A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (4) – Maý etc

A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (photographed by Robert Klugseder in the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek) features four untexted melodies with German incipits, which were announced in an earlier entry to this blog site:

  1. Pärlein vnd mit
  2. An czal dý etc
  3. Paradys ich han gesúcht
  4. Maý etc

The fourth and last melody on this page is also the longest. The tiny incipit may refer to any song which features the month of “May” somewhere in its first verse (such as a number of pieces in the Sterzinger Miszellaneen-Handschrift).

Fourth melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: "May etc", reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

Fourth melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: “May etc”, reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

Once more, the first phrase appears to be an untexted opening melisma to the song:

    Transcription of "Maý etc" with nearly consequent use of stroke notation.

Transcription of “Maý etc” with nearly consequent use of stroke notation.

The notation of “Maý etc” seems to be much more rhythmically organised than the other three melodies, especially in what I feel might by the “A-part”: The stroke notation can almost be transcribed as mensural notation for the first third of the melody. The notation of the remaining two-thirds might, however, not meant to be read as strictly mensural as this following attempt at a rhythmic edition suggests:

"Maý etc": Attempt at a rhythmised transcription of the stroke notation.

“Maý etc”: Attempt at a rhythmic transcription of the stroke notation.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (3) – Paradys ich han gesúcht

A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (photographed by Robert Klugseder in the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek) features four untexted melodies with German incipits, which were announced in an earlier entry to this blog site:

  1. Pärlein vnd mit
  2. An czal dý etc
  3. Paradys ich han gesúcht
  4. Maý etc

The third melody on this page is—thanks to its characteristic C-tonality—again reminiscent of certain songs by the Monk of Salzburg and of German liederbuch “tenors”. And again, the first phrase is very typical for an untexted opening melisma (compare for instance “Scheyden du vil sendighe not” from the Rostocker Liederbuch). A concordance, however, is yet waiting to be discovered:

Third melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: "Paradys ich han gesúcht", reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

Third melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: “Paradys ich han gesúcht”, reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

Transcription of "Paradys ich han gesúcht", reminiscent of melodies by the Monk of Salzburg.

Transcription of “Paradys ich han gesúcht”, reminiscent of melodies by the Monk of Salzburg.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (2) – An czal dý etc

A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (photographed by Robert Klugseder in the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek) features four untexted melodies with German incipits, which were announced in an earlier entry to this blog site:

  1. Pärlein vnd mit
  2. An czal dý etc
  3. Paradys ich han gesúcht
  4. Maý etc

The second melody on this page (“An czal dý etc”) belongs to a family of pieces in a certain mode, which is typical to a number of secular songs by the Monk of Salzburg: This is a very characteristic C-tonality (related to the Phrygian mode) which exhibits distinctive melodic formulae involving jumps and “broken chords” (so to speak). These features can be found in such Monk-songs as “Hab aller czweifel aynen nit” (W34), “Untarnslaf tut den sumer wol” (W3), “Wier der fünfzehent an der schar” (W19) and especially “Ich het czu hannt geloket mir” (W48) as well as “Ich han gewart all dicz iar” (W53) with which the song at hand even shares a number phrases. This mode can be traced back as far as the Jenaer Liederhandschrift (D-Ju El.f.101) where several Spruchsang melodies feature similar melodic structures. The first phrase is likely intended as an untexted opening melisma, since the aforementioned cognates display very similar textless opening phrases.

Second melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: "An czal dý etc", reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

Second melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: “An czal dý etc”, reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

I am certain that a concordance for this melody will be found in the nearer future:

Transcription of "An czal dý etc" - a melody in typical German C-tonality.

Transcription of “An czal dý etc” – a melody in typical German C-tonality.

Marc Lewon

 [2015-02-28] PS: The concordance has been found and is rather obvious: It is the piece known as “Czaldy waldy” from two Prague manuscripts (CZ-Pu XVII.F.9 & CZ-Pu XIV.D.23), only the first of which gives the title as an incipit. Many thanks go to Lenka Hlávková for pointing out this connection. See the blog post dedicated to this find: A New Concordance for “Czaldy waldy”.

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A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (1) – Pärlein vnd mit (Monk of Salzburg)

A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v (photographed by Robert Klugseder in the course of the cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek) features four untexted melodies with German incipits which were announced in an earlier entry to this blog site:

  1. Pärlein vnd mit
  2. An czal dý etc
  3. Paradys ich han gesúcht
  4. Maý etc

The second of these melodies (“An czal dý etc”) sounded so hauntingly familiar to me and like a number of secular pieces from the œuvre of the Monk of Salzburg that I looked for concordances there—only to find not the second but the first melody to be a new concordance to one of his pieces: “Pärlein vnd mit” turns out to be the melody of the monophonic song “Pey perlin vnd pey spangen” by the Monk of Salzburg which otherwise only survives in the Mondsee-Wiener Liederhandschrift (A-Wn Cod 2856, fol. 196v-197).

First melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: "Pärlein vnd mit" (= Monk of Salzburg: "Pey perlin vnd pey spangen"); reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

First melody on A-Wn cod 5455, fol. 180v: “Pärlein vnd mit” (= Monk of Salzburg: “Pey perlin vnd pey spangen”); reproduced with the kind permission of the ÖNB Vienna (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

The following transcription is my reading of the first melody of A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v:

Transcription of "Pärlein vnd mit": concordance to "Pey perlin vnd pey spangen" (Monk of Salzburg).

Transcription of “Pärlein vnd mit”: concordance to “Pey perlin vnd pey spangen” (Monk of Salzburg).

A synoptic edition of the two parallel transmissions reveals how close this new concordance is to the texted version in the Mondsee-Wiener Liederhandschrift:

    Synoptic edition of "Pey perlin vnd pey spangen" (A-Wn Cod 2856, fol. 196v-197) and "Pärlein vnd mit" (A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v) - Monk of Salzburg.

Synoptic edition of “Pey perlin vnd pey spangen” (A-Wn Cod 2856, fol. 196v-197) and “Pärlein vnd mit” (A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v) – Monk of Salzburg.

Apart from the third verse (= fourth musical phrase) and the notated upbeats in the Mondsee-Wiener Liederhandschrift, the melodies are almost identical. The textless opening melisma is a characteristic feature of these songs which (even though it cannot be proven without known texted concordances) seems to also apply for the other three melodies from this source.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v – German “Tenors” from Vienna University

[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.]

Codex A-Wn Cod 5455 belonged to the artistic faculty of Vienna University and is dated to c.1385 (see catalogue) due to its contents and the signatures of several students from the late 14th to the early 15th century. It comprises university lecture material by Marsilius von Inghen (teacher at Paris University and first rector of Heidelberg University) and one Hugo de Reyss.

Fol. 180v of the manuscript features a single page with musical notation which is of some interest to our own project (“Musical Life of the Late Middle Ages in the Austrian Region”). This is one of the few examples of secular music which can be directly linked to university circles, and it fits the other known transmissions very well (e.g. the Eghenvelder Liedersammlung and the musical scribbles on the cover of A-Wn cod 5458—see the preceding blog entry): The textless lines with German incipits are reminiscent of sources with monophonic songs, such as the German lied “tenors” which can be found in the Strasbourg Codex CZ-Pu XI.E.9 (e.g. fol. 261v), Melk D-M cod 700 (pastedown of the back cover) and the only recently discovered notation on A-Wn Cod 5458 (front cover—for an in-depth analysis see this earlier post). The notation is typical for the transmission of late medieval German monophony and employs a mixture of purely melodic, unrhythmised “puncta” in the shape of semibreves and an element of stroke-notation for longer note values such as cadence notes (for similar notations see I-STEcap s.s. (Sterzinger Miszellaneen-Handschrift), A-Wn Cod 2856 (Mondsee-Wiener Liederhandschrift), A-Wn s.n. 3344, fol. 100vfol. 115r (Eghenvelder Liedersammlung—in order to access individual pages, exchange folio number in the link), A-Wn Cod 4696 (Lambacher Liederhandschrift), D-ROu phil. 100/2 (Rostocker Liederbuch), D-Bsb Mus.ms.40613, pp. 4445 (Lochamer Liederbuch), D-Mbs cgm 715, among others). Only the last melody (“Maý etc”) appears to employ a more consequent approach to stroke notation, offering an almost coherently rhythmised melody. Even though the source at hand is strictly speaking not a fragment, its state of preservation is not very good, for the ink has faded and the folio is clipped on one side.

The page transmits seven lines of musical notation on eight systems with four barely decipherable German incipits or titles which correspond to the notations of four separate melodies. My transcriptions of these incipits are as follows:

  1. Pärlein vnd mit (Monk of Salzburg)
  2. An czal dý etc
  3. Paradys ich han gesúcht
  4. Maý etc

A noteworthy aspect of these melodies is that they do not feature any repetitions of form parts (with the possible exception of the fourth one—”Maý etc”—which seems to feature some sort of AA’B structure, but which stands out in other respects as well). It may be that repetitions were intended but neither notated nor marked in this manuscript. A closer inspection, however, reveals that they seem to have been notated in full and that no repetitions were intended. Another interesting feature is that all four melodies seem to have been originally texted and would have started with a textless opening melisma. This fact cannot be proven until texted concordances have been found for all four pieces, however, their notational and structural characteristics point in this direction.

The second of these melodies (“An czal dý etc”) sounds so hauntingly familiar and like a number of secular pieces from the œuvre of the Monk of Salzburg that I looked for concordances there—only to find not the second but the first melody to be a new concordance to one of his pieces. [2015-02-28 addition: In fact it turned out to be a well-known tune. See the blog post: A New Concordance to “Czaldy waldy”.] The next four blog entries (see the linked incipits above) give transcriptions of these melodies and present a new concordance to a song by the Monk of Salzburg, namely “Pey perlin vnd pey spangen”. I am fairly positive that more concordances to the three [now: two] remaining melodies will be found in due time.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 5458 – Medieval Musical Scribbles from Vienna University

A-Wn Cod 5458 contains a copy of the Questiones by Johannes Buridanus (ca. 1300–after 1358, teacher at Paris University) on Aristotle’s Books on Physics. The manuscript at hand is dated to c.1370 and placed at Vienna University, possibly the artistic faculty due to its contents. I was made aware of this source because it includes an ink drawing of personnel from Neidhart songs which were popular in Vienna at that time. (On of the next blog entries will deal with said drawing in more detail, putting it in the context of late medieval Neidhart reception in Vienna.)

When asking for a scan of the Neidhart sketches, Friedrich Simader from the department of manuscripts at Vienna University asked me if I knew that there was notation on the outside of the book’s cover. After asking for a photograph—a wish which was kindly granted—I can now present to you the musical scribbles on the binding of A-Wn Cod 5458:

Musical jottings on the outside of the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458 (photo by Friedrich Simader)

Musical jottings on the outside of the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458 (photo by Friedrich Simader, with kind permission of the ©ÖNB)

Even though the notation is damaged and “weathered” by the handling of the book, it becomes immediately apparent that this is no parchment from a former musical manuscript re-used after maculation. The cover seems to have been used rather as a sort of notebook for textual and musical scribbles. The musical notation, stylistically typical for the 15th century, was written in a casual, off-handed manner on freehand drawn staves—possibly even before the parchment was used for the binding (because the staves and one of the notated lines seem to go over the edges of the book), and probably at least partly after the book was bound (because most of the notation is clearly limited to the front side of the cover). The notation is thus not only literally but also contextually connected to the book to which it was bound and can therefore be associated with the artistic faculty of the university. These facts combined with the knowledge of a Neidhart ink drawing within the codex as well as a surviving song collection which can be linked to a student of Vienna University in the 1420’s (Liebhard Eghenvelder) strengthen the notion of the presence of a musical repertoire of secular songs circulating at the university. (These connections will also be examined more detailed in on of the next blog entries.)

The musical notations

Turning back to the musical jottings at hand, I believe to be able to discern three separate and overlapping notations of musical lines which also employ different note shapes. While none of them feature any sign of clefs or accidentals, two of them portray a rhythmical set-up which is not limited but strongly linked to German monophonic song of the 15th century: a phenomenon which I tend to refer to as “reference rhythm” and which seems to call for the syllabic underlay of a German text (for more detail on this principle, which is used as a musical representation of an alternating verse metre, see the blog entry “ein tagweiß“). The most striking of these is one line of bulky black mensural notation which makes use of semibreves, minims and a breve:

One line of bulky, black mensural notation on the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458.

One line of bulky, black mensural notation on the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458.

