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The reception of Hermann of Reichenau at St Michelsberg: some observations on fragments of interval notation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 September 2015



The bindings of a large number of manuscripts formerly held in the library of the Benedictine monastery of St Michelsberg in Bamberg preserve fragments of medieval chantbooks documenting a culture in which practical singing and music theory were closely intertwined. These remnants, the work of generations of scribes, reveal a sustained concern for correctness ranging from the use of pitch-clarifying neume notations, to the use of letters, to the recording of melodies along lines prescribed in theoretical works. The influence the music theorist Hermann of Reichenau on St Michelsberg's own theorist, Frutolf, raises two questions. First, what is the nature of the relationship between practical chant and music theory books at St Michelsberg? Second, how was Hermann's notation used at the monastery?

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2015 

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1 Annales et chronica aevi Salici, ed. Georgius Pertz, MGH SS V (Hannover, 1844), 267–9. See also Hiley, David, Western Plainchant: A Handbook (Oxford, 1993), 395–6Google Scholar, which describes Hermann's notation; and Oesch, Hans, Berno und Hermann von Reichenau als Musictheoretiker: mit einem Überblick über ihr Leben und die handschriftlichen Überlieferung ihrer Werke, Publikationen der Schweizerischen Musikforschenden Gesellshaft 2 (Bern, 1961)Google Scholar. Oesch gives an overview of the circulation of works attributed to Hermann; see 162–4 and 174 for sources containing Hermann's De mensura astrolabii and Regulae in computum.

2 Annales et chronica aevi Salici, 268: ‘Cantus item historiales plenarios, utpote quo musicus peritior non erat, de sancto Georgio, sanctis Gordiano et Epimacho, sancta Afra Martyre, sancto Magno confessore, et de sancto Wolfgango episcopo mira suavitate et elegantia euphonicos, praeter alia huiusmodi perplura, neumatizavit et composuit.’ (‘He also – there was not a musician more skilled than him – composed and neumed songs and full historiae of St Gregory, St Gordian and Epimachus, St Afra the martyr, St Magnus the confessor, and St Wolfgang the bishop and many others of such sweet and elegant sound.’)

3 See, for example, D-Mbs, Clm 14965b (hereafter: Clm 14965b), fol. 21r. For the circulation of the didactic songs in manuscript sources, see Bernhard, Michael, ‘Zur Rezeption der musiktheoretischen Werke des Hermannus Contractus’, in Beiträge zur Musik, Musiktheorie und Liturgie der Abtei Reichenau: Bericht über die Tagung Heiligenkreuz 6–8 Dezember 1999, Musica mediaevalis Europae occidentalis 8, ed. Walter Pass and Alexander Rausch (Tutzing, 2001), 99126 Google Scholar. Ter terni sunt modi, another didactic song sometimes associated with Hermann, is probably not his work. It is attributed to William of Hirsau in two manuscripts. See Huglo, Michel, Les tonaires: inventaire, analyse, comparison (Paris, 1971), 282 Google Scholar.

4 The interval notation attributed to Hermann and described in E voces unisonas was long thought to have been confined to the realm of theory, but in an article published in 1909, Dom André Mocquereau and Dom Gabriel Beyssac identified it in two liturgical books, D-Mbs Clm 14965a and D-Mbs Clm 14322. See ‘De la transcription sur lignes des notations neumatique et alphabétique à propos du Répons Tua Sunt’, in Riemann-Festschrift, Gesammelte Studien: Hugo Riemann zum sechzigsten Geburtstage (Leizpig, 1909), 137–53. More sources have since come to light. Wulf Arlt described the interval notation found on fragments housed in the University Library of Basel and in CH-EN, Cod. 1003. The interval notation was used alongside neume notation to clarify the chants. See his ‘Die Intervallnotation des Hermannus Contractus in Gradualien des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts: das Basler Fragment N I 6 Nr. 63 und der Engelberger Codex 1003’, in De musica et cantu: Studien zur Geschichte der Kirchenmusik und der Oper, ed. Peter Cahn and Ann-Katrin Heimer, Musikwissenschaftliche Publikationen 2 (Hildesheim, 1993), 243–57, at 249 and 253. More recently, Stefan Morent has described several other cases of the clarifying use of interval notation in D-Sl Cod. Brev. 123 from Zwiefalten in ‘Beobachtungen zur Intervallnotation Hermanns des Lahmen in Zwiefaltener Quellen des 12. Jahrhunderts’, in Mozart im Zentrum: Festschrift Manfred Hermann Schmid, ed. Ann-Katrin Zimmermann and Klaus Aringer (Tutzing, 2010), 1–13.

