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The lesser antiphons of the Milanese office : a thematic classification and analysis Barrington-Foote, Kevin Randle

Abstract

The repertory of music known as Milanese chant: has only recently attracted the attention of musicologists. In the early part of this century scholars concerned themselves with such aspects of the Milanese rite as its origins, the structure of the liturgy, and paleographic difficulties. The music itself, however, continued to be discussed merely in general terms or in relation to Gregorian melodies. It is only within the last few decades that stylistic analyses of the music have begun to penetrate this relatively unexplored field. This study is principally concerned with the lesser antiphons of the Milanese office. The Introduction summarizes the results of past research into the Milanese rite and presents general information concerning the antiphons. Part I of the thesis presents the Thematic Classification and a discussion of the method employed; the three chapters of Part II deal with the analysis of the melodies. It has been suggested that many of the Milanese antiphons can be grouped together on the basis of common melodic material. Such a classification of the Gregorian antiphons had appeared at the beginning of this century, but no attempt has been made to apply a similar procedure to the Milanese repertory, even though the more stable Milanese tradition would appear to be better suited for such an anlysis than the Gregorian with its numerous and often conflicting sources. The psalter antiphons, the simplest and most numerous of the Milanese office antiphons, have responded readily to a Thematic Classification. The great majority of over seven hundred chants can be reduced to thirty common melodies or "Themes." Many of these Themes can be shown to be related, and the implication is that there were originally only a very few melodies from which other chants were developed. In fact, there would appear to be evidence to show that the antiphons developed, through a process of gradual elaboration from simple reciting-tones. It can be demonstrated that the melodies of the antiphons with longer texts were expanded by the use of a limited number of compositional devices. An examination of the cadences and finals reveals an economy and simplicity which would seem to speak for the antiquity of the Milanese repertory.

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