Event—Public Programming

Measuring Time and Dividing Counterpoint in Late-Medieval Music

From its origins in the ninth century, polyphonic music in the medieval church had been understood as an adornment of ecclesiastical plainchant. While the particular style or manner of embellishment in these added voices of course changed through time, Ryan Taycher will argue that in the first half of the fourteenth century a significant conceptual shift occurred regarding the way musicians understood the relationship between tonal structure and elaboration, and furthermore, how this may have been influenced by a shift in rhythmic theory and the measurement of musical time around the turn of the fourteenth century. Focusing on music theory treatises and musical practice from the Île-de-France and the Low Countries, he will discuss the process of creating polyphonic music for the church as conveyed in these treatises and the ways in which these conceptual shifts shape our understanding of late medieval music.