The study considers various means of approach to the Gregorian melos during its oral transmission, before the conversion to neumes. Among these are intuitive analysis, based on the Carolingian received text; analogy with Balkan oral epic ("Homer and Gregory"); and "multiples" or parallel readings. An approach by way of a rare case of "close multiples" is explored in depth. The Gallo-Gregorian Offertory Elegerunt apostoli survives in parallel readings that are close in their musical substance but may be independent in their neumation. It suggests that during a later oral stage this particular chant, and perhaps a good deal of its cognate "idiomelic" repertory as well, had become melodically stable and memorized, and was no longer freely improvised. There have been common-sense reasons for supposing this, but nothing else takes it so near to proof.
- Copyright 1990 The American Musicological Society, Inc.