Session 48 (Free Papers): Secular music in its linguistic diversity II

Friday, 9 July 2021, 9.00-11.00, Room A224 | Chair: Paweł Gancarczyk (Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences)

Investigating melodies of secular monophony from the Alps to the North Sea between 1380-1440: Methodology and feasibility | Ita Hijmans (Aventure, ensemble for medieval music)

Melodies of secular monophony from the Alps to the North Sea between 1380- 1440 show common features on a structural level. Moreover, in more detail, melodic motives seem to reoccur in several repertoires. This poses the question if we could speak of a melodic idiom that, with local preferences, had been spread out, in diverse social circles, over a huge area. In this paper, I will explore the possibility of defining a set of specific features that we encounter in melodies from the Alps to the North Sea around 1400.

In the tradition of investigating secular monophony, research from the perspective of the text has prevailed. However, some analyzes of form, modality and melodic structures have been carried out in the past. Those studies focus either on form and structure to support the categorizing of songs in genres and types or the development of methods for analyzing modal melodies, taking into account their flexible and wandering appearance. Finally, databases have been created which formulate characteristics in order to search for a particular melody. However, different types of melodic motives – for instance openings and endings of phrases, inner melodic formulas – have not been previously specified for this specific repertoire. In a pilot project, I combine existing methods with new criteria referring to specific types of melodic motives. I will report on the application of this methodology to melodies originating between the Alps and North Sea and discuss its feasibility.

The meeting of oral and written traditions? The Vyšehrad manuscript and culture of Latin song in Bohemia around 1460 | Jan Ciglbauer (Charles University, Prague)

The second half of the fifteenth century is a field in the musical history of Bohemia which is certainly still keeping some secrets. The time after the Hussite Wars was marked by continuing struggles between Catholics and several branches of the Utraquist church. For this period of Bohemian music history, the Vyšehrad manuscript (Prague, National Archive, Vyšehrad, Ms. 376, olim Vc C 4) is the most abundant source in terms of the variety of its repertoire. The institution in which it was created and the purpose of its compilation are still unknown. It contains musical items written with great care; but many others are incompletely and ambiguously notated. Despite this, the Vyšehrad manuscript is generally suggested as the musical source for finely illustrated, representative codices from around 1500, for example the Codex Franus. Can we at least make a more precise guess about the circumstances in which it was created? What are the main layers of songs, and what was the context of their performance? Can we define a pattern to explain why some songs look like vague transcripts of oral tradition while others were transmitted in a written form? In order to clarify the context of the Vyšehrad manuscript, another important collection of both Latin and vernacular songs will be taken into account for comparison: the collection of Crux de Telcz, as preserved in the State Regional Archive Třeboň, Czech Republic (Ms. A 4). Crux was a teacher, priest and Augustinian canon, who kept up his activities as scribe and collector on an exceptionally prolific scale throughout his life. At the time the Vyšehrad manuscript was compiled, Crux was active at the school in Vyšehrad and student of the Prague University. Are there some traceable connections to the Vyšehrad manuscript?

The less-known repertories of the Vyšehrad Kancionál | Hana Vlhová- Wörner (Masaryk Institute and Archives, Czech Academy of Sciences)

The so-called Vyšehrad Kancionál of the mid-15th century has been known to researchers since the publication of the first volume of Analecta hymnica in 1886, in which texts of Latin songs (cantiones) from Czech sources were published. In the literature on late medieval song (Latin and vernacular), it is still today one of the most quoted manuscripts. Less well known, however, is that the manuscript includes a wide selection of liturgical chants for the office, mass and processions in Latin and vernacular, and that their unique profile reflects faithfully the mixed liturgical practice in the early decades after the end of the Hussite wars (1419-1434). The collection shows a haphasard selection and order, and its scribes often struggled with the correct recording of the chant melodies, as if they were working according to memory or dictate. Mass ordinary chants, with and without tropes, in cantus fractus or simple polyphony, present a particularly large group. The manuscript also includes ca. 50 sequences, the selection of which raises many questions. Like no other collection in Bohemia, sequences characteristic for the Prague (diocesan) repertory are written next to sequences known otherwise in monastic traditions (Franciscan or Dominican); several other sequences appear in the Vyšehrad Kancionál for the first or only time, perhaps as a late witness of a tradition that was violently broken a few decades previously. The close vicinity of sequences and cantiones demonstrates not only the community’s increased interest in hymnic forms, but also a close affinity of the two genres in the late tradition, as demonstrated, for example, by the song Profitentes trinitatem, which was created by a simple elaboration of the earlier Victorine sequence Profitentes unitatem.

Troubadour music and poetry at the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica after 1204 | M. Dimitris Kountouras (University of Macedonia)

When the troops of the calamitous Fourth Crusade arrived at the territory that was then known as Romania—a term used to describe the Byzantine Empire—there were several important poets in their entourage. They were the French trouvère Conon de Béthune, who subsequently became a high-ranking official of the Frankish court following the fall of Constantinople, and two troubadours, Raimbaut de Vaqueiras and Elias Cairel who were courtiers in the newly established Kingdom of Thessalonica under Boniface of Montferrat.
The aim of the present paper is to promote greater familiarity with the work of the latter two poet-composers, and with the times of the Kindgdom of Thessalonica at its inception. The historical as well as the cultural allusions in the poems of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras and Elias Cairel, beside the more general political context of the period between 1204-1209, have been treated as relevant data to this study. Raimbaut’s Epic Letter and his last known work No m’ agrad n’ iverns ni pascors and Elias’ Pois chai la fuoilla and Mout mi platz are some of the works of great interest on that topic.