New Music from Old: The Structuring of Responsory Prosas
Medieval musical embellishments for the liturgical Office hours have, until recently, aroused only passing interest among scholars owing largely to the difficulty of access to the repertoire. In practice, tropes in the Office are used almost exclusively with the great Responsories; these are the only large-scale pieces of Office music approaching the style and complexity of the Graduals and Tracts of the Mass. Responsory tropes are normally placed at the end of the performance, as a final flourish added just before the close of the respond. Prosas are provided for the first and last Responsories of the first nocturn, for all four Responsories of the second nocturn, and for the first and next-to-last Responsories of the third nocturn. A twelfth-century antiphoner from St.- Maur-des-Fossees contains a large repertoire of Responsory prosas; the group is unusually rich in unica, suggesting a consistent local tradition.