The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 900-1600

By Willi Apel | Go to book overview

IX. MANNERED NOTATION

A. GENERAL CHARACTERIZATION

TOWARD the end of the fourteenth century the evolution of notation led to a phase of unparalleled complication and intricacy. Musicians, no longer satisfied with the rhythmic subtleties of the Ars Nova, began to indulge in complicated rhythmic tricks and in the invention of highly involved methods of notating them. It is in this period that musical notation far exceeds its natural limitations as a servant to music, but rather becomes its master, a goal in itself and an arena for intellectual sophistries. In this period, we find not only black, white and (filled) red notes, but also hollow red notes, as well as notes which are half red and half white, or half red and half black, and many special forms derived from or similar to those of Italian notation. Here for the first time we find use made of canons, i.e., written prescriptions which explain the meaning of the notes 'sub obscuritate quadam.' Here we find compositions written in the form of a circle or a heart, again an indication of the strong hold upon the imagination of the composer that the purely manual business of writing exercised in those days. Frequently these elaborations of notation are mere tricks of affected erudition, since the effects desired could be represented in much simpler ways. In other cases they are indispensable, leading then to a product of such rhythmical complexity that the modern reader may doubt whether an actual performance was ever possible or intended. Regardless of their artistic value, these 'pathological cases' are of particular interest to the student of notation. Each of them calls for separate examination and presents problems which are not easily solved. Thus they form a fitting conclusion of our study, as the 'gradus ad Parnassum,' the 'études transcendentales' of notation.

Once more, as in the introduction to the previous chapter, we wish to point out that our classification and terminology are based primarily on principles of methodical study and of instruction. Terms such as 'mixed notation' and 'mannered notation' are introduced here chiefly because they permit us to arrange conveniently and appropriately the material which we have to present. Whether, in addition, they have a historical significance is quite a different question and one which, as has been remarked already, we are not in the position to answer definitely, owing to

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The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 900-1600
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Facsimiles xv
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction xix
  • Part I the Notation of Soloist Music 1
  • Keyboard Partituras 16
  • Iii. Keyboard Tablatures 21
  • Lute Tablatures 54
  • Part II the Notation of Ensemble Music: White Mensural Notation 83
  • Notational Signs 87
  • Ii. Mensuration 96
  • Iii. Coloration 126
  • Iv. Proportions A. History and Terminology 145
  • Part III the Notation of Ensemble Music: Black Notation 197
  • Primitive Notation 204
  • Iv. Pre-Franconian Notation 282
  • V. Franconian Notation 310
  • Vi. French Notation 338
  • Vii. Italian Notation 368
  • Viii. Mixed Notation 385
  • Ix. Mannered Notation 403
  • Commentary 437
  • Index 455
  • Appendix Transcriptions 465
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