A-Wn Fragm406, fol. 1b (verso)

[In the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Klugseder has discovered a startling number of hitherto unknown fragments at the Austrian National library and made these “Vienna Fragments” available online in high-resolution images. All links to the source and the catalogue entries go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.]

Je languis d’amere mort

The verso side of A-Wn Fragm406 (fol. 1b) features fragments of the cantus and tenor voices of the anonymous chanson “Je languis d’amere mort”—I would like to thank Uri Smilansky for his help in making this discovery of the concordance. (David Fallows had identified the piece independently.) “Je languis” has already been discovered in another Vienna concordance earlier in this blog: A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B, fol. 1a. The following example illustrates the original position of the fragment on a hypothetical page:

fol. 1v (= fol. 1b) – hypothetical reconstruction (photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The following edition of the chanson in Codex Panciatichi (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Panciatichiano 26, fol. 69, ed. M. Lewon) shows the surviving parts marked in red, while the missing parts of the composition are coloured grey. There is no hint of how many voices this transmission of the chanson originally possessed, but since most of the parallel sources have three voices, I limited the edition to the Panciatichi setup of cantus, tenor, and contratenor:

“Je languis d’amere mort” – surviving parts highlighted

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Fragm406, fol. 1a (recto)

[In the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Klugseder has discovered a startling number of hitherto unknown fragments at the Austrian National library and made these “Vienna Fragments” available online in high-resolution images. All links to the source and the catalogue entries go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.]

Contratenor & Mon tres douls coer

Fragment A-Wn Fragm406 features mensural music on red staves, which can be attributed to two known chansons. The layout of the music in this snippet, taken from one corner of a leaf, suggests that the side, which was at first labelled “1b”, was actually part of the original recto page, while “1a” consequently was part of the verso page. (The lonely contratenor voice must have belonged to a composition which faced this right hand side of an opening. Also, the “verso” of this fragment starts with a new composition—all of these being hints in favour of the assumption.) The Musical Sources project agreed with my argumentation and re-labelled the pages accordingly. First I would like to present the content of the original recto, fol. 1a: 1) An as yet unattributed incipit of a contratenor voice and 2) part of the cantus II voice of “Mon tres doulx cuer”. The latter was identified independently by David Fallows. The following illustration shows an hypothetical reconstruction of the page, which, instead of the suggested 7 staves, could, of course, also feature 8 staves per page:

fol. 1r (= fol. 1a) – hypothetical reconstruction (photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

Some of the notation on the side of the fragment is very hard to discern. Luckily the image provided by the Musical Sources project is of such high quality that the faded notation can be reconstructed (brown = clearly identifiable, orange = unclear speck in the fold which may be a note):

A-Wn Fragm406, fol. 1b (recto) - reconstruction of the notation (brown = clearly identifiable, orange = unclear speck in the fold which may be a note) - (underlying photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

A-Wn Fragm406, fol. 1a (recto) – reconstruction of the notation – (underlying photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The first couple of staves contains the incipit of the first and second line of a voice labelled “Contratenor”. It seems that these two lines originally contained the complete contratenor line. It probably belonged to a composition which used to be located on the verso side of a now lost leaf facing this surviving fragment. It reads as follows:

Fragment of an unknown contratenor voice.

Unfortunately, the new concordance for “Mon tres doulx cuer” just below the “Contratenor” does not help in providing a reliable reading for the tenor voice, also missing from the only other source (Montserrat, Biblioteca del Monestir 823, fol. 2v-3). The following edition shows the surviving parts of the chanson in A-Wn Fragm406 highlighted in red, while the ‘missing notation’ tout court is coloured grey (edition taken from PMFC XXII, p. 157). The fragment only covers small parts of cantus II, but differs slightly from the Montserrat version in lyrics and underlay:

“Mon tres doulx coer” – surviving bits marked

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B, fol. 1b

[In the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Klugseder has discovered a startling number of hitherto unknown fragments at the Austrian National library and made these “Vienna Fragments” available online in high-resolution images. All links to the source and the catalogue entries go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.]