5 Vivell, P. Cölestin, ed., Frutolfi Breviarium de Musica et Tonarius, Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, 188/2 (Vienna, 1919), 69 Google Scholar. See also Clm 14965b, fol. 21r: Versus atque notas Herimannus protulit istas.

6 Ibid ., 68: ‘et ipse quidem novem intervalla describit in versibus quos de his composuit’.

7 These span fols. 21r–22v in Clm 14965b: Ter tria iunctorum, Ter terni sunt modi, Quatuor modis vocum, and E voces unisonas.

8 ‘Quid significent et operentur he note’ (ibid., fol. 22r). The Latin spelling here reflects the version in Clm 14965b. Vivell's edition of Clm 14965b is misleading as this song directly follows three other didactic songs in the manuscript. Vivell has transcribed E voces unisonas after Frutolf's verse tonary, whereas the tonary actually begins directly after the end of E voces in the manuscript. Cf. Clm 14965b, fol. 22v.

9 Vivell, Breviarium, 68: ‘Et unisonum vel aequisonum in ordine primo adjungit, tritonum vero funditus excludit, diapente cum semiditono et diapason quasi pluriora intervalla et ideo minus usitata, licet in auctoritatis cantibus inveniantur, non adnumerat.’ (In the first order, he added the unison or aequisonum, but he completely rejected the tritone. He did not enumerate the seventh and the octave, which being greater intervals and therefore less familiar, are allowed having been found in authoritative chants.) Hans Oesch suggested that ‘the tritone could not be an interval in Hermannus's system because his tone-system is theoretically purely diatonic, without both b synemmenon [i.e., in two octaves]’ (‘Der tritonus kann bei Hermannus als Tonschritt deshalb nicht vorkommen, weil sein Tonsystem theoretisch rein diatonisch, ohne die beiden b synemmenon, aufgebaut ist’). See Berno und Hermann von Reichenau, 209, note 2; see also 207.

10 Vivell, Breviarium, 64–5.

11 No books written by Hermann of Reichenau are found on Burchard's first two lists, which cover books collected by the abbot Wolfram and books that were in the library before Burchard became the librarian ( Dengler-Schreiber, Karen, Scriptorium und Bibliothek des Klosters Michelsberg in Bamberg, Studien zur Bibliotheksgeschichte 2 (Graz, 1979), 150–83Google Scholar). They first appear in Burchard's lists of books left to St Michelsberg by Frutolf and Thiemo.

12 This fragment is discussed in Miriam Wendling and Andreas Janke, ‘The uses of notation in didactic songs attributed to Hermannus Contractus’ (in preparation). The fragment, in D-BAs Msc. Bibl. 79, fol. 242v, appears to have been written in the first half of the twelfth century. In this source, Ter terni sunt modi is transmitted only in southern German neumes and E voces unisonas is transmitted in southern German neumes with the interval signs written in red in the margin and the individual components of the signs, also written in red, within the text. Several pitch letters, probably additions, are found in the first line. Thiemo copied a group of didactic songs in Karlsruhe 504, fol. 33v, including E voces unisonas with a simplified text (Dengler-Schreiber, Scriptorium und Bibliothek, 208). The authorship of Ter terni has long been questioned. Karl Oesch doubted the attribution in 1961 (Berno und Hermann von Reichenau, 138–9). Michel Huglo indicated attributions to William of Hirsau in two treatises (Les Tonaires (Paris, 1972), 282).

