Some insights into late medieval music notation

As 2012 draws to a close, it pleases me to learn that the journal Early Music has published my article examining an anonymous late fourteenth-century song, Aÿ, mare, amice mi care. This Latin rondeau was discovered among an odd assortment of music fragments by Mark Everist just a few years ago but until now has not been satisfactorily transcribed nor its notation discussed. Thanks to the generosity of Oxford University Press, I am able to provide readers of my blog with a free-access URL to my article for their personal use only. The details of the article are as follows:

Jason Stoessel, ‘Revisiting Ay, mare, amice mi care: insights into late medieval music notation’, Early Music 40/3 (2012): 455-468. doi: 10.1093/em/cas101. Free access links: PDF or HTML.


In late 2009, Mark Everist published a report on the rediscovery of a set of music fragments in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Among these is a hitherto unknown work, Aÿ, mare, amice mi care. This article provides a new reading and reconstruction of damaged portions of this tiny yet exceptional Latin song. Most significantly, a close reading of the song’s notational devices, including a canon, provides new and unequivocal evidence for the intersection of musical cultures on either side of the Alps. The composer of this song was evidently trained in ‘Italian’ Trecento music theory, but used ‘French’ Ars Nova notation. As such, Aÿ, mare can be situated as an early example of breve-equivalent notation. These findings contribute to music history’s understanding of how composers on the Italian peninsula received and cultivated the Ars Subtilior style in the decades either side of 1400. They also contribute to (or complicate) an ongoing dialogue concerning the origin(s) of the Paris fragments.

Keywords: Ars Subtilior; Ars Nova; Trecento; canon; mensuration signs; breve equivalence



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Note: The responsibility for the grammatical blunder in the first sentence on the second page of the article rests solely with the author. Mea culpa!

4 thoughts on “Some insights into late medieval music notation

  1. Hi Jason,
    Looks fascinating, and congratulations! Unfortunately, the “free access” seems to have expired, as when I click on the links it indicates that I need a subscription (and my institution only gets “Early Music” through JSTOR. Would you mind sending me a PDF?

  2. This article comes in a perfect time! I’m now studying medieval notation at my masters class of Musical Paleography. Thank you so much for the contribution.
    Best wishes from Portugal.

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