Observations on the Transmission of Some Aquitanian Tropes
Observations on the Transmission of Some Aquitanian Tropes
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines seven introit tropes or trope groups. It argues that the problem of transmission is critical for the understanding of the musical situation in the central Middle Ages. Tropes are critical for the study of transmission; for their time coincides with the first epoch of music writing, and their sources provide us with substantial evidence about the way they were apprehended in the communities in which they were current.
The question that prompted the following study flowed quite naturally from the one posed at the beginning of Chapter 6, which prompted the entire project represented by this book: if the written transmission of Gregorian chant bears the marks of its earlier oral composition and transmission, how does that compare with the features of the early medieval tropes in relation to their modes of composition and transmission? The trope tradition seems natural for the comparison for four reasons: (1) the melodies were composed in the stylistic environment of the chants they staged; (2) there is no indication of any intention on the part of state or ecclesiastical authorities to impose on the repertory of tropes a standard of uniformity or correctness in accordance with some designated authentic tradition as there was in the case of the chant.That is reflected in a fluidity in the written transmission of tropes, in contrast to that of the chants, both in the notated versions of the same tropeverse melodies and in the different selections of trope verses made in different locations for the same chant within the same liturgical moment;1 (3) the earliest written transmission of the tropes is essentially contemporary with the earliest written transmission chants; and (4) unlike the situation of the chant, there is no independent indication of an unwritten tradition of trope composition and transmission antecedent to the written transmission. For those reasons this comparison has proven to be as important a source of understanding regarding our general subject as the comparison between the Prankish and (old) Roman transmissions of Gregorian chant.
I must comment briefly on the assertion I made in stating the fourth point for the comparison, for there has been a tendency to regard the fluidity in the written transmission of tropes as just the sort of indication of an oral tradition that I have claimed does not exist in the case of the tropes.2 The tendency rests on the a priori (p.253) assumption coupling oral and written tradition with variability and stability respectively: given the fluidity in the written transmission of the tropes, a background of oral tradition is suspected. The interpretation is clearly circular on grounds of logic alone, but there is abundant evidence from cultures around the globe that those couplings are by no means necessarily operative.3 Severing the presumed coupling of writing with fixity is one of the two main outcomes of this study. That is why the word ‘independent’ is emphasized in the formulation of point (4). And it reminds us again of the mysteriousness of early music‐writing that has been teasing us throughout this book and that will be addressed head‐on in Chs. 13 and 14.
The other main outcome is a palpable demonstration of a musical tradition entailing local production for local use, which is nevertheless based on underlying models and patterns that are shared from place to place and transmitted by voice and pen through the sung and written compositions themselves. The more negative philological way of putting this is that all Aquitanian tropers are terminal, that they cannot be fitted on a stemma that will tell anything about their genetic relationships.4 This seems to imply some failure in the manuscripts or their makers, or in the methodology of the search. But more likely the problem lies in the expectation that classical philological methods should be able to take the measure of such a tradition of composition, performance, and transmission. A consequence of this outcome is that critical interpretations of this music are questionable if they are based on the premiss of a work concept.
THIS study of seven introit tropes or trope groups is addressed at once to a methodological task and a historical question. The methodological task is to find ways of analysing tropes that will take account of their transmission. It is a premiss of this book that in the study of music that pre‐dates the time when transmission became demonstrably reproductive, analysis necessarily entails an account of transmission and the study of a transmission is necessarily a task of musical analysis.5 With respect to the tropes, that task will come down to a search for concrete musical parameters in terms of which melodic units can be compared, and for criteria by which we can consistently draw the line between ‘versions’ of a single piece and ‘different’ pieces; or to put it more succinctly, for what it means to say ‘same’, ‘different’, ‘version’, and ‘variant’ with reference to this repertory.
(p.254) In the end this comes down to the question ‘what is transmitted?’ That question is the access to the historical question to which this chapter is addressed: what is the state of musical production and transmission that is represented by the notations of Aquitanian tropes of the tenth and eleventh centuries, and what is the role that the notation plays in the transmission? And in the intersection of the methodological question, how can we control the musical elements for systematic comparison?, and the historical one—how can we understand the transmission of the repertory?—we may locate the concept of style.
I have drawn selectively from the sources for the examples, and I list here only those sources that I have quoted. I have not reported minor variations of spelling, grammar, or wording in the texts, as these do not seem to me to be identifiable as factors in the musical transmission. The most complete concordance now available for tropes will be found in the volumes of the Corpus Troporum.
1. Introit Introduxit vos, mode 8; trope Dulciter agnicole
Sources: Paris lat. 1120, fo. 24r; 909, fo. 25V; 1121, fo. I4V; 1119, fo. 26V; 1084, fo. 1r and fo. 131v; 1118, fo. 48V; 887, fo. 21v (the ‘variant’ in this source published by Weiss6 is not accurate according to the MS); Apt 17 (5), fo. 211r. Evans,7 165; Weiss, no. 316.
2. Introit Etenim sederunt, mode 1; trope Hodie Stephanus martyr
Sources: 1240, fo. 19V; Paris nouv. acq. lat. 1871 (hereafter 1871), fo. 6r; Bologna 2824, fo. 26V; Modena 1.7, fo. 116r. Evans, 137; Planchart, no. 55; Weiss, no. 24. For comparison: trope Iubare corusco, Paris 1119, fo. 9V; trope O quam pretiosa est, Apt 17, fo-57r.
3. Introit Mihi autem nimis, mode 2; trope Filius ecce patrem
Sources: 1871, fo. 40r; 887, fo. 44r; Paris nouv. acq. lat. 1235 (hereafter 1235), fo. 242r; Benevento VI 34, fo. 235r. Planchart, no. 105; Weiss, no. 136. For comparison: trope Apostolicis venerandis melos, 1871, fo. 37V; trope Culmen apostolicum Andreas, 1871, fo. 37V.
4. Introit Ecce advenit, mode 2; trope Adveniente Christo
Sources: 1121, fo. 9V; 909, fo. 18v; 1119, fo. 14r; 1084, fo. 128V; 1118, fo. 30V; 887, fo. 16v 1871, fo. 10r. Evans, 149; Planchart,8 no. 45; Weiss, no. 108.
5. Introit Ecce advenit, mode 2; trope Haec est preclara dies, line III
Sources: 1121, fo. 8V; 909, fo. 17v; 1119, fo. 13V; 1084, fo. 60r; 1118, fo. 30r; 887, fo. 17r; 903, fo. 150r; 1871, fo. 9V; Apt 17, fo. 88r. Evans, 147; Planchart, no. 50; Weiss, no. 113. For comparison: trope Per quam Christicole, 1871, fo. 38V (fourth line of the trope Hic trina sonat for the introit Terribilis est).
6. Introit Ex ore infantium, mode 2; trope Filii carissimi
Sources: 909, fo. 16v; 1119, fo. 12r; 887, fo. 15r; 1871, fo. 8V. Evans, 144; Planchart, no. 60; Weiss, no. 123.
7. Introit Os justi, mode 6; two tropes: (a) Iubilent omnes, (b) Psallite omnes
Sources: (a) 1121, fo. 33V; (b) 1121, fo. 33r.
For the purposes of this chapter I am concerned with the kinds of variation and consistency that are evident, and I have not attempted to record the frequency of occurrence and patterns of distribution of particular readings. Those factors are ultimately relevant to an analysis of transmission, but a detailed report on them would not alter the formulation of the problem that will be developed here.
When it comes to a discussion of variant readings, we must be armed with an understanding about the signs on the paper that we are about to read and their relation to the sounds they must be meant, in some sense, to represent. That subject is brought into view by the difficulties that some ofthese sources present to the transcriber. The difficulties are not merely practical matters to be dealt with as matters of editorial technique; they have significance for the larger task at hand. What I am referring to, of course, is the inconsistency of the vertical placement of the neumes in some of the sources. Generally that is taken as a reflection on the quality and value of those sources. But such an attitude presupposes a role for the notation of the sources that it may never have been expected to play, and it may obscure what we might otherwise learn from the state of the notation about the nature of the transmission.
