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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