|The Scriptorium Publishing Programme|
A calligrapher-musician-musicologist, Malcolm Bothwell transcribes the musical manuscripts of the Middle Ages into formats adapted to practise. The collections include the original notations accompanied by a text detailing the history of the repertoire and its method of use. Each publication is founded on research and meets all the criteria of a critical edition. This programme is called Scriptorium, recalling the essential role played by the illustrious scriptorium of Moissac at the beginning of the second millenium in the diffusion of Gregorian repertoires throughout south-western Europe.
As surprising as it may seem, there exist - at the present time - no practical, easily usable editions of medieval music. Today publications of medieval music appear either as facsimiles, or as transcriptions in modern notation. The transcriptions are practical insofar as they enable the singer to have a quick overview of a particular piece, but they are unusable for the real task of aesthetic interpretation and reflection; for the musical concepts of the past are only accessible by means of the original notations. For the musical interpretation to be successful, the work under study must be explored in the light of the original notation.
In the near future, all musicians wishing to understand these repertoires will need access to books that enable them to interpret the works from the original notation. There exist a great number of systems of musical notations, each one reflecting a different approach to the sound produced. These editions will contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge and the development of medieval music. The pedagogical possibilities are immense. These works will constitute essential tools for study once medieval music is included on the curriculums of conservatories and music schools.
This initiative is part of the continuing work of the Organum Ensemble, which, since 1982 has been experimenting with this approach in each of the programmes presented to the public. Over the years students and professionals alike have been showing a growing interest in this method of exploring the music of the past.
Volume available upon requestthe Vespers and the Laudes of the office of Saint James of Compostelle
This volume is the first work of the CIRMA Scriptorium collection. It consists of editions which are intended for song. The works reunite the three main offices of the feast of Saint James: the first Vespers, the Laudes and the second Vespers, according to the Codex Calixtinus.
The works are edited in original notation so as to allow the reader-singer to derive full benefit from this important parameter of interpretation. What’s more, the chants are placed in their liturgical context. All the psalms, the lectures and the orisons of the services are edited so that the interpreter does not have to resort to other volumes; in the original manuscript only the first words of each psalm are noted, whereas the lectures and the orisons are in a different volume. To facilitate the recitation of the psalmolody we have, above the text, included neums which indicate where to place the median and concluding phrases of each verse.
MESSE DE MACHAUTVolume available upon request
CANTILENA ROMANAVolume available upon request
Cantilena Romana refers to the chant of the Roman church, which is known to us by means of two families of manuscripts. The first transmits the repertoire known as "Gregorian chant", the second the chant known as "old Roman". The manuscripts of the first family came to light during the IXth centhury andspread throughtWestern Europe starting from the great Carolingian centresof learning. The second family consists exclusively of Roman manuscripts, they transmit a chant related to Gregorian chant but differing in its modulations.Only five manuscripts of this chant have been preserved. The oldest, conserved in the Martin Bodmer Foundation, is dated 1071 by the scribe who wrote it, it is the subject of the present publication. It is close to a second Roman manuscript conserved in the Vatican Library for use in the Saint John Lateran Cathedral. Written in the early XIIth century, it is the only one to include the grandiose Office of Easter Vespers. When there is a divergencein the melodies between the two manuscripts, which is very rare, we indicate the Lateran version in the margin.
The chant, today called old Roman, is the ancient plainchant of the Roman Church, one of the oldest repertories remaining in human memory. It disappeared during the course of the XIIIth centhury, and, following the installation of the Papacy in Avignon, fell into oblivion. Rediscovered in the early XXth centhury, it caused a great deal of perplexity, for its melodies, although constructed along the same line as Gregorian melodies, revealed at first sight quite another universe of sound. The distinguish it from Gregorian chant, it was named "old Roman chant". A vast debate took place among the Gregorianists to understand why, although almost all of Western Europe since the IXth centhury had used books of Gregorian chant whose melodicversions were practically identical, books of Roman chant reveal another version of Gregorian chant, very often witch a much more developed ornamentation. After a centhury of research, it now appears that old Roman chant reveals the Roman tradition as being much closer to the origins. The musical notation used is extremely valuable because all the ornamentations are written, whereas with the notations of Gregorian chant of the same period, the embellishments are only suggested.
A centhury after its discovery, old Roman plainchant has still not found the essential place which should be its own in western collective imagination and in that of all the civilisations which stem from the same Semitic and Greek origins. For, upstream, it provides us with the key to the filiation between the chant of the Temple of Jerusalem and the heritage Greek music. Downstream, is allows us to follow ans understand the treasures of Koranic cantillation1.
(1)For more detailed account of the historiography of this repertory and the problems of musical interpretation, readers of French are directed to our two works published by Desclée de Brouwer in the series ‘Texte et Voix’:
- Les voix du Plain-chant ; Marcel Pérès and Jacques Cheyronnaud, 2001.