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Christopher Page, The Summa Musice: a Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, xvii + 275 pp.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2008

Joseph Dyer*
University of Massachusetts at Boston


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1 See the new edition with translation and commentary by Yudkin, J., De musica mensurata: the Anonymous of St. Emmeram (Bloomington, IN, 1990).Google Scholar On prosimetra see Curtius, E. R., European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Trask, W. (New York, 1953), pp. 109, 151.Google Scholar Gobelinus' treatise has been edited by Müller, H.. ‘Der Tractatus musicae scientiae des Gobelinus Person (1358–1421)’, Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 20 (1907), pp. 177–96.Google Scholar

2 Only a few chants could not be traced. but these could surely have been found if relevant manuscript sources from the presumed regin of origin had been consulted. I have not attempted this, but the unidentified chant listed of origin had been consulted. I have not attempted this, but the unidentified chant listed as ‘Fabrice’ is most probably the celebrated neuma added to the responsory Descendit, mentioned elsewhere in the treatise (2165) as a chant with a special note added to the repetition of the respond. See Kelly, T. F., ‘Neuma Triplex’, Acta Musicologica, 60 (1988), pp. 130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3 Gerbert, M., Scriptores ecclesiastici de musica sacra, 3 vols. (St Blaise, 1784), iii, pp. 189248.Google Scholar The contents of the manuscript (St paul im Lavanttal 264/4) are listed in Michels, U., Johannes de Muris Notitia artis musicae, Corpus Scriptorum de Musica 17, pp. 31–4. I am grateful to Dr J. Plante of the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library and Fr L. Kull of the Benediktinerstift St Paul for placing a microfilm copy of the treatise at my disposal.Google Scholar

4 The poetic versions of the introduction and chapters 1, 9 and 14 are preceded by the rubric ‘metrum eiusdem’ (43, 187, 891, 1351); the title is omitted after chapter 10 (984). References to Page's edition will be indicated by line numbers; page numbers refer to the translation or the commentary. (At dicisions between prose and verse the line numbers are occasionally misplaced.)

5 Gerbert alluded to the problems in the introduction to his edition, and he asked for understanding that some words had to be assumed ‘per coniecturam quidem aut ex contextu’. A modern edition of the Summa musice with commentary and (Russian) translation is being prepared by Dr Andrey V. Pilgun of Moscow.

6 Unfortunately, by confusing the noun ‘canis’ (dog) with the adjective ‘canus’ (grey-haired), the translation (‘Music … exhilarates the infant and the youth, be they human or canine’, p. 56) obscures this image.

7 696–8: ‘When [since?] there are nineteen junctures of the fingers (the tips, ends or summits, which I take to he the same) they may be called connectives’ (p. 72). On the ‘connectives’ see below.

8 Michels, U., Die Musiktraktate des Johannes de Muris, Beihefte zum Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 8 (Wiesbaden, 1970), pp. 116–17.Google Scholar

9 (1) ‘Dicit enim Perseus quod quidam, imperitie sue solatium querentes, fortuitas estimant partium orationis positiones et contra ordinem non posse peccare, quod dicere stultum est et potest probari’ (615–18). (2) ‘Propter quod Perseus docet “Naturale vicium/Non est deridendum”’ (1987–9).

10 2220–3. ‘Sometimes writers of poems also fix a special, gracious mark in books. Perseus and Petrus are taught to observe this, for they adorn their verses with their tokens’ (p. 121). One might suggest ‘suitable, appropriate’ for ‘decorum’ and, given the generally literal rendition favoured by Page, ‘videntur’ could have been reflected in the translation.

11 Philosophiae consolatio 3.10, ed. Bieler, L., Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina 94 (2nd edn, 1984), pp. 52–4.Google Scholar (Cf. the medieval theological dictum that ‘bonum est quod omnia appetunt’.)

12 This region was chosen because it is the one in which the manuscripts of the Musica of John (of Afflighem?), a treatise on which the Summa musice depends, are most strongly represented. See Huglo, M., ‘L'auteur du traité de musique dédié à Fulgence d'Afflighem’, Revue Belge de Musicologie, 31 (1977), pp. 519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar John's work also influenced Johannes Aegidius de Zamora ( Ars musica, ed. Robert-Tissot, M., Corpus Scriptorum de Musica 20), who wrote in Spain.Google Scholar

13 Lomax, D. W., ‘Santiago’, Dizionario degli istiluti di perfezione, ed. Rocca, G. (Rome, 1974–), viii, cols. 783–92.Google Scholar See especially the illustration of a title page from an edition of the order's rule which displays the characteristic cross in the form of a sword. In Modern Spain the same emblem ado ns the top of an almond cake known as tarta de Santiago.

