• Inscring medieval pedagogy: musica ficta in its texts

    Clóvis de André (see profile)
    American Musicological Society, Society for Music Theory
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    State University of New Yor at Buffalo
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    This dissertation focuses on the Medieval and Renaissance understandings of musica ficta in its repertorial and theoretical contexts (9th-16th cent.). Contrary to common understandings that musica ficta was linked primarily to the rules of counterpoint, therefore to polyphony, the author argues that musica ficta was found in earlier monophonic contexts that needed solutions mainly through solmization. The entire process of solmization is laid out, first regarding recta solmization and then moving to ficta solmization. The three main procedures for clarifying hexachords (mutation, permutation, and transmutation) are discussed. Each is addressed in detail; types and subtypes (such as 'explicit,' 'implicit,' and 'indirect' mutations), species (recta- and ficta-mutations), cases ('regular' and 'irregular' mutations, permutations by leap and stepwise, transmutations in upper- and subsemitone situations, as well as in propinquity) are identified and defined. The dissertation introduces to ficta scholarship notions of transmutation and of solmization by means of octave equivalence. In the latter, a momentary shift between two hexachords of the same kind (say, two C-hexachords in different octaves) may be solmized without an actual change between them (i.e., without mutation). 'Transmutation' is conceived as an umbrella term that encompasses other types short-range shifts between hexachords, borrowing from a different hexachord to permit solmization of a transitional step falling outside of its limits. This may happen, for example, when a step from an F-hexachord is solmized within a G-hexachordal gesture, allowing a momentary b-flat above a-natural. These concepts and terminology as promulgated in the language of medieval didactic writings are also considered in terms of coeval rhetorical and philosophical practices, in an attempt to assess conceptual backgrounds that inform approaches to both solmization and musica ficta by theorists, pedagogues, and performers.
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