The cataloguing project Musikalische Quellen (9.-15. Jahrhundert) in der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, conducted by Robert Klugseder and Alexander Rausch, brought forth a hitherto unknown source of textless musical notation on fol. 180v of A-Wn Cod 5455—a codex which once belonged to the artistic faculty of Vienna University. In an earlier series of blog posts I demonstrated that the notated melodies belong to a specific category of monophonic German songs, which are sometimes labelled as “tenores”. The melodies of this repertoire share certain characteristics, such as an absence of internal repetitions (textual as well as musical), an irregular rhythmical structure (no “reference rhythm”), and a tendency for cadential formulas that would render the melody suitable as a tenor voice within a polyphonic setting—furthermore, some of the transmissions carry the rubric “tenor” (see for instance “Wach auf mein hort” and “Köm mir ein trost” in D-Bsb Mus.ms.40613, on p. 2).
I was able to attribute one of the melodies to the Monk of Salzburg (“Pärlein vnd mit”). The other three, for the time being, had to remain without ascription—even though one of them (“An czal dý etc“) was hauntingly familiar. My thanks go to Lenka Hlávková for pointing out that this tune actually is the well-known “Czaldy waldy”, which is transmitted on paste-downs in the bindings of two manuscripts now in the Czech Republic (CZ-Pu XVII.F.9, fol. FS & CZ-Pu XIV.D.23, fol. BS). With the newly found concordance in A-Wn Cod 5455, fol. 180v we thus have three textless transmissions of this tune, all of which are either fragments or sketches of a melody that used to be categorised as a dance in modern publications.
It appears that the assessment of a dance tune needs to be re-evaluated, since the version in the first Prague codex (CZ-Pu XVII.F.9) with its black mensural notation very much looks like an untexted tenor from a polyphonic context, while the other two transmissions are in stroke notation typical for the transmission of monophonic secular chanson melodies—very similar to the notation in the Gruuthuse Manuscript (NL-DHk MS 79 K 10). The Vienna version even puts the melody in line with other untexted, monophonic and secular German “tenors”. Furthermore, the German incipit “An czal dý etc” could explain the cryptic title of “Czaldy waldy” (CZ-Pu XVII.F.9) and shed light on the hard to decipher incipit in CZ-Pu XIV.D.23, which is crossed out in the manuscripts but might read “dy czale dy wale”. In the light of this new evidence the title or incipit to this melody appears to be the beginning of a German song text or—in the case of CZ-Pu XVII.F.9—a corrupted reading thereof. None of the clues point to a genuine dance tune.
The following synoptic edition shows how close the transmission from Vienna is to the versions found in the Prague manuscripts:
Some interesting observations can be made when comparing the three sources:
- The transmission in CZ-Pu XVII.F.9 is found on a fragment of a manuscript that must once have had a larger format than the one in which it now serves as a paste-down. The original context of the notation likely held information regarding the function of the three untexted lines of music located at the top of the fragment. They look like tenor lines from a polyphonic composition.
- The incipit “Czaldy waldy” in CZ-Pu XVII.F.9 only refers to the second part of the textless notation, which apparently constitutes a separate piece: The incipit is written directly under the beginning of this melody, the two concordant sources present it without the “first part” and they feature titles or incipits very similar to this one.
- The melody itself is divided in two parts and its secunda pars is very clearly marked in all three sources: In CZ-Pu XVII.F.9 it is separated by a double line and marked with the abbreviated rubric “Repeticio”, in CZ-Pu XIV.D.23 it is marked with a clef-change and the only line that goes through the entire system, and in A-Wn Cod 5455 it is again separated with a double line and a clef-change.
- The notations of the melody in CZ-Pu XIV.D.23 and A-Wn Cod 5455 are later additions—musical scribbles or afterthoughts on left-over space in a non-musical environment. In the case of CZ-Pu XIV.D.23, the notation system was added after the paper was glued to the back binding of the host codex: The lines go over the edge of the paper and continue onto the leather of the binding. In the case of A-Wn Cod 5455, the “tenors” were written on a largely empty page in the middle of a codex that contains university lecture material.
- The upbeats marked by semiminims in CZ-Pu XIV.D.23 seem to indicate the beginnings of verse-lines. They impart an additional internal structure to the musical phrases that are separated by vertical lines and tenor cadence formulas. Therefore, a poetic text must once have been “married” to this tune to leave its marks on the melody and its notation.
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 Christoph März first presented his idea of defining melodies with some of the aforementioned properties as “tenors” in: März, Christoph (ed.): Die weltlichen Lieder des Mönchs von Salzburg. Texte und Melodien, Tübingen (Max Niemeyer Verlag) 1999 (Münchener Texte und Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters, vol. 114), pp. 14-9. The definition was refined and expanded by Marc Lewon in the forthcoming article: Lewon, Marc: “Zwischen Bordun, Fauxbourdon und Discantus. Zum Dilemma instrumentaler Begleitungsstrategien für mittelalterliche Einstimmigkeit”, in: Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis XXXV 2011 (Amadeus Verlag), 2015.
 For a melodic analysis of “Czaldy waldy” including the presentation of a cognate “Alleluia”-melody, see: Plocek, Václav: “Poznámky k melodice Czaldy waldy”, in: Hudební věda 32/3 (1995), pp. 279–86. Plocek opposed the dance-hypothesis as first proposed by Zdeněk Nejedlý (Dějiny husitskěho zpěvu (The History of Hussite Song), vol. 1, 2nd edition, Prague, 1954, p. 300) and postulated that the melody was written for a sung text (see FN 2). For the assumption of a dance tune see also McGee, Timothy J.: Medieval Instrumental Dances, Bloomington & Indianapolis (Indiana University Press) 1989.