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  • Susan Rankin (a1)

When a practical way of recording music in writing was invented in the early ninth century, it defined neither the pitches of specific notes in a melody, nor the intervallic relations between successive notes. Nineteenth-century views of such notations considered them primitive; more recent descriptions have recognised that precise pitch notation was not a basic aim. But how did ninth-century neumatic notations deal with pitch, and, if the role of memory was not usurped by written records, what role did notation fulfil? In this study, the interaction of memory and writing is explored. Notations written by a French and by a German scribe (F-La MS 239 and S-SG MS 359) are seen to follow different strategies for the arrangement of signs above the text, striking divergent visual balances between pitch information and the text–music link. In each notation the reader is led along a path of recall, with more or less emphatic written signals provided as required.

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1 Goody, J., The Interface between the Written and the Oral (Cambridge, 1987), p. 3 . Bibliography on the history of writing, and on its influence on culture, is huge: a small number of references are given here, without any attempt to be comprehensive. Gelb, I., A Study of Writing (rev. edn, Chicago, 1963) , but note that Gelb's evolutionary explanation of the tripartite typology of writing has now largely been set aside; Sampson, G., Writing Systems (London, 1985) , which considers the history of writing using linguistic methodology; Coulmas, F., The Writing Systems of the World (Oxford, 1989) ; Daniels, P. T., ‘The Study of Writing Systems’, in Daniels, and Bright, W. (eds.), The World's Writing Systems (New York and Oxford, 1996), pp. 317 ; P. Damerow, The Origins of Writing as a Problem of Historical Epistemology (Preprint 114; Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte), <>; Houston, S. D. (ed.), The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process (Cambridge, 2004) .

2 This is central to the general argument advanced in Goody, J., The Domestication of the Savage Mind (Cambridge, 1977) . See also Goody, The Interface, Pt. IV, ‘Writing and its Impact on Individuals in Society’, pp. 209–300.

3 On literacy, civilization and evolution see, e.g., Ong, W. J., Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London, 1982) ; Finnegan, R., Literacy and Orality: Studies in the Technology of Communication (Oxford, 1988) ; Street, B. V., ‘Introduction: The New Literacy Studies’, in Street, B. V. (ed.), Cross-Cultural Approaches to Literacy (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 121 ; Trigger, B., ‘Writing Systems: A Case Study in Cultural Evolution’, in Houston (ed.), The First Writing, pp. 3968 .

4 See most recently the papers collected in Houston (ed.), The First Writing, including an overview of the early uses of writing: Houston, ‘Overture to The First Writing’, pp. 3–15.

5 On the transmission of Greek music theory to the early Middle Ages see Huglo, M., ‘Le développement du vocabulaire de l’Ars Musica à l'époque carolingienne', Latomus, 34 (1975), pp. 131151 ; Bernhard, M., ‘Überlieferung und Fortleben der antiken lateinischen Musiktheorie im Mittelalter’, in Geschichte der Musiktheorie, 3: Rezeption des antiken Fachs im Mittelalter, ed. Zaminer, Frieder (Darmstadt, 1990), pp. 736 ; Bower, C., ‘The Transmission of Ancient Music Theory into the Middle Ages’, in Christensen, Thomas (ed.), The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 136167 ; Atkinson, C., The Critical Nexus: Tone System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music (New York and Oxford, 2009) .

6 ‘Just as when a rainbow is observed, the colors are so close to one another that no definite line separates one color from another – rather it changes from red to yellow, for example, in such a way that continuous mutation into the following color occurs with no clearly defined median falling between them – so also this may occur often in pitches.’ Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, Fundamentals of Music, trans. with an introduction and notes by C. Bower (New Haven and London, 1989), 5. 5, p. 167. For the Latin text see Anicii Manlii Torquati Severini Boetii De institutione arithmetica libri duo, De institutione musica libri quinque, accedit Geometria quae fertur Boetii, ed. G. Friedlein (Leipzig, 1867).

7 Boethius, Fundamentals, trans. Bower, 1. 20–5.

8 In Greek learning this constitutes the discipline of harmonics: on the transmission of this discipline to the early Middle Ages see the studies cited in n. 5 above, and Sullivan, B., ‘Alphabetic Writing and Hucbald's artificiales notae’, in Bernhard, M. (ed.), Quellen und Studien zur Musiktheorie des Mittelalters, 3 (Munich, 2001), pp. 6380 .

9 It has been argued by Claudio Leonardi that Martianus Capella's De nuptiis was already available on the Continent in the eighth century (through insular transmission); the earliest manuscript source extant (Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. Perg. LXXIII) dates from the second quarter of the ninth century and was probably copied for Louis the Pious. See Leonardi, C., ‘I codici di Marziano Capella I–II’, Aevum, 33 (1959), pp. 443489 and 34 (1960), pp. 1–99, 411–524 ; Bischoff, B., ‘Die Hofbibliothek unter Ludwig den Frommen’, in Alexander, J. J. G. and Gibson, M. T. (eds.), Medieval Learning and Literature: Essays Presented to Richard William Hunt (Oxford, 1976), pp. 322 ; id., Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen): I, Aachen-Lambach, II: Laon–Paderborn (Wiesbaden, 1998–2004), i, no. 1609; Teeuwen, M., Harmony and the Music of the Spheres: The ‘Ars Musica’ in Ninth-Century Commentaries on Martianus Capella (Mittellateinsche Studien und Texte; Leiden, 2002), pp. 2225 ; also Teeuwen, M., ‘The Study of Martianus Capella's De nuptiis in the Ninth Century’, in McDonald, A. A., Twomey, M. W. and Reinink, G. J. (eds.), Learned Antiquity: Scholarship and Society in the Near-East, the Greco-Roman World, and the Early Medieval West (Leuven, Paris and Dudley, Mass., 2003), pp. 185194 . For the manuscript sources of Boethius, see Bower, C., ‘Boethius’ De institutione musica: A Handlist of Manuscripts', Scriptorium, 42 (1988), pp. 205251 ; and Boethius, Fundamentals, trans. Bower, pp. xl–xliii. The earliest extant source of this text (Paris BnF lat. 7201) dates from the first quarter of the ninth century.

