Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

7/1/2003 - 6/30/2004

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Melodies for the Santus and Agnus Dei of the Roman Mass with their Tropes and Prosulas

FAIN: FA-37990-03

Charles M. Atkinson
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1349)

No project description available

Media Coverage

"Official Musics" (Review)
Author(s): Robert C. Lagueux
Publication: voiceXchange
Date: 9/30/2009
Abstract: From final paragraph: "The book’s title, though, captures the most significant contribution of this book. By considering the relationship among tone-system, mode, and notation over nine centuries, from Martianus to Marchetto, Atkinson powerfully illustrates the benefit of an integrative approach to scholarship: one that harnesses a scrupulous attention to detail in the service of a larger context. The Critical Nexus will change the way we think about music theory and notation, certainly, and it should also serve as a model for future study."

"Book Review" (Review)
Author(s): Stefano Mengozzi
Publication: The Journal of Musicological Research
Date: 4/30/2009
Abstract: Last paragraph: "The book has been very carefully edited and beautifully produced; its abundance of illustrative material (tables, graphs, musical examples, and facsimiles) renders Atkinson’s prose all the more enjoyable to read. Although it is possible to take issue with some of its conclusions, The Critical Nexus should be required reading not just for chant specialists and medievalists, but also for anyone interested in the history of the conceptualization of musical space in Western culture."

Revew (Review)
Author(s): John Caldwell
Publication: Music and Letters
Date: 5/30/2010
Abstract: Last paragraph: "This important book is of a kind to stimulate one’s thoughts about the inherent nature of medieval chant and to provoke discussions about contested issues; above all, however, it presents in all its wealth of detail the evidence for the remarkable story of the earliest developments in the history of Western art music."

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Pieter Mannaerts
Publication: Music Library Association NOTES
Date: 3/30/2010
Abstract: Last paragraph: "A modest book review cannot possibly convey the richness of a study such as The Critical Nexus. Charles Atkinson analyzes his sources with wonderful precision and constructs his argument with great clarity, always careful to do justice to the authors, to highlight their specific contributions, and to show the evolution of the recurrent Leitmotive throughout this fascinating history. All readers, regardless of their level of specialization, will find their understanding both broadened and deepened. To be sure, this is a work that merits to become a classic, that deserves to be read and reread, studied and discussed among students and scholars time and again, and is therefore highly recommended to all musicologists and libraries."

"Reviews" (Review)
Author(s): Joseph Dyer
Publication: Plainsong and Medieval Music
Date: 3/30/2010
Abstract: First paragraph: "As promised by the title, this book traces a ‘nexus’ of interrelated themes – harmonic space, its division into smaller units according to varied patterns of tones and semitones, attempts to reconcile an inherited tone-system with a repertoire created outside its ambit, and endeavours to endow the melodies with visual shape. As the author acknowledges, the foundations of this book, much of which has to do with tracing the sometimes shifting meaning of terms, had already been laid in previous articles on the polyvalent terminology of medieval music theory. Two of the most important terms were clarified in Atkinson’s masterly articles ‘Modus’ and ‘Tonos/ tonus’ for the Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie (1996 and 2005). Large portions of the present book are taken up with similarly astute analyses of musical and grammatical terminology."

"Reviews" (Review)
Author(s): Rebecca Maloy
Publication: Speculum, a Journal of Medieval Studies
Date: 1/30/2011
Abstract: last paragraph: "An especially valuable contribution of The Critical Nexus is its engagement with Alia musica. This group of treatises is perhaps best known for conflating the modes of Boethius, based on octave species, with the church modes familiar to singers. Because its enigmatic text and the lack of an available translation have hindered the full recognition of Alia musica in general music histories, Atkinson’s explanation of its contents is indispensable in itself. More important, however, is his new hypothesis about the chronology of the various layers, based on manuscript and textual evidence. Whereas Jacques Chailley had posited three authors and placed the completion of the treatise in the early tenth century, Atkinson finds four main authors, the last working in the late tenth or early eleventh century. As he makes clear, the most lasting contribution of the fourth author was to show that the plagal and authentic modes were distinguished by the relative positions of their co

Review of Charles M. Atkinson, The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music (Oxford University Press, 2009) (Review)
Author(s): Jeremy Grall
Publication: Music Theory Online
Date: 7/30/2011
Abstract: Second paragraph: "The Critical Nexus seeks to clarify the hazy transition from early Greek music theories of the Greater and Lesser Perfect systems to the early medieval tonal, modal, and notational systems. The book draws various early theoretical treatises together and presents them in an accessible, unified study. Atkinson is particularly successful in navigating the period sources and tracing the lineage of changing definitions and problems of translation. The great virtue of the book is that it is at once the most comprehensive and the most intelligible treatment of early tone theory to date. Atkinson’s scholarship is thorough throughout and he shows an admirable sensitivity to the balance between theory and practice. One gets the impression that this book was both a labor of love and the type of work that only comes out of decades of deliberation."

Associated Products

The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music. (Book)
Title: The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music.
Author: Charles M. Atkinson
Abstract: In the eleventh century of the common era, several writers on music begin to complain about "mistakes” that had crept into the singing of the venerable Gregorian chant, or distortions in the proper flow of its melodies. One such author, known to modern readers as "Pseudo-Odo," even mentions that it is sometimes necessary to emend the melodies themselves. But if the chant were indeed divinely inspired, which had long been the assumption, then there would be no need to emend it at all. In The Critical Nexus, Charles Atkinson unravels this vexing mystery by creating a broad framework that moves from Greek harmonic theory to the various stages in the transmission of Roman chant. Out of this examination emerges the central point behind the problem: the tone-system founded in the Greek harmonic tradition and advocated by several medieval writers was not well suited to the notation of chant, and this basic incompatibility led to the creation of new theoretical constructs. By tracing the path of subsequent adaptation at the nexus of tone-system, mode, and notation, Atkinson brings new and far-reaching insights into what mode meant to the medieval musician and how the system responded to its inherent limitations.
Year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph


Otto Kinkeldey Award
Date: 11/7/2010
Organization: American Musicological Society
Abstract: The Otto Kinkeldey Award will honor each year a musicological book of exceptional merit published during the previous year (2011) in any language and in any country by a scholar who is past the early stages of his or her career and who is a member of the AMS or a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States.