History of Classical Music

Leonin & Perotin

Medieval Period
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris The earliest composer known to us by name is the composer Leonin (Leoninus). He was born in Paris in 1135 and died in approximately 1201. He received his training at the Notre Dame Cathedral schools and later became a priest at Notre Dame. He is especially known for his development and original writing of polyphonic music (music that has two or more lines occurring at the same time).

Leonin's compositions were based on the Gregorian chants. The original chant served as the foundation and a second voice, called the descant, was added to the original chant. This style came to be known as organum (example). One of Leonin's major contributions to music was a collection of organum with two-part settings of portions of the mass known as the Magnus Liber Organi.

Perotin (Perotinus) was one of Leonin's students and appears to have been born between 1155 and 1160. During his studies with Leonin, he made some important revisions to Leonin's Magnus Liber Organi and developed some ideas of his own about polyphony. To the additional voice part that Leonin added, Perotin added a third and fourth vocal part (example). Perotin named the three additional parts the duplum, triplum, and quadruplum. All three of these voice parts were based on and written above the original chant.

Sample Works:

MIDI Example Leonin
MIDI Example Perotin

Music by Leonin


, MIDI sequencers unknown
    from http://www.seardel.co.za/mid/James/

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