J’ay pris amours
Only recently a 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, went online with yet another interesting corpus of Austrian musical fragments. All links to the source including a preliminary inventory by Reinhard Strohm go to the homepage of this project. The image rights lie with Robert Klugseder who took the photos.
The “Linz Fragments” (Linz, Oberösterreichische Landesbibliothek, Hs. 529) consist of 26 fragmentary folios taken from a former choirbook with polyphonic music written c1500. The original codex was probably connected to the Kaiser Maximilian’s “Hofkapelle”, which dwelled in Linz on several occasions. Reinhard Strohm had presented a preliminary inventory of the fragments in his article Polyphony in late medieval Austria, in: Musica Disciplina 38 (1984), pp. 205-230. This list is also provided on the Musical Sources website. The fragments still harbour a number of not yet ascribed concordances as well as unique if fragmentary transmissions.
I was able to verify one such concordance for the “J’ay pris amours” setting on Fragment 1, which seems to feature an almost complete duo of cantus and tenor as well as part of a third voice. These two and a half voices turn out to belong to a four voice setting over the tenor line of “J’ay pris amours” which can also be found in the chansonnier Seville, Biblioteca Colombina, Ms. 5-I-43 on fol. 109v-110 (reconstructed foliation: fol. o11v-o12r) and in Petrucci’s Canti C on fol. 89v-90.
The voice which is labelled as “Tenor” indeed presents the tenor line of the original chanson but is actually used here as an altus voice and consequently needs to be transposed to meet its new function. This can be derived from the provided instructions, which read:
Canon: Conficiens saltum sume diatessaron altum
I would like to thank Luca Ricossa for his help in deciphering the canon and for pointing out an underlying hexameter:
Con- fi-ci- | ens sal- // tum su- | me di-a- | tes- sa-ron | al- tum
— . . | — — | — // — | — . . | — . . | — —
It translates roughly as: “By making the jump take it up by a fourth.” This same canon can be found in the concordant transmission of the Seville Chansonnier (there, slighty different: “Conficiens saltum sumas dyathessaron altum”). Canti C resolves the issue and gives this line already transposed up by a fourth, but still labels it “Tenor”. Admittedly, the line is melodically identical to the original chanson tenor and provides most of the tenor cadences for the polyphonic setting at hand. For most of the time, however, it contrapuntally works as a filling voice and as a cantus firmus. The tenor function for the final cadence is taken over by one of the contratenor voices. This is of course due to the fact that the whole setting stands in g-dorian while the “Tenor” voice is transposed to d, a fifth above the finalis. Thus the label “Tenor” was probably taken over to point to its original function as well as to its role as the c.f. voice. It might also be interesting to note that none of the voices in this setting fulfil a tenor function, but switch the supporting role.
In the following transcription the surviving fragments of the composition from the Linz Fragment are provided in black notation, while the missing parts are coloured grey, which are taken from the Seville Chansonnier and Canti C (whichever source was contrapuntally more satisfying in each case). Differences between the transmissions are marked.
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