Notre Dame Cathedral was the protagonist sad news for the fire that suffered on April 15. But Notre Dame, beyond the media attention it has received in recent weeks and being one of the icons of the “City of Light” is a fundamental piece to understand the history of western music. They take us on this tour Hernán Milla and Rosa Sanz, from the Marcos Redondo Conservatory of Music in Ciudad Real. Can you hear the full space here, and discover the playlist in this link.
The musicologist Juan Carlos Asensio says that “The smoking walls of Notre-Dame they witnessed the first polyphonic corpus conceived and transmitted mainly in written and not oral form: the beginnings of musical composition in a modern sense ”.
The musical practice and polyphonic advances of other cathedral environments such as Reims, Chartres, San Marcial de Limoges or Santiago de Compostela, as well as the assiduous European folkloric practice they were systematized and organized there, giving rise to the so-called Notre Dame School.
Learning by rote and loral transmission had been the way of transmitting music since the beginning of mankind. There were attempts at writing in Babylonian times, Greece and Rome, indecipherable and surely not essential for interpretation. It is the Catholic Church from the year 1000 (11th century), due to the need for unity in its songs chen you start to translate your scores with pneumatic writing at the beginning: small strokes on the text (it is believed that they could be the turns of the voice or the gestures of the monk in charge of directing).
Again Juan Carlos Asensio says, “to him pthe oldest pieces associated with specific composers belong, being the first to present music for more than two autonomous voices and to cultivate vernacular texts. His systematic control of consonance and dissonance are the foundation of later European harmonic and contrapuntal practice. If thanks to Guido d’Arezzo the heights of sounds were written, Thanks to the musicians of Notre-Dame, not only height but also rhythm was written. All this was forged within its walls ”.
Our Lady It was the center of the organum, the oldest form of polyphony, which consists of superimposing a voice on a Gregorian melody, at first in parallel and then in opposite and even ornate movement. Two important composers helped this evolution: Léonin (Magister Leoninus) and Pérotin (Magister Perotinus), the first compiled the Magnus Liber Organi (great organum book). The second increased the number of voices to three and four. This transcendent great book was not burned in the fire.
Polyphony was thus favored, that is, the simultaneous singing of several melodies. And here comes the importance of the School of Notre Dame, because when performing polyphony, they had the need to capture the rhythm (12th to 14th centuries). These Parisian theorists, the majority clerics, grouped around Notre Dame and shaped a coherent rhythm, thus favoring the act of “composition”, moving from a practice in interpretation to an act of prior writing.
Notre Dame organ
Fortunately, it appears that the 8,000-pipe Grand Organ was undamaged and was spared from the fire. The other two did not suffer the same fate. We end our tour again at Notre Dame Cathedral, this time through the vision of the legendary Edith Piaf.
Edith Piaf – Notre Dame de Paris
He had a life marked by misery. It is known as “Piaf” which means “sparrow”
The daughter of alcoholic parents, she became pregnant at 16 and her daughter died at the age of 2. Discovered by Louis Leplée, owner of a cabaret that made her a star. Later he turned up dead and she was suspected of murder.
After the war, he traveled to the US where he met the love of his life, a boxer who also died in a plane crash.