[The Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature is arguably the earliest extant source for lute music in Western Europe and, even though it survives merely as a fragment, the only known specimen of the tablature system described in the Kassel Collum Lutine. In his article “Norddeutsche Fragmente mit Lautenmusik um 1460 in Wolfenbüttel” from 2011 Martin Staehelin presented this tablature and concluded that it was intended for the lute. The fragment, which Staehelin dated to c1460, survived as a pastedown on a host codex from St. Cyriacus in Brunswick and is now at the Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel under the shelfmark cod. VII B Hs Nr. 264. For more information on the source see the introductory entry to this blog series.]
One of the two complete pieces in the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature fills the entire recto side of fol. Br. Its incipit reads “Gruß senen Ich im hertzen traghe” and the music confirms that it is an arrangement of a song that survives anonymously in Schedels Liederbuch (D-Mbs cgm 810, see previous blog entry) on fol. 57v–58r under the same incipit (“Groß senen ich im herczen trag”). Apart from this concordance, only two other citations of the song are listed in Fallows’ “Catalogue”. Fol. Br also features the only rubric in the fragment, obviously added after the music notation into the free space between two systems: “Joh.”. Staehelin suggests that this could be the signature of either Johannes Schorkop or Johannes Mysner, both of whom were canons at St. Cyriacus at the time. It is also noteworthy that the incipit of the text, which serves as a title to this piece, was added after the music was notated, as evinced by the space left between the words “im” and “hertzen” to allow for protruding note stems from the system below. With this obvious example, it is now fairly easy to detect that the text incipits to all the other pieces in the source were also added as a second layer, sometimes overlapping with bits of the musical symbols that were written down before.
The following diplomatic transcription confirms previous observations: The notation contains relatively few mistakes (one of which was apparently corrected—one of only two instances in the surviving folios of this source, the other instance being in “Cum lacrimis“) and lacks the punctus additionis. It is otherwise clearly decipherable.
The polyphonic transcription below presents a fully functioning arrangement with a complete structural core of cantus and tenor, with occasional contratenor sounds wherever desired by the intabulator. The problem with the rhythm in the second half of bar 5 (after the crossed-out minim) can of course be solved differently. I chose this solution in order to minimise the amount of dissonance while only using existing material. Curiously, the intabulation features a number of unsupported fourths (bars 7, 10, 20) which could easily have been avoided by choosing a different contratenor note. They might, however, be explained by the instrumental idiom: if it was to be played using a plectrum, then it would have been desirable for simultaneous notes to fall on neighbouring strings. The solutions for the aforementioned bars with contrapuntally “illegal” sonorities would result in comfortable fingerings on the lute and could be strummed with little effort. This observation, on the other hand, stands in contrast to the fact that this arrangement features the most “splits”—dyads or chords which can only be realised on the lute when one or more intermediate strings are left out—of all of the tablatures.
The synoptic edition below shows that the lute arrangement is modelled extremely closely on the polyphonic chanson, even though the version in Schedel is unlikely to be connected in any way to the tablature. The tenor seems to be taken almost verbatim from the underlying chanson, while the cantus is merely an ornamented version of the original top voice. Both the occasional segments of a contratenor line and the idiomatically “beefed-up” chords are ad libitum “fillers” and—as one would expect—new to this setting. The repetition of the prima pars, an aspect inherent to the song form, is clearly marked in the tablature. On the second beat of bar 12 we encounter a problem of the instrument’s range, which had already come up in the discussion of the secunda pars of “Myn trud gheselle” (see previous blog entry): according to the song transmission in Schedel one would expect the note below Gamut, but here this is avoided by going up a note instead. This recurring alteration hints at a consistent methodology for handling problems of instrumental limitation in this intabulator’s technique.
Both the vertically oriented structure and the ornaments of this arrangement—the double pick-beat ornament and the little bursts of fusae—give this arrangement much more of a Buxheim feel to them than any of the other intabulations. At the same time, this is the only version in the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature that presents us with a significant number (6) of “splits” that, in a performance using plectrum technique, could only be avoided by either using inconveniently unidiomatic fingerings in the left hand and/or with the occasional help of a right-hand finger. Other solutions include muting the intermediate string(s)—a seemingly unnecessary effort—or filling the split with fitting notes.
[2014-10-25] PS: The première recording of this tablature (along with the other 4 arrangements from the source) has just been published as part of the CD “Kingdom of Heaven – Heinrich Laufenberg” with Ensemble Dragma (Ramée, 2014). All arrangements from the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature are recorded soloistically on the plectrum lute by Marc Lewon. Missing parts were reconstructed using parallel sources of the model-chansons and arranging them in the style of the surviving parts of the tablature. “Gruß senen Ich im hertzen traghe” can be found on track 06. Check out this blog entry to find out more about the CD.
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 Staehelin, Martin: “Norddeutsche Fragmente mit Lautenmusik um 1460 in Wolfenbüttel”, in “Kleinüberlieferung mehrstimmiger Musik vor 1550 in deutschem Sprachgebiet”, Series IX, “Neue Quellen des Spätmittelalters aus Deutschland und der Schweiz” (= Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Neue Folge, Band 15), Berlin 2012, pp. 67-88 (text and edition) and pp. 141-144 (facsimile).
 Fallows, David: A Catalogue of Polyphonic Songs, 1415-1480, New York (Oxford University Press) 1999, p. 444.