13 Dengler-Schreiber, Scriptorium und Bibliothek, 176–83, at 178 and 180. Other texts copied by Frutolf include Hermann's De mensura astrolabii (ibid., 178–9); texts on Thiemo's list included Hermann's Regulae qualiter multiplicationes fiant in abaco and two further copies of his text on the astrolabe (ibid., 180–3).

14 Burchard did not otherwise indicate the copying of a historiae in his lists; historiae are normally included in southern German antiphoners of the twelfth century. Therefore it seems noteworthy that he chose to include this particular historia for an entry. This entry follows two texts written by Hermann, however, Hermann is not known to have composed a tonary, which Burchard includes with the Office, so this must remain only a possibility.

15 Sequences recorded in some fragments from St Michelsberg contain melodies that follow the prescriptions laid out by Frutolf of Michelsberg at the end of his Tonary. See 14965b, fols. 71r–v. Frutolf of Michelsberg, Frutolfi Breviarium de Musica et Tonarius, ed. Vivell, P. Cölestin, Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, 188/2 (Vienna, 1919), 181–3Google Scholar, and D-BAs Msc. Patr. 17, rear flyleaves. A facsimile of the tonary in Clm 14965b is published in Rebecca Maloy, München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14965b: The tonary of Frutolf of Michelsberg (ff. 34–73v), Veröffentlichungen mittelalterliche Musikhandschriften 32 (Ottowa, 2006) and a study of the Frutolf's theory as well as the manuscript is found in eadem, ‘The Roles of Notation in Frutolf of Michelsberg's Tonary’, Journal of Musicology, 19 (2002), 641–93. One example (Eia recolamus) from the flyleaves in Msc. Patr. 17 is discussed in Miriam Monroe Wendling, ‘Musical Notation in Bamberg, 1007–1300’, Ph.D. diss., University of Cambridge (2012), 197–8. See also Karlsruhe 504, fols. 1r–14v, in which a copy of the Prologue of Bern of Reichenau's Tonary written in Frutolf's hand also includes some examples of neumes with letter notation. See Bresslau, Harry, ‘Bamberger Studien’, Neues Archiv für ältere Deutsche Geschichtskunde zu Beförderung einer Gesamtausgabe der Quellenschriften deutscher Geschichten des Mittelalters 21 (1886), 139234 Google Scholar, at 227. Frutolf's hand is also confirmed by Dengler-Schreiber in Scriptorium und Bibliothek, 207. In the part of the interpolations of the Prologue in Karlsruhe 504, fol. 13v, which deals with emendation of the communion Beatus servus, the text ‘Illa vero communio Beatus servus. Ibi corrigenda est’ (the text of the interpolation) precedes a portion of the chant which has been written out with neumes and pitch letters which are strikingly similar to those in the Munich copy of Frutolf's Tonary, Clm 14965b, fol. 48v, and not to the reconstruction based on Bern's uninterpolated text offered by Atkinson, Charles, The Critical Nexus, AMS Studies in Music 4 (New York, 2009), 235–6Google Scholar.

16 All signatures beginning with ‘Msc.’ refer to books held by the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. The rear pastedown in Msc. Bibl. 85 contains a leaf from an antiphoner with part of the Office for St Michael. A single letter ‘e’, which could either be a sign from Hermann's interval notation or a significative letter from Notker's system, is found in the responsory Factus est silentium; the meaning, however, remains the same in this particular case regardless of which system the scribe had in mind.

17 Karin Dengler-Schreiber identified this leaf as the work of the St Michelsberg scribe Hermann the younger and regarded other three leaves as the work of another scribe (Scriptorium und Bibliothek, 61). She did not discuss the hand that drew the neumes on this folio.

18 Ibid ., 61: Dengler-Schreiber postulates 5 May 1170 as Hermann the Younger's date of death.

19 With the exception of St Prisce, I have indicated where Masses begin (or where I suspect that they begin) and not where they continue onto another folio.

20 The Mass for St Prisce begins imperfectly, however, the chants and placement within the church calendar are appropriate for this saint.

