Medieval musicians

“Medieval musicians were virtuosos of the diatonic, sensitized to the subtle differences of weight and role of the various scale degrees and the intervals between them…”

I was very interested to read Lefferts’ comment here. He is discussing plainchant, and the way in which the melodies of chants – single unaccompanied voices – curl around certain notes, certain repeated formulae, and how they start and end on certain pitches. It reminded me of a thing I have considered for a long time – the idea of the different notes of an ordinary scale having a hierarchy, so that a single note has a certain taste or flavour. Each note of a scale – each degree, as Leffert puts it, has a certain relationship with its surrounding notes – the intervals between them.

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