An Early Theory Compendium in Australia: Louise Hanson-Dyer Manuscript 244 Published

In November 2017, a series of studies on the late medieval–early modern music theory compendium, Louise Hanson-Dyer MS. 244 (LHD 244) of the Rare Books Collection at the University of Melbourne appeared in the latest issue of Musica Disciplina. (Attendees at the American Musicological Society’s Annual Meeting in Rochester would have had an opportunity to browse a copy at the A-R Editions book stand in the same month.)  I am pleased to note that the table of contents for Musica Disciplina Vol. LX (2015; published 2017) is now available from the American Institute of Musicology’s web site. The yearbook is available for purchase from the publisher A-R Editions here.

An Early Theory Compendium in Australia: Louise Hanson-Dyer Manuscript 244

I. Jason Stoessel, “The Making of Louise Hanson-Dyer Manuscript 244”   67

II. Jan Herlinger, “LHD 244: An Early Layer and What It Tells Us”   93

III. Karen Cook and Carol Williams, “New Light on Frater Nicolaus de Aversa: His Plainchant Treatise in LHD 244”   115

IV. Linda Page Cummins, “The Reception of the Compendium Musicale of Nicolaus de Capua: Paris to Melbourne”   149

V. Denis Collins, “Instructions for Keyboard Accompaniment in Music Manuscript LHD 244 of the University of Melbourne”   173

VI. Jason Stoessel, Jan Herlinger and Linda Page Cummins, “Melbourne, University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections, Rare Music, MS LHD 244: Inventory”   201

VII. Melbourne, University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections, Rare Music, MS LHD 244: Complete Reproduction   211

The five essays, an inventory and facsimile edition mark the culmination of an international collaboration between six musicologists from Australia and the United States of America on LHD 244. Early findings from this project were presented by the authors at a symposium held at the University of Melbourne Library in June 2015.

The same issue contains an unrelated study by Alexander Robinson.

Late Medieval Listening in Padua

Due to a research trip, it has taken me a few weeks to post news of a recent article on subjectivity, listening and music in early fifteenth-century Padua. The article is part of a special issue on visual and aural intellectual history. It arose from a paper delivered at the Rethinking Intellectual History conference, held 7–9 April 2015 at The University of Sydney, Australia, and was part of a session on the old and new in medieval music theory. Some of the research—including archival research mentioned in the footnotes—in this article is the result of a project that I am undertaking in association with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100–1800.

I was interested in exploring the idea of the old and new in writings of music theorists at Padua, particularly around the issue of musical listening and the conceptualisation of consonance. As a point of departure, I chose Petrarch’s famous letter from his Epistolae familiares (IV, 1) written after his ascent of Mont Ventoux when the fourteenth-century poet was living near Avignon, now in the south of modern-day France. Without going into details here, Petrarch’s letter can be read as the author’s realisation and exploration of his own subjectivity, made apparent when Petrarch realises that his experiences differ radically from those whom he sought to model his life upon, and upon his personal reflection as he looked figurative to his past, present and future on the peak of Mont Ventoux.

In the article, I wanted to explore how subjectivity in musical listening began to affect late medieval theoretical discourse at Padua, particularly with respect to two prominent figures, the university professor Prosdocimo de’ Beldomandi and the composer Johannes Ciconia. Both left writings about music which are all the more interesting according to their intellectual positions. Yet, pigeonholing each theorist according to their intellectual context is complex: while Prosdocimo might be put in the camp of scholastic thought, he is obviously interested trying to describe the qualities of the music he hears not just in technical terms. Ciconia seems conservative in his choice of venerable authors on music from many centuries before he was writing—Boethius and Remigius of Auxerre, for example—but his framework for music knowledge proves to be a radical one, more in keeping with (and probably influenced by) humanist thought in Padua c. 1400.

The complete bibliographic reference for my article is as follows:

Stoessel, Jason. “Climbing Mont Ventoux: the contest/context of scholasticism and humanism in early fifteenth-century Paduan music theory and practice.” Intellectual History Review 27, no. 3 (2017): 317–332. doi: 10.1080/17496977.2017.1333314.

