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”
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-B 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.
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 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.
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 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”).