A Cognate to “Verlangen thut mich krencken” (Loch 35)

The new cognate in the Hohenfurter Liederbuch to a well-known and today widely performed monophonic song from the Locham Songbook may not be as spectacular as the latest find of a contrafact in the same source (see the last blog entry on “Talent m’est pris” and “Es ist geporn ain kindelein”) but it nonetheless draws even more attention to this songbook full of sacred contrafacts.

“Wol auf, wir wellens wecken”

CZ-VB 8b, fol. 74v-75r - "Wolauff wir wellens wecken"

CZ-VB 8b, fol. 74v-75r – “Wolauff wir wellens wecken”

The song “Wol auf, wir wellens wecken” on fol. 74v-75r of the Hohenfurter Liederbuch (Hoh 46; CZ-VB 8b; Southern Germany, c1450) looks like a compressed and re-arranged version of “Verlangen thut mich krencken” from the contemporaneous Lochamer Liederbuch (Loch 35; D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40613, p. 33, Nuremberg c1450). The influence could of course have also gone the other way, but it appears as if material from the more extensive “Verlangen” was conflated into a shorter melody, suited for the shorter text of “Wol auf”. Even though the melodic building blocks have a highly generic air to them, the similarities between the two melodies are striking enough for me to suspect a cognate relationship.

"Verlangen thut mich krencken" (Loch 35; D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40613, p. 33) and its cognate "Wol auf, wir wellens wecken" (Hoh 46; CZ-Pnm VB 28, fol. 74v-75r) with their corresponding melodic parts colour-coded.

“Verlangen thut mich krencken” (Loch 35; D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40613, p. 33) and its cognate “Wol auf, wir wellens wecken” (Hoh 46; CZ-VB 8b, fol. 74v-75r) with their corresponding melodic parts colour-coded.

Melodic line A” in “Wol auf” can be seen as a conflated version of lines A and A’ from “Verlangen”, line B is almost identical in both songs, line D only differs in its ornamentation, while the central line C in “Wol auf” can be argued to be a compressed version of the corresponding line in “Verlangen”. The different melodic sections appear in the same order in both melodies. The “excess material” in “Verlangen”, merely consists of line A’ as well as the middle part of line C.

Furthermore, the texts of the two songs seem to be constructed along a roughly similar pattern with one key word or phrase prompting every strophe: In “Verlangen” this is the first word of the song (“verlangen” – “desire”), which appears multiple times in every strophe. “Wol auf” on the other hand has the combination “wir wellen” (“we want to” or “let us”) in the first line of each strophe and makes ample use of alliteration with the initial letters of this motto: “wol auf”, “wir wellen”, “wol”, “wo”. This link to a PDF file with a comparison of the song texts “Verlangen” and “Wol auf” presents both texts with the keywords highlighted. An English translation of the full song text of “Verlangen” can be found in the online booklet notes (PDF file) to our CD recording of the Locham Song Book on the NAXOS website (track 04 on pp. 2-3).

While “Verlangen” is notated in the “reference rhythm”, a generic rhythmic principle very typical for the transmission of monophonic German songs in the 15th century, the notation of “Wol auf” in duple metre and with cadential ornamentation has a distinct air of polyphonic treatment about it. This observation well suits the fact that, when Bäumker[1] first edited “Wol auf, wir wellens wecken” he already remarked that the melody is also found as the tenor line in a four voice setting by Ludwig Senfl in Hans Ott’s songbook from 1534 (D-Mbs Mus.pr. 35, tenor book, fol. 75v). This interrelationship of a purely monophonic transmission (“Verlangen” in Loch) with a cognate monophonic rendering (“Wol auf wir wellens wecken” in Hoh) of a piece that also appears with a practically identical melody and rhythmisation in a polyphonic setting (Ludwig Senfl) weaves a thrilling intertextuality of versions that move effortlessly between monophony and polyphony.

Marc Lewon

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[1] Bäumker, Wilhelm (ed.): Ein deutsches geistliches Liederbuch mit Melodien aus dem XV. Jahrhundert nach einer Handschrift des Stiftes Hohenfurt, Reprint Hildesheim 1970, Leipzig (Breitkopf & Härtel) 1895. A new transcription of this song is forthcoming with Geistliche Gesänge des deutschen Mittelalters. Gesamtausgabe der Melodien und Texte aus handschriftlicher Überlieferung, ed. by Max Lütolf in cooperation with Mechthild Sobiela-Caanitz, Cristina Hospenthal and Max Schiendorfer, vol. 4: Gesänge I–M (nos. 537–811), Kassel et al., 2016 (no. 738: “Wolauf, wir wellens wecken”).

2 thoughts on “A Cognate to “Verlangen thut mich krencken” (Loch 35)

  1. “Wolauf” certainly feels like the same song as “Verlangen”, or rather, like what you would get if you knew the first the song by ear and let it inspire you to find a melody for the second. I don’t think one needs the similarity of using a key word – on its own, this wouldn’t be enough to state a link between the texts, I think. The similarity of the melodies, on the other hand, is very convincing.

  2. Your assessment of how “Wol auf” may have been “found” is spot on. Exactly what I think what might have happened. I feel that the similarity in the textual construction is merely another hint in a direction that was set by the music. Not a reason in itself, just another clue towards a cognate version. Thanks for agreeing that the melodies have a connection – and thanks for your much more impressive find of the contrafact “Es ist geporn” (on “Talent m’est pris”).

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