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Tonal neumes in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman pontificals*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2008


The earliest efforts to represent accurately the intervallic structure of a melody, beyond the general shape encoded in non-diastematic neumes, or to indicate specific degrees in the gamut, are commonly associated with musical notations of the latter part of the eleventh century. In various chant manuscripts of this period we find systematic use of common or special note shapes, strictly diastematic writing with respect to a drypoint line, and the earliest surviving staff notations.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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1 On early staff notations see Hiley, , Western Plainchant: A Handbook (Oxford, 1993), 388–9.Google Scholar The alphabetical notations found in theoretical writings and in such exceptional sources as Montpellier, Faculté de Médicine, H. 159, are discussed on pp. 386–8, 392–5.

2 Marie-Noël Colette has remarked on a similar device, appearing as a diamond-shaped punctum, in Aquitanian notation by the late eleventh century. ‘La notation du demi-ton dans le manuscrit Paris, B. N. Lat. 1139 et dans quelques manuscrits du Sud de la France’, in La tradizione dei tropi liturgici, Atti dei convegni … Corpus Troporum, ed. Leonardi, Claudio and Menesto, Enrico (Spoleto, 1990), 297311.Google Scholar On the tonal significance of certain neumes in the eleventh-century Gradual of St Yrieix (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS lat. 903) see Ferretti, Paolo, ‘Etude sur la notation aquitaine’, Palégraphie musicale: Les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican, series 1, vol. 13 (1925; reprint, Berne, 1971), 169–70, 172–6.Google Scholar

3 Corbin, Solange, Die Neumen (Cologne, 1977), 107–9, and pi. 22.Google Scholar

4 ‘The Norman Chant Traditions – Normandy, Britain, Sicily’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 107 (19801981), note 18.Google Scholar

5 Hiley, Western Plainchant, 388, has drawn attention its use in twelfth-century English sources with staff notation.

6 Hiley, Western Plainchant, 388.

7 See Brooks, Nicholas, The Early History of the Church of Canterbury: Christ Church from 597–1066 (Leicester, 1984), 244.Google ScholarDumville, David, Liturgy and the Ecclesiastical History of Late Anglo-Saxon England: Four Studies, Studies in Anglo-Saxon History 5 (Woodbridge, 1992), 82–4, suggests a date between 960 and 993.Google Scholar See also Lapidge, Michael, Anglo-Saxon Litanies of the Saints, Henry Bradshaw Society 106 (London, 1991), 7980.Google Scholar The range of scholarly opinion on the manuscript and the relevant evidence for assigning it to Christ Church and Dunstan himself are cogently summarized by Rosenthal, Jane, who favours the dating cited above, ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, in St Dunstan, His Life, His Times (Woodbridge, 1992), 143–51.Google Scholar

8 The text of the ‘ordo qualiter domus dei consecranda est’ appears in Edmond Martène, De antiquis ecclesiae ritibus (Antwerp, 1763), Lib. II, Cap. XIII, Ordo IV, 255–9Google Scholar

9 Huglo, Michel, ‘Le domaine de la notation bretonne’, Ada musicologica, 35 (1963), 5484.Google Scholar Huglo lists a number of neumes characteristic of Breton notation on p. 55 – the Dunstan Pontifical lacks the ‘epsilon renversé’ (nos. 4 and 5) altogether. See also Paléographie musicale: Les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican, series 1, vol. 11 (1912; reprint, Berne, 1972), a facsimile edition of the lost manuscript Chartres 47 is preceded by a full-length study of its notation by Dom Armand Ménager on pp. 41–131; Peter Gray Jordan, ‘The Liturgical Music of Medieval Brittany: A Study of the Manuscript Sources and Musical Variants’, Ph.D. diss., Harvard University (1978), 88–91; Downey, Charles T., ‘Breton Notation in France and Northern Italy: A Comparative Study of Offertories in Chartres, Bibl. Mun., 47 and Ivrea, Bibl. Cap., LX (91)’, MA Thesis, Catholic University of America (1994).Google Scholar For an introduction to Anglo-Saxon notations see Rankin, Susan, ‘Neumatic Notations in Anglo-Saxon England’, in Musicologie médiévale: Notations – séquences, Table ronde de CNRS à l'lnstitut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes à Orléans – La Source, 10–12 Septembre 1982, ed.Huglo, Michel (Paris, 1987), 129–44;Google Scholar the beginning of the Dunstan dedication ordo is given as pi. XVI (fol. 10), with the antiphons Zacheæ festinans and Ab oriente portæ tres. The tonal punctum may be seen on the second syllable of ‘gaudens’ in the first of these. The same folio appears in Rosenthal, ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, plates 17 and 18 (detail).

