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Ornamental melismas in Aquitanian introits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2023



Melismas are used to decorate the performance of introits in the early manuscripts of East Francia and of the region of Aquitaine. The former group includes melismas attached to the ends of phrases in manuscripts of the tenth and eleventh centuries. The Aquitanian practice, apart from a few introits that resemble the East Frankish usage, is to add substantial melismas – not the same as those used by the East Franks – to the final soloistic doxology, as a sort of flourish indicating the final reprise. These melismas are sometimes found in tonaries, perhaps for general application to any introit in the mode, and sometimes attached to individual introits. Melismas from Aquitanian tonaries, graduals and tropers are catalogued and described. These melismas are evidently portable, often being used for more than one occasion.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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1 Melodiae or sequentiae are known from at least the ninth century, and collections of them survive in the East and the West. They serve as the basis for medieval prosae, and as such have been studied extensively; relevant studies include Kruckenberg, Lori, ‘Sequence’, in The Cambridge History of Medieval Music, ed. Everist, Mark and Kelly, Thomas Forrest, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 2018), 1: 300–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hiley, David, ‘The Sequence Melodies Sung at Cluny and Elsewhere’, in De musica et cantu: Studien zur Geschichte der Kirchenmusik und der Oper: Helmut Hucke zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Cahn, Peter and Heimer, Ann-Katrin (Hildesheim, 1993), 131–55Google Scholar; Crocker, Richard, The Early Medieval Sequence (Berkeley, 1977)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bower, Calvin M., The Liber Ymnorum of Notker Balbulus, Henry Bradshaw Society, vols. 121–2 (London, 2016)Google Scholar. On responsory melismas, see Helma Hofmann-Brandt, ‘Die Tropen zu den Responsorien des Officiums’, 2 vols., Ph.D. diss., Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (1971); Thomas Forrest Kelly, ‘Responsory Tropes’, Ph.D. diss., Harvard University (1973). On the Kyrie, see Margareta Melnicki, Das einstimmige Kyrie des lateinischen Mittelalters, Forschungbeiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 1 (Regensburg, 1954). A few melismas are to be found with the Gloria in excelsis; many more associated with the added text ‘Regnum tuum solidum’; see Rönnau, Klaus, ‘Regnum tuum solidum’, Festschrift Bruno Stäblein zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. Ruhnke, Martin (Kassel, 1967), 195205Google Scholar. On melismas with the Osanna, see Iversen, Gunilla, ‘Osanna dulcis est cantica. On a Group of Compositions Added to the Osanna in excelsis’, in Cantus Planus. Papers Read at the Third Meeting Tihany, Hungary, 19–24 September 1988, ed. Dobszay, László (Budapest, 1990), 275–96Google Scholar; eadem, ‘Music as Ancilla verbi and Words as Ancilla Musicae. On the Interpretation of the Musical and Textual Forms of Two Tropes to Osanna in excelsis: Laudes deo and Trinitas, unitas, deitas’, in Liturgische Tropen: Referate zweier Symposien in München (1983) und Canterbury (1984), ed. Gabriel Silagi (Munich, 1985), 435–66 plus nine plates; and Charles Atkinson, ‘Music as “Mistress of the Words”: Laudes deo ore pio’, in Liturgische Tropen, ed. Silagi, 67–82.

2 Huglo, Michel, ‘Aux origines des tropes d'interpolation: Le trope méloforme d'introït’, Revue de musicologie, 64 (1978), 554CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 The first substantial study of these is Huglo, ‘Aux origines’; Andreas Haug, ‘Das ostfränkische Repertoire der meloformen Introitustropen’, in Cantus Planus. Papers Read at the Fourth Meeting, Pécs, Hungary 3–8 September 1990, ed. László Dobszay, Ágnes Papp and Ferenc Sebó (Budapest, 1992), 413–26 concentrates on melismatic additions to the introit.

