The Interaction of Mode and Psalmody in Glarean’s Circle

ABSTRACT: After summarizing Heinrich Glarean’s twelve modes, Johannes Mattheson explained in his Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre (1713) that modern Italian composers used a different set of four major and four minor keys. The origin of these eight keys is complicated by modal systems in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the ways theorists reconciled those systems with Gregorian psalmody. This article aims to untangle what Harold Powers (1998) called “confusions in the interface” between modal theory with Gregorian psalmody by illuminating how Glarean and his immediate predecessors resolved contradictions in these systems in the sixteenth century. Section One outlines the relationship between psalmody and early modal systems in the ninth to eleventh centuries. Section Two traces how the interface between psalmody and mode changed in three early sixteenth-century treatises written by Glarean’s predecessors, Nicolaus Wollick and Johannes Cochlaeus. Section Three explores how Glarean recognized and accounted for these changes in his Isagoge in musicen (1516), Dodecachordon (1547), and Musicae epitome (1557). Section Four highlights how an improved understanding of the interaction between mode and psalmody in the sixteenth century influences how we understand similar tensions in the seventeenth century.

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Suggested Citation (Chicago 17th ed.)

Posen, Thomas William (2023) The Interaction of Mode and Psalmody in Glarean’s Circle, Music Theory & Analysis: Vol. 10, 11: