Treasures of The Library of Orfeó Català

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MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE CODICES

Musical notation and liturgical practices from the Early Middle Ages to the 17th century are found in this selection, including old musical notations or plainsong books, which stand out in their organisation and origin.

 

Ars Nova: Manuscript 2 of the Orfeó Català

Manuscript 2 of the Orfeó Català. Early 15th century. Manuscript music, 8 f. (29 x 20 cm)

 

Ars Nova: Manuscript 2 of the Orfeó Català

Ars Nova: Manuscript 2 of the Orfeó Català

Fascicle of eight folios of parchment, with modern numbering and binding. An inscription on folio 8v leads us to infer that, around 1400, it belonged to a student, a native of the Catalan-Aragonese Crown, of the Bologna School of Glossators. It contains four polyphonic musical passages of the Ars Nova stylistic period. This is characterised by the use of note lengths shorter than the semibreve – the relevant equivalent to the modern value of a quarter note −, the beginning of writing that is much closer to the present day practice of polyphony; and also by its use of binary bars as opposed to the exclusive use of ternary bars of the preceding period. What Ars Nova introduced in the writing system of western music is the use of the four basic measures: 2/4, 6/8, 3/4 and 9/8.

The first passage of this part is an anonymous Gloria “Splendor patris”; this is followed by an Agnus that has not been found in any other manuscript. The third piece is a Credo attributed to the theorist and composer Petrus Tailhandier. Finally, there is the KyrieSumme clementissim”’ by the otherwise unknown Johannes Graneti. Aside from the Agnus, which is in two voices, the repertoire is in three voices; it constitutes an incomplete cycle of the Ordinary of the Mass whose copy, poorly done, reveals that the scribe is a musical apprentice. Folio 1v, written in a different hand than the rest of the manuscript, is the only one without errors.

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