[I]ntroitus: Untexted Beginnings and Scribal Confusion in the Machaut Manuscripts - Abstract

[I]ntroitus: Untexted Beginnings and Scribal Confusion in the Machaut Manuscripts
Presenter: Anna Zayaruznaya, Princeton University

As Lawrence Earp has shown, manuscripts of Machaut’s collected works display a high level of scribal planning. For the musical items, there is usually enough room for the necessary notes and texts, notwithstanding the varying approaches necessitated by different genres. Specifically, the scribes of MSS A, C, and Vg, among others, make a clear distinction between the texted voices of songs and motets, untexted song tenors, and the untexted but labeled tenors of the motets. This requires coordination between illuminators, text scribes, and music scribes, since the decorated letters that begin each voice will differ depending on whether the voice is labeled with a voice-part (e.g. “Tenor”) or an incipit. This paper focuses on a case where such communication seems to have broken down: the melismatic introitus in Christe qui es lux/Veni creator spiritus (Motet 21). Here there are shortages of space, missing opening letters filled in by later hands, and unorthodox uses of the same decorated letter as the beginning of two words (i.e., as a sort of acrostic): each of the five sources to transmit the motet has a different solution. Close attention to scribal hands and layout suggests that the copying of Christe/Veni engendered some on-the-spot decisions about what to call these sections, whether they are texted or untexted, and whether they are part of their motets or separate from them. A comparison with a newly transcribed introitus from the Ivrea codex both clarifies the situation I posit for Machaut’s motets and provides further evidence that untexted introitus sections may have traveled independently of their motets. These findings, though specific, have broader implications for how we edit, perform, and interpret a number of late-medieval motets.