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Arranging the Pieces : The Work of a Chansonnier Scribe

Jane Alden
p. 239-251


L’auteur met à profit la comparaison de trois chansonniers composés en grande partie par le même copiste. Cette situation cas est suffisamment rare pour être signalée et permet de mesurer l’implication du scribe dans la mise en recueil de chansons. L’étude du chansonnier de Dijon, malgré son hétérogénéité, révèle notamment des traces d’organisation ou, plus précisément, de réorganisation des pièces par le copiste.

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1The varied contents of fifteenth-century chansonniers present a taxonomic challenge. These tiny songbooks are part anthology, in the sense of pieces brought together according to a governing principle, and part miscellaneous collections of separate texts. Songs of courtly decorum are presented alongside those with indelicate, bawdy texts ; popular songs with many concordant sources appear next to unica ; and works by composers of different generations are copied in close proximity, sometimes attributed, sometimes not. What unites these manuscripts is their captivating format. Though there are substantial overlaps of repertory, each chansonnier is a unique object – in contents, order, and visual appearance.

2Successful patronage depends on both a market for a specific product and on the ability of suppliers to cater to the demand. By the middle of the fifteenth century, white mensural musical notation had come to replace the older black notation. The exceptional elegance of this new style of notation made it ideally suited for manuscripts such as chansonniers, in which the visual aspect was a priority. In addition to being very attractive, this new style was easier to read, and indeed easier for scribes to write.

  • 1  This issue is discussed by Andrew Kirkman and Philip Weller, ‘Binchois’s Texts’, Music and Letters(...)

3The roles played by scribes in determining the contents, structure, and organisation of chansonniers have been little studied. An overriding concern on the part of contemporary scholars with the accurate transmission of texts has overshadowed recognition of the multifaceted contributions made by scribes, who have been seen as deficient substitutes for the originators of the art works. Though filiation, lines of transmission, scribal alterations and divergences from a hypothetical original have received a good deal of scholarly attention, much of this work has focused on bringing us as close as possible to the composer1. Songs, particularly those of known authorship, have been dissociated from the manuscripts in which they are found – the materiality of the copy largely ignored. But since none of the music here survives in autograph manuscripts, the scribes are the nearest contemporary witnesses we have of this repertory.

  • 2  Even Petrucci’s Harmonice musices odhecaton A of 1501 must have been collected and edited in its e (...)

4Whereas scribes employed to copy liturgical books and texts for use in universities were required to duplicate an exemplar with absolute fidelity, the contents and order of these books being predetermined, this was not the case for composite manuscripts. As collections made up of small units, songbooks offered a flexible process of compilation, since they could be added to piecemeal. By their very nature, chansonniers of this type could not survive in the printing era, when completeness at the time of manufacture became a prerequisite2. Hand-written songbooks required little or no pre-planning, not being expected to follow any set order. No two chansonniers contain an identical body of works, or even a run of more than two songs in the same order. This variety of sequence is all the more significant given that some manuscripts seem to have been copied from the same exemplars. But it is an intrinsic feature of the genre that the songs in these collections can complement each other in multiple ways.

5With no fixed model from which to work, the chansonnier scribe became, essentially, an editor, making a series of decisions that affected the format of each book. The extent of the scribe’s contribution is richly deserving of attention – from the material mechanisms of production to the creation of distinct art objects. Considering the ways in which such scribal interventions were made brings us closer to understanding the culture of which these books were a part.

6Compiling a fifteenth-century chansonnier called on a rare set of skills. To be equipped for this task, a scribe needed to have a thorough understanding of musical notation, experience writing polyphony, and – most importantly – access to a substantial amount of repertoire. The small format of chansonniers made further demands on their expertise, requiring an ability to calculate the degree of compression needed to accommodate each song in the available space.

  • 3  As early as 1408, Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, described the job of a music (...)
  • 4  Alexandre Clerval, L’ancienne maîtrise de Notre-Dame de Chartres (Paris, 1899 ; Rpt. Geneva : Mink (...)
  • 5  Known singer/scribes include Simon Mellet, Jehan de Namps, and Jehan Sohier at Cambrai Cathedral, (...)