4 St Gall 484 and 381 (c.925), Vienna, Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek 1609 (c.900), London, BL add. 19768 (936–62), Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek Msc. Lit. 6 (c.1000). The great majority survive only in the St Gall tropers. On these, see Susan Rankin, ‘From Tuotilo to the First Manuscripts: The Shaping of a Trope Repertory at Saint Gall’, in Recherches nouvelles sur les tropes’, ed. Wulf Arlt and Gunilla Bkörkvall, Acta universitatis Stockholmiensis. Studia Latina Stockholmensia 36 (Stockholm, 1993), 395–413. As Huglo points out, some of the melisma-sets at St Gall include melismas for the versus ad repetendum, the use of which began to disappear towards the end of the ninth century. Andreas Haug (‘Neue Ansätze im 9. Jahrhundert’, in Die Musik des Mittelalters, ed. Hartmut Möller and Rudolf Stephan, neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft 2 (Lilienthal, 1991), 94–128, at 101) gives two examples of melismas that survive also in pitch-transcribable notation. Rembert Weakland, ‘The Beginnings of Troping’, The Musical Quarterly, 44 (1958), 477–88, discusses the examples from Vienna 1609; one set of melismas for Puer natus est (f. 4v, transcribed by Weakland on p. 483) begins with the same melisma as that found in St Gall 484 (p. 197), but continues differently.

5 These numbers from Haug, ‘Das ostfränkische Repertoire’, 414. The melismas are indicated, and numbered, in the inventory of St Gall 484 and 381 in Wulf Arlt and Susan Rankin, Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen Codices 484 & 381, 3 vols. (Winterthur, 1996), 1: 177–281; the numbering of the melismas (beginning again with each introit) shows places where melismas are repeated within an introit-complex, but does not identify melismas shared among introits. A catalogue of the melismas by Andreas Haug (Die melodischen tropen zu den Gesangen der Messe, Monumenta Monodica Medii Aevi, Subsidia 7) has not yet appeared.

6 The keen eye of Alejandro Planchart noticed the same phenomenon of added melismas to a single offertory, Anima nostra (St Gall 484, pp. 56–7; St Gall 381, pp. 222–3) and to a small number of Aleluias with associated prosula-like texts (St Gall 484, pp. 237–8; St Gall 381, 307–8, Krakow, Biblioteka Jagiellońska (olim Berlin, Deutsche Staatsbibliothek), theol. IVo 11, fols. 3r, 6v, 10v, 15v.) See Planchart's ‘Introduction’ to Embellishing the Liturgy. Tropes and Polyphony, ed. Alejandro Enrique Planchart (Farnham, 2009), xvi.

7 I believe that Michel Huglo is mistaken in this matter: ‘Aux origines’, 36–7. For textual editions of the trope-elements (Dum resurgeret/Contremuit terra/Terremotus factus/Custodes velut mortui/Nimio timore angeli), see Corpus Troporum. Vol. 3: Tropes du propre de la messe 2: Cycle de Pâques, ed. Gunilla Björkvall, Gunilla Iversen and Ritva Jonsson, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis (Stockholm, 1982); the table on pp. 256–8 gives the trope-elements for a series of manuscripts; the trope-elements themselves are edited in alphabetical order in the volume, with commentary in a separate section. On the introductory trope Summe sacerdos emitte vocem tuam, found in lat. 1240, fol. 30, see Kelly, Thomas Forrest, ‘Introducing the Gloria in excelsis’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 37 (1984), 479506CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 481–6.

8 Corpus Troporum X: Tropes du propre de la messe, 5: Fêtes des Saints et de la Croix et de la Transfiguration. Édition. Ed. Ritva Maria Jacobsson (Stockholm, 2011), nos. 394 (p. 122) and 376 (p. 116).

9 The heighting in lat. 1118 is not strictly accurate and uses no custos between lines; this transcription is based on a comparison with the sources listed in Table 1.

10 On this phenomenon, see also Haug, ‘Neue Ansätze’, 100–1.

11 Melismas 1A and 1D are longer and shorter versions of a somewhat complex group of melismas; these will be treated in more detail in a forthcoming study.