3.1.15

The very first music manuscript in the history of harmony in the Western tradition

Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, detail

The above symbols, from a British Library's Harley manuscript, represent two separate voice parts - the upper part (shown with horizontal dashes) is the melody of an antiphon in honour of St Boniface, and the lower part (shown with circles) is a separate melody to be sung in harmony with the chant melody - a practice known as organum.
Giovanni Varelli, a doctoral student at Cambridge, discovered this music, which draws our knowledge of the practice of this tradition back from around 1000 (the Winchester Troper was the manuscript formerly considered to represent the beginnings of polyphonic music outside theoretical writings) to around 900. A chance discovery that has effectively changed the history of music.

Organum in modern notation, transcribed by Varelli
Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, detail

Harley MS 3019, fol. 56v, full
Source: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/music/2014/12/earliest-polyphonic-music-discovered-in-british-library.html

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