10 Musica et scolica enchiriadis una cum aliquibus tractatulis adiunctis, ed. H. Schmid (Veröffentlichungen der Musikhistorischen Kommission, 3; Munich, 1981); Musica enchiriadis and scolica enchiriadis, trans., with introduction and notes, R. Erickson, ed. C. V. Palisca (New Haven and London, 1995). The earliest extant sources of the Enchiriadis treatises date from the late ninth and the early tenth centuries, but the text may have been composed decades earlier. On the manuscript transmission see Phillips, N., ‘“Musica” and “Scolica enchiriadis”: The Literary, Theoretical, and Musical Sources’ (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1984) .

11 On these symbols, and the harmonic framework they outline, see Phillips, N., ‘Notationen und Notationslehren von Boethius bis zum 12. Jahrhundert’, in Geschichte der Musiktheorie, 4: Die Lehre von einstimmigen liturgischen Gesang, ed. Ertelt, T. and Zaminer, F. (Darmstadt, 2000), pp. 293623 , esp. pp. 305–14.

12 In the Musica enchiriadis, such diagrams appear from ch. 8 onwards, and in the Scolica, in Pt. II. On such ‘line-diagrams’ see Phillips, ‘Notationen und Notationslehren’, pp. 315–21, with reproductions of diagrams from early sources.

13 On the relation between these early diagrams and the Guidonian stave system, examined through ruling patterns and measurements, see Haines, J., ‘The Origins of the Musical Staff’, Musical Quarterly, 91 (2008), pp. 327378 .

14 The earliest notated chant sources to provide considerably more precise records of pitch include Paris, BnF lat. 903 and (in the form of letter notation) Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médicine, H.159, both books copied in the first half of the eleventh century; for facsimiles see Le Codex 903 de la Bibliothèque nationale de Paris (XIe siècle, Graduel de St. Yriex), introduction by P. M. Ferretti (Paléographie musicale, 13; Tournai, 1925); Antiphonarium tonale missarum, XIe siècle, Codex H.159 de l'École de Médecine de Montpellier, introduction by A. Mocquereau and J. Beyssac (Paléographie musicale, 7/8; Tournai, 1901, 1905).

15 See Stäblein, B., Schriftbild der einstimmigen Musik (Musikgeschichte in Bildern, III/4; Leipzig, 1975), pp. 5457 ; Haines, ‘The Origin’.

16 This is not to say that musical notation was first invented for purposes associated with Christian ritual: on the uses of musical notation in the Carolingian period see especially Treitler, L., ‘Reading and Singing: On the Genesis of Occidental Music Writing’, Early Music History, 4 (1984), pp. 135208 ; repr. with a new introduction in his With Voice and Pen (Oxford and New York, 2003), pp. 365–428; Levy, K., ‘Charlemagne's Archetype of Gregorian Chant’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 40 (1987), pp. 130 ; id., ‘On the Origin of Neumes’, Early Music History, 7 (1987), pp. 59–90; both repr. in his Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians (Princeton, 1998), pp. 83–108 and pp. 109–40; Grier, J., ‘Adémar de Chabannes, Carolingian Musical Practices, and Nota Romana, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 56 (2003), pp. 4398 .

17 See, e.g., Boethius, De institutione musica, ch. 12; this theme has been most fully developed in the notation studies by Treitler, L., ‘The Early History of Music Writing in the West’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 35 (1982), pp. 333372 (With Voice and Pen, pp. 317–64); and id., ‘Reading and Singing’.

18 On those elements of late antique grammar which interested Carolingian scholars see Law, V., Grammar and Grammarians in the Early Middle Ages (London and New York, 1997), pp. 129153 .

19 On the reception of such texts, as perceived through Carolingian music theory and through Carolingian commentaries on the grammatical texts, see Bower, C., ‘The Grammatical Model of Musical Understanding in the Middle Ages’, in Gallacher, P. J. and Damico, H. (eds.), Hermeneutics and Medieval Culture (Albany, NY, 1989), pp. 133145 ; id., ‘The Transmission of Ancient Music Theory’; Atkinson, The Critical Nexus, pp. 49–84. On the glossing of Martianus' and Boethius' texts, see also Glossa maior in institutionem musicam Boethii, ed. M. Bernhard and C. Bower (Veröffentlichungen der Musikhistorischen Kommission, 9–11; Munich, 1993–6); Teeuwen, Harmony and the Music of the Spheres.

20 For citations from commentaries on grammatical texts which make this transition concrete, without dependence on music writing, see Atkinson, The Critical Nexus, pp. 54 ff.; for an argument that the transition from ‘acute/grave’ to ‘high/low’ is closely associated with the writing of music see Duchez, M.-E., ‘La répresentation spatio-verticale du caractère musical grave-aigu et l’élaboration de la notion de hauteur de son dans la conscience musicale occidentale', Acta Musicologica, 51 (1979), pp. 5473 , at p. 65.

21 See Handschin, J., ‘Eine alte Neumenschrift’, Acta Musicologica, 22 (1950), pp. 6997 ; Atkinson, C., ‘De accentibus toni oritur nota quae dicitur neuma: Prosodic Accents, the Accent Theory, and the Palaeofrankish Script’, in Boone, G. M. (ed.), Essays on Medieval Music in Honor of David G. Hughes (Isham Library Papers, 4; Cambridge, Mass, 1995), pp. 1742 ; id., ‘Glosses on Music and Grammar and the Advent of Music Writing in the West’, in Sean Gallagher et al. (eds.), Western Plainchant in the First Millennium: Studies in the Medieval Liturgy and its Music in Honor of James McKinnon (Aldershot, 2003), pp. 199–215; id., The Critical Nexus, pp. 106–13.

