This paper attempts to reconstruct the changing relationships between manuscript and chant during the formative period in the history of Western music. In doing so the manuscript will be considered both as a principal source and as a central subject of pre-modern music history, and chant will be perceived as a mode of vocal performance of the sacred text, that is, not as an element of rituals, but rather as a ritual in itself: as a key ritual common to the three religions of the book emerging during Late Antiquity. Taking the "religious transformations in Late Antiquity" as described by Guy G. Stroumsa — Oxford Emeritus Professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions — in his acclaimed book The End of Sacrifice (La fin du sacrifice, Paris 2005) as a point of departure, the paper addresses the dualities between reading and singing, between the hermeneutic and the performative, between orality and vocality, between manuscript-based and memory-based transmission, and suggests a historical re-evaluation of the emergence of manuscripts supplied with musical notation during the ninth century as a symptom of a rupture of tradition, fraught with grave consequences for the further development of Western music culture.
Speaker: Andreas Haug (University of Würzburg), Professor of Musicology.
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Oxford Medieval Studies
Contact name: Giovanni Varelli
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