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Western Plainchant: A Handbook [Paperback]

David Hiley

Price: CDN$ 139.95 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Aug. 1 1995 Clarendon Paperbacks
Plainchant is the oldest substantial body of music that has been preserved in any shape or form. It was first written down in Western Europe in the wake of the Carolingian renaissance of the 8th and 9th centuries. Many thousands of chants have been sung at different times or places in a multitude of forms and styles, responding to the differing needs of the church through the ages. This book provides a clear and concise introduction, designed both for those to whom the subject is new and those who require a reference work for advanced studies. It begins with an explanation of the liturgies which plainchant was designed to serve. All the chief genres of chant, different types of liturgical book, and plainchant notations are described. The later chapters are complemented by plates, with commentary and transcriptions. After an exposition of early medieval theoretical writing on plainchant, a historical survey follows the constantly changing nature of the repertory through from the earliest times to the restoration of medieval chant a century ago. The historical relations between Gregorian, Old-Roman, Milanese, Spanish, and other repertories is considered. Important musicians and centre of composition are discussed, together with the establishment of Gregorian chant in all the lands of medieval Europe, and the reformations and revisions carried out by the religious orders and the humanists. Copiously illustrated with over 200 musical examples transcribed from original sources, the book highlights the diversity of practice and richness of the chant repertory characteristic of the Middle Ages. As both a self-contained summary and also, with its many pointers to further reading, a handbook for research, it will become an indispensable reference book on this vast subject.

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'The subtitle of this great book is too modest ... in the best sense, it is not easy to put down ... with such a vast field to cover, it takes a scholar of exceptional courage, erudition and, above all, generosity to write a study of the whole field as detailed, readable and up-to-date as this. Its organization is brilliant; a hugely complex topic is broken up into modules that can be sampled, dipped into for reference, or read as a continuous narrative gradually building up a rich and judicious view of the nature and development of chant from the early Christian centuries to the high Middle Ages, with occasional forays into more recent times. Every aspect of the subject is treated. The book is flexible enough to appeal to a very wide range of readers, and considering the labour and learning it represents, it is, a bargain. A magnificent achievement, it will be the standard work for years to come.' Times Literary Supplement

'The paperback reissue of Apel was a reminder of the absence of a comprehensive book on chant: David Hiley fills gap as comprehensively as any publication of 760 pages could ... Anyone interested in medieval music will need a copy.' Clifford Bartlett, Early Music News, May 1993

'The definitive work in English on this topic to date, it is an indispensable reference book for all academic and large public libraries.' L. Smith, University of Western Ontario, Choice, Dec '93

`an encyclopedia of material relating to Western Chant in all its diversity ... It is laid out in such a clear and logical way that it can be consulted on a number of levels, by experts or complete novices. ... Hiley's handbook provides a valuable fund of information, and casual readers should not be deterred by its size or thoroughness.' Early Music Today

'Hiley has simultaneously wovein a rch tapestry of i nfoamtion far toose who want togfo beyond fundaenetals, and has integrated the most recent research on a host of topics ranging from the relationshipofo erlry Christian and Jewish music to the Polish sequence repertorie. An outstanding feature of this handbook-cum-textbook is its bibliography. The tasks and problems involved in the study of plainchant are abundant, but it is difficult to find any that Hiley has not covered in some way ... Students, scholars, and anyone interested in the medieval repertory of plainchant will find in this handbook not only much of what they seek to know, but a reliable point of departure for further exploration.' Rosemary Dubowchik, Notes, December 1994

'it should be available to all serious church musicians as a major reference work to be used again and again ... Its subtitle promises it to be "a handbook," and it is an exceptionally good one. It is good to see so many substantiated facts put clearly in sequence and perspective. This first-rate book has been well researched and will provide a wonderful incentive and challenge for what ultimately must be done: take chant off the printed page, sing it, and make it alive.' William Tortolano, Pastoral Music, December-January 1995

'a one-volume sunthesis of the many standard resources in the field ... Western Plainchant serves as a manual, annotated bibliography, and exhaustive, comprehensive reference tool for the choral conductor and the nonspecialist ... a major undertaking and likely to be a standard in its field. It is the only comprehensive, up-to-date, single-volume English resource on this subject. I highly recommend it as a worthy addition to the choral conductor's library.' Cecile E. Hanson, Choral Journal, August 1994

`A brief review scarcely suffices to describe the vast quantity of information which is packed into this volume on western chant. Hiley's magisterial work was first published in 1993, and its present republication in paperbcak is very much welcomed...There is an extraordinary amount of well researched information here...it can be read at many different levels...no beginner could hope for a clearer concise description of the complexities of the liturgy, the genres of chant, and the books in which it is found...I rarely call any single book 'a must', but this one certainly is, for anyone interested in chant itself, or in the context for composed liturgical music of whatever century.' Early Music Today

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative, valuable reference Sept. 23 2008
By Steve S. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As with other Oxford University Editions, this book is a well researched, definitive edition on the subject. A very thorough source for reference on plain chant (history, etc). It is not, however, a source for the chants themselves. Nor is it a book for the beginner as its scope would be almost overwhelming.

The Time of the Christ
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Own for Chant Scholars Dec 14 2009
By A. V. Yampolsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title says it all. If you have a serious interest in understanding where chant comes from, buy this book, and read it from cover to cover. It's the best survey I know of.

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