"I Believe": The Credo in Music, 1300 to 1500
The Credo is a liturgical and musical outlier among the movements of the mass ordinary. It is the longest text of the ordinary, was the latest addition to the mass, and is the locus of several odd musical phenomena, such as the proliferation of dozens of new monophonic settings of the creed between the years 1300 and 1500. These musical and liturgical phenomena have been noted but little studied; furthermore, the reasons underlying these changes have not been explained or studied. This dissertation analyzes the musical features of the Credo in monophony and polyphony, and sets the music within a broader late medieval cultural background.The research herein is multidisciplinary, using the primary sources of the music—much of which remains unedited in manuscripts—as well as the works of medieval writers, theologians, liturgists, clergy, canon lawyers, and laypeople. The overarching goal is to contextualize the musical Credo by examining the Credo’s place in late medieval religious and devotional culture. The argument and conclusion of this dissertation is that the odd musical phenomena surrounding the late medieval Credo can be illuminated and explained by placing it within its context. Specifically, the Credo is a major aspect of catechism, devotion, and liturgy, and musical, literary, and theological treatments of the Credo text within each of those categories help to explain its musical status.
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