The disposition of the tritone in Gregorian Chant.
This thesis sets out to examine the disposition of the
tritone in Gregorian Chant, both as a 'filled-in' and as a
disjunct interval, or 'leap'. By comparison with other
periods of music history, the tritone's place in early
medieval music has hitherto received scant attention; one
noteworthy text even claims that it was shunned altogether.
But, in general, it has been assumed that the tritone was
considered undesirable only as a harmonic device.
Intervallic perception is partially determined by the
prevailing culture and context. (In respect of the tritone,
this is no more demonstrable than in jazz. ) And since the
melodic tritone contravenes ancient principles concerning
harmonious proportion, the tritone's disposition in the chant
may therefore be deemed significant. The primacy of liturgy
is affirmed, and the early neume notations accorded an
important role in the analyses.
The tritone 'leap' seems only to appear in the Great
Responsories of the night Office - particularly those of
Passiontide - and may owe its existence partly to medieval
superstition. Furthermore, modern scholarship has failed to
acknowledge the gulf between contemporary theory and practice
by adopting a 'theory-dominated view' (as proposed by Rankin
in connection with organum at Winchester).
Later attempts to edit the tritone from the Benedictine MSS
were inconsistent, as illustrated through a comparative study
with the Cistercian sources.