Florid Organum and melismatic chant in medieval polyphony [Complete Guide + Examples]

melismatic organum

Florid, melismatic and Aquitanian organum: a definition What is a florid organum, also known as melismatic or Aquitanian organum? Technically, a good definition of florid organum could be this: a vocal composition in which the upper voice sings a series of rapid melismas (many notes on a single syllable) while the lower voice holds longer notes, […]

Instruments and music of the Indian snake charmers: journey across a dying tradition

musical traditions and instruments of Indian snake charmers

Snake charming music: a dying tradition Humans have always been fascinated by the twisted idea of measuring their strength by challenging other creatures. There are cultures where groups of individuals, sometimes entire families, have been raised with one clear goal: learning how to make a living out of this deadly challenge. I’m referring to those […]

Bragi: history and worship of the Norse god of music


Musical skills Bragi was the god of music for the Vikings and, at the same time, the god of poetry. He was described as a wise being, particularly creative with words regardless of whether they were sung or recited. This association between music and poetry seems to derive from the idea that a true artist, […]

Notker the Stammerer and the invention of Sequence

a monk next to a catholic church

What is the role played by the Benedictine monk Notker the Stammerer (c. 940 – 912) in the music of Medieval Church? Did he actually invent the sequence? Was he a music composer or just a talented lyricist? To answer these questions we’de better start with a quick overview of Notker’s biography. Let’s dive right […]

Ghanta Puja Sloka: melody and ritual function

hindu ritual bell (ghanta) with a candle

What kind of text do Hindu priests recite when ringing the ritual bell (ghanta) at the beginning of a puja? Those of you that are familiar with Hindu ritual prayers and sacred formula might already know the answer: the verses chanted by the priests are contained in a specific stanza, commonly known as the Ghanta […]

How to compose a Parallel Organum: 3 techniques

christian monk and monastery

In this article I’m going to teach you how to write a parallel organum. As the title clearly suggests, we’re going to be dealing with a specific type of organum, called parallel organum, which represents the earliest form of improvised polyphonic singing created in the Western world. By reading this guide you’re going to learn […]