Since this is the only line of music which carries on beyond the edge of the book, it seems that it was the first of the three to be notated, possibly written on the parchment before it was used for the binding. Despite the smudgy notes, the sometimes hard to identify minim stems and the missing clef, I believe that the following attempt at a transcription, for which I assumed a c4-clef, can at least give a rough impression of the intended melody behind the jottings:

Suggestion for a transcription of the line with bulky mensural notation featuring "reference rhythm"; assumed clef: c4.

Suggestion for a transcription of the line with bulky mensural notation featuring “reference rhythm”; assumed clef: c4.

Even though there is no clear evidence to support it, I would like to suggest that the next layer of notation which was added to the parchment comprises the shortest melodic fragment of the source: It fills the available space below the line of bulky, black mensural notation, makes use of a new, separate system of 5 lines, stays well within the limits of the cover and consists of white semibreves:

One line of white or hollow semibreves, difficult to make out under the more prominent tertiary notation.

One line of white or hollow semibreves, difficult to make out under the more prominent tertiary notation.

It is apparent that these white semibreves do not carry rhythmical values but are merely used as puncta to notate a melodic line. When assuming a c4-clef the following tenor-like melody emerges:

White semibreves used as "puncta" to notate a melodic line.

White semibreves used as “puncta” to notate a melodic line.

The most substantial of the three notations appears to have been added last, since it was written “around” the line of bulky black notation and across the line of white notation. Like the white notation it stays clear of the book’s outer edges. It begins in a system which was added just above and so close to the line with bulky notation that the systems almost merge:

Third notation, using "reference rhythm".

Third notation, using “reference rhythm”.

The notation conveys an almost complete melody, albeit in a patchy, incoherent manner. It seems to be a sketch—some parts of it appearing as if the notator had to double back and try again, so that bits of the melody actually musically overlap. The note shapes are typical to semi-mensural notations of monophonic songs, and again the “reference rhythm” is the most striking rhythmical feature. The melodic structure is very reminiscent of repertoires similar to the monophonic œuvre of Oswald von Wolkenstein or the semi-mensurally notated Neidhart melodies in the Eghenvelder Liedersammlung from the same era—both of which also tend to employ “reference rhythm”. The following transcription, which yet again is based on the assumption of a c4-clef, includes a rough musical analysis of the melody’s form-parts:

The third layer of musical notation, featuring "reference rhythm".

The third layer of musical notation, featuring “reference rhythm”. Uri Smilansky suggested that this melody might have been intended as a canon. It works well for about one line of music, after that adjustments would have to be made. Since the surviving notation is rudimentary and has an in-built “grey-zone” I do not want to rule this possibility out, especially since canons and rounds in the Dorian mode were very popular with German composers of the era (see Monk of Salzburg and Oswald von Wolkenstein).

The repetition of musical line b might have been either a second attempt at that line by the notator or a musical repetition integral to the melody and thus intentional. The repeated notation of the cadence of line b (marked green in the transcription), however, suggests the former.

When considering the layout of the notation systems, it seems that the first three were drawn freehand and successively from top to bottom: The downward slant of the lines to the right is increasing with every line, suggesting that the writer had to accomodate to the curvature of the lines he drew immediately before. The fourth and last system was added with some space and is the most regular. The following illustration emphasizes the  systems and is colour-coded according to the layers of notation:

    The four notation systems on the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458: red system with first layer of bulky black notation, blue system with second layer of white semibreves, green & blue system with third layer of semi-mensural notation.

The four notation systems on the cover of A-Wn Cod 5458: red system with first layer of bulky black notation, blue system with second layer of white semibreves, green & blue systems with third layer of semi-mensural notation.

So far I could neither identify nor attribute any of the jottings, discussed above, but maybe a concordance or cognate will soon turn up. This source will most certainly be a candidate for “Marc’s Milk Carton“. The other, textual scribbles might also hold some interesting information. Up to now I was not able to give a safe reading for any of these heavily bleached out annotations.

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 13713: La-mi-la-sol

[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.]

