Discant

Discant

Discant (Latin: discantus, meaning "singing apart") was a style of liturgical setting in the Middle Ages, associated with the development of the Notre Dame school of polyphony. It is a style of organum that includes a plainchant tenor part, with a "note against note" upper voice, moving in contrary motion. It is not a musical form, but rather a technique.

Characteristics

This style was dominant in early 12th century Aquitanian polyphony, and can be identified by the following characteristics:

  1. Both the tenor and upper parts move at about the same rate, using the equalitas punctorum (an approximately equal rate of movement in all the voices) with between one and three notes in the upper part to every note in the tenor part. At the end of a phrase however, in discant style, the upper part may have more notes, thus producing a more melismatic passage at a cadence.
  2. Throughout the discant passages, the two parts interchange between consonant intervals: octaves, fifths.
  3. Discant style is characterised by the use of rhythmic modes throughout each part. In earlier types of organum, rhythm was either not notated as in organum purum, or notated in only the upper voice part, however Notre Dame composers devised a way of notating rhythm using ligatures and six different types of rhythmic modes.

Examples of this can be found in some of Léonin’s late 12th century settings. These settings are often punctuated with passages in discant style, where both the tenor and upper voice move in modal rhythms, often the tenor part in mode 5 (two long notes) and the upper part in mode 1 (a long then short note). Therefore it is easier to imagine how discant style would have sounded, and we can make a guess as to how to recreate the settings. It is suggested by scholars such as Grout, that Léonin used this non-melismatic style in order to mirror the grandeur of Notre Dame Cathedral itself.

Current research suggests that the word 'discantus' was formed with the intention of providing a separate term for a newly developed type of polyphony.

Discant in three or four voices

The development of modal rhythms enabled the progression from two part discant style to three and four part discant style. This is because, only voices, confined to a set rhythm can be combined effectively to make a set phrase. This was mainly related to Pérotin, around 1200. The parts in these three and four past settings were not necessarily related to each other. Evidence suggests that the parts were either related to the tenor part, or composed independently. Either way, this formed the first ‘composition’, and provided a foundation for development, and a new style, conductus was developed from the three and four part discant ideas.


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  • Discant — heißt die oberste Stimme in der Musik. Unter dem zweiten Discant versteht man häufig die Altstimme Der eigentliche Discant hat mehr Schärfe und Feinheit, der Alt mehr Fülle und Kraft. Den letztern nennt man auch Mezzosopran. Der Discant ist die… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • discant — discánt s. n. Trimis de siveco, 24.03.2009. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  DISCÁNT s. n. 1. vocea cea mai înaltă a unei texturi muzicale. 2. registru înalt al orgii sau armoniului. 3. regiunea superioară (acută) a ambitusului unui instrument… …   Dicționar Român

  • Discant — Dis cant, n. See {Descant}, n. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Discant — (lat. Discantus), 1) nannte man in der Verfallszeit des Gregorianischen Kirchengesanges den Gesang des Sängerchors, welcher sich durch allerlei Verzierungen von dem Cantus firmus absonderte; 2) (fr. Dessus, ital. Soprano, Canto), die höchste der… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Discant — (ital. Canto Soprano, franz. le dessus), die Oberstimme, die höchste der 4 Hauptgattungen der menschlichen Stimme. Nach dem verschiedenen Umfange unterscheidet man: den hohen D., vom eingestrichenen c bis zum zweigestrichenen a u. höher, u. den… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • discant — [dis′kant΄; ] for v. [ dis′kant΄] or [ dis kant′] n., vi. DESCANT …   English World dictionary

  • discant — noun a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added above a basic melody • Syn: ↑descant • Derivationally related forms: ↑descant (for: ↑descant) • Hypernyms: ↑accompaniment, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Discant —    Technique of organum composition by which all voices, including the vox principalis singing the original chant melody, move at comparable speed in triple meter. Discant is also an improvised polyphony described by 14thcentury English theorists …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Discant, der — Der Discánt, des es, plur. inus. aus dem mittlern Latein. Discantus, die höchste Stimme in der Musik; die Oberstimme, nach dem Ital. Soprano. Daher die Diecant Stimme, plur. die n, diejenige Stimme, welche den Discant singet; die Discant Flöte,… …   Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart

  • Discant-Geige — Violino piccolo engl.: + ital.: Violino piccolo Klassifikation Chordophon Streichinstrument Verwandte Instrumente Gambe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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