7The pool of people able to work as chansonnier scribes must have been relatively small. Since training in the reading, writing, and perhaps even singing of polyphony must have been a necessary requirement, these individuals were probably educated in the maîtrise system. Students there were taught the art of written and improvised polyphony, in addition to plainchant3. Such training was not limited exclusively to junior ecclesiastics, with some lay pupils educated alongside the choirboys4. Graduates of a maîtrise often took up professional positions as singers and clerics. It is possible that their responsibilities included copying music for the institutions with which they were affiliated, but very few individuals seem to have made a living exclusively from working as music scribes, particularly outside of the monastic domain. Until the sixteenth century, the demand for polyphonic manuscripts was not high enough to sustain book-makers specializing in this genre of text alone. Music scribes were probably employed as singers or teachers in ecclesiastic and noble institutions, with scribal work occupying only part of their time5. They would have been in daily contact with other singers, some of whom were also composers. As a result, it would have been relatively easy for these scribes to acquire or borrow musical exemplars.

  • 6  The standard method of book production in Paris and Bologna from the late 13th century was that th (...)
  • 7  The term exemplar is used here in the sense of a loose fascicle, following Charles Hamm’s suggesti (...)

8Little is known of the practicalities of music copying, and there is no documentation relating to the preparation of chansonniers, or other collections of vernacular polyphony. Though they may not have had any formal scribal training, the scribes of these manuscripts most likely adopted the same methods used for other kinds of copying. If he were employed at a court or cathedral, a singer commissioned to make a chansonnier might have visited the institution’s scriptorium, where the professional scribes could have served both his practical and procedural needs – supplying parchment, as well as offering advice on methods of compilation and copying procedure. Something akin to the pecia system probably existed for chansons6. This system allowed for the simultaneous copying of multiple books, with each pecia (section) rented out to scribes for a limited period of time. Chansonnier scribes almost certainly shared some exemplars7.

  • 8  It has been suggested that the Copenhagen manuscript Ny kgl, Samling 1848 2°, copied in Lyons, c. (...)

9The piecemeal compilation of chansonniers greatly facilitated the use of small circulating exemplars, since they could be added to cumulatively as material became available. Almost nothing survives in the way of exemplar fascicles or ‘working’ manuscripts containing chansons8. Their very nature meant they were intended as vehicles of transmission rather than objects to be preserved. They were probably copied on poor quality parchment or paper, and disintegrated from heavy use. How rapidly these exemplars circulated must to some extent have depended on their size. Shorter exemplars would have minimized the amount of time each individual had to wait, allowing more scribes to copy simultaneously.

  • 9  For the view that scribes would only have ‘edited’ works if they knew them from memory, and otherw (...)

10The page layout used in these chansonniers – cantus collateralis, or choirbook layout, where the voices parts are copied separately, rather than in score – would have precluded most scribes from making spontaneous emendations, unless they knew the pieces from memory9. Instead, they must have relied on the accuracy of their exemplars. This is further supported by the relatively low rate of variants among these manuscripts, confirming that these scribes copied from the same or closely related exemplars. The types of editorial interventions we find in these manuscripts involve the organisation and order of the songs more than substantial changes in the texts themselves. The scribes who took it upon themselves to correct mistakes or modify songs in an attempt to transmit a better version are few and far between.

11No scribe had access to the total corpus of composed chansons. Complete control would only have been possible if scribes were able to draw on a central chanson repository for their exemplars, but there is no evidence that such a ‘clearing house’ of chansons existed. The mechanisms by which scribes obtained the repertory needed to compile chansonniers naturally varied according to their location. Scribes employed in flourishing musical environments had the advantage of ready access to the works of local composers, and a larger potential pool of exemplars. The Loire Valley region in central France provided just such an environment. The most important composers of the era – specifically Johannes Ockeghem (d. 1497) and Antoine Busnoys (d. 1492) – were employed in royal establishments in this region, and indeed no fewer than five of the surviving chansonniers were copied there.

  • 10  This number includes 39 concordances, leaving a total of 177 different songs Not until the 1490s d (...)
  • 11  The manuscripts are Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 517 (olim 295); Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibli (...)

12A scribal concordance exists among three of these Loire Valley Chansonniers, allowing us to compare the same scribe’s decision-making process in multiple contexts. The man in question clearly had excep-tional access to repertory. More songs survive – by some margin – from his hand than from any other contemporary scribe : across his three manuscripts, he is responsible for copying 216 songs10. His involvement in these three manuscripts, each with a distinct history, provides us with an exceptionally rich vantage point from which to consider the role of a scribe in the preparation of chansonniers. Since the ‘Dijon Chansonnier’ was his largest project, I will now refer to this scribe as the Dijon Scribe, even in connection with his work on the other two sources – the ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘Laborde’ Chansonniers11. Finding the same scribe in three of the surviving chansonniers is surely not a coincidence. Rather, it suggests that in the early days of the chansonnier business, there were very few people sufficiently skilled to undertake this work. More than the composers represented in these manuscripts, it is the Dijon Scribe who provides evidence of the ways chansons were collected, disseminated, and read.

  • 12  Machaut’s personal archive is described in Sarah Jane Williams, ‘An Author’s Role in Fourteenth-Ce (...)

13Given his prolific output, it seems probable that the Dijon Scribe kept a personal library of the songs he copied. Authors are certainly known to have kept archive copies of their works : Machaut had a ‘livre ou je met toutes mes choses’ (a book of his works) and the poet Christine de Pisan describes keeping copies of her complete works – amounting to 70 gatherings – to help prepare future copies12. Although there is a high rate of concordance between the Dijon Scribe’s manuscripts – 24 of Copenhagen’s 33 pieces are also in Dijon – the order is quite different. This suggests that if the Dijon Scribe had a personal song repository, it consisted of single leaf exemplars that could be freely rearranged.

  • 13  An index is found in the earliest surviving chansonnier, the mid-13th century St-Germain-des-Prés (...)

14The Dijon Scribe seems to have gone beyond normal scribal practice to attend to the needs of readers. He alone of the Loire Valley scribes added a treatise on notation (to the Dijon Chansonnier) and indexes (to the Dijon and Laborde Chansonniers)13. He also helped his readers identify songs at a glance by placing eye-catching incipits on the blank staff immediately below the music, where they could serve as song titles ; other scribes included incipits only to cue the formal reprises in the poetic texts. The Dijon Scribe’s angular musical notation allowed the notes to be placed in very close proximity. Unless restricted by the text of the line above, his stems are consistent in length, forming a gracious undulation. Those with less precise musical literacy could easily follow these contours as the music sounded.

15Given the diminutive proportions of these books, it was a particular challenge to fit some of the ‘busier’ songs into their limited copying areas. Chansonnier scribes evidently possessed a refined ability to gauge space, rarely misjudging how much room each song would need.

16In this predominantly three-voice repertory, the top voice was always copied on the verso leaf of each opening, with the tenor and contratenor voices on the facing recto. The manuscripts copied by the Dijon Scribe were each ruled with seven staves per page. Even though space was at a premium on the recto leaves, to accommodate both of the lower voices, the Dijon Scribe undertook the additional challenge of leaving a blank staff between the tenor and contratenor voices, generally fitting each voice onto only three staves. The clear visual separation of these parts – a feature rarely seen elsewhere – is again indicative of the Dijon Scribe’s attention to the needs of his readers.

17The music’s completeness was as much of a priority for the Dijon Scribe as its visual clarity. As the second scribe of the Laborde Chansonnier, he inherited a manuscript in which nine gatherings had already been copied. In his perusal of these gatherings, he evidently noticed that one of the pieces copied by Scribe I – Tant est mignonne – lacked text. He must have had a source for this text, since he also copied the song into the Dijon Chansonnier, and so took it upon himself to add it to Laborde.

18At 26 gatherings, the Dijon Chansonnier is the largest songbook of its time. The Dijon Scribe copied all but four of its 161 works, including songs by 18 different composers : some major figures, such as Binchois, Guillaume Du Fay, Johannes Ockeghem and Antoine Busnoys ; other composers whose legacy remains slight ; and a substantial body of works whose authorship is unknown today. Most of the songs are rondeaux, but a large number of polytextual combinative chansons, virelais, a couple of chanson-motets, ballades, a ballata, and a votive antiphon are also included. The manuscript clearly suffered a major disruption in its preparation, since the decorated initials remain incomplete in several gatherings, and are entirely lacking in the second half of the book. Its incomplete state, and a telling shift in the Dijon Scribe’s style of writing, suggest that the manuscript was copied over an extended period.