Recently, Robert Klugseder had made us aware of a new, tiny fragment with musical notation from Purkersdorf, near Vienna. This “Purkersdorf Fragment” (A-Wn cod13713) features mensural music from c.1500: 4 fragmentary lines on its “front” and 5 fragmentary lines on its “back”. While the majority of the music on the back consists of fragments from a yet unidentified bassus voice (with the word “bassus” clearly written under the incipit) and a tabula compositoria (a scala decemlinealis with 4 clefs f-c’-g’-d”), the top two lines of music on the front shows fragments of cantus and tenor lines as well as a cantus firmus:

The two top lines of the Purkersdorf Fragment—end of A-part of "La-mi-la-sol" by Heinrich Isaac on A-Wn cod13713-1 (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

The two top lines of the Purkersdorf Fragment—part of the prima pars of “La-mi-la-sol” by Heinrich Isaac on A-Wn cod13713-1 (photo ©Robert Klugseder).

La-mi-la-sol (Heinrich Isaac)

The maxima notes of the cantus firmus can easily be identified as the second half (“la-sol-la-mi”) of the motif from the famous (“instrumental”) motet “la-mi-la-sol” by Heinrich Isaac. It is here followed by a rest, the longa “la” and a custos “mi” which would place the surviving c.f.-fragment in the middle of the tenor line of the motet’s prima pars. The end of the line directly above turns out to be the end of the cantus line of the same part. Since the tenor voice of the prima pars takes up only little space it would have ended in the middle of the next line, which is now lost. The cantus voice would have taken up about three more lines of music above the surviving line, which would make the surviving fragment the lower half of a page. Since the normal layout would call for the two missing contratenors to be placed on the facing page of an opening, the current “front” of the fragment would most likely have been the original verso side of a folio. This would also nicely fit with the placement of contratenor bassus voices on the “back”, which would have been placed on an original recto side.

The following transcription of the prima pars of Isaac’s “La-mi-la-sol” gives the surviving music of A-Wn cod13713-1 in red notation with the missing parts taken from the songbook of Fridolin Sicher (CH-SGs cod.sang.461, pp. 42-43).

A-part of Heinrich Isaac's "La-mi-la-sol" with surviving notation from A-Wn cod13713-1 (Purkersdorf Fragment) in red notation—remaining music taken from CH-SGs cod.sang.461, pp. 42-43 (Songbook of Fridolin Sicher).

Prima pars of Heinrich Isaac’s “La-mi-la-sol” with surviving notation from A-Wn cod13713-1 (Purkersdorf Fragment) in red notation—remaining music taken from CH-SGs cod.sang.461, pp. 42-43 (Songbook of Fridolin Sicher).

Marc Lewon

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A-Wn Cod 3917 – Revisited

Or sus vous dormes trop

A new transmission of the famous chanson “Or sus vous dormes trop” on Vienna Ars Nova-Fragment A-Wn Cod 3917 (photographed as part of the “Musical Sources”-catalogue) was introduced and preliminarily transcribed in an earlier post to this blog site. The fragment is glued to the back cover of the host codex and the notation can only just be made out shining through from the other side of the folio. Since this new source still harbours information which cannot be gleaned even from the provided high-resolution image of the bleed-through notation, the “Musical Life”-project had requested for the fragment to be removed from the binding of the codex. However, because there was a certain danger for the fragment to be damaged in the process of removal or that the procedure might have to be aborted if the glue should prove to be too strong, Friedrich Simader from the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek had decided to try another, gentler and noninvasive method. The resulting UV-image gives a much clearer impression of the notation and the underlying text. Even if not every detail can be discerned with absolute certainty the image is a much safer alternative, which also allows for a completion and emendation of the preliminary transcription. We would like to thank Friedrich Simader for his initiative and this revealing new picture of the fragment.

A-Wn cod 3917 - "Or sus vous dormez trop". UV-image, reproduction with kind permission of the ÖNB.

A-Wn cod 3917 – “Or sus vous dormez trop” (UV-image, reproduction with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The stave lines for “Or sus vous dormes trop” remain invisible (the visible but empty staves in the picture are on the other side of the notation), but most of the minim stems can now be seen. Also, there seems to be some sort of heading to the piece, hidden under the writings on the external side of the page. Future studies with a removed fragment might be able to solve this remaining enigma.

First, I would like to give a transcription of the underlying text:

A-Wn Cod 3917 - text transcriptionIt may be puzzling to find that the text for the A-part ends about a verse too early and breaks off in the middle of a word. The two B-parts have the complete text. Further analysis will show why the text of the A-part is incomplete.

