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Introits and ingressae – Milan and Rome: the elaboration of chant melodies, the operation of musical memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2010


Although it has always been plain to see that the Milanese and Roman Mass shared many texts, that the melodies were also shared has gone largely unnoticed, or at any rate undemonstrated, except in the special case of the few offertory chants with wider concordances in Franco-Roman, Milanese and Visigothic books. This article takes up the particular case of the Roman and Milanese entrance antiphons: first, the circumstances of the importation of the Roman introits into the Ambrosian Mass; and, second, the precise relationship of the Ambrosian and Franco-Roman (Gregorian) melodies. It has long been understood that chants of the Old Roman repertory provide a firm basis for an understanding of the changes, inevitable over time, in an orally transmitted repertory. It emerges that the Ambrosian melodies, transcribed in neumes in about the middle of the eleventh century, offer a second opportunity for a sondage. This other, unsuspected, version of the chants, miraculously preserved and stabilised north of the Alps in the ninth and tenth centuries also allows for convincing demonstrations of the musical procedures employed in the elaboration of the melodies and in their adaptation to different texts. And not least, the isolation of what is shared between versions notated at a distance of centuries give us the basis of an objective estimation of the effectiveness of musical memory in a musical culture that did not rely on notation.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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1 The Chants of the Ambrosian Offertory: The Antiphons ‘after the Gospel’ and the Offerendae (Ottawa, 2009); ‘Rome, Milan and the Confractoria’, to appear in the forthcoming proceedings of the 15th meeting of the IMS Study Group, Cantus Planus, Dobogókö, 23–29 August 2009; ‘The adoption of the respond-gradual in Milan’, in the Festschrift for Giacomo Baroffio (forthcoming).

2 This is also the ancestor of the introits of the Old Roman tradition, but the relationship of the Milanese and Old Roman Mass chants must be the subject of other studies.

3 This service book contains the complete texts and some rubrics for the Mass and Office. Marco Magistretti, ed., Manuale ambrosianum, 2 vols. (Milan, 1904–5).

4 By proper I mean that the chant was intended for its occasion or had no other Ambrosian assignment. In a few cases, when a proper chant was not available, one whose principal assignment was as a psallenda or confractorium was co-opted as an ingressa. These cases are included in Table 1 (in order to represent all the assignments of the year) but the chants are not numbered. The Antiphonale missarum juxta ritum sanctae ecclesiae mediolanensis (Rome, 1935) contains many more ingressae. Alberto Turco remarks in an Internet posting (‘The relationship between Ambrosian Chant and Gregorian Chant in the light of recent research’, dated 25 February 2007) that ‘the pieces that constitute the formularies for the feasts instituted after the 11th to 12th centuries not mentioned by the Manuale ambrosianum were composed by the editor [Gregorio Suñol] himself’. (accessed 19 May 2010).

5 Rome, 1935.

6 The antiphonae post evangelium and the transitoria.

7 By this I mean prayers and liturgical formulae employed by the celebrant.

8 Terence Bailey, The Ambrosian Alleluias (Englefield Green, 1983).

9 Michel Andrieu, ed., Les Ordines romani du haut moyen âge (VIIIe–Xe siècle): II, Spicilegium sacrum lovaniense bureaux 23 (Louvain, 1948).

10 Rosamond McKitterick, Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (Cambridge, 2008), 321.

11 Beroldus sive ecclesiae ambrosianae mediolanensis kalendarium et ordines, saec. XII, ed. Marco Magistretti (Milan, 1894).

12 See Beroldus, 48.

13 See Beroldus, 62 and 80, where ‘ad cornu altaris’ refers to the ‘Gospel’ side.

14 Beroldus, 49.

15 Beroldus, 47–8.

16 See Terence Bailey, ‘Ambrosian Processions to the Baptisteries’, Plainsong & Medieval Music, 15 (2006), 29–42.

17 The percentage of Roman communion antiphons that were borrowed as confractoria is much higher, more than two-thirds (‘Rome, Milan and the Confractoria’; see note 1 above).

18 In ‘Rome, Milan and the Confractoria’.

19 The main Mass of Pentecost was celebrated in the Summer Church, but on all important feasts a second Mass, with different chants, was celebrated in the cathedral of the other season.

20 There is no combined feast of Sts Peter and Paul in the Sextuplex.

21 ‘Alia’ ingressa.

22 ‘Come, and show us your face’.

23 For the date of the earliest Ambrosian antiphoners, see Terence Bailey, ‘A Lost Ambrosian Antiphoner of Southern Italy’, Plainsong & Medieval Music, 17 (2008), 1–22.

24 Whether after this the archetype was copied and disseminated and the singers actually sang what was written in the antiphoners is an interesting question.

25 The use of pitch series and simple letter notation have great advantages in computer searches for matching ‘strings’. In such searches indications of beginning notes outside the tetrachord of the finales and leaps larger than a fourth are easily indicated by means of upper case, italics or bold, which are normally ignored in a search and are friendlier to computers than signs such as ↓ and ↑; however, arrows and such signs are more easily distinguished in printed copy.

26 Desclée (Solesmes, 1961). This edition was substantially revised in 1974, when some newly recovered ancient melodies were added.

27 A certain amount of difference, particularly the filling in of intervals is frequently encountered when a melody from a twelfth-century source is compared with one in a later antiphoner. Individual sources, hiemalis or aestiva, survive from the twelfth century. But the earliest winter and summer pairs of antiphoners (of the same age and from the same church) are from the thirteenth, and it is obviously desirable in a study such as this to present the Ambrosian melodies at the same stage of their development and from the same tradition. The Vimercate antiphoners A and C form a similar set, but they are not as complete.

28 A reminder: a letter in bold represents a pitch sung three or more times without interpolations.

29 See the note appended to comparison 12.

30 Graduale romanum, 386.

31 Such numbers in parentheses refer to Table 1.

32 Respice in me is written a fifth higher in the Vimercate antiphoners.

33 The Ambrosian version is written a fifth higher in the Vimercate antiphoners.

34 This is the first note of the next phrase.

35 Dicit dominus ego is written a fifth higher in the Vimercate antiphoners.

36 Ad te domine levavi is written a fourth lower in the Vimercate antiphoners.

37 Sic; ‘in longitudinem dierum’ is the reading of the Ambrosian Psalter.

38 As an example of the different possible interpretations, I have arranged the notes of the first phrase in a way different from that found in Example 2(a).