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The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος (tropos), "a turn, a change" (Liddell and Scott 1889), related to the root of the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change" (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). The Latinised form of the word is tropus.
In Medieval music
From the 9th century onward, trope refers to additions of new music to pre-existing chants in use in the Western Christian Church (Planchart 2001).
Three types of addition are found in music manuscripts: (1) new melismas without text (mostly unlabelled or called "trope" in manuscripts) (2) addition of a new text to a pre-existing melisma (more often called prosula, prosa, verba or versus') (3) new verse or verses, consisting of both text and music (mostly called trope, but also laudes or versus in manuscripts) (Planchart 2001). The new verses can appear preceding or following the original material, or in between phrases.
In the Medieval era, troping was an important compositional technique where local composers could add their own voice to the body of liturgical music. These added ideas are valuable tools to examine compositional trends in the Middle Ages, and help modern scholars determine the point of origin of the pieces, as they typically mention regional historical figures (St. Saturnin of Toulouse, for example would appear in tropes composed in Southern France). Musical collections of tropes are called tropers.
In 20th-century music
In certain types of atonal and serial music, a trope is an unordered collection of different pitches, most often of cardinality six (now usually called an unordered hexachord, of which there are two complementary ones in twelve-tone equal temperament). Tropes in this sense were devised and named by Josef Matthias Hauer in connection with his own twelve-tone technique, developed simultaneously with but overshadowed by Arnold Schoenberg's (Sengstschmid 1980).
Hauer discovered the 44 tropes, pairs of complementary hexachords, in 1921 allowing him to classify any of the 479,001,600 twelve-tone melodies into one of forty-four types and this may have assisted in Hauer's music becoming entirely twelve-tone by the 1920s (Whittall 2008, 24).
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tropes". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.