Composer: Anonymous (Notre Dame School of Paris)

Piece: Haec dies

Date: 1175

Form: Organum

Voices/Text: 2-voice, both with Haec dies

Context: Gradual of the Mass for Easter Sunday

Texture: Polyphonic

Characteristic: alternates organal and discant style

The organum, Haec dies, is based on the same Gregorian melody that we just studied. Here, however, it appears in extremely long notes in the lower voice while the upper presents the newly composed organal part. The long notes of the Gregorian melody were often supported by the organ, as in the performance on this recording. The upper part is written for a high male voice, a countertenor or male alto. This too is a Gradual for Easter.

The solo sections are answered by choral ones. The organal style sections alternate with those in discant styles, which are more rhythmic, with fixed patterns of long and short notes repeated or varied. Already European music was on it’s way to the metrical patterns that were to make Western rhythms so accessible to the ear.

A fragment of Gregorian chant might also be used for the basis of a short composition known as a clausula. The organum Haec dies includes such a passage, which gives the affect of being freely improvised.