14 The author's statement near the beginning of the Summa that he will seek his reward from God, ‘et pro isto quantulocumque labore nec a fame susurro nec alieno quoque marsupio remunerari vel spero vel posco’ (33–5), bears only an incidental affinity to Hélie's denunciation of singers who look for worldly recognition and monetary rewards ‘forte ad illicitos usus convertendae et in marsupiis recludendae’ ( Scientia, preface; Gerbert, Scriptores, iii, p. 17b).Google Scholar

15 See Schubiger, A., Die Sängerschule St. Gallens vom 8. bis 12. Jahrhundert (Einsiedeln, 1858), p. 34 Google Scholar; Pietzsch, G., Die Musik im Erziehungs- und Bildungsideal des ausgehenden Altertums und frühen Mittelalter, Mittelalterliche Studien zur Geschichte der Musiktheorie im Mittelalter (Halle, 1932), pp. 8890.Google Scholar

16 In endorsing the medieval belief in musica mundana the author breaks with his customary philosophical guide, Aristotle, who scorned this notion. On the natural-artificial distinction see Bower, C., ‘Natural and Artificial Music: the Origins and Development of an Aesthetic Concept’, Musica Disciplina, 25 (1971), pp. 1733 Google Scholar; Pietzsch, G., Die Klassifikation der Musik von Boethius bis Ugolino von Orvieto (Halle an der Saale, 1929).Google Scholar

17 1850–2, p. 109. There is no basis in the Latin for Page's addition of ‘which follows’. The cauda occurs typically at the last statement of an antiphon after all the psalm verses to be associated with it have been sung. For a generous selection of examples in each of the modes see Bailey, T., The Intonation Formulas of Western Chant (Toronto, 1974), pp. 6077 and 1617 Google Scholar. Page provides an accurate translation of the closing passage of this chapter (19), hence I cannot understand his complaint that ‘the Latin text of this last paragraph is contorted and elliptical’.

18 This indicates that the author is a secular cleric: the monastic office has no antiphon with the psalms of Compline.

19 The translation ‘the pes, growing, wishes to stretch upwards with two marks; the high one, liquifying, abandons what it represents’ does not suggest this nuance, but I cannot entirely agree with the translator that this is ‘a difficult line whose meaning is far from clear’ (p. 67, n. 60).

20 The other translated passage on this page (‘Propter insupcrabilem …’) could have been more elegantly rendered by reversing the first two phrases.

21 Another set of ternary parallels (2441–6) between musical instruments (‘in vasalibus vel in foraminalibus instrumentis vel in chordalibus’) and the virtues of faith, hope and charity which implies that string instruments are the most excellent because they are identified with the greatest of all virtues, love, is obscured when the order of the instruments is transposed in the translation (strings, winds, percussion).

22 1611–14, p. 102. The Ember Days fall in December, during the first week of Lent, during Pentecost week and in September. The Saturday vigil at the end of the week was the normal day for ordination to major and minor orders – the usual term for these orders and preferable to Page's ‘both the greater and the lesser Holy Orders’.

23 Cf. the motto of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans): ‘Laudare, benedicere, praedicare’. The Dominicans are mentioned elsewhere in the chapter, but only the note on p. 132 explains that the translation: ‘the fifth [order] of the preachers’ means the Dominicans. Does the line ‘pede Franciscus nudo nodisque gravatur’ (2618) include ‘a surprisingly facetious reference to the knotted girdle of the Franciscans’ (p. 134, n. 140) or an allusion to the grief caused to Francis by some of his followers?

24 Ralph of Tongres (d. 1403) blamed the ‘Teutonici’ for slacking off from the Church's earlier custom of twelve psalms at Matins, and he admired Gregory VII (1073–85) for taking a stand against their practice. Liber de officiis ecclesiasticis, 9, ed. Mohlberg, C., Radulph de Rivo, der letzte Vertreter des altrömischen Ritus, 2 vols. (Louvain and Münster, 1911–15), ii, pp. 1518.Google Scholar Is this apparent endorsement of a nine-psalm norm yet another indication of the treatise's German origin?

