Strand Definitions: Music and Liturgy

This strand encompasses all aspects of medieval liturgy and music. Since musical practices connected to public worship constitutes by far the largest part of the preserved – written – music of the Middle Ages, the combination of the two – overlapping – areas into one strand is sensible. The combination of ‘music' and ‘liturgy' hints at the possibility for, and strongly encourages, the use of interdisciplinary approaches to public devotion, musical practices, and public medieval culture. Such approaches have become more important in later years as general studies of the musical life in individual cities or ecclesiastical institutions have shown. In addition, new anthropological and historiographical approaches in recent years have developed and extended the study of medieval music as well as of medieval liturgy, questioning traditional definitions and methods.

The ‘liturgy' component of the strand includes but is not limited to research on liturgical rites, texts and services; liturgical theology; liturgical manuscripts; calendars; liturgical vestments and implements; liturgy and the arts (including architecture, manuscript illumination, and the so-called liturgical arts); specific liturgical genres such as prayers, readings, chants (e.g. hymns, sequences, tropes, and other chants of the Mass and Office), as well as ‘liturgical drama' and other public devotional representations. Also pertinent to the strand are considerations of broader issues such as liturgy and politics, liturgical reform, or questions of methodology, such as critiques of anthropological or historical constructions of notions and phenomena subsumed under the terms medieval ‘liturgy' and medieval ‘ritual'. The component of the strand specific to music includes research on musical instruments, notations, and musicians, as well as the analysis and history of specific musical practices and individual works, musical manuscripts, musical iconography, and the theory and aesthetics of music in the Middle Ages.