Evans writes: ‘The musical notation [of the sources] is usually very accurate.’9 I do not share that impression, and in any case I do not agree with that way of putting it. We could describe the notation of the following sources as ‘accurate’: 1121, 909, 1118, 903, 779, 1871; but not the notation of these: 1240, 1120, 1119, 1084, 887. Now I should like to consider what might be meant by ‘accurate’ with reference to two concrete examples.
1. In the 1119 version of Ex. 11.5, line IV, the word ‘hodie’ was at first omitted by the scribe and then entered, together with its neumes, in the margin, thus:From the more ‘accurate’ source 1871, the passage can be transcribed thus:
2. In the 1120 version of Ex. 11.7(b), line II, the setting of ‘legionibus’ is notated thus:From the ‘accurate’ source 909, the passage can be transcribed thus:If we assume in each case that the scribes of the two versions meant to notate the ‘same’ passage, then in the first instance the same d falls at two different levels in the notational field, while the c is notated at a higher level than the first d. In the second instance three successive fs are placed at three different levels in the notational field, whereas an a is written at a level below that of a preceding f, etc. Of course we can try taking the notation of 1120 at face value (on the assumption that it really means to represent intervals through the diastematic placement of the neumes). Then we would get something like this reading of the second passage in 909:But on the grounds of our knowledge of the musical syntax of the style, gained from notated repertories and from the models notated in tonaries, we would reject that reading, especially in view of the cadential position of the passage. That can mean only that our assumption about the intention to represent intervals accurately is not warranted. Or we might reason that the intention was there, but its execution was prevented by carelessness or incompetence. Now it is easy enough to understand how a notator, working without a horizontal guideline, could lose his place and produce a meandering and—to us—unreliable score.
Under such circumstances skill and care could make a difference. But when a notator with a fluent hand represents three successive notes of the same pitch with signs at three different levels in the notational field, it is simply not to be believed that the norms and expectations of his circumstances called for him to place the (p.257) three signs at the same level, but that he was careless or incompetent. We must accept both that complete consistency of vertical placement was not normative for him, and that the score that he produced was sufficient for his purposes.
This last point is reinforced by the first example. The fact that the omitted passage ‘hodie’ was inserted into the margin, with neumes, shows that it was required for whatever purposes the manuscript was to serve. The fact that it was inserted with the neumes in the—to us—unreadable form that we find, shows that they were sufficient to those purposes in that form.
What can we say about the state of the notation and its role in the transmission when these are the circumstances? Here another remark of Evans is to the point: ‘There is no evidence before the eleventh century of scribes especially qualified as music copyists, and it seems far more likely that, at least for the earlier tropers, a member of the choir—and probably the trope singer himself-—notated the book for his own use.’10 The import of that remark, considered together with what has just been observed about the notation, is that in a substantial portion of the total sphere of trope performance in the tenth and eleventh centuries, even Aquitanian notation served only to support the singer in performances for which he had to rely on competences other than the ability to ‘read’ the notation (in the modern sense)—whether that means his memory, his ability to extemporize, or what is mostlikely, some fusion of the two. The conclusion is that such competences must have played a role in the performance, hence in the transmission, of tropes. This general conclusion, based on reflection about the condition of the notation, will be given concrete substance through the detailed analysis of the examples.11
Example 11.1. I begin with a description of the correspondences between the versions of the Paris sources on one hand and that of Apt on the other. Both have the same trope text. In both, line I falls into two sections (Ia and Ib) with caesura on g, corresponding to the articulation of the text. Line II corresponds melodically to Ia in both cases, and line III corresponds to Ib. And in both cases line IV corresponds very closely to line III. This is so whether or not there is detailed melodic identity between the two settings of the respective lines. The similarities between the two versions lie in the internal correspondences within them. Something like the formal system of the trope has been transmitted. In addition, however, there are some correspondences of melodic detail at the surface, indicated by the horizontal brackets 1 and 2. So we can look at the transmission of this trope at the level of its formal arrangements and at the level of surface detail.
The descent to d in Ib, III, and IV provides the strongest contrast to the lines of the introit, which are focused on g and its upper and lower neighbours. That is an important aspect of the formal idea of the piece, and it is transmitted in both Aquitania and Apt.
There is an important difference between the two versions after the descent to d in the refrain. The Aquitanian version returns to a, the Apt version to g. This difference of detail reflects a more fundamental difference between the two versions. The trope lines in Aquitania articulate a d-pentachord with b as upper neighbour. In the form of the whole this plays into the contrast with the introit lines, whose g-plagal is articulated as two conjunct tetrachords pivoting on g. At the level of the tonal configuration, the trope lines of Apt are closer to the introit lines, and the contrast between alternating trope and introit lines is weaker than it is in the Aquitanian versions. Returning to the details at the surface, this difference is reflected in the fact that in the refrain line the Apt version opens with repeated gs (ornamented in Ib), while the Aquitanian versions consistently open b‐a‐g. Associated with that difference is the fact that the Aquitanian versions never rise above b, whereas the ceiling in Apt is c'.
We may therefore speak of a single underlying idea about the way that the introit Introduxit vos is to be troped, but with a fundamental difference in the formal‐tonal realm that determines differences in detail throughout. I suggest the concept of ‘homologous settings’ for such cases. The two settings are homologous with respect to their formal arrangements, and that states the relationship in the most general and unexceptionable way. We must then refine the statement of the relationship by describing the differences in the ways the overall movement is worked out, and the differences of surface detail that are contingent on the structural differences as well as those that are independent of them. I believe this is (p.261) preferable to forming simple judgements about whether the settings are ‘the same’ or ‘different’, for those terms cannot sufficiently describe musical transmission at this stage in the history of music.
Consider the differences of tonal configuration in the versions of Aquitania and Apt in the light of modal affinities. (In the following I shall take office antiphons, given their modal assignments in medieval sources, as representatives of modal types.)
The Aquitanian version of the trope begins in a way that is characteristic of first‐mode melodies:
But the introit Introduxit vos, like others of its type, is a typical eighth‐mode melody:
The idea that the first‐mode character of the trope Dulciter agnicole in the Aquitanian version could be assimilated along with the eighth‐mode introit Introduxit vos into a single coherent composition becomes more plausible if we consider as a kind of medium between them the first‐mode antiphon Cantantibus organis (this is suggested only as a way of thinking ourselves into the sort of knowledge of melodic idiom that a tropist might have had; there is no implication intended that this antiphon had any concrete connection with either the trope or the introit).
In the case at hand, the Aquitanian version of the troped introit would be consistent as a whole, in that sense, while at the same time it progresses, by way of a formal principle, through an alternation of emphasis on d (itself and through a) and g. Such would be the meaning, under this second interpretation, of what might otherwise appear to be a modal inconsistency. But to think of this at all in terms of mode would be to refer it to a system that may have little relevance for the relation between a plainchant and its trope. In the Apt version the tropist appears to have pursued a greater modal consistency, or again we may say simply that he remained more narrowly in the melodic track of the introit. In any case the result is a composition that is less dynamic, and less shaped by an idea of the whole; it is more uniform, but less unified. The question that comes to mind is whether this sort of difference between the two versions is displayed consistently throughout the respective collections of tropes. That question calls for systematic study of (p.263) whole collections from such points of view. The pursuit of such a study promises to enhance our understanding of the background of melodic resources and systems against which tropes (and music in other new genres) were composed and transmitted. As for the modal system, the study of trope transmission from the viewpoint of modal affinities promises to enhance our understanding of modality in that time as a compositional parameter beyond its narrow regulating role for the plainchant.
Example 11.2. This set comprises versions with more or less closely similar texts and melodies from Aquitanian and from two Italian sources (b‐c), and two tropes of the same introit but with entirely different texts from an Aquitanian and a ProvenÇal source (d and e). a‐c comprise four trope lines, I‐IV. I have identified three phases of I as P, Q, and R.
Comparing versions a—c of I, what is most immediately striking is the divergence in the transmission of text and music. b and c have nearly identical texts, but it is versions a and b that have nearly identical melodies. This is so not only with respect to melodic detail, but especially with respect to critical points of phrase organization. This will be clear from a comparison of versions b and c of I P. b, like a, articulates as three parallel phrases (see the transcription), c articulates as two. In a and b the motion to the peak, a, is reserved for the middle of I Q, while in c the peak is reached in the second phrase of P. In all these respects version b is like a, although its text is identical with that of c. This fact must serve as a counterweight to the observation made in connection with Ex 11.1, that phrase organization reflects text articulation. Here we learn that text articulation is not the unique determinant of melodic process, which can be transmitted independently of text. At the same time, this example reinforces the conclusion from Ex. 11.1, that the question whether two melodies are ‘different’ or whether they are versions of a single melody must be answered through comparison of the underlying movement, as well as the surface features, of the melodies.
Now something like this is suggested by a comparison of the a, b, and c versions of Ex. 11.1, on the one hand, with the d and e melodies, on the other. The three phases (PQR) are evident in both groups despite the different texts. And in both, the formal‐tonal process is similar, with P rising from and returning to d (or its lower neighbour c); Q, the peak phase, rising from f to a (or its upper neighbour); and the cadential phase R, falling back to d. In d and e the Q phase, in response to the greater length of the text, is reiterative. But its beginning from the pitch f and its climactic role in the melodic procedure are nevertheless clear. This evidently points to a melodic type that transcends individual texts and that is a factor in the transmission.
The identification of a special melodic type here would not be sensible if all tropes of Etenim sederunt followed it. But of fourteen tropes of that introit, only the five shown here are of this type.
In view of the differences in the underlying syntax of I P in versions a and b on the one hand and c on the other (see the discussion of those passages above), and in view of the relationship just noted between versions a‐c and d‐e of I as a whole, these conclusions seem warranted:
1. I a‐e represent a single general melodic type.
2. Ia and b are homologous with respect to syntax and of such a similarity in their surface features that nothing stands in the way of our regarding them as versions of the same melody. Id and e, on the other hand, must be regarded as independent executions of the same melodic type. As for Ic, despite its belonging to the text group of a and b, its divergence from those two in the underlying structure of I P suggests that it is an independent production, like d and e, rather than a version of the a‐b group (thus we might have aligned the phrase over ‘Stephanus’ in I Pc with the beginning of I Qd and e). This is an important conclusion for our (p.266) concept of transmission, for it opens the possibility that similarities between two melodies may be accounted for on the grounds of similarities of text and common melodic types, rather than being understood in the sense of the derivation of one melody from the other. We require a reordering in our understanding of the nature of family relationships in such traditions.
I note that at the opening of Q, which is perhaps the strongest moment in the rhetoric of the form, the transmission throughout is most consistent at the level of melodic detail. Like the passages under brackets in Ex. 11.1, it is a bit of concrete formulaic material at a formally critical point, transmitted nearly intact.
III tends to proceed in a sort ofbar form: AA' (antecedent—consequent) B.This is sharper in the versions 779, 903, and Bologna because of the identical openings of A and A' there. A similar situation obtains in IV. It comprises two phrases, and in Bologna those are integrated by virtue of the fact that the second is an extended variant of the first. This suggests a tendency in Bologna towards symmetrical and integrated forms—something that will require confirmation by further study— and it recalls the suggestion of a special tonal orientation reflected in Apt. The notion of stylization principles characteristic of particular collections and constituting local vector forces in the determination of transmissions deserves full exploration. In this instance, as in the first example, the stylization functions at the level of the underlying structure of the piece and influences the appearance at the surface.
There remains one last observation to be made about this example. I, as transmitted in 1240, exemplifies the tendency for that source to set somewhat fewer notes per syllable, although that tendency is nowhere so extreme that we would characterize the music of the later sources as florid by comparison. Evans, reasoning from this general feature of 1240 and from its earlier date, concludes that it is the bearer of bare archetypes of which the later sources present elaborations.12 But alternatively, it might be that relative bareness of line represents a principle of stylization for 1240.
Example 11.3. This group comprises two Aquitanian versions of a trope with more or less similar text and melody (a and b), a northern French version (c), and an Italian version (d). For purposes of comparison I have included Aquitanian versions of two tropes of the same introit, with different texts (e and f ).
There are two trope lines (I and II), and I have marked three phases of line I: M, N, and O. Consider I. At a quick glance it will strike everyone that in a—d we have essentially the same melody. What is difficult is to find ways of describing the similarities and differences that a closer examination will bring into focus. That is because this line is unlike the ones in Exs. II.I and 2 in that it lacks any obvious and (p.267)
We might look at the melodies in this example in terms of a number of note groups or modules that we can crystallize from them. I believe we can identify five. I say ‘groups’ or ‘modules’ because there is no fixed way in which the melody moves through their pitches (in this sense it would not be good to call them ‘melodic formulae’). Of course in the actual context of a melody there are no sharp boundaries dividing these groups. They are merely a way of focusing the melodic features of the melodies for purposes of comparison. Here are the proposed groups:
1. The final with its upper and lower neighbours:
2. An upward thrust from the final to g, then a descent to f and the final:
3. A motion to the high a, then a descent through g or f to the final:
4. A thrust from c to f, then a descent to the final:
5. An upward motion through the lower tetrachord, from A through c to the final:
IMa exhibits module 1. The same phrase in b is mainly an elaboration of 4. In c the same phrase exhibits first 1, then 2, then 4. Version d of this phrase elaborates first 2, then 4. INa exhibits 2, while versions b—d of that phrase exhibit 3.10 exhibits first 5, then 4 in a, 4 with an embedded 3 in b and c, and 4 alone in d. The first phrase of II is an elaboration of 2 in a; it involves both 5 and 4 in b, and 4 alone in d.
On close inspection versions that appear at first to be all alike turn out to exhibit the limit of divergence, given the constraints of the idiom. What, then, is the nature of the transmission here? My suggestion is that it is not a transmission of the fixed trope Filius ecce patrem as a whole, but a reconstruction of it based upon the following set of données: the articulation of the text and the consequent articulation of its musical setting; the modular basis of the melody; and certain syntactical principles, that final phrases must ultimately be dominated by 3, that 1 is reserved for beginning phrases, that 5 is reserved for positions at or near the end of the trope line, etc.
Once the variation among versions a—d is recognized we can see that tropes e and f operate under the same set of constraints as these, and that the texts are sufficient to account for their greater divergence from a—d than the variation within that group.
To account for the transmission of the trope Filius ecce patrem, the conception that its versions are all actualizations of a matrix defined by the constraints that have been described here is preferable to the conception that the versions are related as variants of one another or of some hypothetical archetype. The latter conception suffers from three major weaknesses. First, it has not been possible to identify archetypes or gradients of variance within the existing versions of tropes, on either musical or philological grounds. Second, under this conception it is necessary to posit missing sources in such abundance as to raise suspicion. Third, (p.270) there is no explanation for such a wide range of variance as is exemplified by the transmission of Filius ecce patrem, whereas the premiss that a fixed melody has been transmitted would seem to call for such an explanation (the more so as the transmission is written). The conception that the versions are all actualizations of an underlying model has four advantages. First, it is of a greater generality. Second, it provides a more adequate account of the observable facts of the transmission (or to put it the other way around, it does not require us to posit masses of irretrievable evidence). Third, it is consonant with a general conception that is proving to be more satisfactory to account for the transmission of other repertories of medieval melody and polyphony.13 Fourth, it offers a category for assimilating the facts of variation, other than the stemma that no one has yet been able to reconstruct.
Example 11.4. The transmission here involves two widely differing settings of the same trope text (1871 and 887), and several versions closely resembling that of 1871. 1240 corresponds closely to 887. I shall take up first the question of the levels and degrees of difference between 1871 and 887, then I shall consider some of the variants in the 1871 group. I show passages from the other sources in that group only where there are observations to be made about them.
Consider I (phrases are marked M‐R). The text articulation and the phrase division of the versions of 1871 and 887 are identical through IO. They diverge at P, in that 887 makes no further phrase or text articulation to the end of the line. But with the text articulation and phrase division through IO the musical similarity between the two versions ends, for their intonations of the text take on quite different formal‐tonal designs. These can be schematically described thus:
an arch from d to f and back to d
an arch from f to c and back to f
the climactic phrase, rising to a and falling to d
essentially a repetition of the preceding phrase
the cadential phrase
an arch from d to g and down to c
motion from f to a
the motion of the preceding, then falling to d. (That creates between B and B' an antecedent‐consequent relationship. The essential melodic outline is like that of 1871 O, but the role of the phrase in the form is different in each version.)
an arch from d to a and down to c. This associates with the first phrase, as a sort of double statement of it. It remains tonally open, and it is closed only by the line ‘quia … illi’,
The two versions of lines II and III, respectively, exhibit differences on a similar scale, and we may take this pair as exemplifying a single text in two independent settings. (Of course in line III 887 has an altogether different text.)
With respect to the transmission of the version represented in 1871 and its homologues there are a few places of particular interest. The setting of ‘baptizatus est’ at the conclusion of line I shows nearly identical neume patterns in all versions, but apparently not always identical pitches. Of course that may reflect a problem of diastematy; however, 1871, 1118, 909, and 1121 are generally quite consistent (p.273) about diastematy; and the apparent reading of 1119 is consistent with that of 909. A similar situation obtains between the versions of 1871 and 1121 in the setting of ‘in aeternum’ (line III).
Such uniformity of neume pattern in the face of a variability of pitch suggests something about the nature of writing down. It is that the primary task for the notator was to set down a pattern of neumes to go with a sequence of text syllables. We have a different sort of reinforcement of that suggestion when two sources exhibit more or less identical neume patterns for the same text passage, but are out of alignment by one syllable (examples are phrases IN in Ex. 11.4, the versions of 1871 and 1118, and phrase IIa in Ex. 11.6 below, the versions of 1871 and 909). I shall cite further evidence for this idea in the discussion of Ex. 11.5, and I shall return to it again at the conclusion, in connection with the question of the role of notation in the transmission of the tropes.
This sort of pitch variation seems to be of a different sort than variation at the structural level. At the beginning of line III in Ex. 11.4 the settings of ‘Quod permanet nunc …’ in the versions of 1871 and 1121 exhibit differences that reach down to the tonal structure of the melody. 1871 opens with the chain d‐f‐g‐a, 1121 with the chain a‐c‐d‐f. The cadences are parallel, but a fifth apart. All versions come back together at the melisma on ‘et…’.
Return to the cadence on ‘in aeternum’ at the end of line III. Evans calls attention to the melodic identity between the 1121 version of that cadence and the cadence of the phrase ‘in manu ejus’ of the introit. He calls this a ‘direct quotation’, and interprets it in the light of what he regards as a late tendency in the history of trope composition to quote in the lines of the tropes passages from the chant that is being troped.14 I must pause over this matter, for it raises questions not only about the interpretation of such a passage but also about the nature of trope composition, and even broader questions about the posing of such questions in the study of this subject.
Notice has already been taken that 1121 and 1871 are at variance over this cadence. We could associate the version of 1871 with the cadence of the introit phrase ‘et Imperium’ and say that in this case the chant cadence is anticipated. But one begins to get a sense of the arbitrariness of such identifications. Along the same lines, Evans interprets the cadence of trope line II (‘sui’) as a quotation of the cadence of the introit phrase ‘(Dominator do)minus’. To substantiate his interpretation that such quotation is a late development he shows that cadence in the version of 1240:
In the ‘quia’ passage at the conclusion of line I15 Evans finds another ‘quotation’, this time from the formula for the second mode that is given in the tonary of 1121:
But again the version of 1240 corresponds to an entirely different tradition, and there is no reason to think of the ‘standard’ Aquitanian version (1121, 1871, etc.) as representing a later stage of the same thing. What is more, we note that in 887 the ‘quia’ passage is internal to the form of the trope line, and that is the version to which 1240 corresponds. If the passage belonged in the earliest version, there is no reason to think that it was added later. It is even possible to think of it as internal to the form of the ‘standard’ version, for it is quite similar to the opening of trope line I (the ‘quia’ passage is in any case not an exact duplicate of the modal formula). Then the form becomes ABCCDA'. The point about this is that, instead of ‘quotation’, we may see here simply the use of a traditional resource of the mode. Here are the opening and cadence of the first line of ‘Psallite’, in Ex. 11.7:
This issue comes down to a fundamental question about the nature of composition in this time and in this genre. I wonder whether ‘quotation’ is an appropriate concept for this material, whether what we are seeing is not the use and reuse of conventional melodic resources where there is no reason to think that the occurrence in one place signals a reference to the occurrence in another.
A concept associated with ‘quotation’ under this same general viewpoint is that of ‘elaboration’. Evans cites what he interprets as a later elaboration of an earlier, simpler cadence (see Table 11.1).16 Comparing the settings of ‘hodie’ in 1240 and 1235 on one hand and 1121 on the other, Evans interprets the latter as ‘a more ornate version of the same cadential formula’. The difficulty with this interpretation is that even in isolation it would be stretching a point to read this:
Example 11.5. In the transmission of the third trope line we are confronted again by the question, how can we compare the several versions? In what terms, with reference to what features, can we describe similarities and differences? As an approach to these questions I have marked five phrases (a‐e) and made syllabic reductions of the versions of 1871 and 1119:
The reductions show a basic sequence common to both versions, but such a degree of difference in particulars as to suggest two independent actualizations of that structure. The common features are these: an opening phrase, a, articulating the lower tetrachord; a second phrase, b, rising to f and descending to linger about d; a third, peak phrase c, rising from d to a; a fourth phrase, d, to which I shall return in a moment; and a fifth, cadential phrase e, elaborating the tones d‐f‐e‐d. At the level of the underlying structure the fourth phrase, d, has an ill‐defined function—some sort of extension to accommodate the text before the cadential phrase—and the two d phrases have no melodic features in common. Because of the difference with respect to the point in the text declamation at which the climactic a is reached, the articulation between the c and d phrases comes at different moments. At the surface the two melodies share very little detail.
The trope line ‘Per quam Christicole …’ of 1871, folio 38V shows the overall motion that is common to both versions of ‘In Ihordane …’. That suggests that at this level there is a melodic type at the root of the transmission, whose options have been exercised in the several ways described. And since the same melodic (p.277)
The sources for ‘In Ihordane …’ cluster in two groups, following the two versions revealed by the reductions. This is so in a general sense, with exceptions to be noted separately. The clusters are these: 1119, 1121, 1084, 909, 887, 1118, 903; 1871, 779, Apt 17. In discussing the exceptions I should like to reserve phrases d and e for a moment. The b phrase in 1118 and 903 is independent of both versions, but its function (rising to f and descending to linger around d) is like that of both versions. The c phrase in 1118 begins like the others in its cluster but ends f instead (p.279)
In the 1871 cluster, at the level of the reduction 779 and Apt 17 oppose the pitches (p.280) d‐e‐d‐c to the e‐d‐d‐c of 1871 in the setting of ‘baptizatus’ in phrase b. In Apt 17 phrase c is the beginning of a departure that carries through phrase d, where there appears to be either a scribal aberration or the protocol of some rather fancy singing. The setting of ‘filius’, at the level of the reduction, opposes a‐f‐e‐d to the a‐g‐f of the other sources, and phrase d, with its unique text, takes off in a vocalise that covers a range of a tenth and suggests a leap of a seventh between phrases d and e.
The transmission of the d phrase in the 1119 group affords an insight, again, into the nature of the notators' task—in particular the primacy for that task of setting down a pattern of neumes to go with a sequence of syllables (see above). As for the pitches, the transmission shows not that they were less important, but that they were less fixed than the sequence of syllables and the pattern of neumes. Of course the apparent differences in the graphic signs with respect to pitch may reflect a vagueness in the notation (i.e. in the diastematy) as much as it reflects differences in scribal intentions, or in the versions of melodies that are meant to be represented. But we have no way of confidently assessing these alternatives, and that fact alone points to some fundamental characteristics of this notation as a system of representation for this music that I shall try to define carefully at the conclusion. In any case, the transmission of this phrase suggests that if we regard the notation as a pitch notation then it is too precise for the state of the music. It is as though a sharp pen were used to outline what is intended to be a charcoal drawing.
In these circumstances what significance can we attribute to the apparent identity of pitch in the versions of 1119, 887, and 1118? Following philological tradition we might say that they represent a central tradition, of which the other versions are variants. But given the nature of the transmission, and in view of the fact that it is not possible to establish a filiation for these sources, that interpretation has nothing but habit to support it. It may be that the three sources are related through copying, but it may also be simply that phrase d was thrice written down with apparently the same pitches. That seems all the more likely because there is no identity among the three sources in the other four phrases.
The transmission of the e phrase in the first six versions of the example again demonstrates the primacy of an association between a sequence of syllables and a pattern of neumes—whatever the pitches. Taking pitch into account we see three plausible ways to make the cadence: that of 1119, 1121, and 909; that of 887; and that of 1118. (Note that the clustering of the first three is different from the clustering of the d phrase, and that again makes copying unlikely as the cause of the similarity.) The version apparently shown by 1084 is doubtful; it expresses the mode poorly and it makes a poor connection with the next line of the introit (shown after the version of 1119). It is presumably a scribal error, or a consequence of a vague notational practice. But if 1084 does not mean what it seems to indicate notationally, what does it mean? Something like 1119, with the pitch level slipped down? Or something like 887, with a b instead of an a in the penultimate neume, and a (p.281) reversal in the final neume? We cannot tell. And that fact itself suggests again that the notators were not setting down a piece they knew as finished; rather, ‘finishing’ the melody required an act of setting it down, or of performing it.
These observations will be useful in formulating a general view of the nature and role of notation later on.
Example 11.6. The discussion focuses on trope line III. (Lines I and II are included in the example without comment here.) Weiss prints two versions (887 and 1871), and indeed for the greater part of this line there are essentially two versions. I show, however, also the last phrase of 909, which otherwise concords with the version of 1871.
The text is articulated in five phrases in all versions (marked a‐e). The corresponding phrases of melody are all versions of four basic gestures, all from the idiom of the plagal d‐mode: the opening motion from the low c to the tonic d; the expansion of that motion, reaching up to f and descending again; the climactic move from f to the peak, a, and the return to f; and the cadential descent from f. A close comparison of the three versions will be instructive. 887 moves at once to f in the first phrase, and consequently to a in the second. The other versions proceed more gradually, making the melodic climax only in the third phrase at ‘stolam/florem’. 887, having reached a climax in the second phrase, has little else to do but begin again in the third, and then yet again along with the others, in the fourth phrase. For 1871/909 that re‐beginning makes a rounded form of the whole; in 887 it has become rather repetitious. The fifth phrase is heard as a kind of ‘Nachsatz’ in all versions. Of special interest in phrase d is the identity of the opening in all versions, and then the separation of the three at ‘celesti’. 1871 and 909 follow exactly the same course of notes to the end of the phrase, but in a different distribution in relation to the syllables of the text. In comparing 887 with 909, we might think that an identical melodic course is intended but that there was a problem about the diastematy. I have, however, transcribed both as they appear in the manuscripts, and both are plausible as they appear. And in any case a comparison of the two versions as a whole will not support the idea of an intended identical copy. We have here an irresolvable uncertainty whether the difference between the two versions is a product of writing or whether it represents a real difference in the object. There is no question but that the e phrases are entirely independent of one another. Each of the three goal tones that they choose makes a satisfactory linkage with the beginning of the next line of the introit antiphon, so there need be no suspicions of error here.
These differences are understandable only in the sense of a transmission that involves repeated reconstruction on the basis of common underlying ideas about what the piece entails. There are common ideas about the material and about the course of the melody, but those ideas are carried out, in a sense, on a different time plan. One could be tempted to say, simply, that 1871 and 909 are virtually identical (p.282)
Example 11.7. This pair is introduced as a sort of control. In the main I have been following multiple settings, or versions of settings, of the same trope text. I believe there has emerged very clearly the fact of a determining role for the text articulation and, corresponding to that, the formal‐tonal structure of the melody in the (p.284) transmission of tropes. But in the discussion of Ex. 11.2 it was suggested that melodic types or models function in the transmission of tropes, sometimes independently of text. This is demonstrated most persuasively by the settings of lines III of the tropes Iubilent and Psallite, both for the same introit and the same feast. The consistencies are not only at the melodic surface but, despite the text differences, also in the phrase articulation and syntax.
Evans has called attention to the parallels and similarities between the two melodies.17 I shall use a shorthand to summarize all of the correspondences that he finds. Lower‐case letters refer to Iubilent, arabic numerals to Psallite. I shall use Evans's language in order to bring out his aperception of the similarities: a ‘appears three times in “Psallite omnes”’ (1–3). Despite the similarity in the settings of ‘ideo’, ‘“Iubilent” has adapted the melody to agree with the chant cadence, [he refers to ‘judicium’ at the end of the third line of the introit]
The whole of line III can be considered as a paraphrase of the third line of ‘Iubilent’:… ‘omnium’ is set to the melody of ‘ipse vero’, ‘corda’ corresponds to ‘illi reddens’, and ‘sequens precepta ideo’ quotes literally the melody of ‘sua promissa ideo’.… The melodic material of one trope could be transferred to another trope in the same mode.
This language, especially the expressions that I have italicized, raises again the questions about the status of such surface similarities and what they show about the nature of the transmission. Evans's language reflects the viewpoint in which a similarity is evidence of a literal quotation from a fixed original, and by implication, a citation of that original. And if it is not a literal quotation, it is nevertheless a deliberate transformation of that fixed original, as in the case of the ‘adaptation’ of the cadence at the end of line III of Iubilent to match the chant cadence—i.e. to ‘quote’ a different original—or as in the cases of ‘ornamentation’ cited earlier.
Some questions can be raised about such interpretations. First, the material said to be adapted from one trope to the other is not unique to those two tropes, a-1, b-4, c-5 and 6 can be found in other sixth‐mode tropes as well as in sixth‐mode compositions of other genres. Second, there is something curious about the claim that one trope has been quoted from another in such random fashion. How would it happen that a composer would take for the second phrase of the first line of one trope (Iubilent) the third and seventh phrases of the second line of another (Psallite; i.e. c-5 and 6)? And what evidence is there about which is the original? (p.285)
It is time to step back and reflect in general terms on the sorts of difference of interpretation that have arisen during the course of these observations.
Example 11.1 brings out the question whether two settings of the same text are ‘different’ entities or ‘versions’ of the same entity. They are ‘different’ if one thinks of tropes as original, fixed compositions. They are ‘versions’ if one thinks of the notated score of a trope as some sort of concretization of a well‐formed general idea about the melodic setting of a particular text adapted to a particular liturgical occasion, and of the versions as homologues. The difference comes down to viewpoints about what ‘composition’ and ‘transmission’ were, and these viewpoints control the interpretation of particular evidence.
Example 11.7 brings out the question whether melodically similar or identical turns in different settings may be understood as quotations. Answers reflect the same difference of viewpoints about the nature of transmission: the transmission of fixed melodies going back to composed originals, or the repeated actualization or reconstruction of a trope based on a matrix of organizing principles, melodic details that may be shared by different models, and ideas about articulating a text.
Example 11.4 brings out the association between the concept of ‘quotation’, reflecting the former viewpoint about composition, and the hypothesis about chant quotation as a late tendency. This hypothesis has as part of its theoretical background the paradigmatic precept that the objective of the research is to ascertain the line of style development in a tradition of tropes regarded as closed, fixed works. That historiographic imperative has had great influence over the interpretation of sources in this field.
That Weiss, in what is intended to be a critical edition, fails to report on much of the evidence in the transmission of his material, exemplifies the power that this view of composition has in determining what evidence is regarded as being important. The concept of transmission that I am proposing defines as tasks for research the description of the transmissional matrix and the identification of local stylization factors. Those tasks produce an appetite for variants that can be satisfied only by the total transmission of every item to which one has access. But Weiss can overlook variants as irrelevant to the ‘authentic’ tradition that he seeks to identify for each melody.
Similarly, the search for quotations and paraphrases has held attention on surface (p.287) melodic similarities as evidence at the expense of the evidence offered by similarities of syntax, similarities that become evidence as soon as one poses the question, what is the basis of the transmission?
Most fundamentally, the differences encountered here reflect differences over the questions that are to be asked. It is a difference between the search for archetypes, on the assumption that the mechanism of transmission is known, and an enquiry about the mechanism of transmission. On one side the leading question is about the development of trope style, on the other it is about the ontology of trope style, with the premiss that style and transmission are inseparable. For a long time the study of tropes was dominated by the debate on the question whether tropes originated as melismas or as new compositions in both words and music. That debate was never much informed by comparative analytical studies that took into account the details of transmission. Clearly such study favours the second of these alternatives in general—that a trope recorded in musical notation represents the actualization of a melodic model under local conditions of stylization and under the constraints of an articulated text—even if in particular cases a trope may have been traced to a pre‐existent melisma. Ultimately these questions come down to this one: is a tradition like that of the early medieval tropes appropriately investigated as though they were fixed compositions such as we encounter from the late Middle Ages to the present?
The transmission of tropes could occur in the act of performance and in the act of writing down, which was a kind of vicarious performance. This is an alternative to the assumption that what is written down must be either a protocol of an act of composition or a copy of something that has been written down before. If writing down is to be regarded as a form of musical performance, then the written score is not necessarily to be regarded in the sense of detailed instructions to the performer. To regard a notated source in that light we ought to require evidence in two categories: (1) evidence that multiple sources for the same music arise through literal copying rather than through repeated independent notation; (2) evidence that the musical circumstances require a narrowing of the range of options to the point of fixing individual compositions. The circumstances maybe of two kinds, external factors that establish a canon, as in the case of the chant itself, or a musical syntax that determines the compositional details to a high degree through the close interdependence of the musical parameters.
Evidence in the first category alone is not sufficient to support the conclusion of a prescriptive role for notation. Notation may become an artefact or metalanguage, and notational consistency between sources maybe a value independent (p.288) of consistency in performance (more to that point in a moment). Evidence in the second category can generally be expected to be accompanied by evidence in the first category. If the state of the music brings about virtual identity from one performance to the next, we would expect the notation to be explicit and consistent from one source to the next. In fact, as I have suggested elsewhere, we can pinpoint in the sources of the late‐medieval corpus of music for the cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris a new interdependence of melodic, rhythmic, and contrapuntal parameters, and at the same time we can demonstrate the copying of scores with revisions made in favour of greater explicitness in the notation.18
If we lack evidence in both categories we have no reason to regard the written score in the sense of detailed instructions to the performer. The alternative is to understand it as a model for the performance, an exemplar of the piece to be performed. It is as though the notator, in writing down the piece, were saying ‘look, this is how it goes’, just as a performer might say that before performing the piece. That is what it means to suggest that the act of writing down may be regarded as a kind of vicarious performance.
It can be interesting to pose these alternatives in terms of the question, what is it that the score represents? Further on in the book I shall suggest reasons for thinking that at the beginning notations more nearly represented singing than works. And where the circumstances of written transmissions suggest—on the grounds of the two criteria just proposed—that the score is prescriptive of the performance in detail, that suggests a shift in the ontology of the music itself and the score seems to represent a work, as well as the singing of it.
The idea of transmission as the actualization of a matrix brings together under a single interpretive concept several concepts for describing the making and transmission of medieval music that have usually been regarded as distinct: ‘composing’, ‘writing down’, ‘performing’ (with notation or without, and if without, from ‘memory’ or through ‘improvisation’). It cuts across the traditional dualities in which those concepts have been opposed. For the understanding of musical notation it suggests a new distinction between writing down as an act of actualization and writing down as copying. That in turn raises new questions about the nature of notation as the representation of music. I shall try now to pose those questions.19
The hypothesis that I have offered about how the music of the tropes was transmitted corresponds to the concept of oral composition that I have proposed to account for the early transmission of plainchant (see Ch. 6). But while plainchant was a traditional music transmitted for centuries without notation, the transmission of tropes entailed the use of notation in some way from the very beginning. What is more, the tropes do not belong to an ancient tradition. Their composition spans some two centuries, and they are transmitted in a relatively small number of sources, compared with the chant sources. The grounds of their composition and transmission are essentially like the grounds of the oral transmission of such traditional music as the plainchant. What, then, can have been the role that notation played in the transmission of the tropes?
The question can be sharpened. A notation is a system of symbols with a capacity for representing the sound combinations and relations of music—for the subject of this book, of sung music. It has been the common understanding that in principle the symbols of Aquitanian notation represent the constituent intervals—i.e. the surface pitch details—of melodies. But ifwe construe the performance and the notation of an Aquitanian trope as an act of actualizing an underlying model, how could the singer have been served by a notation whose signs represent a level of detail that emerged only as a product of the very act of singing? How could the tacit, wholistic knowledge of a model and the seriatim representation of surface details both have been the point of departure for a performance? Is there some other way of understanding the role of notation than as a string of instructions about what notes to sing?
Begin by asking what it means to say that notation in general and Aquitanian notation in particular ‘represents’ sounds and sound relations.20 To say that a symbol ‘represents’ an object is to say that it denotes or stands for that object. In order to do that it must be able to pick that object out of all the objects in its reference field, that is to distinguish it from all the others.
To understand the nature of denotation in modern Western pitch notation, it is helpful to think of the lines and spaces of the stave—together with the clefs and sharps and flats—as representing the total field of reference, the system of discrete pitches. The note figures placed on the stave pick out particular positions. Following Goodman, I shall identify the positions on the stave as the characters of the notational system, and each note placed on the stave as an inscription of one of the (p.290) characters. To us the second space from the bottom, with treble clef, is the character that denotes the pitch a'(440 Hz), the position in our pitch system that corresponds to
The efficacy of the system depends on the distinctness of the characters and their referents, and on a stable linkage between them. Else it would lack the capacity to meet the primary function of a system of symbolic representation, that is the capacity to pick out particular objects from the reference field. The requirements can be stated in terms of two operational propositions:
1. All inscriptions of a character are interchangeable, but the inscription of one character is not interchangeable with the inscription of another. For example all instances ofare interchangeable with one another, but none is interchangeable with any instance of
2. All inscriptions of a character pick out the same pitch from the reference field. (Following Goodman, I shall call the relationship between symbol and referent ‘compliance’; the referent is in compliance with the symbol, or is its compliant.) Then all inscriptions of a character have the same compliant.
These conditions are basic to the notation's usefulness to composers who expect that performers will always follow their intentions in the same way, and to performers who expect the notation to convey in an explicit and detailed way the composer's intentions. The notated score, then, serves as a bona fide of the identity of the musical work. That it can do so reflects a shared way of thinking about music—in terms of works that are fixed and repeatable. The characteristics of the symbol system reflect something fundamental about the apprehension of the objects represented.
If we now try to understand in similar terms the nature of representation in the system of Aquitanian notation, things are not so simple or direct. Several points must be set out.
1. In an idealized view of the system it might be said that the notational field (the vertical space allotted to the neumes between lines of text) corresponds to the (p.291) stave, and the potential positions within it are the implicit characters whose referents are the discrete pitches of the range exploited by the melodies. After all, one can even superimpose a stave on the notational field of some Aquitanian sources where the vertical placement has been very consistently observed. Then the neumes would be inscriptions of those characters, corresponding to the notes of the modern system. But there are two problems about such a view. First, it approaches the notation from the viewpoint of a modern transcriber, and with that viewpoint we shall not make progress in understanding the utility of the notation to a singer of that time. Even where the vertical placement is most consistent, the relative pitches must be determined by comparing the positions of the neumes and their parts in succession. When there is no custos (e.g. Paris 1118) the process is disrupted with each new line. The neumes are not inscriptions of fixed characters that are potentially present at all times. Second, the observations reported in the discussion of notation near the beginning of this chapter mean that consistent vertical placement was not a necessary condition of notation in the Aquitanian system.
2. Then we must regard as the characters of the system, not the spatial positions but the neume classes themselves (punctum, virga, pes, clivis, torculus, porrectus, etc.). That is the reason for the nomenclature adopted in Chapter 13. Their compilants cannot be the range of pitches, but the classes of pitch groupings denoted by the neume classes (a torculus denotes a three‐pitch group in which the second is higher than both the others, etc.). The representation of such pitch‐group classes in association with syllables of text is the common role of all instances of Aquitanian notation (and not Aquitanian notation alone), and we must take that to be the primary role of the notational system as a whole. Whetheror not interval distance within and between pitch groups is represented depends on the introduction of contingent devices that I shall call ‘controls’: consistent vertical placement, clefs, custodes, equaliter signs, pitch letters, neume forms that denote particular intervals or positions in the scale, and horizontal clef lines, scratched or inked. Of course eventually some of these controls became constitutive rather than contingent aspects of the system, and that altered the nature of the representation to that of the modern system. But for the system of Aquitanian notation during the period of transmission of the tropes, taken as a whole, that was not the case.
3. We can test this interpretation against the criteria of distinctness of the characters and the stability of the linkage between the characters and their compilants. In view of what was reported near the beginning, we cannot guarantee that the inscription exemplifies a character that is distinct from a different character that is exemplified by the inscription unless we can verify that the score in question is under the control of strict diastematy. But we require no controls whatever to guarantee that and both exemplify a character‐type that (p.292) is distinct from Further: it appears from what was reported near the beginning that the neume might represent, now , now . Then we cannot guarantee the stability of the linkage between the neume and any one of a number of possible pitch configurations as its compliant. But we can guarantee a stable linkage between the neume class exemplified by and the class of fourpitch groups with an ascent in the first three pitches and a descent from the third to the fourth. We can now interpret the transmission of the d phrase of Ex. 11.5 in this light.
With the neume classes as the characters of the system and the pitch‐group classes as their compilants, the two conditions that we saw to be necessary for the functioning of the modern system also obtain in the Aquitanian system:
1. All the inscriptions of a character are interchangeable whereas the inscriptions of one character are not interchangeable with the inscriptions of another. All instances of the torculus are interchangeable with one another, whereas none is interchangeable with any instance of the porrectus. This is to say that if a porrectus is inscribed in place of a torculus, it will be recognized as a different character with a different referent. But we cannot say before the fact that if one torculus is replaced by another with different degrees of vertical distance between its elements, the two will be recognized as distinct characters with different referents. That will depend on whether the particular score in view is under the control of strict diastematy, something that cannot be determined for the Aquitanian script in general.
2. Any inscription of a given character will pick out a member of the same class of pitch groupings. Any inscription of the podatus will pick out a two‐note group, of which the second note is higher than the first.
Such a notation cannot be useful if it is expected that the score should convey to the performer the intentions of a composer (or notator) with respect to all details of pitch; nor can it be useful if the performer is expected always to follow out those intentions in the same way.
If the notated score of a trope is to guarantee the identity of the trope, that can only be at some level short of the finished melody that is achieved in performance. But the study of trope transmissions has shown that it is at some such level that the identity of tropes can be found. So here, too, the nature of the symbolic representation reflects something fundamental about the ontological state of the objects represented in the apprehension of its users.
What was the utility of such a notation? It provided a basis for the singer's actualization of a melody, and it identified (‘picked out’) the piece by giving an instance of it. It is in the context of such a conception that I have suggested the notion of ‘control’—guides to (eventually constraints upon) the performer in the act of synthesizing.
If this conception of the theoretical status of a score and of its role as Vorlage (p.293) (the German word is best here) seems mysterious, then perhaps I can suggest a simple analogy as a way of sending the reader's thoughts in the direction that I have been pursuing.
Under my particular habits of work in writing articles such as this, I usually keep a record of my thoughts in handwritten notes and sketches, and eventually prepare a manuscript text. Finally I transcribe from that text onto a typewriter or computer. What I want to reflect about here is the role of the manuscript as Vorlage for the transcription, and its status as representation of the paper.
As I transcribe I may copy passages of the text word for word from the manuscript. But at other times I may treat the manuscript as just one concretization of the ideas I want to express. In that case the manuscript serves only to re‐present those ideas to me, and I may give them quite different expression. In one instance the Vorlage presents a set of signals for the operation of my fingers on the computer keyboard; in the other it serves as the point of departure for a reconstruction. Note that it may serve in that capacity, even though its text is fully fleshed out. in the second instance the manuscript presents the text at the level of the model.
The score, from this viewpoint, may be thought of as a representation of the melody as a whole object. But the melody has a variety of possible expressions. We must now consider whether this viewpoint must be altered if the score takes on a standard form, that is, if all scores for a melody are identical.
I have concentrated on what might be called the shadowy side of Aquitanian trope transmission. The questions I have raised and the interpretations I have offered might not ever have come up, had the attention been instead on what, by the same token, has passed as the sunnier side, that is on stable transmissions of melodies in notations with sufficient controls to leave little doubt about their contents. Weiss's tabular summary of the transmission of the trope verse Discipulis flammas (Ex. 11.8) shows the impression that such a transmission would make in a modern representation. Would such evidence contradict my claims about melodies not fixed at the surface? Or would it suggest the coexistence within the Aquitanian trope tradition of two such opposite patterns with respect to transmission, notational type, and the relation between notation and performance?
Perhaps the opposition would be more apparent than real. There is a way of interpreting such a situation as is exemplified by Ex. 11.8 that does not contradict the interpretations I have offered so far. It begins with further reflection on the nature of symbolic representation—of which musical notation is a special case— but this time with reference to the pictorial representation of the physical world.
(p.295) Pictorial representation is another kind of denotation. A picture identifies itsobject, picking it out as one kind of thing from among all the possible kinds in its field of reference. It classifies its objects by means of graphic symbols or figures (Gombrich calls them ‘schemata’). The figures are in effect labels, with which the artist indicates that a such‐and‐such is being represented. In view of their function in identifying objects graphic labels are conventional, and they may become stereotyped and repeated or copied from one representation to another. They become a system of signs onto themselves. But then the duplication of signs from one representation to another by no means denotes—nor is it necessarily intended to denote—an identity of appearance between the objects being represented. Systems of signs can become conventions in themselves. On the contrary, a single object may be represented through two or more quite different systems of signs, according to the convention in which it is represented. The agreement between a representation and its referent is a matter not of imitation but of habit, a habit in which both the artist and the viewer participate.
