Notated verse in ninth- and tenth-century poetic collections

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Barrett, Samuel James 

Although the importance of music to the development of early medieval poetry has long been recognised, surviving musical notations have rarely been identified and only occasionally analysed. One reason for this neglect is the absence of a readily identifiable c01pus of notated poetry. In the absence of a uniform body of material, attention is directed in this study towards one type of manuscript in which notated poetry was transmitted; that is, poetic collections. In total, six notated poetic collections written before the eleventh century are identified as primary material for research. In selecting for investigation both a topic (early medieval verse and music) and a medium (poetic collections), a twofold enquiry is pursued. First, potential uses and users of the surviving notations are assessed. This entails a consideration of notation as, on the one hand, one among several activities involved in the collection and presentation of verse on the page, and, on the other, a witness to the later reception of poetic collections. The particular selections and presentations of text and notation in the individual collections are accordingly analysed as written representations of early medieval music and verse with their own rationale and audience. Through this assessment of the writing of individual manuscripts, a spectrum of uses for and users of the neumatic notations is proposed. Second, surviving notations are analysed as representations of sounding structures. Although the information provided by the neumatic notation cannot be transcribed into a modern format, the information transmitted by the neumes is analysed in conjunction with the poetic texts. Two forms of analysis are undertaken: a comparison of surviving notations for textual concordances, and a comparison of notations for similar text structures. On the basis of these analyses, characteristic melodic behaviours are identified and new models for the interaction of music and poetry proposed. The notations and texts for these analyses are presented separately in a second volume, which contains reproductions, transcriptions and commentaries of the thirty-nine poems in the six poetic collections, as well as reproductions and transcriptions of notations for concordant texts transmitted outside these collections.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge