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The organum (Greek organon, instrument; also diaphone ) was the first occidental polyphony in the 9th to 11th centuries and was developed in the early Middle Ages in the practice of Gregorian chant .

To a main voice ( Vox Principalis or Cantus ) a single second voice ( Vox Organalis ) is added in a rather rigid parallel movement. This initially improvised polyphonic singing , in which the organ also accompanies in the same parallels, has been handed down from the Middle Ages in singing schools in some monasteries and cathedrals . In the period from the 9th to the 11th century, composers began to add more voices and to break away from the rigid interval binding. Famous complex organas with up to four voices later come from Perotin (also " Magister Perotinus" / "Perotinus Magnus") and his teacher Leonin , the leading representatives of the Notre Dame school .

Origin and first sources

The earliest sources from the 9th century describe the organum as an active practice. This practice may be a few hundred years older - its origins cannot be reconstructed. To this day it is not clear whether the early Organum developed from a primitive, strict parallelism or from a free heterophony bound only by the church modes .

The first document that comprehensibly describes the organ practice is the Musica enchiriadis (around 895 ), a treatise that was traditionally (and probably incorrectly) attributed to the monk Hucbald (* around 840 ; † 930 ). The work was probably created in Werden monastery . According to this, the organ practice was not conceived as polyphony in the modern sense, but the added voice was only intended to reinforce the monophonic singing. The Musica enchiriadis also makes it clear that octave doublings were accepted, after all they could not be avoided when male and boy voices sing together. Playing along with a singing voice through instruments was also a practice. The treatise Scholia enchiriadis treated the subject in more detail.

In the original parallel chant, the original melody was in the upper part ( vox principalis ). The organ vox was led parallel a perfect interval lower, usually a fourth lower. The melody was heard as the main voice, the vox organalis as accompaniment or reinforcement. This type of organum is now commonly referred to as a parallel organum , depending on the interval, for example, a fourth organum or fifth organum , although terms such as sinfonia were common in early tracts .

Since the Musica enchiriadis was written before the (re-) development of a standardized musical notation, it describes the Organum purely textually. It is not known how exactly the information was followed. Both Enchiriadis treatises primarily attempt a pseudo-scientific derivation of the hexachord and the church scales . Therefore, in the treatment of the organum, the perspective of the emerging hexachord theory was in the foreground as opposed to a technically precise description of organ practice.

Tailing organum

A strict parallel organ was not presented as conclusive in these early writings. The treatises proceed on the basis of parallelism and then suggest "better" types of organum: with the inclusion of intermediate tones. Thus, not only fourths are used in the quart organum , but also smaller intervals in order to avoid the tritone, which sometimes inevitably occurs with rigid parallel movement . The vast majority of the music examples in these treatises use seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, and sixths as the intervals in order to achieve an artistic result. The aesthetics to underpin these other intervals was intensively investigated by Guido von Arezzo in his Micrologus (from around 1020 ). These more varied forms of the organum are called free or roving organum .

The roving organum uses parallel and sideways movement (one of the two voices remains unmoved), but also straight movement (both voices in the same direction but around a different interval) and countermovement gain in importance. The Winchester Tropar (around 1050 ), works by Johannes Cotto and the so-called Chartres fragments document a continuously freer treatment of the voice leading .

In the late 11th century there are examples in which several notes of the organal part are set in succession against a single note of the cantus firmus .

The Trouvères in the 11th and 12th centuries

The troubadours , starting in the 11th century from southern France ( Occitania ), and the trouvères of the 12th century in northern France as well as the minstrels in German-speaking countries used in part the same melodies for their sacred and secular poetry , until finally the first written records of the Organa as Scores in neumen notation can be found in a monastery in the pilgrimage site of St. Jacob in Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain and in St. Martial in Limoges.

Saint Martial School and Notre Dame in the 12th to 13th centuries

The Organum reached its peak in the 12th century . Compared to the organum's improvisation , its composition comes to the fore. The cantus firmus is no longer in the upper part, but in the lowest voice as the basis of the musical movement. Depending on their position, the organic (upper) voices gain musical importance. Two different schools are leaders in the organum composition: the St. Martial School and the Notre-Dame school after the second half of the 12th and the first half of the, 13th century as Notre Dame epoch is called .

The St. Martial School was a school for composers around the St. Martial Abbey in Limoges . In addition to rich organa (unanimous) tropes and sequences come from this environment.

In the Notre-Dame epoch, Léonin (Leoninus magnus) and Pérotin (Perotinus magnus) created large-scale three- and four-part organas, which were recorded in writing using the newly developed modal notation . The organization of the voices was only possible through the use of an ordering rhythm based on the six modes of the modal rhythm .

From the Art of the Notre Dame school later forms arose as the motet of the ars antiqua .

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