A “virtuous” stacked canon

Here’s my recent blog post over at the “Art of Canon”

Art of Canon

I’m pleased to report on recent attempt to solve a canon found on the title page of a music anthology, Odae suavissimae (1601/1602?). Philipp Schöndorff (sometimes Schöndorpp) (1558–after 1617) dedicated this collection, including two eponymous odes, to his Liégeois compatriot Jacob Chimarrhaeus (1542–1614). Both men were at that date employed at the Imperial court of Rudolf II, Chimarrhaeus as almoner (previously as a singer and very good viol player) and Schöndorff as a chapel singer and trumpeter. Indeed, the Schöndorff had gained employment at Rudolf’s court following Chimarrhaeus’s recommendation in 1590, and the younger man’s esteem for his older co-worker may have stemmed in part from that gesture.

As so often happens these days, musicologist Erika Supria Honisch reached out to colleagues on social media for help to solve the canon that appears towards the top of the ornately engraved title page,  indicated by “CAN 4. VOC”, that is a canon in…

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A “New” Concordance for “Pourtant si mon amy”

Art of Canon

In an earlier post I identified a new concordance for Jean Mouton’s stacked canon En venant de Lyon, which lay basically in plain sight in the choir stalls of Lodi Cathedral. This serendipitous discovery came about from the fact that I have been cataloguing the canonic repertoire from the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries, and had recalled the melodic profile of Mouton’s canon from other sources when viewing the Lodi panel.

Since around 1983, scholarship has known of a double canon Pourtant si mon amy n’a point de monnaye in the manuscript Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik I Handskrift 76a, fols. 41v-42r, ascribed to the early sixteenth-century composer “Ninot le petit”. Howard Mayer Brown (1983, 1987) and Louise Litterick (2013) both list this chanson as a unicum in the Uppsala chansonnier, that is a piece of notated music lacking any known concordances. Peter Woetmann Christoffersen, who is responsible for…

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Mouton sighted at Lodi

I’m currently writing a chapter on the material representation of canons in early sixteenth-century northern Italian art. The number of canons in art  suggests that they played an important role in the musico-visual culture in courts and ecclesiastical institutions of this time. Some better known examples of canons in paintings include the Agnus Dei II of Josquin’s Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales in Dosso Dossi’s Allegory of Music and Ockeghem’s Prenez sur moy in one of the intarsia of Isabelle d’Este’s grotta at the Ducal Palace in Mantua.

Continue reading “Mouton sighted at Lodi”

PhD Scholarship Opportunity in Digital Musicology: The Art and Science of Ludovico Zacconi’s Collections of Canons

We are very pleased to announce that the University of New England is offering a targeted PhD in Digital Musicology for a project on Ludovico Zacconi’s collection of canons. This project will run parallel with our ARC Discovery Project “The Art and Science of Canon in the Music of Early 17th-century Rome,” sharing and contributing […]

