George Ferzoco has posted the following note on the Medieval Religion discussion group about an item on the Cambridge University website:
He wrotes "It does the heart good to see that such major discoveries continue to be made.
It’s from the early 900s (not 1900s, but 900s), and it’s a chant dedicated to St Boniface."
As the post explains the source appears to be in a monastery in NW Germany.
The article can be viewed at:
Scroll down the contents page to the link, which includes a video of a performance of the music.
Laura Jacobus added these images of polyphony:
Colleagues might also enjoy these images of polyphonic singers (as far as I know, the first times polyphony has been depicted) - both are at Assisi
St Francis preparing the Christmas Crib at Grecchio
http://uploads7.wikiart.org/images/giotto/st-francis-of-assisi-preparing-the-christmas-crib-at-grecchio-1300.jpg (from the Life of St. Francis)
(showing secular minstrels in corner )
Simone Martini St. Martin Chapel- monastic singers are also shown in the Funeral of St Martin, though not obviously polyphonic
Bonnie Blackburn explained the visual imagery as follows:
We can't be sure that they are singing polyphony (i.e. different melodies at the same time) rather than chant. When we see angels with choirbooks, then we know it is polyphonic, because chant was traditionally learnt by heart by the clergy, and we have no records of notation, let alone polyphony, before the early 9th century (this is why Giovanni Varelli's discovery is so spectacular). By the fourteenth century polyphony came to be valued as something special, and angels singing polyphonically became fashionable for artists (see the painting of Mary Queen of Heaven by the Master of the St Lucy legend in the National Gallery in Washington, where we can read the music, a known Marian motet by Walter Frye, Ave regina caelorum).