22 On this see further below; the hypothesis that neumes derived from prosodic accents has a long history, first proposed (in print) in de Coussemaker, C. E. H., Histoire de l'harmonie au moyen âge (Paris, 1852), p. 173 , and worked out into a substantial historical hypothesis by Mocquereau (see nn. 34 and 51 below). Useful accounts of parts of the debate appear in Handschin, ‘Eine alte Neumenschrift’; S. Corbin, Die Neumen (Palaeographie der Musik, I/3; Cologne, 1977) pp. 3.16–19; Treitler, ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 338–9; Levy, ‘On the Origin of Neumes’ (Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians, pp. 109–14); and E. H. Aubert, The Modern Life of ‘Medieval Neumes’: An Archaeology of Medieval Notation (1600–1800), forthcoming. I am grateful to Eduardo Aubert for allowing me to see this study before publication.

23 For edited texts from such books, with some reproductions, see Hesbert, R.-J., Antiphonale Missarum Sextuplex (Rome, 1935) ; on the relation of those books to musical practice see Rankin, S., ‘The Making of Carolingian Mass Chant Books’, in Cannata, D. B., Currie, G. I., Mueller, R. C. and Nadas, J. L. (eds.), Quomodo cantabimus canticum? Studies in Honor of Edward H. Roesner (Madison, Wis., 2008), pp. 3763 .

24 On techniques of recollection as described by late antique and medieval writers see M. Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (2nd edn, Cambridge, 2008), esp. pp. 76 ff. In what follows I shall be constantly indebted to this study, above all to the ways in which it demonstrates how memory was trained to act as a basis for the interaction and interdependence of orality and writing in the Middle Ages. See also the useful discussion of neumatic notation considered in terms of Augustine's writing on memory in Barrett, Sam, ‘Reflections on Music Writing: Coming to Terms with Gain and Loss in Early Medieval Latin Song’, in Haug, A. and Dorschel, A. (eds.), Vom Preis des Fortschritts: Gewinn und Verlust in der Musikgeschichte (Vienna, London and New York, 2008), pp. 89109 .

25 On voice production see the alphabet of significative letters explained by Notker Balbulus, edited in Froger, J., ‘L’épitre de Notker sur les “lettres significatives”: Édition critique', Études Grégoriennes, 5 (1962), pp. 2371 .

26 On the interaction of orality and literacy in the transmission of Gregorian chant there has been a long and intense discussion: my topic here is both more focused (on the mechanics and palaeography of actual notations) and more restricted (in the nature of the sources with which it is concerned) than much of that debate. Relevant studies include those cited in n. 16 above and Treitler, L., ‘Homer and Gregory: The Transmission of Epic Poetry and Plainchant’, Musical Quarterly, 60 (1974), pp. 333372 (With Voice and Pen, pp. 131–85); id, ‘Oral, Literate and Written Process in the Music of the Middle Ages’, Speculum, 65 (1981), pp. 471–91 (With Voice and Pen, pp. 230–51); Levy, K., ‘On Gregorian Orality’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 43 (1990), pp. 185227 (Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians, pp. 141–77); id., ‘Plainchant before Neumes’, in his Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians, pp. 195–213; Jeffery, P., Re-envisioning Past Musical Cultures: Ethnomusicology in the Study of Gregorian Chant (Chicago, 1992) .

27 I have allowed a broad margin for the invention of music writing: the earliest examples which can be dated with some accuracy – through their association with other securely dated material, or through the style of text-hand – belong to the second quarter of the ninth century. The case for a notational system having already been available in the late eighth century is made in Levy, ‘Charlemagne's Archetype’.

28 On the design of Caroline minuscule and its relation to reading see Ganz, David, ‘The Preconditions for Caroline Minuscule’, Viator, 18 (1987), pp. 2344 ; Parkes, M. B., Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West (Aldershot, 1992), esp. pp. 3034 ; Ganz, D., ‘Book Production in the Carolingian Empire and the Spread of Caroline Minuscule’, in McKitterick, R. (ed.), The New Cambridge Medieval History II, c.700–c.900 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 786808 .

29 On the variety of uses for music notation in this early period see esp. Treitler, ‘Reading and Singing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 426–7.

30 See, e.g., Crocker, R., ‘Chants of the Roman Office’, in Crocker, R. and Hiley, D. (eds.), The Early Middle Ages to 1300 (New Oxford History of Music, 2; 2nd edn, Oxford, 1990), pp. 146173 , at p. 167; and, most recently, Grier, ‘Adémar de Chabannes’. Asking why ‘there are no traces of a fully neumed antiphoner before 900’, he writes ‘a full century's worth of lost sources, without so much as a leaf remaining, constitutes a deafening silence indeed’ (p. 81).

31 There are many reasons to be cautious about the numbers: among the many published lists of ‘ninth-century examples of neumes’ are often included sources for which the notation has been added well after the book was made. In such cases there is usually no way of securely dating the notation. On the other hand, scraps of early notation continue to be discovered and identified. For the two most recent lists see Corbin, Die Neumen, pp. 3.21–3.41; and D. Hiley, ‘Notation, §III, 1(iii): Plainchant’, in New Grove II, xviii, pp. 65–119, at p. 89.

32 For the main book see Lowe, E. A., Codices Latini Antiquiores. Part VI: France: Abbeville–Valenciennes (Oxford, 1953) , no. 724. On the neumed entries see Bischoff, Katalog, i, no. 158a. Fol. 64r is reproduced in Stäblein, B., ‘Zur Frühgeschichte der Sequenz’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 18 (1961), pp. 133 , as Pl. 1. See also Stäblein, Schriftbild, p. 32; Maître, C., Catalogue des manuscrits d'Autun: Bibliothèque municipale et Société éduenne (Turnhout, 2004), pp. 102104 ; Haggh, B. and Huglo, M., ‘Les notations musicales en usage dans l’église d'Autun', in Saulnier, D., Livljanic, K. and Cazaux-Kowalski, C. (eds.), Lingua mea calamus scribe: Mélanges offerts à madame Marie-Noël Colette (Solesmes, 2009), pp. 131145 , at pp. 138–9.