19Such a heterogeneous collection seems certain to have been assembled piecemeal, even aside from the major disruptions in its copying process. It is therefore something of a surprise to discover that, even in this mixed bag, there are traces of several different kinds of scribal organisation. These not only testify to the Dijon Scribe’s interest in making a user-friendly manuscript, but also to the popular reception of certain works and composers.

  • 14  For the attribution to Ockeghem of Permanent vierge/Pulchra es, see Sean Gallagher, ‘Syntax and st (...)

20The most readily apparent evidence of deliberate organisation is the grouping together of the 16 combinative chansons at the back of the manuscript. With only three exceptions, all the songs in Gatherings 21-23 are polytextual. From the index it is possible to tell that the Dijon Scribe rearranged the order of these gatherings at a later stage of copying. In the revised order, the section of combinative chansons begins with Ockeghem’s S’elle m’amera / Petite Camusette, followed by two further works of his authorship : Permanent vierge / Pulchra es and Mort tu as navré / Miserere14. The piece at the very beginning of the manuscript is also by Ockeghem – his canonic Prenez sur moy. Perhaps the Dijon Scribe chose to move Gathering 21 from its original position, after what is now Gathering 23, so that the section of combinative chansons might, like the manuscript as a whole, begin with a work by this renowned composer.

  • 15  Johannes Tinctoris, Liber de natura et proprietate tonorum, in Opera theoretica, ed. Albert Seay, (...)

21Treasurer of the collegiate church of Saint-Martin, Tours and premier chapelain of the royal chapel, Ockeghem must have had a high profile in Loire Valley musical circles. His influence is evident in the work of his slightly younger colleague Busnoys, who was also at Saint-Martin, Tours from 1461 to 1465. Surviving songs of these two composers outnumber those of any of their contemporaries, and concordances for their works are found in manuscripts from across Europe. According to the contemporary theorist Johannes Tinctoris, Ockeghem and Busnoys together were ‘the most outstanding and most famous professors of the art of music’, and ‘the most excellent of all the composers I have ever heard’15. This is likely to have been the view of the Dijon Scribe, since he afforded both composers privileged placement in the Dijon Chansonnier.

  • 16  A deluxe choirbook made for Louis XI’s chapel, similarly, began with a work of Ockeghem, ‘Noël de (...)

22In addition to the manuscript’s opening work, songs by Ockeghem appear in the first openings of Gatherings 2, 3, 4, 5, and, as noted above, 21. An even more consistent pattern is found in the placement of songs by Busnoys – in the second openings of Gatherings 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, and 2316. Indeed, the one exception in the early part of the manuscript – Gathering 2 – carries the anonymous Mon corps s’en va, which the scribe may have mistaken for Busnoys’s similarly titled Le corps s’en va. The Dijon Scribe evidently had greater access to songs by Busnoys than by Ockeghem : there are no works by Ockeghem in the Dijon Chansonnier between Gatherings 5 and 21, or after the cluster of three in Gathering 21, whereas Busnoys appears in 18 of the 24 gatherings with music.

23The Dijon Scribe also alternated songs by Ockeghem and Busnoys in the middle openings of the Dijon Chansonnier, at least in the early part of the manuscript. Ockeghem songs appear in the middle of Gatherings 1 and 7, with songs by Busnoys on the central leaf of Gatherings 2, 4, 8, and 14. Since gatherings open most easily to the centre, songs copied here would have more readily caught the reader’s attention.

24Although the Dijon Scribe did not sustain the middle opening alternation beyond Gathering 8, such an organisational system is no less valid simply because it does not apply to the whole manuscript. Bearing in mind their piecemeal compilation, it is anachronistic and contrary to the very nature of these collections to expect consistent trends. The frame of reference through which to approach issues such as scribal control must be at the local level. It is inevitable that patterns will affect only certain parameters, and for only limited sections. But there is one element here that is consistent throughout the manuscript : the Dijon Scribe’s decision to distribute the works of the flagship composers widely, rather than concentrating them all in one place. This choice provides us with insight into the aesthetic value placed on the collection as a whole.

