Resources for medieval musicology and liturgy
Bonjour à tous,
vous n'êtes pas sans connaître le célèbre In seculum Viellatoris (Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, MS. Lit.115 fol.63v), que l'on traduit par " In Seculum des vièleurs". Du fait de ce titre apposé sous le Tenor et de l'absence de texte, il est unanimement admis qu'il s'agit d'une pièce instrumentale dédiée à la vièle, voire d'une pièce écrite pour vièles.
Sans polémique aucune, je souhaiterais vous soumettre une remise en cause de cette certitude
Je pose tout d'abord ma première question : existe-t-il une étude sérieuse de l'origine de son titre?
Mes doutes reposent sur les arguments suivants:
1 - Colin Lawson et Robin Stowell (The Cambridge history of Musical performance, Cambridge University Press, 2012) pointent avec raison le fait qu'une telle pièce polyphonique nécessite le jeu en cordes individuelles. La pièce a été souvent enregistrée, et les interprétations à la vièle sonnent en effet davantage comme un consort de petites violes du fait de l'utilisation d'instruments proche de ce type de facture, inhérente à l'interprétation instrumentale de la polyphonie. Or, de tels instruments ont été conçu spécifiquement pour cet usage deux siècles plus tard : les violes. Tel qu'on peut le déterminer d'après les connaissances organologiques actuelles, une telle pièce ne peut être interprétée avec des vièles du XIIIe siècle du fait qu'elles ne sont pas conçues pour être jouées à cordes simples (sauf, avec réserve, les vièles sans touche dite "gigue" ou "en huit", mais ces instruments ne permettent pas a priori la dextérité nécessaire).
2- Rose W. Duffin (A performer's guide to medieval music, Indiana University Press, 2000) émet la réserve que le titre de la pièce pourrait indiquer qu'elle a été composée par un vièliste plutôt que d'être destinée à la vièle ou tout au moins indiquer un rapport entre le motet et les vièlistes.
Question : Existerait-il des concordances de la mélodie (ou partie) du duplum ou du triplum dans d'autres pièces?
3- Est-on absolument sûr du titre? Le détail du Ms montre un espace dans le mot vi - ellatoris, qui semble avoir été gratté.
Question : que pourraient dire les spécialistes et paléographes à ce sujet?
Merci pour votre contribution!
You are not without knowing the famous In seculum Viellatoris (Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Ms LIT.115 mad 63v), whom we translate by " In Seculum of the fiddle players". Because of this title affixed under the tenor and of the absence of text, it is unanimously admitted as an instrumental piece written for fiddle.
I would like to suggest some doubt about this certainty.
I first ask my first question: is there some serious study on the origin of the title?
My arguments are the following :
1 - Colin Lawson and Robin Stowell (The Cambridge history of Musical performance, Cambridge University Press, on 2012) point the fact that such a polyphonic piece requires to play on individual strings. The piece has been recorded many times, and the interpretations ion "fiddles" sound more as a consort of small viols because of the use of instruments close to this type, inherent to the instrumental interpretation of the polyphony. Yet, such as we can determine it according to current organological knowledge, such a piece cannot be interpreted with fiddles of the XIIIth century because they are designed to be played on simple strings (except, distantly, vièles without fingerboard called "gigue" or "fiddle in eight", but these instruments do not a priori allow the necessary dexterity).
2-Rose W. Duffin (In Performer's guide to medieval music, Indiana University Press, 2000) proposes that the title could indicate that the piece could be composed by a fiddle player rather than to be intended for the fiddle or at least a relationship between the Motet and the fiddle players.
Question: are there concordances of the melody (or left) the duplum or the triplum?
3- Are we absolutely sure of the title? The detail of Ms shows a space in the word vi - ellatoris, which seems to have been scratched.
Question: what could say the specialists and the paleographers on this matter?
Thanks for your contribution,
Pourquoi ne pas imaginer ce ténor joué sur une vièle à chevalet plat? Je l'ai fait pour beaucoup de motets du treizième et ça sonne à mon opinion tout à fait logique. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77eAk9sCB7I) Dans le cas de In seculum, on entendrait par exemple un bourdon de la et mi, qui sonneraient avec le ténor écrit.
Why not imagining this tenor played on a fidlle with a flat (or no) bridge? I've tried it for many 13 Cty motets and it sounds logical to my ear! for example in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77eAk9sCB7I . In the case of In seculum, the written tenor would sound together with drones on a and e for instance.