33 On the dating of this scribe's work see the references in Bischoff, Katalog, ii, no. 3108. For the first discussion of the notation see Jammers, E., Tafeln zur Neumenschrift (Tutzing, 1965), Pl. 6 . The prosula, and its presentation in this source, is considered in Möller, H., ‘Die Prosula “Psalle modulamina” (Mü 9543) und ihre musikhistorische Bedeutung’, in Leonardi, C. and Menestò, E. (eds.), La tradizione dei tropi liturgici (Spoleto, 1990), pp. 279296 and Pls. 1–5; see also id., entry for catalogue no. XI.42, in Stiegemann, C. and Wemhoff, M. (eds.), 799: Kunst und Kultur der Karolingerzeit, 3 vols. (Mainz, 1999), ii, pp. 851853 .

34 ‘La notation par accents ne connaît rien encore du principe fécond de la superposition des notes. La hauteur des sons n’est pas exprimée par la position respective des signes . . . Peut-être même personne ne serait-il arrivé à inventer la notation par intervalles, ou diastématique, si les copistes liturgiques n'avaient eu à leur disposition les neumes-accents, qui furent comme la matière première sur laquelle ils travaillèrent longtemps pour l'amener enfin, par voie de transformations successives, à l'expression parfaite de l'échelle musicale des sons.' Le Codex 339 de la Bibliothèque de Saint-Gall (Xe siècle): Antiphonale missarum sancti Gregorii, introduction by A. Mocquereau (Paléographie musicale, 1; Solesmes, 1889), pp. 99, 123. The two series of Paléographie musicale have now reached twenty-four volumes.

35 Hiley, D., Western Plainchant: A Handbook (Oxford, 1993), p. 341 .

36 See Aubert, The Modern Life of ‘Medieval Neumes’; although this is not directly her theme, see also Katherine Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments: The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1998), pp. 92–142.

37 Goody, Domestication, p. 78.

38 Goody, Interface, p. 276; Goody's ideas have been considered in relation to music in Busse Berger, A. M., Medieval Music and the Art of Memory (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 2005) . For this early medieval period, Busse Berger's suggestion that the ‘creation of tonaries’ was ‘a direct result of neumatic notation’ (p. 84) needs reconsideration in the light of the fact that the first tonary substantially pre-dates the first notations, and that the practice of singing depended on modal patterns; the theory of modes, codified textually in tonaries, can therefore be considered as one of two literate bases for the ‘memorial archive’ of an otherwise unnotated musical practice (the other literate basis being the books of chant texts).

39 Treitler, ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 319.

40 Ch. 12: ‘Die Anfänge der Diastematie’ and ch. 13: ‘Die Vollendung der Diastematie und ihre Einwirkung auf die Überlieferung der Gesänge’ in Wagner, P., Einführung in die Gregorianischen Melodien, ii: Neumenkunde: Paläographie des liturgischen Gesanges (2nd edn, Leipzig, 1912), pp. 258277, 278–99 .

41 Ibid., p. 258: ‘Es mag seltsam erscheinen, daß man so spät auf den für uns so natürlichen Gedanken der Diastematie gekommen ist.’

42 Ibid., p. 272.

43 In chs. 12 and 13 of his Neumenkunde, Wagner sets out the following stages: the provision of a rough melodic contour in neumes, the use of letters to enhance this, the development of neumes which could be written with more precise diastematic information, the invention of the custos, the use of a line.

44 Although he was puzzled by the fact that the early neumes did not reflect knowledge of Greek interval theory (Neumenkunde, p. 258).

45 Wagner, Neumenkunde: ‘Man strebte danach, an der Form der Neume zum Ausdruck zu bringen’ (p. 258); ‘Diese Diastematie ist eine primitive’ (p. 266); ‘Der Fortschritt gegenüber den besprochenen Versuchen . . .’ (p. 266).

46 Corbin's text was translated from her own French text, and augmented with extensive passages provided by the editors, set in ‘petit-text’ (including all the examples provided with transcription and commentary): see Die Neumen, p. 3.1. Other publications of this period with reproductions of neumatic notations include Jammers, Tafeln, and Répertoire de manuscrits médiévaux contenant des notations musicales, ed. M. Bernard and S. Corbin, 3 vols. (Paris, 1965–74).

47 To the studies cited in nn. 16 and 26 above should be added Arlt, W., ‘Anschaulichkeit und analytischer Charakter: Kriterien der Beschreibung und Analyse früher Neumenschriften’, in Huglo, M. (ed.), Musicologie médiévale: Notations et séquences. Actes de la table ronde du C.N.R.S. à l'Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, 1982 (Paris, 1987), pp. 2955 ; Huglo, M., ‘La notation wisigothique est-elle plus ancienne que les autres notations européennes?’, in Rodicio, E. C., Fernández de la Cuesta, I. and López-Calo, J. (eds.), España en la Música de Occidente: Actas del Congreso Internacional celebrado en Salamanca (20 de Octubre – 5 de Noviembre de 1985) (Madrid, 1987), i, pp. 1926 ; id., ‘Bilan de 50 années de recherches (1939–1989) sur les notations musicales de 850 à 1300’, Acta Musicologica, 62 (1990), pp. 224–59, with extensive bibliography.

48 Treitler, ‘Reading and Singing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 394.

49 Ibid.

50 Treitler, ‘Reading and Singing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 401.

51 Mocquereau's analysis of the neumes in Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen 339 was determined by a more general theory concerning accents, the point in musical history at which these signs were applied to music writing, and the mode of signification of neumes – according to which theory the sign and the thing are in perfect agreement, the former being the natural consequence of the latter (‘a trace to be interpreted and understood in relation to the thing that caused it’). On this see Aubert, ‘The Modern Life of “Medieval Neumes”’. Aubert's study reveals the extent to which Mocquereau's work was groundbreaking in its own time, ‘promoting the kind of profound investigation called for by many antecedents’.