25The alternating pattern of Ockeghem and Busnoys at the beginnings and middles of gatherings has an additional implication : if the Dijon Scribe’s readers were able to recognise it, they must have been connoisseurs of the repertory. Only 14 of the songs placed in these prominent positions have composer ascriptions in the Dijon Chanson-nier. In other manuscripts, such as the first part of Laborde, the first leaf of a gathering was decorated more fully than the subsequent leaves. But in the Dijon Chansonnier, these openings are visually indistinct from their neighbours. This meant that the pattern would only have been discernible to musically knowledgeable readers.

26The Dijon Scribe was not able to include such patterning in his two other manuscripts. His section of Laborde – a mere four gatherings – includes only four pieces each by Ockeghem and Busnoys, while Copenhagen contains two by Ockeghem and five by Busnoys. As the Laborde Chansonnier was not a manuscript of his own inception, any patterning in his section would have been lost in the overall scheme. Nonetheless, there are two occasions in the Laborde Chansonnier where the Dijon Scribe copied a Busnoys song immediately after one by Ockeghem : En voyant sa dame follows Presque transi, and Joye me fuit follows Fors seulement. The Joye me fuit and Fors seulement pair are also found in this order in the Dijon Chansonnier, as well as in a contemporary poetry manuscript (Paris, BnF, fr. 1719) ; they may be a type of musical replique-response.

27The Dijon Chansonnier seems to have been the earliest of these three projects. As such, a high degree of concordance between this manuscript and the Laborde and Copenhagen chansonniers is to be expected. But although the readings are very close, suggesting the use of the same exemplars, eleven of the 26 songs the Dijon Scribe entered into Laborde and nine of the 33 in Copenhagen are not in the anthology-like Dijon Chansonnier. He must therefore have had access to other sources when copying these smaller manuscripts. What we see in the Dijon Scribe is someone able to use his resources creatively – to order and arrange the repertory in a unique sequence in each of his projects. The order of songs in these books is an inherent part of their distinct identities ; the songs are cast in a new light in each manuscript, appearing always with different neighbours.

28Given the lack of documentation on scribal practice in general, finding the same hand in three different manuscripts presents us with an exceptionally rich opportunity. Though the actual identity of the Dijon Scribe remains unknown, it has been possible, through a close examination of these sources, to gain some insights into his priorities. In terms of scribal practice, the Dijon Scribe represents a middle ground between convention and innovation. Although he adheres to many of the established conventions for copying chansonniers – choirbook layout, spaces left for decorated initials, and composer attributions – he broke new ground in his inclusion of indexes and a treatise, the placement of text incipits on the ‘spare’ staff below the top voice, his consistency in leaving the middle staff between the tenor and contratenor empty, his organisation by genre, and his privileging of certain composers by placing their works in conspicuous places.

29These editorial interventions reveal the extent to which the Dijon Scribe shaped the final form of his manuscripts. More than simply copying their texts, he made choices and took actions to enhance the reading experience of his audience. Many of the individuals involved, including those who provided the sources for exemplars, prepared the parchment, and bound the finished products, remain shadowy figures. We have no concrete evidence of involvement by known composers in the compilation of these books, and we know little of the circumstances under which they were commissioned. But it is our good fortune to have the Dijon Scribe as a first-hand witness and guide to the making and ordering of at least three chansonniers.

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1  This issue is discussed by Andrew Kirkman and Philip Weller, ‘Binchois’s Texts’, Music and Letters 77 (1996), p. 566-596. For further discussion of the limited use for filiation techniques in relation to musical variants, see Stanley Boorman, ‘The Use of Filiation in Early Music’, Text: Transactions of the Society for Textual Scholarship 1 (1981), p. 167-184.

2  Even Petrucci’s Harmonice musices odhecaton A of 1501 must have been collected and edited in its entirety prior to publication; for discussion on Petrucci’s editor, see Bonnie J. Blackburn, ‘Petrucci’s Venetian Editor: Petrus Castellanus and his Musical Garden’, Musica Disciplina (1995), p. 15-45.

3  As early as 1408, Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, described the job of a music teacher as one who would teach the boys, at an institution such as Notre Dame, Paris, ‘principally plainchant, and also counterpoint and other virtuous compositions, but not licentious and lewd songs’; see Jean Gerson, Doctrina pro pueris Ecclesiae Parisiensis; trans. by Leeman L. Perkins, Music in the Age of the Renaissance (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1999), p. 76. Philip the Good founded maîtrises in two important churches (the Sainte Chapelle in Dijon and St-Pierre, Lille) in 1425. He provided funds for the ‘enfants de coeur’ to be instructed in the art of ‘chant, contrepoint et deschant’; see Jean Marix, Histoire de la musique de la cour de Bourgogne (Strasbourg: Heitz, 1939; Rpt. Geneva : Minkoff, 1972), p. 162-163.