The revised transcription of the fragment could in most cases confirm the “educated guesses” of the preliminary transcription for places which—with the traditional photography—had remained vague or indecipherable. In a few cases emendations could be made, especially in regard to rhythmic values, and the custos at the end of every musical line could be identified. (All these emendations and additions are marked in dark red in the following transcription.) The text underlay, surprisingly, turned out to allow interesting observations:

A revised transcription of "Or sus vous dormes trop" on A-Wn Cod 3917 with text underlay. Newly deciphered passages and corrections from the preliminary transcription are marked in dark red.

A revised transcription of “Or sus vous dormes trop” on A-Wn Cod 3917 with text underlay. Newly deciphered passages and corrections from the preliminary transcription are marked in dark red.

The text for the A-part does not simply break off one line short of its completion—it breaks off at the point where space runs out and where the music of the A-part ends. Thus it seems that the music at some point “overtook” its text, or—more precisely—where the text could not keep up with the music. It is clear that the musical notation for this source was written before the text underlay was made, and apparently this procedure was not a rare phenomenon (see for instance Lawrence Earp: “Texting in 15th-Century French Chansons: A Look Ahead from the 14th Century”, in: Early Music, Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, 1991), pp. 195-210). Especially in those syllabic passages where birdsong is imitated and which contain a multitude of musical and textual repetitions, the musical notation is much more efficient with its use of the available space than the underlying text—even when, as is the case here, abbreviations are used to save space. The layout of the text suggests that the writer was well aware of being “behind” the music in many places. Examples for this are: a) the ample use of abbreviations such as “est“, and “que”, b) overshooting of the musical line, such as in staves 3 and 5, and c) the space-efficient notation of the repeated “titon”, where the second syllable is “typographically” raised.

As the transcription shows, the writer was more successful with the underlay of the B-part, where more of these devices were employed. Maybe the scribe was alert after the failed texting of the A-part. A closer look, however, reveals that for the larger part of the piece the text underlay is actually fairly accurate. Only when the repeated text-patterns appear in the A-part does the underlay get behind the notation. It is here, in the midst of the confusing ostinato-patterns, where the error occurs which results in the fragmented text. In the second line, the music runs ahead of the text, quickly and uncatchable:

Overtaking the textSince—even by falling behind the music—bits of text (albeit from an earlier sequence) end up correctly under their assigned musical figures, the scribe might have been led into a false sense of security. Apparently the scribe was also aware of a “key landmark” for the continuation of the proper text to set in after a section full of repeated phrases (“que dist dieu” and “ilh est jour”): a breve b-natural, clearly sticking out of the ostinato patterns. However, the melody features two such breves b-natural, of which the scribe chose the second one… the wrong one:

Missing the landmarkIn addition, the following edition shows that a total value of two perfect semibreves is missing in the notation of the cantus line—a fact, which was only evident for one of the two lacunas before the UV-image was taken (bar 29), while the notation was too faint to verify it also for the second one (bar 72). The latter is an understandable mistake, since the repeating patterns in this part always come in groups of four, while the last one has five repetitions, the final one of which was missed out in text and music.

Furthermore there is one place where a minim is written instead of a semibreve and another one where minim stems seem to be missing. They could, however, also be too faint to shine through even in the UV-image. Apart from these mistakes the surviving notation appears to be correct and at the same time presents interesting deviations in small details from concordant transmissions of the chanson. I undertook a traditional texting for the edition, which probably was intended by the scribe. The second text for the A-part, necessary for a complete virelai-form, could have stood on the now lost facing page of an hypothetical original opening. This page would have also contained the tenor voice for the B-part and might have featured a contratenor voice as well.

A new edition of "Or sus vous dormes trop" from the fragment A-Wn Cod 3917 with a reconstructed text underlay and the tenor of the B-part added from parallel sources.

A new edition of “Or sus vous dormes trop” from the fragment A-Wn Cod 3917 with a reconstructed text underlay and the tenor of the B-part added from parallel sources.

Simader provided us with more information about the host codex (A-Wn Cod 3917):  Apparently, the codex was not listed in the Vienna catalogue from 1433 and can only be traced back via its title label to the Domkapitelbibliothek of Salzburg around 1500. The binding seems to be the original one from the end of the 14th century when the codex was written. Entries on the last folio, however, already point to the Salzburg diocese. As was shown in the first blog post to this fragment, scribbles on the external side of the fragment also point to the Austrian region in the 15th century. For further information see the online catalogue.

