Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Formularity and Formal Structure in the Old Beneventan Chant
by Bereza, Sarah, M.M., University of Cincinnati, 2011, 105; 1500436
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines formularity and formal structure in the extant Mass Proper melodies of the Old Beneventan rite. The musical style of this early, south Italian repertory is distinguished by its frequently repeating melodic formulas, which generally operate at a single pitch level, giving the melodies their characteristic prolix surface detail and modal character. While other Western chant traditions also use formulaic procedures, the frequent use of formularity in the Beneventan Mass Propers is exceptional. There has been no detailed analysis of the grammar governing the Beneventan musical style, though scholars have commented on and analyzed the formulaic usage of Beneventan chant, especially with an aim for transcription into pitch-specific notation. My research examines three main aspects of Beneventan music: the formulas of the Beneventan melodic fund in respect to their formal function within the melodies’ phrase structure, the long-range voice leading and pitch organization underlying the ornamental melodic surface, and the form of the pieces (as established through repetition, either literal or functional). This study is based on the Beneventan Mass Proper melodies contained in the two principal extant sources of the chant: Benevento Biblioteca capitolare Ms. 38 and 40.

This study contributes to scholarly dialogue regarding formulaic chant because it provides insight into the melodic construction of one family of pre-octoechos chant melodies. In particular, this examination of formularity and modality in Beneventan chant has yielded three primary findings. First, it demonstrates that throughout the repertory, Beneventan chant’s ornate surface conceals an underlying structure built mostly of conjunct and disjunct thirds. Second, it gives a picture of mostly consistent functional usage of specific formulas as either openings, mid-phrase material, or cadences, but also shows that the function of a given formula can vary according to its context and surrounding melodic material. Third, it reveals that many of the Beneventan melodies have forms based on a repetition of only a few phrases, with multiple variations on each phrase. Along with their many nuances, exceptions, and expansions, these conclusions form the core of this research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Peattie, Matthew
Commitee: Cahn, Steven, McClung, Bruce D.
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Music History
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: MAI 50/02M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Benevento, Chant, Formularity, Modality, Regional chant
Publication Number: 1500436
ISBN: 978-1-124-92980-4
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