[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.]
Alongside a complete version of “Ich fare do hyn wen eß muß syn”, fol. Bv of the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature also features the beginning of another arrangement: “Ellende du hest vmb vanghen mich”. The title to this piece is very well-known and Fallows’ “Catalogue” lists a fair number of concordances, most of which are instrumental arrangements in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch and in the instrumental part of the Lochamer-Liederbuch. It seems, however, that no polyphonic song version has survived and that the only transmission of the piece as a song is found monophonically in Loch (Loch 5; D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40613, p. 5), which furthermore appears itself to have been extracted from a tablature (for a deeper analysis of this tenor line and for a full edition of the Loch versions see: Lewon: “Das Lochamer-Liederbuch”). A comparison of the concordances shows that all seven instrumental arrangements in Bux and Loch refer to the same tenor line even though the polyphonic realisations are all unique. This indicates that they were not modelled on a polyphonic chanson, but newly created upon the tenor alone. Our version in the Wolfenbüttel Tablature falls into that same category, its treatment related to that of “Ich fare do hyn wen eß muß syn”, which precedes it (see previous blog entry).
The diplomatic transcription below reveals two specific features that govern the extant notation: a fragmentation of the cantus and tenor lines which dominates the first line and relentless runs of semiminims (reminiscent of Bux-arrangements), which occupy the second half of the second line. After that the piece breaks off. When comparing the fragment with its concordances it turns out that only about a quarter of the original piece survives in the Wolfenbüttel tablature.
The following polyphonic transcription illustrates the voice leading connected to the fragmentation of cantus and tenor. Apart from a nice instrumental effect this is a very idiomatic way of portraying a two-voice counterpoint on the plectrum lute when the voices cannot be placed on neighbouring strings: rather than using full, strummable chords to bridge the intermediate strings, this writing involves two voices propelled individually by striking the strings in a hoquetus-like passage separately, creating a transparent texture. The next section explores a different method, using chords or dyads for every new tenor note with interlacing semiminim-runs. Both of these techniques point to a more freely conceived cantus line upon a pre-existing tenor and not an ornamentation of a fixed polyphonic setting. This approach differs radically from such settings as we encountered with “Myn trud gheselle” (WolfT 2) and “Gruß senen Ich im hertzen traghe” (WolfT 3).
The following synoptic edition shows that the Wolfenbüttel Tablature uses the tenor line exactly as it survives in parallel sources. Only at the end of the fragment, in bar 9-10, does the tablature deviate from the song version transmitted in Loch. The tenors of all other extant intabulations of “Ellend”, however, are much closer to the Wolfenbüttel version, so that it appears more likely that in fact the already suspicious song melody in Loch is the one that deviates and not the other way around.
When transferring the arrangement to French lute tablature, it turns out, that the resulting fingering is, like the overwhelming majority of the fragment’s contents, perfectly apt for the five-course lute and easily playable using plectrum technique: there are no split chords or dyads whatsoever.
[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. “Ellende du hest vmb vanghen mich” can be found on track 13. 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. 141-4 (facsimile).
 See Fallows, David: A Catalogue of Polyphonic Songs, 1415-1480, New York (Oxford University Press) 1999, pp. 434-5.
 Lewon, Marc: Das Lochamer-Liederbuch in neuer Übertragung und mit ausführlichem Kommentar, 3 vols., Brensbach/Deutschland (Verlag der Spielleute) 2007-2010, vol. 2, pp. 23-6 & 42-4.