A Premiere Recording of the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature

October 2014 saw the release of Ensemble Dragma‘s first CD, a recording with German sacred songs by Heinrich Laufenberg (c1390-1460)—many of them première recordings—as well as instrumental music from his time. The ensemble consists of Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett (voice, harp), Jane Achtman (vielle) and Marc Lewon (voice, lute, vielle). Guest musicians are Elizabeth Rumsey (vielle) and Hanna Marti (voice). The CD was released with the label Ramée. More information on the CD, including an online booklet that can be browsed was published online with the distributor Outhere Music.

The recording also contains the world première recording of the five partly fragmented arrangements from the “Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature”, performed soloistically on the plectrum lute by Marc Lewon. Reconstructions of the missing parts by imitating the style of the tablature and using parallel transmissions of the songs were made for the three tablatures that remain incomplete in the source. The reconstructions will be published in the Quarterly of the the Lute Society of America, shortly.

"Kingdom of Heaven - Heinrich Laufenberg", Ensemble Dragma (Label Ramée, 2014). This recording contains the premier recording of the 5 pieces from the "Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature".

“Kingdom of Heaven – Heinrich Laufenberg”, Ensemble Dragma (Label Ramée, 2014). This recording contains the premier recording of the 5 pieces from the “Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature”.

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WolfT 4 – “Ich fare do hyn wen eß muß syn”

[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.[1] 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.]

The second piece of the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature to survive complete is the simple setting of the secular song “Ich fare do hin wen eß muß syn”, which must have been widely known, since it is quoted several times in different sources and inspired a number of contrafacts.[2] The only other complete musical source of this piece is in the Lochamer-Liederbuch (Loch 8; D-Bsb Mus. ms. 40613, p. 9), however, it is monophonic and presents a number of questions concerning its rhythm and—more significantly—its modality. This new concordance helps to answer those questions. Continue reading

WolfT 3: “Gruß senen Ich im hertzen traghe”

[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.[1] 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. 57v58r under the same incipit (“Groß senen ich im herczen trag”). Continue reading

WolfT 1: “Cum lacrimis”

[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.[1] 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.]

The fragment of the Wolfenbüttel Lute Tablature on fol. Ar-v features the second half of a lute arrangement of Johannes Ciconia’s famous two-voice ballata “Con lagrime bagnandome nel viso” with a text by Leonardo Guistinian, here latinised to “Cum lacrimis”. The numerous concordances, according to David Fallows’ “Catalogue of Polyphonic Songs”,[2] also include four intabulations in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch [Bux 38, 137, 138, 139] and one in the Locham Song Book [Loch 73]. Apparently this Italian composition was quite popular in German speaking lands and as an instrumental arrangement no less, which is surprising since the contrapuntal effects appear to be idiomatic for vocal performance and do not seem to lend themselves easily to presentation on a solo instrument. Continue reading