52 Le Codex 339, p. 124.

53 Ibid., p. 1.

54 ‘[une] immense famille des points neumatiques qui, à partir du xe siècle, envahissent les manuscrits liturgiques et finissent par supplanter entièrement les accents primitifs’. Ibid., p. 124.

55 Ibid., pp. 99 ff. See also Huglo, M., ‘La chironomie médiévale’, Revue de Musicologie, 49 (1963), pp. 153171 , and in opposition to Mocquereau's theory, Hucke, Helmut, ‘Die Cheironomie und die Entstehung der Neumenschrift’, Die Musikforschung, 32 (1979), pp. 116 .

56 Le Codex 339, pp. 124–6.

57 Ibid., pp. 124–8.

58 Ibid., p. 125.

59 The paradox disappears once the foundations of Mocquereau's theory of composition and transmission of Gregorian chant are all set out together: he considers the Sankt Gallen notation type to long pre-date the ‘point-notation’ type, this ‘notation oratoire’ having been created in relation to simple melodic inflections, before the fully-fledged melody of the mass Proper melodies (as transmitted from the ninth century on) emerged.

60 Suñol, G. M., Introducció a la paleografia musical gregoriana (Montserrat, 1925) ; revised, translated, and with a preface by Mocquereau, A., Introduction à la paléographie musicale grégorienne (Paris and Tournai, 1935) .

61 See p. 110 and n. 21 above.

62 S. Corbin, La notation musicale neumatique dans les quatre provinces lyonnaises: Lyon, Rouen, Tours et Sens (diss., University of Paris, 1957).

63 Le graduel Romain: Édition critique par les moines de Solesmes, ii: Les sources (Solesmes, 1957), with a map linking notation types with regions.

64 Hourlier, J., ‘Le domaine de la notation messine’, Revue Grégorienne, 30 (1951), pp. 96113, 150–8 .

65 Huglo, Michel, ‘Le domaine de la notation bretonne’, Acta Musicologica, 35 (1963), pp. 5484 .

66 See Combe, P., Histoire de la restauration du chant grégorien d'après des documents inédits (Solesmes, 1969) ; Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments, passim.

67 See Huglo, ‘Bilan’, p. 239.

68 Handschin, , ‘Eine alte Neumenschrift’; Jacques Handschin, ‘Notitiae zu “Eine alte Neumenschrift” ’, Acta Musicologica, 25 (1953), pp. 8788 .

69 Jammers, E., ‘Die paläofränkische Neumenschrift’, Scriptorium, 7 (1953), pp. 235259 and Pls. 26–7, at p. 238 (n. 16). On the palaeofrankish script see also Hourlier, J. and Huglo, M., ‘Notation paléofranque’, Études Grégoriennes, 2 (1957), pp. 212219 ; Stäblein, Schriftbild, pp. 106–7; Levy, ‘Charlemagne's Archetype’; W. Arlt, no. XI.36, in 799: Kunst und Kultur, ii, pp. 841–2.

70 ‘jede Neumenart mehr oder weniger diastematisch sein kann’: Handschin, ‘Eine alte Neumenschrift’, 81.

71 Ibid., 80–1.

72 Corbin, Die Neumen, 3.37. This manuscript is usually dated in the third to fourth quarter of the ninth century: see K. Gamber, Codices liturgici latini antiquiores (Spicilegii Friburgensis subsidia, 3 vols.; Freiburg (Switzerland), 1963, 1968, 1988), ii, no. 925 (dating by Bischoff).

73 Hourlier and Huglo, ‘Notation paléofranque’.

74 Ibid., p. 218

75 Stäblein, Schriftbild, 29. It should be admitted that Jammers did persist in linking neumes with prosodic accents and cheironomy: see his Tafeln and Corbin, Die Neumen, pp. 3.16–19.

76 It should be recognized here that the division of neumatic notations into two types reaches back beyond Mocquereau to Fétis and has outlasted the ‘accent theory’ with which Mocquereau linked it. See Fétis, F.-J., ‘Résumé philosophique de l’histoire de la musique', Biographie universelle des musiciens (Paris, 1835–44), i, pp. clxclxvi .

77 These he described as ‘the common Italian’ (‘der gewöhnlichen Italienischen’), so differentiating the script of central and southern Italy (‘Beneventan’) from that in books from northern Italian centres such as Nonantola and Bologna. See Handschin, ‘Eine alte Neumenschrift’, p. 80.

78 Stäblein, Schriftbild, pp. 28–43.

79 Ibid., pp. 30 ff.

80 Ibid., p. 31: ‘Der Nachteil, nicht nur der Neuen, sondern der Neumenschrift überhaupt, ist die Unmöglichkeit, die Abmessung der Intervalle präzis darzustellen. Dieser Zustand wurde wohl von der überwiegenden Menge der Sängerschaft, die ihre Melodien auswendig lernte und, geführt von der Cheironomie der Kantors, vortrug, hingenommen, jedoch da und dort schon als Mißstand empfunden, den zu beheben man auf mancherlei Auswege (brauchbare und unbrauchbare) sann, bis gegen 1050 das Problem gelöst wurde.’

81 Treitler, ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 333 and 356 ff.

82 This is how Treitler understood Handschin's rather ambiguous ‘Strecke’. ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 357.

83 Treitler, ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 357–8.

84 On the value of semiological analysis to the investigation of early music writing, and on revisions to the 1982 version, see further in the new introduction to ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 317–28; id., ‘Palaeography and Semiotics’, in M. Huglo (ed.), Musicologie médiévale: Notations et séquences. Actes de la table ronde du C.N.R.S. à l'Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, 1982 (Paris, 1987), pp. 17–27.

85 Treitler, ‘The Early History of Music Writing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 338 (on the widely accepted theory), and pp. 340–43 (for the central part of his argument).

86 Ibid., p. 340, n. 40.

87 Ibid., p. 330, n. 21; see also Duchez, ‘La Répresentation spatio-verticale’, p. 54.

88 See above, pp. 109–10.

89 See, e.g., Treitler, ‘Reading and Singing’ (With Voice and Pen), pp. 401–2; also the various types of musical tasks with which Levy works in ‘Plainchant before Neumes’ (Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians, pp. 195–213).

