Magister Pérotin

French Born 00 1160 Died 00 1205

French composer, the most celebrated musician involved in the revision and re-notation of the Magnus liber (attributed to Léoninus).

Two decrees by the Bishop of Paris concerning the 'feast of the fools' and the performance of quadruple (four-voice) organum, from 1198 and 1199, have been associated with Pérotin since the theorist known as Anonymous IV stated that he composed four-voice settings of both the relevant texts.

He may have been born circa 1155-60, revised the Magnus liber 1180-90 subsequently composed his three- and four-voice works and died in the first years of the 13th century; or he wrote the four-voice works early in his career, revised the Magnus liber in the first decade of the 13th century and died circa 1225.

As regards his Magnus liber revisions, Anonymous IV refers to his abbreviations and improvement of the work by substituting succinct passages in discant style for the more florid organum; this would seem to be confirmed by one source of the Magnus liber, although the substitute sections are not attributed there to a specific composer.

The creation of three- and four-voice organum circa 1200 is an important step in the development of polyphony which until then had been conceived in terrns of two voices, and Pérotin's compositions show great awareness of the implications for structure and tonality.

The confusion over dating derives from unresolved problems of notation.

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