Wednesday, January 19, 8095

Anon. Compostelan (b. c. 1095) - Florid Organum

Santiago de Compostela (also Saint James of Compostela) is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia and a UNESCO's World Heritage Site, located in the northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruña.

The city's cathedral is the destination of the important medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James (Galician: Camiño de Santiago, Spanish: Camino de Santiago).

The cathedral borders the main Praza of the old and well-preserved city.

The popular etymology of the name "Compostela" holds that it comes from Latin campus stellae, i.e. "field of stars," making Santiago de Compostela "St. James of the Field of Stars."

This name would come from the belief that the bones of St. James were taken from the Middle East, to Spain. These bones were then buried where a shepherd had spotted a star and a church was eventually built over the bones and later replaced with the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela.

Another etymology is Compositum, i.e. "The well founded," or Composita Tella, meaning "burial ground."

Yet another etymology derives it from "San Jacome Apostol."

The legend that St James found his way to the Iberian peninsula, and had preached there is one of a number of early traditions concerning the missionary activities and final resting places of the apostles of Jesus. Although the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela, the Vatican remains uncommitted as to whether the relics are those of Saint James the Great, while continuing to promote the more general benefits of pilgrimage to the site.

According to a tradition that cannot be traced before the 12th century, the relics were said to have been discovered in 835 by Theodomir, bishop of Iria Flavia in the far northwest of the principality of Asturias. Theodomir was guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed, drawing upon a familiar myth-element, hence "Compostela" was given an etymology as a corruption of Campus Stellae, "Plain of Stars."

As suggested already, it is probably impossible to know whose bones were actually found, and precisely when and how. Perhaps it does not matter. What the history of the pilgrimage requires, but what the meager sources fail to reveal, is how the local Galician cult associated with the saint was transformed into an international cult drawing pilgrims from distant parts of the world.

The 1000-year-old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the Way of St. James and in Galician as the Camiño de Santiago. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year from points all over Europe, and other parts of the world.

School of Compostela (b. c. 1095) - Florid Organum - Cunctipotens Genitor (1125)

Organum as a musical genre reached its peak in the 12th Century with the development of two very different schools of organum composition: the St. Martial and Santiago del Compostela Schools of florid organum, and the Notre Dame school of organum of Paris, which included composers such as Léonin and Pérotin which provided many new composition techniques.

The basic principle of Florid Organum is that there are anywhere from two to six notes in the organal voice sung over a single sustained note in the tenor. St.Martial organum and Paris organum duplum follow from the same principle, but in a different form.

During the course of the1100's, the age of the Cathedrals, melismatic (or 'florid') organum developed in Aquitania, and is linked to St. Martial de Limoges. This form of organum is based on a plainchant melody that is sung in extended note-values in the lower voice, the length of which are determined by the length of the phrase in the organal part. The chant thus transforms into a succession of long held notes according to the original melody and comes to be called "tenor" from the Latin tenere meaning "to hold." The upper organal voice moves in extensive melisms on long protracted vowels. This newer style became known as "organum," "organum duplum," or "organum purum" and the older note-against-note style became known as "discantus style." The St. Martial organum is rhapsodic in character as rhythms are not yet organized according to the six rhythmic modes.


The tenor is the highest male voice within the modal register, just above the baritone voice. The typical tenor voice lies between the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the C one octave above middle C (C5). The low extreme for tenors is roughly B♭2 (two B♭s below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to two Fs above middle C (F5).

Within opera, the lowest note in the standard tenor repertoire is A3, but few roles fall below C3 (one octave below middle C). The high extreme: many tenor roles in the standard repertoire call for a "tenor C" (C5, one octave above middle C). While some operatic roles for tenor require a darker timbre and fewer high notes, it is generally accepted that any tenor should be able to sing with a full timbre up to an A4. In the leggiero repertoire the highest note is an F5 (Arturo in I puritani), therefore, very few tenors can have this role in their repertoire.

The name "tenor" derives from the Latin word tenere, which means "to hold." In Medieval and Renaissance polyphony between about 1125 and 1500, the tenor was the structurally fundamental (or ‘holding’) voice, vocal or instrumental. All other voices were normally calculated in relation to the tenor, which often proceeded in longer note values and carried a borrowed Cantus Firmus melody.

[8096 First Crusade / 8095 School of Compostela]