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date: 22 October 2019

Italy locked

  • Tullia Magrini,
  • Nino Pirrotta,
  • Pierluigi Petrobelli,
  • Antonio Rostagno,
  • Giorgio Pestelli,
  • John C.G. Waterhouse
  •  and Raffaele Pozzi


Country in Europe.

Tullia Magrini

Nino Pirrotta, revised by Pierluigi Petrobelli

The length and mountainous nature of the Italian peninsula, and its historical vicissitudes, have given its regional segments significantly different ethnic and linguistic profiles. Similar differences existed in the local ‘dialects’ of Western plainchant that developed during the early Middle Ages and continued in use until the imposition of Gregorian chant throughout most of Italy by the 11th century. In some areas of the peninsula, the Greek liturgies were followed, notably in the south where the Byzantine rite was celebrated in the old Basilian monasteries; Eastern practices are also known to have existed during the early medieval period in the Greek monasteries in Rome and in cities, such as Ravenna, that were once governed by Byzantium.

Traditionally, the origins of Roman chant were ascribed to Pope Gregory the Great (590–604), who, according to legends dating from the Carolingian era, composed the basic melodic repertory and established the Schola Cantorum as the model for the correct performance of liturgical music in the Western Church. However, there is no contemporary evidence to suggest that Gregory was particularly concerned with chant and it is now thought that the Schola Cantorum was founded in Rome during the second half of the 7th century. The repertory that bears his name – Gregorian chant – probably derives from the late 8th century, when the Carolingian kings attempted to introduce Roman chant into the Frankish lands. Whether Gregorian chant was actually sung in Rome at this time, however, is unclear and it has been suggested that it represents a ‘reworking’ of the genuine Roman repertory by Frankish cantors (...

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