VSU professor explores Notre Dame's musical legacy

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 16, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The significance of the Notre Dame Cathedral is recognized and celebrated by millions around the world, but for musicians, it's something special.

Some music history experts say the Notre Dame is one of the greatest monuments in musical history, laying the foundation for western music we know today. While the cathedral grew taller, music was growing deeper.

Peter Geldrich teaches graduate music history and world music at Valdosta State University. He says the cathedral is whole to the first examples of polyphonic music, or harmonies.

"The roots of our western music were born in the floors of the Notre Dame Cathedral," Geldrich said. "That music set us on the road for all of our rules of harmony that we still use in all of our western music. Not just classical music, but popular music and jazz, all that sort of has its roots in the middle ages, right as the Notre Dame Cathedral was being born."

Gelrdrich said it was musical leaders at the cathedral that developed the first example we have of notated polyphonic music, a system of reading music we use today.

"We want to know where you came from, and you want to know how you came to be where you are now, as far as culture and history. For musicians, that history dates back to the Notre Dame Cathedral," Geldrich said. "I think it's important that we all know how our music, our culture evolved the way it did, and it's so important that we recognize these landmarks as symbols of our own culture. The Notre Dame Cathedral is certainly that, a great symbol of our western culture."

Music history experts say while they all hope the building can be restored, its image will live forever in our history books, and musicians will continue to tell its history, ensuring its legacy will live on forever.

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