90 For these see Haines, ‘The Origin of the Musical Staff’.

91 L'oeuvre musicale d'Hucbald de Saint-Amand: Les compositions et le traité de musique, ed. Yves Chartier (Cahiers d'études médiévales (Cahier spécial no. 5); Montreal, 1995), §44 (p. 194).

92 Antiphonale missarum Sancti Gregorii, IX–Xe siècle, Codex 239 de la Bibliothèque de Laon, introduction by A. Mocquereau, J. Beyssac and A. Ménager (Paléographie musicale, 10; Tournai, 1909). See now also <>.

93 Bischoff, Katalog, ii, no. 2094; this opinion is shared by John Contreni (personal communication to the author, August 1999).

94 Antiphonale missarum Sancti Gregorii, IX–Xe siècle, Codex 239, pp. 19–35; the relation between the liturgy in this book and later books belonging to Laon Cathedral determined this judgement.

95 On this see Contreni, J. J., The Cathedral School of Laon from 850 to 930: Its Manuscripts and Masters (Münchener Beiträge zur Mediävistik und Renaissance Forschung, 29; Munich, 1978) ; Codex Laudunensis 468: A Ninth-Century Guide to Virgil, Sedulius, and the Liberal Arts, ed. J. J. Contreni (Armarium codicum insignium, 3; Turnhout, 1984); D. Ganz, ‘Codex Laudunensis 468’, Peritia, 4 (1985), pp. 360–70.

96 Graduale Triplex (Solesmes, 1979). On the notation in this manuscript see esp. Antiphonale missarum Sancti Gregorii, IX–Xe siècle, Codex 239, pp. 177–207; Fischer, R., ‘Laon, Bibl. de la ville, 239’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 21 (1996), pp. 7579 ; Kohlhäufl, J., ‘Die Tironische Noten im Codex Laon 239’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 27 (1999), pp. 2132 ; Zippe, S., ‘Ceterum censeo: Volutam esse exquaerere’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 41/2 (2006), pp. 267277 .

97 For neither of the manuscripts studied here in detail is there any one closely matching source notated on lines: the issue of how to handle pitch in transcriptions is not therefore straightforward. My procedure has been to choose one heighted source to which the neumes of the specific example are closely related; where the neumes call for small adjustments, these are made according to a second source (and listed). The background to all melodic versions has been studied through the mediums of the Graduale Triplex, the discussions of restoration in the Beiträge zur Gregorianik, and with several individual diastematically notated manuscripts of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It is worth noting that those points at which different notations have different pitch readings are often in the same parts of a specific chant; as far as possible I have attempted to avoid using those passages for argument in this study. Therefore, although the question of melodic versions would seem fundamental to the evidence-gathering exercise for a study of pitch, in practice the differences between versions of the melodies considered has hardly altered the conclusions. Much more variable than pitch are the ways in which notes are grouped – joined or separated; I have not hesitated to arrange notes on the stave in relation to the groupings suggested by the specific neumatic notations considered here. In noting differences between the melody presented here and the pitched versions used to provide a transcription I mention different pitch readings only; where a tone is repeated (or not repeated), where a liquescence or quilisma is present (or absent) these are not listed. In deo sperauit: pitched version from Verdun 759, fol. 60r, with Paris BnF lat. 776, fol. 46r. Syllable 8: Verdun has aGFE FEDE ED (Laon agrees with 776); syllable 23, second and third group: Verdun has GEFGD FD (776 followed here). Verdun 759: Verdun, Bibliothèque Municipale 759, Missale (Codices gregoriani, 1–2, ed. Nino Albarosa and Alberto Turco; Padua, 1994); also Graduale Triplex, p. 311 and Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 43 (2007), p. 11. In this and all the following musical transcriptions, the use of the treble clef does not indicate a sung pitch, merely a notational strategy: no treble 8 clef was available in this font.

98 Of course, the way in which they should be read is not through fixed visual levels, but through the flow of the neume graphs.

99 This extract is from a chant which challenged those writing it on lines more than most (on which see Fischer, R., ‘Gr. Speciosus forma und Gr. Exsurge domine’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 25 (1998), pp. 81104 ), but the intervallic relations in this very short passage are fairly standard. Here from Verdun 759, fol. 60v. In Paris BnF lat. 776, fol. 48v, the melody for ‘nos-’ is notated a tone higher than in Verdun, but ends on b on the second syllable, ‘-tri’; this is the version adopted by the Graduale Triplex, p. 115.

100 The possibility of a virga in Sankt Gallen notation acting ex parte ante or ex parte post was explored by Cardine, E. in his ‘Sémiologie grégorienne’, Études grégoriennes, 11 (1970), pp. 1158 (at pp. 6–8); however, while there are clear analogies between the SG virga and the Laon sign discussed here, the ways in which each is used and treated do not map precisely onto each other.

101 On the names of neumes and the sources in which tables of neumes appear see Huglo, M., ‘Les noms des neumes et leurs origines’, Études grégoriennes, 1 (1954), pp. 5367 , and Bernhard, M., ‘Die Überlieferung der Neumennamen im lateinischen Mittelalter’, in id. (ed.), Quellen und Studien zur Musiktheorie des Mittelalters, 2 (1997), pp. 1391 .

102 The one regional notation type in which this sign is used similarly is the Aquitanian; there is also considerable overlap between the use in Laon 239 and that in the early tenth-century Gradual notated in ‘Breton’ notation, Chartres 47. For this see Antiphonale missarum Sancti Gregorii, Xe siècle, Codex 47 de la Bibliothèque de Chartres, introduction by A. Ménager (Paléographie musicale, 11; Tournai,1922).

103 From Le Codex 339 (p. 129) on; the most detailed and nuanced consideration (based mainly on Sankt Gallen notations) is in Cardine, ‘Sémiologie grégorienne’, pp. 6–16.