Je languis d’amere mort

At the lower end of the verso side of A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B (fol. 1b) it is possible to see some note-heads and stems belonging to a musical line that fell victim to the cropping of the page.

Fragments of a line of music at the lower end of Mus.Hs.1953.B, fol. 1b (photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The grouping and sequential behaviour of the notes that can be identified, as well as the general “skyline” of the phrase strongly reminded me of an Ars Nova chanson that I was currently studying. A direct comparison between this fragment and the transmission of the chanson in CZ-Pu XI.E.9, fol. 248v, shows that the “fingerprints” exactly match. They conclusively prove, I believe, that the notes belong to the first line of the cantus voice of the chanson “Je languis d’amere mort”. Not only do the visible traces provide a perfect match, but so do the lacunas, where no musical notation is visible. This is either because the melody goes down too low for any traces of the notation to appear or because stemless notes occur. This first line would have comprised almost the entire cantus line of the chanson, as illustrated in the transcription below.

Comparing “Je languis” in CZ-Pu XI.E.9, fol. 248v with the remnants on Mus.Hs.1953.B, fol. 1b (photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The Prague manuscript (CZ-Pu XI.E.9) also contains—only two pages after “Je languis”—a two-voice version of “Soit tart tempre”, which is found just above in the same Vienna fragment.

Not only does this concordance cement the popularity of the chanson at hand by providing it with another (although extremely fragmentary) concordance: it also puts it into a transmission context with “Soyt tart tempre” (found on fol. 250 in the Prague source) and with an English song (on fol. 1a of the Vienna fragment).

The notational characteristics and the presence of a competently copied English song suggest an English origin for this fragment (as David Fallows has also pointed out), placing “Soit tart tempre” and “Je languis” in the repertoire of English scribes around 1400.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B, fol. 1b

[In the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.–15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Klugseder has discovered a startling number of previously unknown fragments at the Austrian National library and made these “Vienna Fragments” available online in high-resolution images. All links to the source and the catalogue entries go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.]

Soyt tart tempre

The “verso” side of fragment A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B (fol. 1b), largely marred by the remaining glue from its use in a binding, features the well-known song “Soyt tart tempre” in an untexted version. Above the notation of the chanson the word “Viroletum” indicates the form: It is in fact a “virelai”. Only the incipit is written under the beginning of the cantus line. As Jason Stoessel has already pointed out, the contratenor line is unique to this source: the three-voice Modena (Modena, Biblioteca Estense e Universitaria a.M.5.24 (Latino 568; olim IV.D.5), fol. 28v-29) and the four-voice Reina versions (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds nouv. acq. francais 6771 (Reina Codex), fol. 63v) each feature different contratenors (transcribed in PMFC XXI, p. 141-143), the Prague (Praha, Státní Knihovna CSSR – Universitní Knihovna XI E 9, fol. 250) and Vorau versions (Vorau, Bibliothek des Augustiner Chorherrenstifts 380, fol. 87v) are two-voiced, and the Strasbourg transmission is—apart from a cantus incipit—unfortunately lost (Strasbourg, Bibliothèque Municipale (olim Bibliothèque de la Ville) 222 C. 22, fol. 87v), so we cannot check. Stoessel remarked that another version of the chanson was identified by Michael Scott Cuthbert and John Nádas in Florence, San Lorenzo, ms. 2211, fos. 15v/16r [originally xxv/xxvi], which would be very exciting to compare.

Luckily the condition of the fragment is still good enough to make a complete transcription possible, especially since the excellent photography provided by the Musical Sources project allows for high-resolution zooming. Unidentifiable but necessary notes are coloured grey. I wonder if the interesting contratenor/cantus b/c dissonance in bar 20 of my edition would hold up to scrutiny or if it should be corrected:

Soyt tart tempre (edition with conservative ficta suggestions – more is always possible)

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B, fol. 1a

[In the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Klugseder has discovered a startling number of hitherto unknown fragments at the Austrian National library and made these “Vienna Fragments” available online in high-resolution images. All links to the source and the catalogue entries go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.]

My ladi, my ladi, myn happ

I would like to start off the posts on the Vienna Ars Nova-Fragments by revisiting an item which has already been discussed and described (Musical Sources, DIAMM, Jason Stoessel, and especially Alexander Rausch: “Chorbuch-Fragment Mus.Hs. 1953”, in Robert Klugseder: Ausgewählte mittelalterliche Musikfragmente der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek Wien (= Codices Manuscripti Supplement 5), Purkersdorf 2011, 120-121), but which nevertheless still holds some hidden treasure. The fragment A-Wn Mus.Hs. 1953.B features on its supposed recto side (fol. 1a) the greater part of a two-voiced English composition with the incipit “My ladi my ladi myn happ”. It is likely an unicum. The cantus voice seems to be complete with the underlay of one whole strophe. The tenor line breaks off after about two-thirds of the song due to the cropping of the page. David Fallows had also made an edition of this piece already last year, which will be published with Musica Britannica in 2014 (‘Secular Polyphony, 1380–1480’). I would like to thank him for commenting on my transcription (below) and for sharing his findings. Some of his readings and solutions concerning text and music have been accepted in the following edition.

Transcription of the song text:

My ladi my ladi myn happ and all myn helë mercy dier swet a why doe ȝe
me al this wo sich i haue loued iow so weil and euermor wïl doe so ·
thin kich vpon iour worthines that well is auf my wo for godis loue beth
no lenger my fo ·

When taking into account musical lines and cadence structure as well as the rhyme scheme, the following verse structure emerges:

My ladi myn happ and all myn helë
mercy dier swet a why doe ye me al this wo
sich i haue loued iow so weil
and euermor wïl doe so ·
think ich vpon iour worthines
that well is auf my wo
for godis loue beth no lenger my fo ·

My attempt at a modern English translation:

My lady, my joy and my whole salvation,
have mercy, dear sweetness: alas, why do you give me all this woe,
since I have loved you so truly
and will do so for evermore?
Thinking of your worthiness
is the source of my woe.
For God’s love, be thou no longer my foe.

There are hardly any mistakes in the notation: only the first note in the cantus line of “bar 3” seems to have to be a minim instead of a semibreve. Otherwise, the problems with this source lie more with the poetical text and its underlay. A few other places are hardly legible due to the partly damaged state of the fragment, such as the note values of the last two notes of the first line. For example, what at first glance looks like a minim-stem on the first of the two notes in question actually is just a rip in the paper—so both notes could be semibreves or minims. In the first line the text underlay seems very clear and works out well. After that, both text and musical notation tend to overtake each other every now and then. I have attempted an underlay which, to me, appears fairly close to the original, takes into account most of the minim-groupings, and at the same time makes some sort of musical sense. Other solutions for an underlay are of course possible. Thanks go again to David Fallows for sharing his ideas here. At the beginning of the last line of the cantus notation, I imagine seeing a mi-accidential.

My ladi my ladi myn happ (transcription)

Since the setting is fairly straightforward, a cliché re-composition of the missing section of the tenor line can at least offer a plausible musical text for a performance. Other similar-sounding and maybe simpler solutions are of course possible. (David Fallows found another convincing solution which we will have to wait for its publication to compare.)

My ladi my ladi myn happ (edition)

The resulting song is hardly comparable to the standard of the repertoire represented by the chanson on the following page, but offers an interesting and rare glimpse into the world of English secular song in the late 14th century.