What do you reckon?
Pour ce qui concerne le cantus/triplum , il y toujours Johannes de Grocheio, qui dit que "a good fiddler generally performs every kind of cantus and cantilena [cantilène], and every musical form"...
A random observation from a palaeographical rather than organological perspective: it is clearly an erasure between the 'i' and the 'e', so it seems likely that this erasure was done for a joke at some point (perhaps much later), to form 'viellatoris'. If you look very closely at the formation of the 'i', the slight upward flick of the pen from the base of the letter, not erased, suggests that this letter could have been the end of a word, rather than close up to the next letter of the same word. (This is not definitive, merely suggestive.) It seems at least possible, therefore, that the erasure deleted the first letter of an original '-ellatoris'. The most likely candidate for this is perhaps 'bellatoris' (of a/the warrior'), from which one might surmise that the phrase was 'vi bellatoris' (by the might/strength of the warrior). It would be for others, though, to try to find a literary or liturgical source for this: I have done a quick Google search, but nothing obvious has surfaced. (There is an old Roman epitaph from York 'Fl[a]vi Bellatoris', but this is hardly likely!) The noun 'bellator' is not uncommon in theological sources, though (as well as being the name for a horse in Vergil, etc.).
This is only one suggestion, however: others may think of other ways in which the obvious erasure in the MS might be filled.
Professor Ron Woodley
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Dear Professor Ron Woodley,
thank you for this detailed palaeographical expert assessment. If we admit the fact a letter has been erased, do you think we can conclude for sure that the world "viellatoris" is not original?
Two other questions are now coming :
1 - could the scribe have originaly done a mistake and erased it ? In that the word "viellatoris" could be original?
2- did you noticed the erasure seems to originaly touch the 2 red lines above the erased letter? So, why not only erase the letter?
Thanks, Olivier. I had wondered myself about both of your questions! In my experience, if the scribe had made a mistake with the letter following the 'i' at the time of the original writing, he would normally have erased the mistake and then replaced the correct letter directly over the erasure before continuing with the word. There is also slightly too much space between the 'i' and the 'e' for a single letter. The vertical extent of the erasure is certainly a bit curious: a scribe would normally use a small sharp knife to scrape the surface of the parchment, and for most good scribes this is quite an accurate process, so we would not expect more scraping that was really necessary. One possibility, I must say, is that the erasure contained the 'll', which the scribe might have entered by mistake after the 'i' instead of writing the 'e' first. In this case, we could say that 'viellatoris' was indeed the intended, correct word, and the slightly extended flick of the pen at the bottom of the 'i' could still be accommodated by the shape of the base of the erased 'll'. But the problem with this interpretation is that it would mean that the scribe continued writing immediately after the mistake, and completed the word 'villellatoris' before realising his mistake and erasing the first 'll'. Not impossible, though.
This is all entirely conjectural, of course!
Thank you. It confirms my intuition. I'm unfortunately not latinist and so limitated, but I am searching some words containing 'vi -ellatoris '. I found for example 'vĭtellum' but I don't think egg yolk could be concerned!
Other solution could be 'vi' (strengh, isn't it?) + '-ellatoris'... We should looking for a word containing the later.
In any case, it seems we can affirme 'viellatoris' is not orginal.
I have tried to think of other possible words that this might be, but it's difficult to find any that work. On 'vi' = strength, see my first post here, which has already mentioned this.
I've seen your proposal which seems to be the only possibility... The title of the other hoquetus in the Bamberg Ms are : In seculum breve, In seculum d'Amiens longum, In seculum longum. Two names regard the length (breve / longum) and one evoke a city... Maybe it can give ideas?...
While waiting for other proposals of hypothetical titles, we will approve the hypothesis that 'viellatoris' is a joke!
However, this joke 'vi bellatoris' / 'viellatoris' makes sens if we consider that, at this time, fiddle players were holding the chanson de geste repertoire! (as suggested by Christopher Page)
But if it were to be, number of interpretations and CD booklets should be revised!
The question is not without consequences because the absence of text in these hoquetus + the admited title "viellatoris" tend these pieces to be considered as early instrumental compositions, which are so rare in the medieval repertoire. I agree with the idea that the title "viellatoris" has been admited too quickly because of the temptation to see in it an answer to the desire to find explicit instrumental music.