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Melody in the Middle Ages Essay

In the early Middle Ages, melodic or textual embellishments added to plainchant were referred to as prosulae. In your own words, summarize the types of plainchant to which prosulae were most often added and the reasons for those additions.

The Book of Hymns is one prime example of a prosulae. Plainchant was being sung day in and day out by the monks, who had already added some slight melody, but was still not easy to memorize. By adding some rhythm and separation in syllables throughout the melody, a new way to not only memorize the verses, but also present them, was born.

In the early Middle Ages, melodic or textual embellishments added to plainchant were referred to as prosulae. In your own words, summarize Notker’s description of how and why he came to add words to melismas, and his teacher Iso’s response.

Notker realized as a young child that he wanted to find a way to remember the words to certain melodies, but with them being so long, he could not. When he came across a man with sequenced verses he was at first excited, but soon disappointed as they did no better than the long, monotonous melodies he remembered as a child. When he decided to add words to these verses and took them to his teacher, Iso, he both appreciated and pitied Notker. He went back and corrected some mistakes pointed out by his teacher, and these changes proved to be successful. The new verses were deemed worthy and copied to a roll for the all of the boys to sing.


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