Taking into account that Martin Staehelin[1] had found another fragment with a textless version of “Or sus vous dormes trop” that was used as binding material for a codex from Constance (c1500), it appears increasingly likely that this chanson (and other famous ones like it?) must also have been popular in German speaking lands in the 15th century, thus strengthening the case of A-Wn Cod 3917. The Council of Constance readily comes to mind as a possible occasion for exchanges of such “international” Ars Nova compositions.

Marc Lewon

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[1] Staehelin, Martin: „Das Fragment einer französischen Chanson um 1400 in Stuttgart“, in: Staehelin, Martin (ed.): Kleinüberlieferung mehrstimmiger Musik vor 1550 in deutschem Sprachgebiet, Berlin (Walter de Gruyter) 2011 (Neue Quellen des Spätmittelalters aus Deutschland und der Schweiz, vol. IX), pp. 37-40.

A-Wn Cod 3917

[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.]

Or sus vous dormez trop

When having a closer look at the bleed-through notation on the already mentioned fragment A-Wn Cod 3917 the typical sequences of “Or sus vous dormez trop” become obvious very quickly. Jason Stoessel had already pointed out this new find in his blog. Since the notation appears back-to-front when looking at the original, the Musical Sources project has helpfully provided a mirrored image to facilitate reading the notation.

By applying some contrasting techniques I was able to identify and transcribe almost the entire notation on the other side of this fragment, which is still glued to the inside of a binding at the back of codex 3917.

A-Wn Cod 3917 (back inside bleed through – “Or sus vous dormez trop”) – high contrast – (underlying photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The codex itself comes from the Dombibliothek of Salzburg and contains sermons by Johannes Kortz, called “Hermannus contractus”, whose name was also written on the front side of the fragment. Should this paper leaf at some point be removed from the binding, the notation as well as the text will most likely be easily readable. As a bleed-through most of the notation can be identified, though the exact reading of the text remains unclear. The incipit, however, can be deciphered as “Or sus”, thus suggesting that the version on this fragment most likely is not a contrafact. Furthermore, the B-part of the composition features a double text underlay, which confirms the find and supports the virelai-form for this transmission.

A-Wn Cod 3917 (back inside bleed through – Or sus vous dormez trop) – reconstruction with comments – some of the readings remain educated guesses based on the knowledge of the piece from concordant sources – (underlying photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

The fragment contains the entire cantus line of “Or sus vous dormez trop” and the tenor for the entire A-part. While the cantus features a number of variations when compared with the PMFC edition (PMFC XXI, p. 112-116), the tenor is almost identical.

“Or sus vous dormez trop” – edition: unreadable notes coloured grey, missing notation in small print – the edition is still partly hypothetical, because the staff lines of the original are not visible and some of the notation is very difficult to discern.

The front side of the leaf also contains staves for musical notation, which, however, do not match the location of the stave lines on the back side. Even though the staves on the back cannot be seen in the bleed-through the location of the musical notation proves that the lines do not match with the layout on the front page. No rastrum was used on the front side: The differing length and varying distances of the lines show that they were drawn individually with a ruler. Furthermore, the front side features sketchy scribal notes and various samples of probatio pennae, which contain interesting clues about the provenance and dating of the fragment at hand.

A-Wn Cod 3917 - scribles top - klein

A-Wn Cod 3917 – scribbles at the top of the page, front side – (underlying photo ©Robert Klugseder, with kind permission of the ÖNB)

Some of the scribbles go beyond the edge of the fragment and extend onto the leather binding – a hint that they were added after the paper was (ab-)used for the binding. Others use little German phrases and the name of duke Albrecht of Austria (either Albrecht V, duke of Austria between 1404 and 1439 or Albrecht VI, duke of Austria between 1446 and 1463) suggesting that the original manuscript was already scrapped for re-use in Austria in the mid-15th century, clearly placing the music of the fragment into the Austrian region while it was still in fashion.

Since the fragment is so promising and rich in content, it would be highly advisable to detach it from the binding of the host codex, so that it can be properly studied and transcribed. It seems to offer a slightly new reading of the cantus line and may provide further valuable information via its lyrics. We therefore have chosen to suggest this course of action to the Austrian National Library.

Marc Lewon

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PS: Since the publication of this post we were able to obtain a new UV-photograph of the fragment resulting in a new transcription and discussion of this source.

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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