditional" plainchant notation, written usually on a four-line staff and found also in most twentieth century printed books, e.g., Liber usualis, Antiphonale monasticum, Graduale Romanum); and the several types of Germanic notation that use a staff but retain many of the features of their neumatic ancestors.



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Columbia University
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February 3, 2015