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Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, fonds latin 7211: Analysis, Inventory, and Text.

Having facilitated research for both scholars and students with passable facsimile reproductions of important medieval music manuscripts, the Institute of Mediaeval Music has now broadened the scope of its facsimile series into music theory by replicating an important eleventh- to twelfth-century compendium of late classical and early medieval writings on music--the codex Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, fonds latin 7211 (henceforth ms. 7211). This endeavor marks a noteworthy new direction in publications of early music theory, for although most of the treatises have appeared in modern critical editions and translations, copies of the manuscript sources themselves (with but few exceptions) remain available only in costly and not widely accessible microform reproductions or offprints.

Underscoring the need for theoretical sources in readily available facsimile editions are new trends in ancient and medieval music studies, which in stressing the physical documents, focus on the entire codex rather than just the individual treatises (see, e.g., Music Theory and Its Sources: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. Andre Barbera [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990]). By applying meticulous codicological analysis to these manuscripts, scholars have made important discoveries not only about the collective transmissions of the treatises, but also about the processes of selection, interpretation, and assembly employed during their compilation.

With a diverse mosaic of didactic texts and practical devices, ms. 7211 exemplifies the complex theoretical codex, and via the new facsimile edition, its abundance of intriguing material is now laid open to a much wider audience than heretofore possible. In 151 folios, this manuscript preserves eleven complete theoretical texts, including the Musica enchiriadis, Scolica enchiriadis (with unusual interpolations of diverse materials), and Alia musica, the Micrologus and three other treatises by Guido d'Arezzo, and pseudo-Odo's Dialogus de musica; chapters from Aurelian of Reome's Musica disciplina; passages from Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Cassiodorus, and Isidore of Seville; plus anonymous excerpts, four tonaries, assorted mnemonic aids for the modes, poems, and a variety of illustrations. No mere cavalier assemblage, the codex reveals a purposeful, four-part division comprised of Carolingian treatises, the writings of Guido, a group of Guidonian commentaries and other related writings (inserted at a later date into the other three parts), and a topical compendium of excerpts from late-Latin theorists and early medieval practical sources. Among the noteworthy codicological details is the work of at least seventeen scribes; a variegated mis-en-page embellished with many diagrams and illustrations, including remarkable drawings of musicians playing plucked string instruments; five contrasting types of letter and neumatic musical notations; the interesting odds and ends filling the gaps between the larger tracts; and three numeration/collation schemes that unveil new information about the compilation of the codex.

Alma Colk Santosuosso's edition of ms. 7211 results from her contact with this source while preparing her monograph Letter Notations in the Middle Ages (Ottawa: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1989). In contrast to many earlier volumes in the facsimile series, Santosuosso's edition opens with a substantial preface that succinctly analyzes the manuscript's codicological features (size, folio numbering and collation, scribal hands, layout, decoration, dating, and provenance); outlines the organization and contents of the manuscript's four sections; summarizes all of this data in an overall perspective; and then inventories the entire contents of the manuscript.

Marring Santosuosso's preface are many stylistic rough edges and omissions that cry for the hand of an expert copy editor. An excessive deference to authority clutters the prose with stiffly summarized references to and quotes from scholarly research that frequently overwhelm Santosuosso's own too infrequently expressed impressions and conclusions. Occasionally she does offer a cogent observation, such as her argument for a fourfold rather that a bi-partite division of the manuscript. But far too often, Santosuosso glosses over details (e.g., her basis for determining seventeen scribal hands in the codex) or forfeits the opportunity to offer new ideas (e.g., paleographic evidence that might shed additional light on the contested dates for the manuscript's compilation). The preface is filled with redundant information on a variety of levels: for example, the commentaries in the inventory repeat much of the data in the second chapter's summary of the manuscript; the prose needlessly reiterates bibliographical details; and three separate times on pages xxxv-xxxvii Santosuosso mentions the distinctive topical organization of the manuscript's fourth section.

For each item in the inventory, Santosuosso provides an independent selected bibliography of relevant literature (including works published as late as 1990) drawn from a commendably wide array of critical editions, commentaries, articles, essays, dissertations, and dictionary articles. It is regrettable that Santosuosso did not collocate all of these sources into a master bibliography, for they remain scattered over some 46 minibibliographies ranging from one to fourteen entries. The result is many recurrent citations, often in unabbreviated form. While this feature is handy when skipping around the inventory, the system becomes tedious as the reader encounters the same bibliographic detail page after page, not to mention its frequent reiteration in the prose as well. Santosuosso supplies a general index integrating names, titles, and descriptors from both the commentary and the facsimile, but the principles governing inclusion are not clear; some authors mentioned in the text remain uncited (e.g., Hanoch Avenary, Calvin Bower, and Tilman Seebass), while others (such as Michel Huglo and Santosuosso herself) receive multiple citations.

The preface is attractively presented, with a justified text employing a clear, elegant typeface and clarifying variations of fonts and typesizes. In the inventory, however, the spacing is often too cramped, and the punctuation of the in-text citations is misleading. Considering the complexity of the material, the text is remarkably free of typographical errors, with only a few misdivided words (e.g., Mag-istro).

Santosuosso overlooks many important details regarding the state of the manuscript and the facsimile reproduction. Apparently the facsimile replicates the imperfect images of an old, makeshift microfilming by the Bibliotheque nationale rather than issuing from newer, more carefully prepared reproductions. We are not informed that the facsimile reduces the size of the folios by approximately one fourth (my calculations reveal that the original 215x130 mm. double columned text block now measure ca. 160x100 mm.) or why folios such as [7.sup.r] are somewhat out of focus. In the facsimile, the interior margins and many initial or closing characters of the text block disappear, often into an unsightly black line--due, it would seem, to limitations caused by the rigid binding of the manuscript. Smearing, darkening, or fading on certain folios of the manuscript appear to be responsible for some barely decipherable and even totally illegible images in the facsimile. All of quire D (ff. [25.sup.r]-[32.sup.v]), for instance, suffers from a considerable loss of text, contrasting with the remarkably sharp detail found elsewhere in the facsimile. Similarly, Santosuosso does not account for the bizarre appearance of ff. [137.sup.v]-[140.sup.r], where much of the text is nearly imperceptible yet certain initials, words, neumes, and illustrations are very dark. All too often the foliation is badly faded or altogether missing; folio numbers added editorially in the facsimile's ample margins would have averted this problem. Likewise, users of the facsimile would have benefited from marginal indications of the contents as outlined in the inventory (particularly in the shifting centonate sections). Santosuosso's brief description of the coloration that enlivens the diagrams, notational examples, headings, and decorated initials of the manuscript points to the monochromatic shortcomings of this (and any) black-and-white facsimile.

While far from the final word on ms. 7211 or its contents, Santosuosso's edition offers a serviceable roadmap and reliable overview, particularly useful for those investigating this manuscript for the first time. Despite certain reprogaphic flaws, the facsimile of this important codex offers medievalists, music theorists, and bibliographers a much needed research tool. We can only look forward to the Institute of Mediaeval Music's issuing additional facsimile editions of other prominent sources of medieval music theory.

DARWIN F. SCOTT University of California, Los Angeles
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Author:Scott, Darwin F.
Publication:Notes
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1994
Words:1316
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