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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Behind the mirror: Revealing the contexts of Jacobus's Speculum musicae Karen Desmond.

Behind the mirror: Revealing the contexts of Jacobus's Speculum musicae. I would like to thank Stanley Boorman and Gabriela Iltnichi for their friendship and expertise, and their critical eye in their careful reading of many drafts of my work. I would also like to thank Margaret Bent and Ruth Steiner for help during the early stages of my doctoral research, and Suzanne Cusick for her reading of the final draft.

Finally, heartfelt thanks are due to my husband, Insup; my two sons, Ethan and Owen; and my parents, John and Chris, who have been steadfast in their encouragement of this endeavor. I focus on a specific instance of scientific inquiry: the fourteenth-century music treatise Speculum musicae, written by an author known to us as Jacobus. A detailed analysis of Speculum musicae reveals an aesthetic system whose elements are assigned meaning and value through the anagogical relationships that the author posits either explicitly or implicitly with systems articulated in philosophical and theological treatises at the turn of the fourteenth century.

I hope to present a fresh perspective on one of the most important yet one of the most mysterious ages in the history of music. Histoire de l'harmonie au moyen-age. Paris: V. Didron, CS Coussemaker, Edmond de. Scriptorum de musica medii aevi. Novam seriem a Gerbertina alteram collegit nuncque primum edidit E.

Olms: Hildesheim, Oxford Music Online, ed. Laura H. Prepared by an editorial staff at the Catholic University of America. Notitia Johannes de Muris Notitia artis musicae et Compendium musicae. Petrus de Sancto Dionysio Tractatus de musica. Edited by Ulrich Michels. SM Jacobi Leodiensis Speculum musicae. Edited by Roger Bragard. Rome: American Institute of Musicology, ST Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologiae.

Rome: Leonine Commission, Vatican Press, O quanta abusio, quanta illegalitas, quanta vanitas, quanta insolentia, quanta inutilitas, quanta ruditas! O in notarum figuris quanta praesumptio, quanta confusio! Oh, so much abuse, so much illegality, so much vanity, so much insolence, so much uselessness, so much rudeness!

Oh, so much presumption in his figuring of the notes, so much confusion! But if we look past the derision in these words of Jacobus, we may find a key to understanding this monumental work of music theory: he specifically objects to the particular act of naming of these new note forms or monstrosities, as he calls them of the ars nova style.

We will return to this concept presently. We have a relatively full account of the residences, occupations and travel of Johannes de Muris.

The manuscript E-E O. Born in the s in Evreux, Normandy, in the Lisieux diocese, Johannes de Muris was convicted of a murder that he was involved in with his father in and banished to Cyprus for seven years.

The center of his activities from the period to was Paris, where in he was a baccalaureate student at the Faculty of Arts. He attained the degree of Magister in In and he was at the monastery of Fontevrault Maine-et-Loire. In and there are notes to suggest he was back living at the College of Sorbonne. Born in , the first documented reference to Vitry is from , when he was presented to a canonry with the expectation of a prebend at Cambrai.

He held a number of other cathedral and collegiate church canonries throughout his life. During his service to Louis and the royal administration, Vitry forged close contacts with the papal curia, and may have attended the papal calendar reform conference in that Johannes de Muris also attended.

Watson, ed. Carley and C. Tite London: , I will summarize the findings here. This acrostic was first noted by Besseler. Ellsworth, ed. Both Richard Crocker and Oliver Ellsworth suggested that Jacobus de Montibus was the author of Speculum musicae, and in my article I offered substantiation for this claim.

I suggested that Speculum musicae was a source for the Berkeley treatise: the selection and ordering of the content in the Berkeley treatise closely follows that of the second half of Speculum musicae Book 5, and this ordering is markedly different from the order found in Boethius.