10 Hughes, ‘Guido's Tritus: An Aspect of Chant Style’ (forthcoming). The numbers preceding each example refer to the manuscripts cited in Table 1.

11 On microtones in Gregorian chant see Hughes, David, ‘Evidence for the Traditional View of the Transmission of Gregorian Chant’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 40 (1987), 394–8Google Scholar

12 Rosenthal, , ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, 159162.Google Scholar

13 Ibid., p. 161.

14 Rosenthal does not, however, include the antiphons in her account of the quire. ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, 160; also Dumville, Liturgy, 84. On the letter see Brooks, The Early History, 281.

15 The other two antiphons in the coronation ordo, Unxerunt Salomon and Confortare, are without notation. The same notational pattern obtains in the Anderson Pontifical, fol. 57. Scholars distinguish three main versions of the English Coronation ordo, known simply as First, Second and Third. See Turner, The Claudius Pontificals, xxx–xxxiii. Firmetur manus tua was the only antiphon required by the so-called ‘Third English Coronation Order’. See also Hughes, Andrew, ‘Antiphons and Acclamations: The Politics of Music in the Coronation Service of Edward II, 1308’, The journal of Musicology, 6 (1988), 163.Google Scholar

16 Brooks, The Early History, 248.

17 Knowles, David, The Monastic Order in England (Cambridge, 1949), 552, 697.Google Scholar

18 See Holschneider, Andreas, Die Organa von Winchester: Studien zum ältesten Repertoire polyphoner Musik (Hildesheim, 1968), 40.Google Scholar

19 Brooks, The Early History, 256. See also Rosenthal, , ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, 144. The benedictio monachorum.Google Scholar in the Dunstan Pontifical was edited by Marténe, , De antiquis ecclesiae ritibus (Antwerp, 1763), Lib. II, Cap. II, Ordo II, 163.Google Scholar

20 On the introduction of a Benedictine community at St Mary's, Sherborne, see O'Donovan, M. A., ed., Charters of Sherborne, Anglo-Saxon Charters III (Oxford, 1988), 39–16.Google Scholar O'Donovan, p. 43, echoes Brooks′ opinion about the transformation from secular to monastic organization at Christ Church, interpreting the foundation charter of Sherborne conservatively: ‘It suggests the changeover from a secular house to a monastic community was a gradual process, as would befit the work of a disciple of Dunstan’. Cf. Knowles, David, and Neville Hadcock, R., Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales (London, 1953), 77.Google Scholar

21 ‘If it is a cathedral, let the bishop ordain that matins be celebrated there each night (si sollempnis domus est præcipiat æpiscopus, ut per totidem noctes nocturna laus ibi celebrerur)’. See also Rosenthal, , ‘The Pontifical of St Dunstan’, 150, n. 46.Google Scholar

22 Gem, , ‘The Anglo-Saxon Cathedral Church at Canterbury: A Further Consideration’, The Archaeological Journal, 127 (1970), 196201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Brooks, The Early History, 54–6, refutes Gem's theory as implausible. As for Sherborne, John Fowler speculated that Wulsige did at least begin to build a new church during his reign, though there seems to be no real evidence to support this. Medieval Sherborne (Dorchester, 1951), 27, 61–2.

23 Dumville, Liturgy, 109. The manuscript is related to Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS. Reginensis lat. 204, probably copied at St Augustine's Abbey near the beginning of the eleventh century. Hiley, Western Plainchant, reproduces fol. 44r of Harley 1117 as plate 1, p. 406 (’Christ Church, second half of 10th c.’).

24 Gneuss, Helmut, ‘A Preliminary List of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1100’, Anglo-Saxon England, 9 (1981), no. 302.Google Scholar Dumville, Liturgy, 92–3. On Winchester symptoms in the dedication ordo see Kozachek, , ‘The Repertory of Chant for Dedicating Churches in the Middle Ages: Music, Liturgy, and Ritual’, Ph.D. diss., Harvard University (1995), 310–12, 322–3.Google Scholar The earlier careers of the archbishops after Dunstan are in summarized in Brooks, The Early History, 279; Knowles, The Monastic Order in England, 65.