104 Carruthers, The Book of Memory, pp. ix–xiv and passim.; see also the texts in The Medieval Craft of Memory, ed. M. Carruthers and J. Ziolkowski (Cambridge, 2002).

105 In this case, since the comparison of the version in Verdun 759 with early pitched notations shows that Verdun has many changes typical of later modal practice (Es converted to Fs, and Bs to Cs), the version in Paris BnF lat. 776, fol. 50v is used. Syllable 19: 776 has a single note, G. See also Graduale Triplex, p. 121 and Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 26 (1998), p. 9.

106 Three fragments from books of mass chants are listed in the Appendix; there are many other instances of chants notated in Messine notation in books held in the Bibliothèque municipale at Laon, including several probably written in the ninth or early tenth centuries.

107 On this notation type see Hourlier, ‘Le domaine de la notation messine’; and Corbin, Die Neumen, pp. 3.87–94.

108 Jeffery, P., ‘An Early Cantatorium Fragment Related to MS Laon 239’, Scriptorium, 36 (1982), pp. 245252 + Pls. 29–30, at pp. 248–9 .

109 Cantatorium, IXe siècle, No 359 de la Bibliothèque de St. Gall, introduction by A. Mocquereau (Paléographie musicale, 2nd ser. 2; Tournai, 1924); the whole manuscript can now be seen at <>. For a full codicological description and consideration of the book with bibliography, see A. von Euw, Die St. Galler Buchkunst vom 8. bis zum Ende des 11. Jahrhunderts (Monasterium Sancti Galli, 3; Sankt Gallen, 2008), pp. 470–2 (No. 131). On the book-type ‘cantatorium’ see most recently Huglo, M., ‘The Cantatorium, from Charlemagne to the Fourteenth Century’, in Jeffery, P. (ed.), The Study of Medieval Chant: Paths and Bridges, East and West. In Honor of Kenneth Levy (Woodbridge, 2001), pp. 89103 .

110 On the binding see von Euw, Die St. Galler Buchkunst, p. 471.

111 On the notation in this book see esp. Cardine, ‘Sémiologie grégorienne’, and Fischer, R., ‘Einführung in Handschriften des Gregorianischen Chorals. I: St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek 359: Das Cantatorium von St. Gallen’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 19 (1995), pp. 6170 .

112 Iurauit dominus belongs to the same melodic family as Eripe me (3rd- and 4th-mode graduals), and the two melodies share several melodic phrase patterns.

113 The pitched version is from Benevento VI.34, fol. 40v. See Le Codex VI.34 de la Bibliothèque capitulaire de Bénévent, introduction by J. Gajard, R.-J. Hesbert, J. Houlier and M. Huglo (Paléographie musicale, 15; Tournai, 1937). Syllable 4: Ben has one note less at the beginning; syllable 10: Ben has ab; syllable 25: Ben GF; syllable 26: Ben abb. See also Graduale Triplex, p. 486.

114 Le Codex 339, p. 99.

115 On this occasion the clivis is written with a stroke across the top (episema), signifying some degree of lengthening or emphasis.

116 On these letters see J. Smits van Waesberghe, Verklaring der letterteekens (litterae significativae) in het gregoriaansche neumenschrift van Sint Gallen (Muziekgeschiedenis der Middeleeuwen, 2; Tilburg, 1932–42); Froger, ‘L’Épitre de Notker'.

117 For further studies of this notation see n. 111 above, and Corbin, Die Neumen, pp. 3.47–59.

118 On the virga strata see Cardine, ‘Sémiologie grégorienne’, pp. 90–6; Cardine shows that this neume may also represent two rising notes, especially for an interval of a semitone.

119 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 37v.

120 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 17v.

121 For Benedicite domino the Sankt Gallen book follows the Gallican psalter; the Roman psalter (and modern Solesmes books) have ‘dominum’. Pitched versions from Benevento VI.34, fols. 82r, 101r, 168r.

122 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 69v.

123 Pitched version from Paris BnF lat. 776, fol. 28r.

124 In the case of ‘Confiteantur’ the pitch at the end of the melisma is the same as that on which it began, and, on ‘misericordiae’, the pitch at the end of the melisma is a fifth below that on which it began. Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 37v.

125 Cardine, ‘Sémiologie grégorienne’, which uses this book as one of its three principal sources throughout.

126 For a pitched version of this melody see Figure 4 above.

127 On ‘x-height’ see Parkes, M. B., Their Hands before our Eyes: A Closer Look at Scribes (Aldershot, 2008), p. 87 .

128 In this reproduction the ‘t’ under the last part of the Alleluia iubilus belongs to the line below. Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 254r; there is considerable variation among the diastematic sources for this Alleluia opening; crucially, however, all make a rising leap (of at least a third) between the second and third syllable, and agree on a fall of one step between the third and fourth syllables.

129 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 42v, with the verse Propter from fol. 29v (where it is associated with the Gradual Diffusa est). Et mansuetudinem: syllable 5: Ben has a single note, G.

130 SG 359, p. 72, l.7.

131 It is worth remembering that an early medieval scribe would control his pen with his fingers, his hand held away from the page and not resting on it, as in modern practice.

132 That this kind of music writing was known at Sankt Gallen decades earlier is clear from the evidence of notation in Notker's Liber Ymnorum (first prepared in the 880s) and from the evidence of scraps of a ninth-century Versarium now used for binding in Hartker's Antiphoner. On the former see Rankin, Susan, ‘The Earliest Sources of Notker's Sequences: St Gallen, Vadiana 317, and Paris, Bibliothèque nationale 10587’, Early Music History, 10 (1991), pp. 201233 ; on the binding strips see Hermes, M., OSB, Das Versicularium des Codex 381 der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen (St. Ottilien, 2000), pp. 1415 ; Pouderoijen, K. and De Loos, I., ‘Wer ist Hartker? Die Entstehung des Hartkerischen Antiphonars’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 47 (2009), pp. 6786 . Unfortunately, these strips are not separately reproduced on the codices electronici website. On sources from outside Sankt Gallen see further below.

133 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 51r–v.

