Chapter 9 Lessons

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Musicologie Médiévale

One of the most useful tabs is that for “manuscrits” which lists online manuscripts as follows:


Base Générale des manuscrits polyphoniques

Chant Cistercien

Chants des Miracles de Notre Dame de Gautier de Coinci

Chant Hispanique-wisigothique-Mozarabe

Chants vernaculaires

Guido d’Arezzo : les sources en ligne

Les lectionnaires dits « Gallicans »

Les manuscrits de polyphonies jusqu’à 1330

Les manuscrits polyphoniques de 1300-1440

Les manuscrits polyphoniques après 1440

Les manuscrits du Roman de FAUVEL

Les sources de la notation bretonne

Liber Sancti Jacobi – Les sources en ligne

Manuscrits Dominicains Notés

Méloi et leurs microtones

Musica et Scolica enchiriadis : les sources

Musique pour clavier du Moyen-âge à la Renaissance: les sources manuscrites en-ligne

Tropaires-prosaires : les sources en ligne

Vieux Romain

Negotiating F

Chapter 9 provides many good suggestions for negotiating the Florence Codex, which is now on line, and from which much of the music in the Anthology for this chapter is transcribed. The score is also published in facsimile, Luther Dittmer, ed. (Brooklyn: Institute of Medieval Music, n.d.), 2 vols.  So, for example, F is listed with polyphonic manuscripts up to 1330.

Working from the online source or the facsimile, the first lesson will be to find all the pieces transcribed from F and look at the original notation. The discussions of the pieces in the Anthology lead to thoughts about the various decisions scholars had to make about the music as they worked.

“Sol oritur” (Anthology 26) on f. 422r has no immediate problems, except for the basic one: we really don’t know how the rhythms of any monophonic medieval chants were rendered. There are a great many theories, but no one knows for sure. So notice that the notation seems not to hold a clue, and the transcription gives much freedom to the performer; you can hear the singing of Sequentia taking full advantage in their dramatic rendition of the song.

Anthology 27 is the organum triplum on “Stirps Jesse” as found (that is nearly as found) in F. So find the piece in its original notation beginning on fol. 26v, with the word Stirps and the note D in the tenor. There is a c-clef, and so the bottom line is a D, but if you look in the opening of piece in the Anthology, you will see that instead of a D there is a C printed there, which is wrong and would create howling dissonances with the upper voices. So as an exercise, become an editor on your score and correct the pitches, for they are not systematically wrong; indeed some are higher and some lower, but all are wrong.

There are many things to observe about this organum triplum in the Anthology, besides the mistaken tenor. You can see that the tenor pitches are simply written as individual longs, assumed to be held against the modal upper voices. At no. 110, the texture of the piece changes, becoming discant-like, with the tenor moving more quickly for some sections. In fact, perhaps you can see that the tenor repeats, although not exactly. Compare the tenor at no. I and at no. II to see that indeed there are two versions of the melisma. Some of the lines of the triplum are mindful of the octave descents found in “Sol oritur.”

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of all the polyphonic pieces presented here based on some pitches from the responsory “Stirps Jesse” (Anthology 5) is the chance to listen for the many ways the chant is decorated, singing organum, descant, clausulae, and motets. It is a worthy exercise, and one that will greatly increase enjoyment of the glories of Parisian counterpoint.

The Thirteen-Century Motet

One version of “Plus bele que flor (Anthology 30.1) is found in Mo:[]=MP&ETG=OR&ETT=OR&ETM=OR&BASE=manuf

“Plus bele que flor,” Anthology No. 30.1, is a four-voice motet from the Montpellier Codex. See if you can find the original notation beginning on fol. 26r and over to 26v, and compare with the transcription in the anthology.  With the rules found in the Primer for “Alle psallite” you could transcribe this piece yourself.

The joy of singing the tenor will only increase as you hear the upper voices unfold around and above you. Especially instructional is looking at the clausula on which “Plus bele que flor” is based (29.3) and then thinking about how it might actually be a guide to notation.  What meaning do the notes of the tenor that sustains the whole of the piece convey when put in context of the upper voices?

Anthology 30.2 is taken from a codex compiled in Spain at the royal abbey of Las Huelgas, a new version of “Plus bele que flor.” This famous book has recently been redated from the early 14th century to around 1340, but the repertory is conservative, and the motets are contrafacta with Latin texts. How do the new texts reshape the meaning of the piece as a whole?  Try to put yourself in the mindframe of someone with the French-texted motet before her, and needing to remake it for religious purposes.  What happens to the poetry; what happens to meanings.  Does the tenor and its original source in the responsory still play a role?