4  Alexandre Clerval, L’ancienne maîtrise de Notre-Dame de Chartres (Paris, 1899 ; Rpt. Geneva : Minkoff, 1972), p. 65-67, and Armand-Romain Colette, Histoire de la maîtrise de Rouen (Rouen, 1892 ; Rpt. Geneva: Minkoff, 1972), p. 106.

5  Known singer/scribes include Simon Mellet, Jehan de Namps, and Jehan Sohier at Cambrai Cathedral, and Nicholas Ausquier at the papal court in Rome; see, respectively, Jules Houdoy, Histoire artistique de la cathédrale de Cambrai, ancienne église métropolitaine Notre-Dame (Paris, 1880); also published as Mémoires de la société des sciences, de l’agriculture et des arts de Lille, ser. 4, vol. 7 (Lille: Danel, 1880; Rpt, Geneva: Minkoff, 1972), p. 188-201; Liane Curtis, ‘Music Manuscripts and their Production in Fifteenth-Century Cambrai’ (Ph. D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1991); and Christopher Reynolds, ‘The Origins of San Pietro B 80 and the Development of a Roman Sacred Repertory’, Early Music History 1 (1981), p. 257-304.

6  The standard method of book production in Paris and Bologna from the late 13th century was that the stationers who sold books held copies of unbound exemplars in quires or in pieces (pecie), to hire them out to scribes. The stationer displayed in his shop a list of the exemplaria he had, with the number of pieces and prices for hiring. For more details on the pecia system, see the now classic study by Jean Destrez, La pecia dans les manuscrits universitaires du XIIIe et du XIVe siècle (Paris: Editions Jaques Vautrains, 1935); also Graham Pollard, ‘The Pecia System in the Medieval Universities’, in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, ed. M. B. Parkes and A. G. Watson (London : Scholar Press, 1978), p. 145-161 ; Louis Bataillon, Bertran Guyot, and Rich Rouse (eds), La production du livre universitaire au moyen âge : exemplar et pecia, Acts du symposium tenu au Collegio… May 1983 (Paris: CNRS, 1991).

7  The term exemplar is used here in the sense of a loose fascicle, following Charles Hamm’s suggestion that this was the most likely form by which music would have circulated among itinerant musicians; see Charles Hamm, ‘Manuscript Structure in the Dufay Era’, Acta Musicologica 34 (1962), p. 166-184.

8  It has been suggested that the Copenhagen manuscript Ny kgl, Samling 1848 2°, copied in Lyons, c. 1520, may be a collection of working manuscripts of this type; see Peter Woetmann Christoffersen, French Music in the Early Sixteenth Century: Studies in the Music Collection of a Copyist of Lyons, The Manuscript Ny kgl. Samling 1848 2° in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, 3 vols (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1994), I, p. 57-59. It is also possible that the incomplete fascicle Paris, BnF, nouv. acq. fr. MS 4379 (PC II) served as an exemplar for some of the Oxford manuscript Bodleian Library, MS Canon. misc. 213; see Hans Schoop, Entstehung und Verwendung der Handschrift Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canonici misc. 213 (Bern, 1971), p. 76. Although containing a sacred rather than secular repertoire, it seems likely that the Burgundian choirbook Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek MS 5557 is a compilation of ‘fascicle-manuscripts’; see the introduction by Rob C. Wegman to the facsimile Choirbook of the Burgundian Court Chapel (Peer: Musica-Alamire, 1989), p. 5.

9  For the view that scribes would only have ‘edited’ works if they knew them from memory, and otherwise would have remained faithful to their exemplars, see Margaret Bent, ‘Some Criteria for Establishing Relationships Between Sources of Late-Medieval Polyphony’, in Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Iain Fenlon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 304-305.

10  This number includes 39 concordances, leaving a total of 177 different songs Not until the 1490s do we find anyone as prolific as the Dijon Scribe, and even then there is only one contender: the scribe of the Florentine Chansonnier (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS Banco Rari 229), who was apparently responsible for the 268 pieces in this manuscript.

