Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Included in both liturgical services and pedagogical instruction, verse was performed daily at the medieval abbey of Sankt Gallen. Documents created in the abbey in the ninth and tenth centuries contain notated settings of over one hundred versified texts, including those performed in the liturgy as tropes, processional hymns, Office hymns, antiphons, and responsories, as well as those without clear liturgical designations, such as Boethian metra and poems in pedagogical compilations. Investigating these settings allows for a better understanding of questions that have remained open in chant scholarship: In what ways was verse performed in the ninth to eleventh centuries? To what extent, and in which performance contexts, were poems articulated as poems, with aspects of their verse structures reflected in the musical settings? Conversely, in which situations were the versified aspects of poems rendered inaudible, subordinated to an articulation of a text's syntactic structures or semantic content?
The analysis of Sankt Gallen's versified settings undertaken in this study suggests that a poem's intended performance context often determinatively shaped its setting. In the context of the Mass and Office liturgies, priority was regularly placed on maintaining each genre's established melodic characteristics, rather than audibly conveying the artful construction of poetic texts. Yet a performance of verse in a didactic context could differ considerably from one in a liturgical context. Settings recorded in the abbey's pedagogical compilations often reveal an extensive use of melodic repetition and a systematic articulation of individual aspects of verse structure, suggesting that the sung performance of poetry was used as a pedagogical tool to assist students in learning the intricacies of Latin verse.
Sankt Gallen's documents also provide an insightful view into the abbey's oral transmission of Office hymns: how the community sustained a satisfactory level of hymn performance with minimal use of musical notation. Additionally, the settings offer evidence concerning the functions of early music writing. They indicate that punctuation was occasionally used to provide information regarding the sung performance of texts, and that music writing sometimes served both as a way of conveying performance information and as one element in a visual presentation--a formal display--of the liturgy.
Hild, Elaine Stratton, "Verse, Music, and Notation: Observations on Settings of Poetry in Sankt Gallen's Ninth- and Tenth-Century Manuscripts" (2014). Musicology Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 5.