CHAPTER V - THE ERA OF PURE CHORAL MUSIC  pp. 103-124

THE ERA OF PURE CHORAL MUSIC

By C. Hubert H. Parry

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The early period from the ninth till the end of the fifteenth century was, as it were, the babyhood of modern music, when ideas and modes of musical thought were indefinite, unsystematised, and unpractical. The Church, like a careful mother, watched over and regulated all that was done, and the infantile efforts scarcely emerged at any time into definiteness either of form or expression.

The two centuries which followed, up to the beginning of the seventeenth century, were the period of the youth of modern music–a period most pure, serene, and innocent–when mankind was yet too immature in things musical to express itself in terms of passion or of force, but used forms and moods of art which are like tranquil dreams and communings of man with his inner self, before the sterner experiences of life have quite awakened him to its multiform realities and vicissitudes. The manner in which the inevitable homogeneity of an early stage of art presents itself is still discernible from every point of view. The most comprehensive fact is that almost all the music of these two centuries is purely choral–that is, either written for several voices in combination without independent accompaniment, or devised upon methods which were invented solely for that kind of performance.