11  The manuscripts are Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 517 (olim 295); Copenhagen, Kongelige Bibliotek, MS Thott 291; and Washington, Library of Congress, MS M2.1.L25 Case, the ‘Laborde Chansonnier’.

12  Machaut’s personal archive is described in Sarah Jane Williams, ‘An Author’s Role in Fourteenth-Century Book Production: Guillaume de Machaut’s “Livre ou je met toutes mes choses”, Romania 90 (1969), p. 433-454; and in the Avision Christine of 1405 (o.s.), Christine refers to her collection of her works – copies of all her writings up to that point, ‘compilés en ce tendis XV volumes principaux sans les autres particuliers petis dictiez, lesquelz tout ensemble contiennent environ LXX quaiers de grant volume’ (part 3, ch. 10, p. 111); see Jacqueline Cerquiligni-Toulet, ‘Christine de Pizan and the Book: Programs and Modes of Reading, Strategies for Publication’, Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History 4 (2001), p. 112-126 at 114; also James Laidlaw, ‘Christine de Pizan – An Author’s Progress’, Modern Language Review 78 (1983), p. 532-550, and James Laidlaw, ‘Christine de Pizan – A Publisher’s Progress’, Modern Language Review 82 (1987), p. 35-75.

13  An index is found in the earliest surviving chansonnier, the mid-13th century St-Germain-des-Prés manuscript (Paris, BnF, fr. 20050), and in several trouba-dour and trouvère manuscripts (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, S.P.4 [G]; Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, 5198 [K]; Paris, BnF, fr. 22543 (‘Chansonnier d’Urfé’) [R]; Paris, BnF, fr. 25566 (‘Adam de la Halle MS’; ‘MS La Vallière’) [W]; and Rome, Biblioteca Vaticana, Reg. lat. 1490 [a]). Indexes were also included in the Montpellier codex (Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine, H 196); the interpolated Roman de Fauvel compilation (Paris, BnF, fr. 146); Machaut’s manuscript A (Paris, BnF, fr. 1584); the Chantilly Codex (Chantilly, Musée Condé, Bibliothèque, 564); and the Oxford manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. misc. 213) – but they were by no means ubiquitous, especially not in books of music. Although two other 15th-century songbooks – the Colombina and Pavia Chansonniers (Sevilla, Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina, MS 5-1-43 and Pavia, Biblioteca Universitaria, MS Aldini 362) – also contain treatises, the Dijon Chansonnier is the only songbook with a treatise in vernacular, rather than in Latin.

14  For the attribution to Ockeghem of Permanent vierge/Pulchra es, see Sean Gallagher, ‘Syntax and style: Rhythmic Patterns in the Music of Ockeghem and his Contemporaries’, in Johannes Ockeghem: Actes du XLe Colloque international d’études humanistes, ed. Philippe Vendrix (Paris: Klincksieck, 1998), p. 681-705.

15  Johannes Tinctoris, Liber de natura et proprietate tonorum, in Opera theoretica, ed. Albert Seay, 2 vols (Rome, 1975), i, p. 65, and Tinctoris, Proportionale, ibid., iia, p. 10.

16  A deluxe choirbook made for Louis XI’s chapel, similarly, began with a work of Ockeghem, ‘Noël de Okeghen. Per totum adventum’, followed by a work of Busnoys, ‘Asperges me, Domine’; see Leeman L. Perkins, ‘Musical Patronage at the Royal Court of France under Charles VII and Louis XI (1422-1483)’, JAMS 37/3 (Autumn, 1984), p. 535, after the Bulletin philologique et historique (jusqu’à 1715) du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques (Paris, 1928-1929), p. 87-88. On the alternation in the Dijon Chansonnier, see Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl, Quellenstudien zu den Motetten von Johannes Ockeghem (Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1990), p. 43-45.

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Jane Alden, « Arranging the Pieces : The Work of a Chansonnier Scribe », Babel, 16 | 2007, 239-251.

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Jane Alden, « Arranging the Pieces : The Work of a Chansonnier Scribe », Babel [En ligne], 16 | 2007, mis en ligne le 02 août 2012, consulté le 26 février 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/babel.708

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Jane Alden

Wesleyan University

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