via PhD Scholarship Opportunity in Digital Musicology — Art of Canon

Early 15th-Century Italian Benedictine Songbooks

Last month also saw the publication of an essay on the role of Benedictines in the creation of songbooks in early 15th-century Italy, with three case studies from late medieval Bologna, Florence and Padua. My chapter started life as presentation given at the memorable Sources of Identity Conference convened by Lisa Colton and Tim Shephard at the University of Sheffield in 2013. In its final, more extended version, my study recognises that in addition to composing secular polyphonic songs, several Italian Benedictines (i.e. Benedictines from the Italian peninsula) were instrumental in the collection and preservation of secular songs and related polyphony around the year 1400. (Under Benedictines I include several reformed Italian orders too numerous to name here.) The essay includes further art historical evidence in support of my argument for the completion of the famous Modena A manuscript (Modena, Biblioteca Estense, ms. alpha.M.5.24) manuscript at Bologna in 1410-1411, and the early findings of a computer-assisted approach to music script analysis that supports expanding the role of Paduan Benedictine monk, Rolandus de Casale, in the copying of the so-called Paduan fragments (now in the University Library at Padua, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford) between 1406 and 1409. (Rolandus’s signing of his manuscripts is a curious feature from which I infer another conclusion about the nature of the Paduan fragments.) I also discuss Don Paolo Tenorista da Firenze’s position as a senior ecclesiastic and public figure in Florence, and his possible sponsorship and ownership of several books of Trecento polyphonic song in the first few decades of the 15th century. I intentionally avoid discussing (but list) other known Benedictine composers in any detail, although at Sheffield I spoke at some length on Bartolomeo da Bologna, composer and organist at Ferrara cathedral in the first two decades of the 15th century, and his possible role of in the cultivation of ars subtilior song. I hope to expand on this last topic in a future publication, along with further research into advanced music education in late medieval Italy: questions remain about where those Benedictines mentioned or discussed in my essay received their education, particularly in the craft of polyphony. In the monastery? The cathedral? Or elsewhere?

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Stoessel, Jason. 2017. “The Makers and Owners of Early Fifteenth-Century Song Books in Italy: The Benedictine Contribution to the Courtly Musical Culture of the Late Middle Ages.” In Sources of Identity, edited by Lisa Colton and Tim Shephard, 77–96. Turnhout: Brepols. ISBN: 978-2-503-56778-5. Available for purchase from Brepols.

I’m delighted to be part of this collection of essays by a fantastic group of musicologists examining similar themes of music book production, ownership and use in the middle ages and early modern period. My chapter is dedicated to John Stinson who inspired my interest in the music of the ars subtilior more than a quarter century ago.

Changing tastes in French music around the Council of Constance, 1414-1418

The Council of Constance (1414–1418) was a significant event for the ecclesiastical, political and culture histories of early 15th-century Europe. It ended the Great Schism of the Western Church (1378–1418) when up to three claimants competed for the papal throne, a situation that fuelled political and dynastic rivalries (and wars) in Western Europe. The Council gathered delegates from all over Europe in the small city on the Bodensee. Cardinals and princes brought their households, including musicians to provide suitable music for liturgical ceremonies and for diversion when the business of the Council concluded each day. Chronicler Ulrich von Richental provided a vivid description of some of this music making of musicians to a pope, several bishops and dukes, although most of it is ceremonial or civic in its nature. Little is known of the cultivation of polyphonic song repertoires around the Council, although internal, and circumstantial evidence indicates that this genre thrived in the courts of religious and secular princes during this period.

This is the background to my recently publication on French-text songs at the Council Constance. In 2014, I was in the fortunate position to be invited to present a paper on this topic along with other colleagues speaking on related topics at a public symposium convened to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Council. This provided me with an opportunity to address some of the difficult historiographic questions concerning the music of this period, both in terms of his stylistic definitions and political function. A novelties of this research that I hope will be recognised is that I propose that the style that is today called the Ars subtilior be defined by its cultural function, rather than musical characteristics alone, and that the decline of this style represents a loss of functionality, rather than just a change of taste. One of the challenges of this approach is that it invites a tremendous amount of knowledge about the sources which transmitted the music in question: for this reason alone, the number of manuscripts and fragments of music (and scholarship on them) considered in the paper is extensive.

Subsequently, papers from the symposium were reworked for a volume of essays on music culture at the Council of Constance. Details of the chapter are as follows:

Stoessel, Jason. “French-texted Songs at the Council of Constance: Influences, Paths of Transmission, and Trends.” In Europäische Musikkultur im Kontext des Konstanzer Konzils, edited by Stefan Morent, Silke Leopold and Joachim Steinheuer, 205–224. Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, 2017.

A copy of this chapter can be downloaded by visiting my page at Academia.edu (login required).

This collection of essays will be/was officially presented to the public in the Stadtarchiv Konstanz (State Archive of Constance) on 18th July 2017 at 7pm.