25 The text of the Leofric Missal has been edited by Warren, F. E., The Leofric Missal: As Used in the Cathedral of Exeter During the Episcopate of its First Bishop A.D. 1050–1072 (Oxford, 1883).Google Scholar Fol. 59v is reproduced as pi. XXIX in Nicholson, E. W. B., Early Bodleian Music (London, 1913).Google Scholar Huglo, ’Le domaine’, 71, hypothesized that this notation might be in Leofric's own hand. On Leofric as music scribe, see Rankin, Susan, ‘From Memory to Record: Musical Notations in Manuscripts from Exeter’, Anglo-Saxon England, 13 (1984), 100–4,Google Scholar where the Bishop of Exeter is identified as the probable notator of certain texts provided with Anglo-Saxon, not Breton, neumes.

26 Lapidge, Michael, Anglo-Saxon Litanies, 76–7.Google Scholar

27 Dumville, David, Liturgy, 82; Dumville, English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism, A.D. 950–1030 (Woodbridge, 1993), 94–6.Google Scholar Cf. Rankin, ‘Neumatic Notations’, 131. With regard to the Dunstan Pontifical, the Leofric Missal (discussed below), British Library, MS Harley 1117, and Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Regin. lat. 204, she comments that ‘It is conceivable that all these sources were notated by Breton hands working in England; certainly, this script was never widely adopted as a native hand’. The evidence of the neumed preface in the Anderson Pontifical alone might induce us to modify this position.

28 Lapidge, Anglo-Saxon Litanies, 63. Dumville dates the manuscript to the middle quarters of the century, and associates it with Archbishop Stigand: Liturgy, 71, 92–3. See also Budny, Mildred, Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Early Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (Kalamazoo, forthcoming).Google Scholar My thanks to Dr Mildred Budny and members of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, Corpus Christi College, for sharing their observations on the manuscript and advance copies of entries from the forthcoming catalogue during my visit to the Parker Library in 1992.

29 On the date and provenance of the Cosin Gradual see Hartzell, K. D., ‘An unknown English Benedictine gradual of the eleventh century’, Anglo-Saxon England, 4 (1975):,131–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar An example of the notation is given as plate IIIa (fol. 40r). H. A. Wilson, The Pontifical of Magdalen College, Henry Bradshaw Society 39 (London, 1910), reproduces fol. 23 of the Dublin Pontifical as plate III. Plates I and II are taken from two other twelfth-century pontificals from the province of Canterbury, the Magdalen Pontifical (fol. 137), discussed below, and Cambridge, Trinity College, MS B.xi.10 (fol. 63v). Each plate shows the same part of the dedication ordo, with the antiphon Sanctum est verum lumen.

30 Turner, D. H., The Missal of the New Minster Winchester, Henry Bradshaw Society 93 (1963), xi, xiii.Google Scholar

31 The beginning of the Mass for St Silvester in Le Havre 330 (fol. 62), is reproduced at the beginning of Turner's edition. Four examples of the tonal podatus, or pes quassus, occur in the introit Sacerdotes tui alone. The notation is not as accurately heighted as the antiphons in MS 44. Le Havre 330 may represent an earlier phase of the notation used in MS 44, or perhaps the pitch notation of MS 44 is more accurate because it had to be, a proposition pursued below with respect to the Dunstan Pontifical. See also Corbin, , Die Neumen (Cologne, 1977),Google Scholar plate 31 (’französische Neumen’), for the same type of neume in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 775.

32 The tonal podatus systematically marks the melodic halfstep in much the same fashion as the quilisma (or the podatus ‘semi-circulaire’) in the Gradual of St Yrieix. See Ferretti, ‘Etude sur la notation aquitaine’, Paléographie musicale, XIII, 172, 175–6. Of course, no direct relationship between Anglo-Norman and Aquitanian notations can be posited; nevertheless, this shared feature might suggest contact of some kind. See George Beech, ‘England and Aquitaine in the Century before the Norman Conquest’, Anglo-Saxon England, 19 (1990), 84–5, for evidence of English manuscripts exported to the region at the time of the Council of Limoges in 1031.

33 Wilson, The Pontifical, 12.

34 In Exx. 1, 3 and 4, the tonal punctum is transcribed as . A page from Cambridge University Library, MS Ll.ii.10, a mid-twelfth-century pontifical from Ely, is reproduced in Hiley, Western Plainchant, 424–5, plate 10.

35 The dedication ordo in the late tenth-century Sacramentary of Ratoldus, Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale, MS lat. 12052 (written 972–986) testifies to the tenth-century transmission of insular liturgical elements to the region of St Vaast-Corbie. Kozachek, ‘The Repertory of Chant for Dedicating Churches’, 328–30. The impact of the English rite on other continental ordines is discussed on pp. 336–41.