Lambert and from the abbey of St. The dates for Jacobus de Montibus of St. Moreover, the close ties between St. Paul and the Benedictine house of St. Paul with expectative prebend. Fayen, ed. For a transcription of the relevant passages in the account books, see Appendix 1. The account books for St. Paul only survive for the years , , , , , , , and The financial year is from August to July, and Jacobus appears in the books for only the last two months of the year, June and July Paul for most of that year August July The account books are not extant for the intervening years of August July , and in , Jacobus received a monthly distribution for the entire year, except for the month of February For a transcription of the charter detailing the transfer of the land, see the last item of Appendix 1; there are also entries that refer to this land in the account books of , , , see Appendix 1, items , 8, 11, 13, Paul, stipulating for Jacobus.

The village of Wonck was an ecclesiastical seignory, and the charter states that the entire estate was directly transferred to Jacobus. Paul, in that they allowed his ownership of this church property in Wonck.

The obit for Magister de Montibus is found on 20 February in the mid-sixteenth-century obituary for the chaplains of St. Paul the other extant obituary for St. Paul, dating from the fifteenth century, is incomplete and contains only the months May to November. There are also lists of the annual obits in the account books for , , and , and an obit for Jacobus de Montibus is recorded for each of these years.

As Jacobus was deceased by , and does not appear in the extant account books for , we can assume he died some time between August and July The next extant record book for shows him resident for the full year. Paul, when listing the canons by name, to give specific titles for four positions — decanus, cantor, scholasticus, and magister. Paul, from the account books and charters of the church, we may trace the identity of the deacons, the cantors, and the individuals who held the position of scholasticus.

But this is just a hypothesis, and there is little else in the archival documents to show that Jacobus de Montibus had any sort of direct involvement with either music or music theory. To the text, then. Considering the prominence nominally afforded to this treatise in most surveys of music history, we might expect the text itself to be better known. In fact, even though Speculum musicae is the largest tract on music in the Middle Ages, totaling about pages and chapters in its modern edition, it is most often the same few passages of Book 7, namely, some of the detailed descriptions of the notational innovations of the ars nova, that are referred to, out of context, in the modern literature.

Paul, dating from , that implements rules for dealing with boys in the choir who misbehave, with particular reference to their incorrect singing of the chant.

The magister scholarum is referenced several times in this document, although never directly by name. Jacobus does mention a method of teaching singing, a detailed step-by-step method, in book 6 of Speculum musicae SM 6. Part of this reluctance to deal with the complete treatise has to do with the size of the text in question. Joseph Smith. We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding; we are looking to these texts to provide answers to specific problems of notation, performance or transcription; and in so doing, we skim the treatise, and the fact that it has been available in modern edition for over twenty-five years, the secondary literature that discusses the actual textual content of Speculum Musicae is, to say the least, rather sparse.

While there have been some exemplary studies of the biography of these music theorists, such as those of Gushee and Wathey mentioned above, few have delved into the actual texts of early fourteenth-century theory in meaningful ways. Berlin, ; Dorit E. Fragen zur Wechselwirkung von 'musica' und 'philosophia' im Mittelalter, ed.

Jahrhunderts, vol. In particular, the hypotheses of Dorit Tanay regarding developments in medieval music theory and their parallel relationships with developments in mathematics and natural philosophy are intriguing and very relevant to this study; however, I would contend that some of her conclusions are problematic.

While I agree that it is indeed important to trace general trends of music theory within the history of ideas in the Middle Ages she studies the time period from to , by painting with so broad a brush, one is always in danger of oversimplifying, and, partially as a result of this, asserting connections between theorists and particular schools of thought, that, upon closer examination, are not really there. The reliance on secondary literature with respect to the non-music theory texts contributes to this tendency to trace relationships and spheres of influence that I believe and will outline below are stretching the facts a little too far.

By concentrating in detail on one treatise, I have the opportunity to trace and dissect specific philosophical and theological arguments and beliefs, and the impact of these beliefs upon the philosophy of music.


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