The Berkeley Manuscript: University of California Music Library, Ms. 744 (Olim Phillipps 4450)

The Berkeley Manuscript: University of California Music Library, Ms. 744 (Olim Phillipps 4450)

The Berkeley Manuscript: University of California Music Library, Ms. 744 (Olim Phillipps 4450)

The Berkeley Manuscript: University of California Music Library, Ms. 744 (Olim Phillipps 4450)

Synopsis

Completed in Paris in 1375, this important manuscript combing several musical treatises was kept in private hands until the 1960s, when it was sold to the University of California at Berkeley and at last became readily accessible to scholars. This is the first complete edition and translation of the manuscript to be published, and extensive notes, a critical introduction, and indexes rerum et verborum augment the volume. Inasmuch as some of the treatises appear in later manuscripts located in Britain, Belgium, and Italy, full collations are provided. An appendix reviews more distantly related manuscripts. This edition will make widely available a collection of treatises that has already revised the history of music theory and practice.

The treatises collected in the Berkeley Manuscript ( olim Phillipps 4450) consider topics as fundamental and diverse as counterpoint, notation, tuning, chant, and speculative matters, for example, the history of the development of the scale. There is thorough coverage of the doctrine of coiuncta, which provides a means for accounting for chromatic accidentals in music, previously thought to be an invention of a century later. The discussion of tuning suggests the possibility of equal temperament some two centuries earlier than had been assumed.

Two plates illustrate the edition. The first depicts musical instruments of the fourteenth century; the second provides a representative example of the handwritten manuscript.

Excerpt

The Berkeley manuscript, a major, anonymous work on fourteenth-century music theory, was originally part of the Phillipps Collection in England and came into the possession of the University of California at Berkeley following an auction in 1965 by Sotheby of London. The manuscript had not been available for scholarly investigation prior to the time of auction, and it has not previously appeared in a published edition. The manuscript contains several treatises on chant, counterpoint, notation, tuning, and speculative matters. Although each treatise survives in at least one other manuscript, there is no other single source that contains all of the material. The Berkeley manuscript exhibits numerous points of contact with other treatises of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and there are some passages that are revisions of earlier works ascribed to Johannes de Muris.

The present edition includes an introduction, a critical text with variant readings from other sources, and an English translation with detailed commentary in footnotes. The commentary serves to explain difficult passages and to draw attention to the relationships between the ideas expressed by the anonymous author and those of other theorists.

Several parts of the treatise contain material that requires reconsideration of some modern concepts of late medieval theory. There is thorough coverage, for example, of the doctrine of the coniuncta--which provides a means for accounting for accidentals--generally thought to be an invention of the fifteenth century. The discussion of tuning also suggests the existence of an equal temperament system at least a century earlier than has been assumed.

I would like to acknowledge the kind permission granted by the University of California Music Library, the British Library, the Universiteitsbibliotheek at Gent, and the Biblioteche Riunite Civica at Catania to publish material from their libraries. I am especially indebted to Richard Crocker, Vincent Duckles, Michael A. Keller, and the staff of the University of California Music Library for their continuous support and assistance. I wish also to express my gratitude to . . .

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