Marc’s Milk Carton: A Kutná Hora Ceiling Painting

Štěpán Kafka is a cornucopia of interesting finds in and around Kutná Hora (Kuttenberg, Czech Republic). While we were conversing about the Kuttenberg Fragment, containing a concordance to Agricola’s “Cecus non judicat de coloribus” (check out the link to the “musikleben”-blog site with the announcement of the find) he also informed me of a ceiling painting from c.1500 in Kutná Hora’s St. Barbara cathedral with some musical notation: The ceiling features some angels playing instruments while one of them is holding a scroll and pointing at it with a teaching staff. This scroll seemingly features a line of mensural notation. (More information in Czech can be found on the Kutná Hora website.)

Marc's Milk Carton: A Ceiling Painting in Kutná Hora's St. Barbara Cathedral

Marc’s Milk Carton: A ceiling painting in Kutná Hora’s St. Barbara cathedral

So far I was not able to make any sense of it and we suppose that there is the possibility that the painter merely tried to give the impression of mensural notation without it having to make an musical sense. Another possibility is that restorations of the paintings may have messed up the notation at some point. (The most recent restoration, Kafka was assured, was made very carefully and most certainly did not change anything. The last one before that in 1898, however, left no documentation.) But maybe, just maybe, someone can make more of it and can actually attach this line to an existing piece.

St. Barbara in Kutná Hora: Musical angels with one of them holding a scroll with musical notation.

St. Barbara in Kutná Hora: Musical angels with one of them holding a scroll containing musical notation.

My question, therefore, is: Can anyone make any sense of this line of mensural notation? Can this incipit be linked to any existing piece? Thanks for your help, guys.

Kutná Hora, St. Barbara: A line of mensural notation on a scroll held by an angel.

Kutná Hora, St. Barbara (c.1500): A line of mensural notation on a scroll held by an angel. (Click picture to enlarge.)

Marc Lewon

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