• Elizabeth Randell Upton
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This book is concerned with late medieval polyphonic songs preserved in two manuscript collections, one transmitting music composed before 1400 and one after that date: the Chantilly codex (Chantilly, Musée Condé 564, abbreviated Ch564)1 and the Oxford manuscript, Canon. Misc. 213 (Ox 213).2 My goal is to discover more about the historical circumstances of late medieval musical performance by examining works in these two manuscripts, moving beyond a more traditional musicological focus on works of music and their composers to include consideration of the activities of performers, listeners, patrons, and scribes as well. I hope to show that extending our inquiry in this way will allow us to perceive heretofore unrecognized evidence for medieval music-making recorded on the pages of surviving manuscripts.


Internal Evidence Musical Work Historical Artifact Important Commonality Polyphonic Music 
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  1. 1.
    Published descriptions of this manuscript include Gilbert Reaney, ed., “Manuscripts of Polyphonic Music (c.1320–1400),” Répertoire Internationale des Sources Musicales/International Inventory of Musical Sources [RISM], Series B IV 2 (1969), 128–160;Google Scholar
  2. Ursula Günther, “Sources, MS, VII, 1, 3: French Polyphony 1300–1400, Principal Individual Sources,” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1980, 2nd edition, 2000), vol. 17, 661– 665. On the history of this manuscriptGoogle Scholar
  3. see Elizabeth Randell Upton, “The Creation of the Chantilly Codex (F-CH 564),” Studi Musicali [publication forthcoming]; Upton, “Inventing the Chantilly Codex,” Studi Musicali, vol. 31, no. 2 (2003), 181–231;Google Scholar
  4. and Upton, The Chantilly Codex (F-CH 564): The Manuscript, Its Music, Its Scholarly Reception (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2001). A photographic color facsimile of the manuscript has recently been published:Google Scholar
  5. Yolanda Plumley and Anne Stone, eds., Codex Chantilly, Bibliothèque du chateau de Chantilly, Ms. 564, Fac-simile ( Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2008 ).Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    Published descriptions of this manuscript include Gilbert Reaney, “The Manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canonici Misc.213,” Musica Disciplina, vol. 9 (1955), 73–104;Google Scholar
  7. and Hans Schoop, Entstehung und Verwendung der Handschrift Oxford Bodleian Library, Canonici misc. 213 (Bern: P. Haupt, 1971). The most complete description of the contents, with a photographic facsimile of the manuscript, is David Fallows, ed., Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Misc. 213, Late medieval and early Renaissance music in facsimile, vol. 1 ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995 ).Google Scholar
  8. 3.
    Not only must the material to be copied be chosen and collected by someone, but the design of the page must be planned and executed. For a concise demonstration of the stages of preparation and copying involved in producing an illuminated manuscript in the fifteenth-century, see Robert G. Calkins, “Stages of Execution: Procedures of Illumination as Revealed in an Unfinished Book of Hours,” Gesta, vol. 17, no. 1 (1978), 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 4.
    Pages from books of polyphonic music reused for other purposes have been discovered. The San Lorenzo song manuscript was scraped and reused as an account book. See John Nâdas, “Manuscript San Lorenzo 2211: Some Further Observation,” L’Europa e la musica del Trecento: Congresso IV: Certaldo 1984 [L’Ars Nova italiana del Trecento, vi (Certaldo, 1992)], 145–168; and “The Transmission of Trecento Secular Polyphony: Manuscript Production and Scribal Practices in Italy at the End of the Middle Ages,” PhD dissertation, New York University, 1985, 459–486. The Lucca leaves are the remains of a manuscript that was taken apart so that individual bifolios could be used as file folders.Google Scholar
  10. See John Nádas and Agostino Ziino, The Lucca codex (codice Mancini): Lucca, Archivio di Stato, MS 184; Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale “Augusta,” MS 3065: Introductory Study And Facsimile Edition, Ars Nova, vol. 1 (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana Editrice, 1989). Only a single bifolio survives from what is known as the “Trémoïlle MS” (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, Nouv. Acq. Frç 23190): seeGoogle Scholar
  11. Margaret Bent, “A Note on the Dating of the Trémoïlle Manuscript,” Beyond the Moon: Festschrift Luther Dittmer, edited by Bryan Gillingham and Paul Merkeley ( Ottawa: Institute of Mediæval Music, 1990 ), 217–241.Google Scholar
  12. 5.
    On book production, and particularly the lavishly illustrated volumes prepared for the French monarchy and others during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, see Elizabeth Morrison and Anne D. Hedeman, Imagining the Past in France: History in Manuscript Painting, 1250–1550 (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2010), especially Part Two, 131–189 and Part Three, 191–257. The best-known examples of luxury books containing musical notation are the manuscripts that collect the complete works of Guillaume de Machaut:Google Scholar
  13. see Lawrence M. Earp, Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995). The most luxurious Italian manuscript from this period is the Squarcialupi codex; its elaborate beauty can be experienced by means of a facsimile, published in 1992. The Chantilly codex (F-CH 564) seems to have been planned to be such a volume, but work stopped after the words and music were copied, before the pages received their painted initials: see Upton, “The Creation of the Chantilly Codex (F-Ch 564)” and “Chantilly Codex (F-CH 564).”Google Scholar
  14. 6.
    On the editorial work of scribes see Anne Stone, “Writing Rhythm in Late Medieval Italy: Notation and Musical Style in The Manuscript Modena, Biblioteca Estense, Alpha.M.5.24,” PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 1994.Google Scholar
  15. 8.
    A photographic facsimile of Ox213 has been published, with an introductory study by David Fallows: Fallows, ed., Oxford, Bodleian Library. See also Charles Hamm, rev. Jerry Call, “Sources, MS, §IX, 2: Renaissance Polyphony: 15th-Century Sources from Northern Italy (& Southern Germany)” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, 2001.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    Sir John Stainer, “A Fifteenth Century MS. Book of Vocal Music in the Bodleian Library, Oxford,” Proceedings of the Musical Association, 22nd session (1895–1896), 1–22.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performance and Listening ( Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1998 ).Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    See Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Modern Invention of Medieval Music: Scholarship, Ideology, Performance ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 ).Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    Important studies include Stanley Boorman, ed., Studies in the Performance of Late Medieval Music ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983 );Google Scholar
  20. Christopher Page, Voices and Instruments of the Middle Ages: Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100–1300 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986 );Google Scholar
  21. Tess Knighton and David Fallows, eds., Companion to Medieval And Renaissance Music ( New York: Schirmer Books, 1992 );Google Scholar
  22. and Ross W. Duffin, ed., A Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000 ).Google Scholar
  23. 19.
    On recent debates within archaeology as to the best use of material evidence, see Bruce G. Trigger, A History of Archaeological Thought, Second Edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 2008); on current approaches to the study of material culture see especially 505–508.Google Scholar
  24. 20.
    Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals ( Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004 ), 304.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    I note with pleasure three books discussing ancient descriptions of natural history that have strongly influenced my approach to the study of medieval manuscripts and the people who created them: Mott T. Greene, Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity ( Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992 );Google Scholar
  26. Adrienne Mayor, The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000 );Google Scholar
  27. Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber, When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004 ). These writers all demonstrate that making hypotheses about unrecorded cultural practice based on the close observation of fragmentary physical evidence is not only central to scholarly work in other disciplines but also extremely productive. I find this encouraging. Google Scholar

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© Elizabeth Randell Upton 2013

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  • Elizabeth Randell Upton

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