Odo de Cluny

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Odo de Cluny

Odo de Cluny, composer; b. in the Maine, 878 or 879; d. Tours, Nov. 18, 942. A pupil of Remy d’Auxerre in Paris, he took Holy Orders at 19, and in 899 was canon and choir singer at Tours. In 909 he entered the Benedictine monastery at Baume, near Besançon, and then was successively abbot at Aurillac, Fleuri, and (from 927) Cluny. The famous treatise Dialogus de musica (also known as Enchiridion musices) is attributed to him without foundation (it is printed in Gerbert’s Scriptores and, in Eng. tr., in O. Strunk’s Source Readings in Music History, N.Y., 1950). It is most likely of north Italian origin. In the development of pitch notation through letter-names, the treatise was the first to give a complete series (2 octaves and a fifth) of letter-names (G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc.) corresponding to our modern series; but whereas we change from capital to lower-case letters at c to designate the pitches of the second octave, in its system the change was made at a. The treatise was also the first to add the sign gamma (Greek “G”) to designate the note corresponding to G on the first line of our bass clef. It distinguished between b flat and b natural (b rotundum and b quadratum), but only at one point in the gamut, namely, the note lying one degree below middle C in our system. Odo’s only extant compositions are three hymns and 12 antiphons.


T. Nisard, St.-O. d.C.(Paris, 1866).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire