Scribes and Editors at Work and at Play

Last month I was very pleased to receive an offprint of a chapter of mine that develops and expands on a paper that I originally gave at the Early Music Editing: Principles, Techniques, and Future Directions conference held in Utrecht, 3-5 July, 2008. The abstract of the original paper read:

This paper seeks to establish a prima facie case for a new edition of the repertoire of music from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century which is today referred to as the music of the ars subtilior. Although most of this body of compositions has been published in monumental editions in the 1970s and 1980s, these editions leave much to be desired both as sources of further scholarly enquiry and also as editions to be used for performance. This paper will detail some of the existing problems of published editions (including misreadings, errors, incomplete realisations) and how they might be avoided in a future edition using new technologies. In particular it will focus on cases within the scribal record of the ars subtilior that embody significant variants, including erasures representing scribal revision and/or scribal alteration of notational process. The emerging paradigms embodied by new technologies offer significant opportunities to move beyond Lachmannian and Bédierian theories of text criticism to principles of editing which preserve multiple local variants and empowers readers with a choice of readings. 

Continue reading “Scribes and Editors at Work and at Play”

Italian Benedictine Polyphonists c.1400

Two weeks ago I attended and presented a paper at the “Sources of Identity: Makers, Owners and Users of Music Sources before 1600” conference that Lisa Colton and Tim Shephard convened at the University of Sheffield, 4-6 October 2013. I’d just hopped off a long-haul international flight from Australia and had made my way north to Sheffield using England’s rather slow and not cheap train system, so my memory of the first day was a bit patchy. Continue reading “Italian Benedictine Polyphonists c.1400”

Late Medieval Notational Identity

Earlier in the month, my paper “The Notational Identity of Late Medieval Composers and Their Scribes” was read at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference at the Centro Studi sull’Ars Nova Italiana del Trecento, Certaldo (Italy) as part of a Panel session convened by Karen Cook (Assistant Professor, University of Hartford) on “Theory and Notational Practice(s) in the Fourteenth Century”. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the conference to deliver the paper in person, and I am most grateful to Karen Cook for volunteering to read it in my absence. I was, however, able to answer questions “remotely” over Skype after the reading of my paper, a novel if not “exhilarating” experience. Continue reading “Late Medieval Notational Identity”

Music and Politics

I recently attended the 35th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia, 3–5 December 2012, a regular fixture on the Australian music research scene. The conference, held at Australian National University, brought together over 140 speakers on the broad theme of “The Politics of Music“. Like many conferences most of the papers ran in parallel sessions, so it is always difficult to arrive at an overall view of the conference and its success. Australian musicology is a broad church, and my own research and general interests determined which sessions I attended. For me, highlights of the conference included James Webster’s keynote on politics in the music of Joseph Haydn and John Griffiths’s account on the relationships between architecture, rhetoric and music in the 15th and 16th centuries. A slightly abbreviated version of Griffiths’s paper can be read here.

For my part, I presented a paper on a long gestated topic: the politics of part of the repertoire of the manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense, ms. α.M.5.24 (Mod A) (warning: links to 14 MB PDF of the manuscript). Continue reading “Music and Politics”

Redemption and the “Missa L’Ardant desir”

Recently I have been thinking again about the Missa L’Ardant desir, an anonymous polyphonic mass that was at the centre of a previous piece of research on the use of unusual signs in fifteenth-century music notation. The remarkable Confiteor from the Credo of this mass is but one of a number of distinctive features in this mass. Like many polyphonic settings of the Ordinary of the Mass from the middle of the fifteenth century (or slightly later, perhaps the 1460s, in the case of the Missa L’Ardant desir) this setting repeatedly uses a preexistent tune, mostly in the Tenor, throughout its settings of the five items of the Ordinary of the Mass, the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus dei. This preexistent tune, called the cantus firmus meaning ‘the fixed song’, could be drawn from either a liturgical chant (a chant sung in the Mass or the Holy Office) or a secular song, both courtly and also popular street songs. In the case of the L’Ardant desir melody, there is no surviving court song that corresponds to the L’Ardant desir text incipit or melody used in the Mass, although the tenor survives in two settings (nos. 133 and 134) from the Buxheimer Organ Book, a mid-fifteenth century book of early organ or keyboard tablature now in the Bavarian Library at Munich. Continue reading “Redemption and the “Missa L’Ardant desir””

Powering music and emotion research

From 30 November to 2 December 2011 I had the pleasure of attending the 34th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia that was held conjointly with the 2nd International Conference on Music and Emotions in Perth, Australia. (Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the last day of the conference due to some problems with rebooking my flight.) The following remarks are not intended to be representative of the conference. Nor are they comprehensive. Instead they represent a selection of my own responses to and recollections of various papers and discussions that I witnessed or was a part of during the conference. Continue reading “Powering music and emotion research”

Music and Rhetoric at Padua

It’s been a while since my last post but I have no intention of adopting what is now an almost stereotypical attitude of apologetic resignation. I’ve been otherwise busy. Instead I intend to remedy my inattention with a slightly longer posting than usual! The last few months of research have been occupied with the question of emotion and music in preparation for the forthcoming joint conference of the Musicological Society of Australia and the International Conference on Music and Emotion entitled the Power of Music to be held in Perth, Australia, 30 November to 3 December 2011. After heading off in several directions including constructivist theories of emotion, psychological theories of emotion and the philosophy of emotion – the last of which proved to exude an irresistible attraction that nonetheless was leading me off in the “wrong direction” – my research arrived at both a surprising but in some ways not unexpected position that has blossomed into a conference paper and promises to be an avenue of further enquiry. Most of what follows isn’t in my paper, but serves to preface some interesting details. Continue reading “Music and Rhetoric at Padua”