1st Edition

Tonus Peregrinus: The History of a Psalm-tone and its use in Polyphonic Music

By Mattias Lundberg Copyright 2011

    Mattias Lundberg investigates the historical role of a deviant psalm-tone, the tonus peregrinus, focusing on its applications in polyphonic music within all major branches of Western liturgy. Throughout the remarkably persistent tradition of applying this melody to polyphony, from the ninth century right up to the twenty-first, coeval music theory is able to shed light on the problems it has posed to modal and tonal practice at various historical stages. The musical settings studied hold up a mirror to the general development of psalmody, concerning practices of organum, diverse regional forms of fauxbourdon, cantus firmus composition, free imitation, parody, fugue, quodlibet, monody, and many other compositional techniques where the unique features of the psalm-tone have necessitated modification of existing practices. The conclusions drawn reveal a musico-liturgical tradition that was not in real danger of extinction until the general decline of Western liturgy that followed in the eighteenth century, at which point the historiography of the tonus peregrinus became a factor stimulating scholarly and musical interest in its alleged pre-Christian origins. Lundberg demonstrates that the succession of works based on the tonus peregrinus often preserved a distinctly conservative musical and theological conception even during periods of drastic liturgical reform.

    Contents: Preface; Theory, method and conventions; Historical background of the tonus peregrinus in monophonic practice; Singled out as a model: the tonus peregrinus in polyphony before 1500; The role of the tonus peregrinus in the extended modal systems of Glareanus and Zarlino; The rise of an idiom: the tonus peregrinus in French court liturgies of the 16th century; Ambitious obbligo or lack of invention: the tonus peregrinus in Italian-speaking areas during the 16th century; Liberty with rigour: the tonus peregrinus in 16th-century Iberian music; Total thematicism and multi-texted motets: the tonus peregrinus in 16th-century Roman Catholic liturgies of Northern and Central Europe; Mit Szonderlicher Ziemlicher Weisz: the tonus peregrinus in 16th-century Lutheranism; In Faburden and upon Faburden: the tonus peregrinus in 16th-century English liturgies; One applied and one discreet method: the tonus peregrinus in Roman Catholicism 1600-1750; A hand-maiden of many different voices: the tonus peregrinus in Lutheranism 1600-1750; The continuing tradition: the tonus peregrinus in music after 1750; Conclusions; Bibliography; General index.


    Dr Mattias Lundberg, Research Fellow, Department of Musicology, University of Uppsala, Sweden and Head of Rare Collections and RISM, Swedish National Collections of Music

    '... [the book] clearly breaks new ground and is the result of substantial and wide-ranging original thinking and research...' The Consort 'Lundberg has widened the field of knowledge beyond anything previous, surely leaving as mere addenda any future contributions to the topic.' The Musical Times '... offers much valuable information...' Notes '... one cannot help but to be impressed with the author’s systematic approach to discovering a wide range of compositions inspired in some way by this tone, ranging from 9th-century theoretical examples to contemporary art music... [The book] can [...] be read as a broad survey of Western sacred music through the lens of this specific application, and represents one of the few scholarly attempts to come to terms with the development of polyphonic psalmody over an extended span of time.' Early Music