21 See Wendling, ‘Musical Notation’, 149–87.

22 The inclusion of pitch letters at the beginning of a chant, and often at the beginning of a verse, is also found in a mid-twelfth-century fragment from St Michelsberg now the rear pastedown of Msc. Lit. 134. See also Wendling, ‘Musical Notation’, 149–50.

23 The only correction this chant receives in Clm 14965b is the first interval (D–a) of the verse Respice in me (fol. 44r). One interval sign overlaps with CH-EN, cod., 1003, fol. 4r, in the final melisma of the verse beginning ‘Respice’. (accessed 20 October 2014). There is no overlap with Filie regum (fol. 16r) and Qui sedes (fol. 5r).

24 Clm 14965b, fol. 55r, indicates that the chant should begin on f.

25 Graduale Triplex (Solesmes, 1979), 505.

26 There is no reason, however, to assume that the melody used at St Michelsberg was identical to the melody recorded at Bamberg cathedral two centuries later. Indeed, there is ample evidence of melodic variation between the two institutions.

27 Graduale Triplex, 22.

28 Clm 14965b, fol. 69r.

29 Arlt, ‘Die Intervallnotation’, 249–52, 257.

30 Ibid ., 249.

31 Ibid ., 250. The presence of an interval sign at the end of the chant is unclear.

32 Hermannus Contractus (1013–54), Historia Sanctae Afrae Martyris Augustensis, Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen 65, ed. David Hiley and Walter Berschin (Ottowa, 2004).

33 There are twenty-three lines of text and music on the fragment in Msc. Patr. 76 (two of the lines are obscured in the binding material; no bottom margin is visible) and twenty-six lines of text and music on the fragment in Msc. Bibl. 85, with both top and bottom margins visible. Lines 21–2 (line 23 is illegible) of Msc. Patr. 76 contain part of the responsory Hostis antiquus, and the responsories seem to take up roughly four lines each. The top margin of Msc. Bibl. 85 is visible and the text at this point is roughly half-way through the responsory Propulso post longum, thus non-visible lines from Msc. Patr. 76 must hold both the part of Hostis antiquus that is obscured and the first half of Propulso. Veni sponsa has the position of the fourth responsory of the first nocturn in the edition of the Office, see Hiley and Berschin, Historia, 38–9. However, that chant does not appear to be transmitted in other early sources: it is not in CH-Zz, Hs. Rheinau 28 (Hiley and Berschin, Historia, xv–xvii) – instead, the responsory Veni electa is given as an incipit in the third nocturn; nor is it in D-FUl, B 5a, which gives Regnum (fol. 9r) at the first responsory of the third nocturn: (accessed 9 October 2014). Similarly, D-Mbs Clm 23037 has Regnum in the position of the fourth responsory of the first nocturn and Veni electa as the first responsory of the third fol. 240r–v: (accessed 9 October 2014). In D-KA, Aug. Perg. LX, fol. 131v, Regnum mundi has been added as a marginal incipit to the end of the first nocturn by a different hand, whilst Veni electa is given as the first responsory of the third nocturn by the main text hand on fol. 132v: (accessed 9 October 2014).

34 This is the final visible line of text and neumes on the front pastedown of Msc. Patr. 76.

35 Antiphons not in Clm 14965b include Sancto pontifice, Cumque dulcem, Quae beatum and Gratias tibi.

36 Hiley and Berschin, Historia, 16.

37 Jaffe, Philippus, ‘Ebonis Vita Ottonis’, in Monumenta Bambergensia, Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum V (Berlin, 1869), 609 Google Scholar.

38 See note 19.

39 In the far right column only, numbers refer to the position of each responsory in Hiley and Berschin, Historia. Numbers outside of brackets refer to the position in Berschin's edition of the text (pp. 10–13), whilst numbers within brackets refer to the position of each responsory in Hiley's edition of the music with music that runs from p. 21 to p. 73.

40 See Hiley and Berschin, Historia, 56. Thus, where ‘hen’ in Msc. Bibl. 85 is drawn as a liquescent pes, the sources used in Hiley's edition appear to use a virga (in two cases, a liquescent virga) at this point.

41 A discussion of the reception history of E voces unisonas can be found in Wendling and Janke ‘The uses of notation’.

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