For readers without access to a personal or institutional subscription to Intellectual History Review, a free copy of the article can be found here. Note that Taylor and Francis kindly provide 50 free e-prints only, so once the online article has been accessed that number of times, no further copies will be available from the link above. If you require a copy for personal study, please request a copy using the contact form on this blog or my email at the University of New England.

Musical oratory: Johannes Ciconia’s “Con lagreme bagnandome”

I was pleased to see that my article on Johannes Ciconia’s lament Con lagreme bagnandome was published in Plainsong and Medieval Music earlier this month. This article arose from some of the research that I have been undertaking as an associate investigator with the Australian Research Council’s Centre for the History of Emotions. I became interested in how Johannes Ciconia was using using musical elements in this song to emphasise certain textual features, and the relationship between this approach and the revived practice of public oratory in Padua. In the meantime, a better (albeit mostly dry and legalist) picture of Ciconia’s contacts with members of the humanist community at Padua has emerged in recent publications and in my own archival research, although this is not a primary focus of this article. Instead, by looking at humanist literature and intertexts with other Italian sources, I outline my case for Ciconia’s participation in an emotional community of musicians and humanists at Padua, as part of a larger project looking at this trend over several decades in this Veneto city.

Continue reading “Musical oratory: Johannes Ciconia’s “Con lagreme bagnandome””

I say data, you say data

John Stinson and Jason Stoessel, “Encoding Medieval Music Notation for Research,” Early Music 42, no. 4 (2014): 613–17. doi: 10.1093/em/cau093.

What do medieval music and computers have to do with each other, especially since the only “calculators” in the fourteenth century were clever sophists and theologians from Oxford? Well, it turns out quite a bit. The latest issue of Early Music, guest edited by Dan Tidhar, contains numerous articles on the theme of Early Music and modern technology. Several articles examine how computer-assisted research is revolutionising some of the ways music historians can approach medieval music.


Continue reading “I say data, you say data”

Louis II of Anjou and Mod A?

I’ve just had my first fully online, open access journal article published. It’s not the first time my research has been published online, but my previous articles were dual-mode published in print and online. And, in a strange twist that is indicative of the state of medieval musicology in Australia, this is my first article published in this country: all others have appeared in journals published in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe. Anyway, enough of that.

Continue reading “Louis II of Anjou and Mod A?”

Vocal stereotypes in the late middle ages

After a bit of a break from blogging, I’m pleased to note the publication a new piece that I wrote about vocal stereotypes and epistemologies of song in the late middle ages, with particular reference to Italian musical culture. “Howling like wolves, bleating like lambs: Singers and discourse of animality in the late middle ages” marks a new thread of scholarship for me in which I have become increasing interested in the ways that song is represented in the late middle ages. By this I mean how the practice of singing and the singing voice is described and conceptualised by contemporary writers, and indeed how composers make use of these ideas and attitudes in their compositions. My curiosity was sparked by a reference to the singing voices of the Mongols in the travel writings of a thirteenth-century author. (This line of enquiry has also lead to other fields of investigation, discussed briefly here.) This lead me to consider how other authors described the voices of singers of particular nations in often unflattering ways. (I intentionally steered clear of more “generic” descriptions that have been discussed by other scholars in great detail.) Well, from there I dug deeper into various epistemologies of song and poetry—principally in an Italian and humanist context—to reveal the depth of attitudes to singing voices from the thirteenth- to mid-sixteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the way that some poets sometimes described themselves as animals or even used an anthropomorphised animal voice as a poetic voice in their poetry. This led me to reconsider a few of the most puzzling songs from the mid-fourteenth century created by Italian composers, most likely around Florence. A good dose of Dante was also in order: this foray into Dante scholarship was both thrilling but also intimidating. In short, this is big picture scholarship that tries to map some ideas about the singing voice in the late middle ages (which I take as late as c.1550), although it ends by discussing some very particular musical works from the fourteenth century. Continue reading “Vocal stereotypes in the late middle ages”