Gombrich provides a striking illustration for this general view. It is a picture of a lion, drawn c.1235 by Villard de Honnecourt (Pl. XIII). Gombrich writes (p. 76): ‘To us it looks like an ornamental or heraldic image [i.e. like a conventional design], but Villard's caption tells us that he regarded it in a different light: … “Know well that it is drawn from life” … He can have meant only that he had drawn his schema in the presence of a real lion. How much of his visual observation he allowed to enter into the formula is a different matter.’ It is not that Villard ‘copied’ the lion in whose presence he worked; he made a representation of it that sufficiently identified it as a lion by means of a conventional schema that his viewers, as we must assume, could read. If that same schema appears in another drawing we can be assured that it, too, represents a lion. But the duplication of the schemata by no means assures the perfect resemblance of two real‐life lions to those representations, or to one another.
Reflecting these thoughts back onto Ex. 11.8, can we be certain that the identityof the notational representations—assuming they are accurate—guarantees that all performances of the trope Discipulis flammas associated with the sources represented in Ex. 11.8 were identical at the level of detail covered by the notation? I believe we cannot, for there is no guarantee that the notational uniformity is not again a case of stereotyping in the system of signs itself. It may be a case of stereotyping in the neumes (e.g. those in the MSS lat. 1240 and lat. 1120, which have been reproduced from the MSS), and it is certainly a case of stereotyping in the notation of the modern transcriptions from the ten remaining sources.
Example 11.8 implies that the neumes of those twelve sources are all diastematic to such a degree of clarity and consistency as to yield unambiguous readings (transcriptions) that are identical down to the last note. But that is wishful thinking and not at all the case. Perhaps the neumes of MSS lat. 903 and 1121 can be (p.296) characterized that way with some confidence. The neumes of MSS lat. 1084, 887, and 1118 cannot. The table's picture of the identity of this item throughout the south French transmission—and its generalization by virtue of the presentation of the table as representative—have been supplied by the editor from a dogma about melodic fixity that he has adapted from the literature of chant studies (see the introduction to Ch. 6). Example 11.8 rests on the very premiss that it is meant to establish as a conclusion.
If we imagine, as a thought exercise, that we ask each of ten adepts in this field to transcribe the melody of Discipulis flammas into modern notation from one of those ten sources without consulting one another or the other nine sources and if we wonder ‘What is the likelihood that they would produce ten identical transcriptions?’ the answer would surely be ‘very, very low’.
But my central aim here is not merely to discredit Ex. 11.8 as evidence. The conception about notational representation that I have been pursuing here would not be subverted even if the table were credible. For what I posit comes down in this case to a view that the intonation of the trope verse Discipulis flammas was conventionally represented by patterns of neumes matched to a sequence of syllables articulated in words, phrases, and sentences. As the verbal side of this complex was invariable, it is as natural to think of notators executing that task by imitating written models, as it is to assume that they did so by imitating local performancesin writing or by setting down their mental representation of it—whatever that might mean (this raises questions of ontology that are confronted in Ch. 12). We must allow the first of these possibilities, because we have no evidence whatever that an identity relationship between notation and either performance or some sense of the song as a fixed work—which is a premiss for the second and third possibilities—would have been held as a norm by the participants in that tradition, as it is by participants in some modern traditions of music‐making. On the other hand, what has been presented in this chapter makes the assumption of such a norm for that tradition somewhat dubious. But we must also allow that if the notational representation of a song has become stereotyped, for whatever reason, that may in return influence the standardization of performance.
The problem of transmission is critical for the understanding of the musical situation in the central Middle Ages. And the tropes are critical for the study of transmission; for their time coincides with the first epoch of music writing, and their sources provide us with substantial evidence about the way they were apprehended in the communities in which they were current.
What I hope to have uncovered in this chapter is something of the great complexity of the problem of trope transmission. We require a taxonomic approach to the tropes that takes in all ‘variants’ and that is based not on the impression of surface resemblance but on the analysis of the co‐variant options presented by the musical idiom in general, by the stylization principles exhibited by particular collections, (p.297) by the chants with which the tropes are associated, and by the shared aspects that define the identities of individual tropes through their several exemplifications in different sources.
At the same time we require an evaluation of the written transmission through a concentrated effort to understand in each instance what is really denoted by the written score (not what ought to be denoted), how, and to what purpose. In this we must be prepared to recognize that, on the one hand, writing is only one aspect of transmission, and on the other hand that it has its own dynamic and develops its own traditions that can impact on the musical transmission itself.
Subsequent to the completion of the original version of this chapter, the first volume of the Corpus Troporum appeared in print. The very complexity of the transmission of tropes that I have shown here led the editor and her colleagues to the decision to edit the material as individual elements (verses) first, and only then to show how they are combined in each manuscript appearance. In her editorial commentary she made explicit that ‘Such a method … leads us to dismember an organic unity and to present an image of the state of the texts such as has never existed in any manuscript.’22 She defended the solution chosen as the only practical one, for ‘there are in fact very few stable tropes with the same parts repeated in the same order in the several manuscripts’. But perhaps the premiss of organic unity is yet another of those concepts on which we have depended that fits much of our music but not the music of the tradition we have before us here, and is consequently more misleading than helpful in the approach to this material. (Here one could develop an excursus on the history of the ideal of organic unity, which seems to have entered European intellectual history prominently in the late eighteenth century—more or less concurrently with the establishment of text criticism. But that would be another project.)
The trope composer seems to have moved through a vast associative field in realizing trope complexes. We may approach the medieval musical understanding if we think of a fluid situation in which the specific merges with and emerges from the generic. Ritva Jacobsson has put it more poetically: ‘The liturgical authors act as bees, according to an image by a medieval author, flying from one flower to another and sucking the sweet honey where they can find it.’23
(1) Something that is easily overlooked with all the attention to the uniformity of the chant tradition is that as a consequence of this fluidity in the trope transmission the actual performed troped mass on any one day in the church calendar would have varied widely from place to place.
(4) See Hughes, ‘Further Notes on the Grouping of Aquitanian Tropers’.
(5) The argument for this premiss, and the terms in which it is couched, are elaborated in Ch. 6. My task here is to articulate the concept ‘matrix of transmission’ with reference to the tropes. Certain aspects of the discussion here will also touch on an argument developed at length in Ch. 7.
(6) The reference is to Introitus‐Tropen, i, ed. Weiss. Although this is presented as a critical edition it is quite incomplete in its reporting of variants, which the editor gives the impression of regarding as irritants in the quest for a central or authentic tradition.
(7) Evans, The Early Trope Repertory.
(9) Evans, The Early Trope Repertory, 33.
(11) The examples do not necessarily show the entire trope as it is in each source represented. They are meant to show mainly those passages that are relevant to the discussion. The upper‐case letters at the ends of the staves denote the lines of the Introit that follow (as in Weiss).
(14) Evans, The Early Trope Repertory, 92.
(15) Introitus‐Tropen, i, ed. Weiss, has not reported the transmission of this passage accurately. The following have the word ‘quia’ with melody as transcribed from 1871: 1871, 1084, 1119, 909, 887, 1118. 1240 has ‘baptizatus est ipsi gloria quia Ecce.’ 887 has ‘baptizatus est cantate et psallite dicentes illi Ecce‘ with melody as shown in the transcription.
(16) ‘Northern French Elements’, 108.
(17) Evans, The Early Trope Repertory , 112 ff.
(20) This discussion has been much informed by Nelson Goodman's book Languages of Art (Indianapolis, Ind., 1976). I have found Goodman's formulation of the theory of symbolic representation to be of great help. There are, however, important ways in which his discussion of musical notation suffers from a lack of familiarity with the history of notation and the phenomenology of performance.