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date: 27 February 2021

Machicotage (Fr.)locked

  • Mary Berry



The practice of embellishing certain sections of plainsong (e.g. intonations and cadences, particularly in the solo passages of alleluias, graduals and responsories) in order to add greater solemnity. It was excluded from the Office for the Dead. Machicotage appears to have been widespread in France and Italy in the Middle Ages and to have continued into modern times. Lebeuf described it (somewhat disparagingly) according to its practice in 18th-century France. It appears to have consisted chiefly in the addition of passing notes, although Lebeuf linked with machicotage the occasional practice of dropping a 3rd below the normal melodic line, especially at cadences.

The technique of machicotage could be employed by the celebrant when intoning the hymns of the Little Hours, the Te Deum, Veni Creator and Tantum ergo, etc. Lebeuf explained how he would intone the well-known Whitsun hymn Veni Creator (see ex.1 ). Normally, however, the practice was reserved for singers – members of the lower clergy – known as ...

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