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    Perotin

    Composer from the late 12th-early 13th century whose birthdates are fuzzy although it is believed he was born sometime between the years 1155 and 1160.  A lot of what we know about him is courtesy of an English scholar who went by the moniker Anonymous IV.  Anonymous IV refers to Perotin as Perotin Magister, which translates into Perotin the Expert or Perotin the Master. 

     

    What made Perotin an expert or master?  It is believed that he wrote the first polyphonic, or multi-voiced music, in Europe.  Polyphony did not replace monophony but it helped to revolutionize music, taking it to another level.  This seems simple but Perotin’s music is extremely complex, difficult to perform, and interesting to listen to.  It frequently features one vocalist sustaining very long notes with two other vocalists weaving in and out on top of him.  The rhythms change frequently and often the singers trade parts.  He was not afraid of dissonance either but resolved it with consonance.  Some modern listeners have a hard time believing his music is as old as it is, but such is the nature of his inventiveness. 

     

    His compositions were frequently written for specific occasions, such as “Viderunt omnes”, a Christmas piece from 1198, and “Sederunt Principes”, a St. Stephen’s Day piece from 1199.  Ironically, one of his most well-known works, “Beata Viscera”, written later in his lifetime, was composed monophonically.  Although he is considered to be a composer in the Notre Dame school of music, many scholars, including Anonymous IV, do not believe he actually worked at the cathedral itself.  Perotin’s output includes hymns and sequences, and some of his works are considered to be forerunners of the motet. 

     

    Like his date of birth, his death date is equally elusive.  Musicologists believe he died sometime between 1225 and 1240.  His music is still very music alive.  Modern groups continue to preserve his music:  At the end of the millennium, The Hilliard Ensemble released the simply titled, Perotin; Trio Mediaeval recorded “Beata Viscera” on their 2005 album, Stella Maris. 

     

    Trio Mediaeval recordings

    Beata Viscera (Perotin)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9rotin
    2. http://www.hypermusic.ca/comp/leonin.html
    3. http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/perotin.php
    4. http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/perotin.html
    5. http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/composers/perotin.html
    6. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Blair/Courses/MUSL242/perotin.htm
    7. http://www.amazon.com/Perotin-Hilliard-Ensemble/dp/B000025ZXO
    8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2TDS255jSE
    9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJxRDhejtwo

         

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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