Marc Lewon

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The Vienna Ars Nova Fragments

The vast cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Musical Sources (9th-15th Century) in the Austrian National Library), conducted by Alexander Rausch and Robert Klugseder at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, not only lists and describes all relevant music manuscripts or parts of manuscripts of this library, but has also unearthed and catalogued a startling number—1771 to be precise—of musical fragments taken from the bindings of other codices. The great majority of these remnants of otherwise lost sources concerns the transmission of chant and has been described by the two colleagues working on the project. One of them, Robert Klugseder, is also the web-administrator for our own new project, Musical Life of the late Middle Ages in the Austrian Region (1340- 1520). Some of the above fragments are relevant for the “Musical Life” project as they comprise material which was written or used in the Austrian region during the time period with which we are concerned.

The Rausch-Klugseder catalogue also contains some items written in mensural notation. The existence of mensurally notated fragments among the large amount of surviving material has already been pointed out by Dominique Gatté on his blog-site on medieval music, Musicologie Médiévale. Some of the larger fragments have previously been identified and announced by the makers of the Musical Sources-catalogue as well as on DIAMM. One of the most notable among them is A-Wn Mus.Hs.1953.B, as it contains the unique transmission of “My ladi my ladi myn happ und all myn hele” and a new concordance for “Soyt tart tempre”. Another quite substantial fragment with music from the Veneto (A-Wn Fragm661)—though not relevant to the Musical Life project but worth mentioning—has been published separately by Robert Klugseder and Margaret Bent (eds), Ein Liber cantus aus dem Veneto (um 1440) / A Veneto Liber cantus (c. 1440); A Veneto ‘Liber cantus’ (c. 1440). Fragmente in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München und der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek Wien / Fragments in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munich and the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2012.

In April 2012, I undertook a survey of all fragments, which resulted in a short list of interesting and promising items for our Musical Life project. I was able to identify and transcribe a number of new concordances for well-known secular chansons. Other scholars who browsed the collection came to similar conclusions for some sources, such as the identification of “Or sus vous dormez trop” as a bleed-through on a fragment still fixed in a binding (A-Wn Cod. 3917). This and other new findings are discussed by Jason Stoessel on his blog-site.

With the next few blog entries we would like to present the discoveries and transcriptions made earlier this year as part of the work on the Musical Life project.

Marc Lewon

The orange scarf is laid to rest… On the death of Ulrich Müller

Ulrich Müller (1940-2012)

We feel we need to start our blog on an important but sad note: Ulrich Müller, one of the great scholars and a unique personality in the humanities, passed away on October 14th, 2012, aged 71. Medieval German Philology and Linguistics was his primary field of expertise and he was one of the most knowledgeable and prolific experts on the Nibelungenlied, as well as the works of Neidhart and Oswald von Wolkenstein – this knowledge representing only the tip of an unfathomable intellectual iceberg. He contributed such a quantity of works and furthered the knowledge of medieval German literature in so many ways that trying to offer a list here could only fail. Such a list is, however, being prepared by the much more competent authorities at Salzburg, where he lived and worked.

Ulrich Müller as a young man with the original of Wolkenstein MS B

Ulrich Müller was one of those German scholars who did not fear the sight of musical notation and who always tried to promote an interdisciplinary approach to his field, boldly crossing borders and venturing into other hunting grounds. He always encouraged performers to bring to life and to the stage the pieces of literary and musical art that he loved so dearly. He never denied assistance or help, he always kept a positive frame of mind, and never reacted in a condescending way, no matter how silly a question might have been. He was a catalyst for projects in both the performing arts and in musicology, providing impetus to and studies and performances alike. His enthusiasm was legendary. And above all he was a friendly, cheerful, and inspiring personality who knew how to enjoy himself and the company of others.

We have lost a great man, and on a personal note I have lost a friend whom I had the honour of getting to know better and better in the past few years. I had hoped to enjoy his friendship or at least the knowledge of him being around for a few years longer. It was good to know that the world contained him and his orange scarf.

On behalf of the project-team, Marc Lewon

The day and mood of Müller’s funeral.