« Singing the Community : Plainchant in the French “petites écoles” around 1600 »
Whereas latin schools were quite common in some French dioceses since the medieval era, the development of parochial schools (‘petites écoles’) epitomized the growing of the Catholic reform because of their contribution to the instauration of a post-tridentine
Not fully dissociated from the ‘cathedral school’ paradigm, the masters of these ‘petites écoles’ taught chant essentially to their masculine pupils. But this learning of the singing capacity is not reducible into a ‘vertical’ transmission, from Church to lay people. By participating to the foundation of schools and, consequently, to the definition of the pedagogical activity, members of the parochial community gave meanings to the children’s voices according to their own conception of the civic and religious life. Starting from several concrete examples, this paper will attempt to explore the function of these local appropriations of the institutionalized “Church song” in the context of rural ‘popular piety’.
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