Forms and transformations of monastic musical traditions in medieval Europe: Carthusian plainchant in the light of a comparison with selected liturgical music traditions

podoktorski raziskovalni projekt
Basic Info

  • Original Title

    Obrazi in preobrazbe monastičnih glasbenih tradicij v srednjeveški Evropi:kartuzijanski koral v luči primerjav z izbranimi liturgičnoglasbenimi tradicijami

  • Collaborators

    Katarina Šter, PhD
  • Code


  • Duration

    since August 1, 2013 to August 31, 2016
  • Project manager

    Katarina Šter, PhD

  • Financial Source

    Slovenian Research Agency

The project “Forms and transformations of the monastic musical traditions in medieval Europe: Carthusian plainchant compared with selected liturgical music traditions” defined the characteristics of the Carthusian musical tradition by comparing it with some other traditions, which were connected with the Carthusians in one way or another. There are two traditions which must have been among the sources for Carthusian plainchant at the time of its formation: the Benedictine and Aquitanian plainchant traditions. On the other hand, there is another tradition that sprang up in similar circumstances and had similar aims to the Carthusian tradition: that is, the Cistercian tradition. The research focus was to discover how the Carthusian tradition, which was already firmly established between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, could be formed on the basis of other traditions, and how it was then transformed into something new and distinct that could be compared to those traditions in its own right.

The essential characteristics of the Carthusian tradition became clearer through comparison and analysis of the manuscript antiphonaries. At least two sources from each of the four plainchant traditions mentioned above were taken into comparison. The analysis of the selected responsories that could be found in all four traditions was carried out in several stages or layers: foremost the textual and musical layers (melodies), and in some smaller degree also the layer of notation. Conclusions about which texts and melodies the Carthusians accepted and which not, and which of the accepted ones were later transformed, how, and why, were able to offer new insight into how the first Carthusian monks understood other traditions and what their own textual and musical entities meant to them. The characteristics in which Carthusian plainchant differs from the plainchant of the other traditions can help us to define the essence of Carthusian plainchant.

The novelty and importance of this project were comprised of two things. Firstly, the starting point and focus of the research was a tradition that had not been studied in detail previously: Carthusian plainchant. In addition, the main sources of the analyses were relatively unknown medieval antiphonaries from the Žiče Charterhouse, one of the most important charterhouses of the former German empire. Thus, the project meant a chance to put the medieval musical heritage of Slovenian territory into its rightful place in the history of medieval music in Slovenia as well as Europe.


The most relevant scientific and cultural results of the project

Šter, Katarina. »Resacralization of the Sacred: Carthusian Liturgical Plainchant and (Re)biblicization of its Texts.« Muzikološki zbornik / Musicological Annual 50/2 (2014): 157–180. [English.] [COBISS.SI-ID 56521058]

Šter, Katarina. »Mary Magdalene, the Apostola of the Easter Morning: Changes in the Late Medieval Carthusian Office of St Mary Magdalene.« Muzikološki zbornik / Musicological Annual 53/1 (2017): 9–53. [English.], doi: 10.4312/mz.53.1.9-53. [COBISS.SI-ID 41834541]

Šter, Katarina. »Musik als Verbindungsfaktor in den Ordensprovinzen und in den Ordenshäusern – Mittelalterliche Kartäuser und ihr Choral.« Paper presented at the international conference Houses and Provinces of the Monastic Orders as Factors of Connections and Intersections in Geographical Places. Austria, Vienna, 2013. [German.] [COBISS.SI-ID 36386093]

Šter, Katarina. »Searching for 'Authenticity': Reshaping Plainchant Melodies and Biblicization of the Chant Texts in the Carthusian Tradition.« Paper presented at the international Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference. Belgium, Brussels, 2015. [English.] [COBISS.SI-ID 38985261]

Šter, Katarina. »Antiphoners of the 'Dames': Gosnay Musical Manuscripts from the Charterhouse Pleterje.« Paper presented at the international conference of the Cantus Planus Study Group of the International Musicological Society. Ireland, Dublin, 2016. [English.] [COBISS.SI-ID 40228653]

Charterhouse Žiče
Carthusian liturgy
monastic plainchant traditions