25 Inadvertently, one Horatian hexameter, set off in the text by italics, is unidentified in the source references and incorrectly identified in the notes to the English translation. ‘Non cuivis homini contigit adire Corinthum’ comes not from ‘the so-called Ars poetica (Ep. 2.3) but from Ep. 1.17.36. The Summa quotes it, moreover, not for the purpose of ‘alluding to the fame of Corinth as a place of sophistication and luxury’ (p. 128, n. 133) but as a reminder that not all can attain the supreme spiritual goal: the contemplative life exemplified by the biblical Martha.

26 Among the chant treatises of this time only those of Johannes de Grocheo, writing for iuvenes, and Engelbert of Admont are imbued with Aristotelian philosophy and logical method. See Dyer, J., ‘Chant Theory and Philosophy in the Late Thirteenth Century’, Cantus Planus: Fourth Meeting – Pécs, Hungary, 3–8 September 1988 (Budapest, 1992), pp. 99118.Google Scholar

27 883. Cf. Aristotle, , Physica (translatio vaticana), i.1, ed. Mansion, A., Aristoteles Latinus vii/2 (Bruges and Paris, 1957), p. 24.Google Scholar As Page noticed (p. 79, n. 78), Aristotle claims exactly the opposite.

28 See Metaphysica, ed. Vuillemin-Diem, G., Aristoteles Latinus xxv/l–la (Leiden, 1970), p. 5.Google Scholar Engelbert of Admont cites the same passage in a different context: De musica 4.3; Gerbert, , Scriptores, ii, p. 339b.Google Scholar

29 ‘Natura autem finis est et cuius causa fit; quorum enim continui motus existentis est aliquis finis motus, hoc ultimum est et cuius causa fit; unde et poeta derisorie apposuit dicere: “habet finem cuius quidem causa factus est” vult enim non omne esse ultimum finem, sed optimum.’ Physica (translatio vetus), ed. Bossier, F. and Brams, J., Aristoteles Latinus vii/1 (Leiden and New York, 1990), p. 53 (italics added). Cf. Metaphysica 1.3: ‘the purpose and the good’. There is a later echo of this distinction when the author explains the cauda in chant by reference to the tail of an animal: ‘et quia cauda finis est animalis, et finis ex re nomen habere videatur’ (1852–3).Google Scholar

30 Some clarification could have been provided by F. Reckow's article ‘Clavis’ in the Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie, a work not cited in the bibliography. Whether or not this aspect of the Summa is consistent with a date c. 1200 must await further study.

31 Introduclio musice secundum Johannem de Garlandia, ed. de Coussemaker, E., Scriptorum de musica medii aevi nova series, 4 vols. (Paris, 1864–7), i, p. 159a Google Scholar. Lambertus lists the letters from A to G, ‘que etiam claves vocantur, quia sicut per clavem reseratur sera, ita per has litteras reseratur musice melodia’. Tractatus de musica ( Coussemaker, , Scriptorum, i, p. 254a).Google Scholar The clavis served as the focal point for mutation from one hexachord to another: ‘mutatio est sub una clavi et eadem unisona transitio vocis in vocem’ ( Jerome of Moravia, Tractatus de musica, 12; ed. Cserba, S. (Regensburg, 1935), p. 49)Google Scholar. Earlier in the chapter Jerome called the claves ‘litterarum combinationes’.

32 1430–1. I would translate ‘and they call that clavis a false clavis’ instead of ‘they call this the “false” clavis’ (p. 96). Cf. also 1447 and p. 97.

33 Summa musice, pp. 77–8Google Scholar; cf. lines 1167–9 and 1181–4. I am aware that my interpretatione would be more secure were ‘pagina tota’ accusative, a metrical impossibility at would be more secure were ‘pagina tota’ accusative, a metrical impossibility at this point in the line.

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Christopher Page, The Summa Musice: a Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, xvii + 275 pp.
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Christopher Page, The Summa Musice: a Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, xvii + 275 pp.
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Christopher Page, The Summa Musice: a Thirteenth-Century Manual for Singers. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, xvii + 275 pp.
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