134 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 17v.

135 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 81r.

136 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 96r.

137 Pitched version from Paris BnF lat. 903, fol. 44r. See Le Codex 903, Paléographie musicale 13, p. 87.

138 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 78r.

139 On this source see n. 32 above. The seventh-century text, written over a palimpsested fifth-century text of Pliny, may have come from ‘a monastic community in southern France’ (CLA VI, 724); its later provenance is the Cathedral of Autun, and that may well be where the neumes were written.

140 On this source see the notes to the Appendix.

141 Hucke, H., ‘Toward a New Historical View of Gregorian Chant’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 33 (1980), pp. 437467 , at p. 452.

142 Aureliani Reomensis Musica disciplina, ed. Lawrence Gushee (Corpus scriptorum de musica, 21; n.p., 1975).

143 On the use of this term in Carolingian legislation see Schramm, P. E., ‘Karl der Große: Denkart und Grundauffassungen – die von ihm bewirkte Correctio (“Renaissance”)’, Historische Zeitschrift, 198 (1964), pp. 306345 ; Angenendt, A., ‘Libelli bene correcti: Der “richtige Kult” als ein Motiv der karolingischen Reform’, in Ganz, P. (ed.), Das Buch als magisches und als Repräsentationsobjekt (Wiesbaden, 1992), pp. 117135 ; de Jong, M., ‘Charlemagne's Church’, in Storey, J. (ed.), Charlemagne: Empire and Society (Manchester and New York, 2005), pp. 103135 ; McKitterick, R., Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 292 ff.

144 RB 1980: The Rule of St Benedict in Latin and English with Notes, ed. Fry, T. (Collegeville, Minn., 1981) , ch. 38. For two Carolingian commentaries see Smaragdi abbatis expositio in regulam S. Benedicti, ed. A. Spannagel and P. Englebert, OSB, Corpus consuetudinem monasticarum, 8 (Siegburg, 1974); Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel, Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict, trans. D. Barry, OSB (Kalamazoo, 2007); Expositio regulae ab Hildemaro tradita, Vita et regula SS. P. Benedicti una cum expositione regulae a Hildemaro tradita III, ed. R. Mittermüller (Regensburg, New York and Cincinnati, 1880).

145 ‘Si autem non sunt tanti lectores, ut unus legat solummodo per lectionem, debent legere sex aut quatuor aut duo solummodo, qui audientes possint aedificare, quia melius est, ut unus legat tres vel quatuor lectiones aut quinque aut sex, qui aedificat, quam multi legant, qui non aedificant.’ Expositio regulae ab Hildemaro tradita, p. 428.

146 RB 1980, ch. 45; Expositio regulae ab Hildemaro tradita, pp. 469–70.

147 See the notes to Smaragdus, Commentary, pp. 402–6, p. 429.

148 ‘Debet abbas constituere talem fratrem, qui corrigat librum, et debet illi jubere, ut vadant et legant ante illum.’ Expositio regulae ab Hildemaro tradita, p. 469.

149 ‘Si ille liber male habuerit in omnibus, pro quibus diximus, veniam petere tunc liberabitur.’ Ibid., p. 470.

150 Ganz, ‘The Preconditions’, p. 23.

151 Parkes, Their Hands, p. 87.

152 Ganz, ‘The Preconditions’, p. 23.

153 Parkes, Their Hands, p. 87.

154 One need only think of Notker's story about a monk fleeing from Jumièges, bringing with him a book in which Notker saw sequences inscribed. For the preface to his Liber Ymnorum see von den Steinen, W., Notker der Dichter und seine geistige Welt, 2 vols. (Bern, 1948), Darstellungsband, pp. 154162, 504–8 ; for a recent study and new translation of the preface see Haug, A., ‘Re-reading Notker's Preface’, in Cannata, et al. (eds.), Quomodo cantabimus canticum?, pp. 6580 .

155 On this melodic family see Hornby, E., Gregorian and Old Roman Eighth-Mode Tracts: A Case Study in the Transmission of Western Chant (Aldershot, 2002) .

156 For consideration of these melodies I have used the versions available in Agustoni, L., Fischer, R., Göschl, J. B., Koch, L., Rumphorst, H., Schweitzer, A. M., Zippe, S., ‘Vorschläge zur Restitution von Melodien des Graduale Romanum (Teil 8)’, Beiträge zur Gregorianik, 28 (1999), pp. 733 (at pp. 11–13, 16–25); these differ from the version in the Graduale Triplex in reinstating b as a recitation tone, based both on neumed sources and on several more precisely notated sources using one or more lines (in this case Benevento VI.34, Paris BnF lat. 776, Paris BnF lat. 903, and Montecassino, Archivio dell'Abbazia 546).

157 Of course, the fact that a version in which the b recitation was abandoned, and all of the passages in question recited on c, underlines the real possibility of getting these passages mixed up with each other.

158 Pitched version from Benevento VI.34, fol. 119v.

159 The first such full facsimile – of SG 359 – was published in 1851: Louis Lambillotte, Antiphonaire de Saint Grégoire (Brussels). SG 359 had come to prominence in the field of neume studies through the work of Théodore Nisard, ‘Études sur les anciennes notations musicales de l’Europe', Revue archéologique, 5 (1849), pp. 701–20; 6 (1849), pp. 101–14; pp. 461–75, pp. 749–64; 7 (1850), pp. 129–43. On Nisard's approach to neumatic notation see Aubert, ‘The Modern Life of “Medieval Neumes”’.

160 Treitler, ‘Reading and Singing’ (With Voice and Pen), p. 401.

This study had its beginnings in the Lowe lectures delivered at the University of Oxford in spring 2008 (‘Impressed on the Memory: Musical Sounds and Notations in the Ninth Century’); I was able to pursue that work during a happy semester spent at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton in 2009. To both institutions, and to the many friends and colleagues who have helped in the development of these ideas, I express grateful thanks.

Abbreviations used:


Benevento, Biblioteca Capitolare


Bibliothèque nationale de France


Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek

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