Category Archives: Middle Ages

Slovak Early Music Database – Cantus Planus in Slovacia

slovak ms

Slovak Early Music Database – Cantus Planus in Slovacia was established in 2012 at the Ústav hudobnej vedy Slovenskej akadémie vied in collaboration with Hudobný fond/Music Fund Slovakia as a full-text English-language database of the notated manuscripts and fragmentary notated sources from the area of Slovakia dating from the late 11th to the early 16th century.

Directed by Eva Veselovská, the database allows free and universal access to a large number of music manuscripts kept at libraries and archives in Slovakia. It provides a number of search possibilities, including the archive (with RISM sigla), source, text incipit of a chant, feast, and genre searches. Manuscript fragments and selected codices with monophonic or polyphonic music are fully indexed.

To view digital images in high resolution, a free Slovak Early Music Database – Cantus Planus in Slovacia account must be established.

Below, an example from a Slovakian manuscript.

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Hildegard of Bingen

Museum - Hildegard von Bingen

In Hildegard of Bingen (Oxford bibliographies, 2013) Honey Meconi presents an annotated bibliography of over 130 of the most important publications for the study of the 12th-century composer’s works.

This resource is divided into separate sections for editions, essay collections, Ordo virtutum, performance practice, and so on. Significant publications of Hildegard’s nonmusical works are included as well.

Above, a detail from a stained glass piece that was once part of Rochuskapelle, just southeast of Bingen. below, the Oxford Camerata performs Hildegard’s Ave generosa.

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Monumenta liturgiae et cantus

castel tirolo

Libreria Musicale Italiana launched the series Monumenta liturgiae et cantus in 2013 with I codici liturgici di Castel Tirolo by Marco Gozzi.

The volume presents facsimiles of sources used in Castel Tirolo, which was the historical seat of the counts of Tirolo and gave the region its name. Discussions of historical and musicological issues are also included.

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The first musical comedy

The earliest known secular stage play with music, Adam de la Halle’s Le jeu de Robin et de Marion, has been touted as the first musical comedy.

Of the two extant sources, the Paris version is by far the rowdier one—three characters that do not appear in the Aix version engage in mooning the audience, playing with sheep dung, and speaking in unimaginable metaphors worthy of Hungarians.

Common to both versions, Robin, Marion, and the seducing knight are more stock characters, but their lines are pithy and suggestive—e.g., from the scene depicted above:

Knight: You surely won’t put up a fight—you’re just a peasant, I’m a knight!

Marion: Money can’t buy love, you know.

Knight: It can buy something like it, though.

This according to “The hows and whys of Adam de la Halle’s Robin & Marion” by Lucy E. Cross (Early music America XVII/1 [Spring 2011] pp. 38–42). Below, a complete family-friendly performance of the work.

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Musicalia Medii Aevi

A series launched by Brepols in 2011, Musicalia Medii Aevi is a collection of international studies that welcomes writings and reflections on the most innovative aspects of medieval musicology.

As one of the essential liberal arts in the Middle Ages, music was at the center of the era’s thought and culture. That is why the collection addresses the field of music as part of a wide and varied cultural history, often in interdisciplinary terms, offering a fresh look at the role of music in medieval society. The first volume in the series is The calligraphy of medieval music by John Haines.

Related article: Codici online

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A New Year’s liturgical drama

Ludus Danielis (Beauvais, 13th century), one of the most discussed and performed liturgical dramas of the Middle Ages, is found in only one manuscript (GB-Lbl MS Egerton 2615) together with the New Year’s Office from Beauvais, indicating an association with that celebration.

Chants at certain important points of the play are intriguing not only for their musicological interest or for their theological or liturgical associations, but also in terms of time representation and the genre, which does not easily lend itself to the scholarly categories of liturgy or drama.

This according to “Danielis ludus and the Latin music dramatic traditions of the Middle Ages” by Nils Holger Petersen, an essay included in The past in the present (Budapest: Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem, 2003) pp. 291–307.

Above, Daniel interprets the Writing on the Wall to King Belshazzar in a painting by Benjamin West. Below, the corresponding scene of Ludus Danielis as performed at The Cloisters, New York City, in 2008.

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In Extremo and Walther

Recent interchanges between medieval music and heavy metal open new perspectives on historically informed practice. A comparison of recordings of Walther von der Vogelweide’s Palästinalied by Thomas Binkley, Paul Hillier, and In Extremo illuminates how historic orientation and its inherent sense influence performance aesthetics.

This according to “Gothic und HIP: Sinn und Präsenz in populären und in historisch informierten Realisierungen des Palästinalieds” by Konstantin Voigt (Basler Jahrbuch für historische Musikpraxis XXXII [2008] pp. 221–234). Above, a portrait of the great Minnesinger; below, In Extremo’s historically informed rendition of Walther’s celebrated work about the Crusades.

Related article: Advanced musicology

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DIAMM facsimiles

Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music inaugurated the series DIAMM facsimiles in 2010 with The Eton choirbook. Edited by Magnus Williamson, the book presents a full-color facsimile edition of Eton College Library MS 178, an iconic source of English choral polyphony composed during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries that has been continuously in the possession of Eton College since it was first copied for use in the college chapel in the early 1500s.

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CANTUS: A database for Latin ecclesiastical chant

CANTUS: A database for Latin ecclesiastical chant is a free online resource that assembles and publishes indices of over 380,000 chants found in manuscript and early printed sources for the liturgical Office. The database is searchable by text incipit, keyword, Corpus Antiphonalium Officii identification number, or Liturgical occasion.

CANTUS is supported by the University of Waterloo and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Terence Bailey serves as the project’s director.

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Melodiarium hymnologicum Bohemiae

Produced by a team of scholars from the Ústavu hudební vědy at Masarykova univerzita in Brno, Melodiarium hymnologicum Bohemiae is a digital catalogue of monophonic Latin, Czech, and German sacred song found in sources located in the Czech lands or imported into the Czech lands, from the earliest beginnings until the eighteenth century. The database, which is largely bilingual in Czech and English, includes facsimiles and text and melody indexes, along with numerous annotations. While users must establish logins, no fee is required; the resource is supported by the Ministerstva školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy České republiky.

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