Music in the Time of Saint Anselm

Music in the Time of Saint Anselm

Cox, Donald R. (Saint Anselm College)

The Saint Anselm Journal 2.1 (Fall 2004)


The 11th century gave birth to a new artistic impulse as it also gave rise to original and systematic treatises about faith. St. Anselm, innovative theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury, contemplated the qualities of faith and argued the existence of God. Likewise, Guido d’Arrezo, Benedictine monk and medieval music theorist, contemplated the properties of sound and formalized early musical notation (the visual charting and indication of pitch). The monophonic music of the plainchant that embellished the Church’s liturgy gave way to polyphony. The vagaries of memory, as singers tried to memorize more and more music, gave way to the development of notation. This paper will present the development of music at the time of Anselm, the music that Anselm would have heard in his abbey church, the music that perhaps helped to inspire him in his meditation on the wonders of God.

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