In chapter 27 of the last book of his Speculum musice, Jacobus faults an unnamed theorist for misattributing some ars nova doctrine to the ars antiqua; he then excuses the offense by explaining that the oldest ars nova theory might already seem old to current practitioners. This passage and several others suggest that Jacobus was writing at a time when the ars nova was hardly new. And yet the earliest ars nova theory dates from 1319, while the completion of the Speculum musice is often placed in the mid-1320s or ca. 1330. Since the Speculum cites a range of ars nova treatises that in turn cite a repertoire of motets, Jacobus's comments serve as a terminus ante quem for the ars nova writ large. This study reconsiders the date of completion for the last, seventh book of the Speculum musice. It is clear that Jacobus was older than the moderni and finished his treatise as an old man, but he also reveals that he wrote over a long span of time and revised his work repeatedly. His notational proclivities are those of a musician who came of age in a post-Franconian idiom prevalent until ca. 1320, but the latest notational developments he mentions include semiminims, dragmas, and even note shapes otherwise associated with the so-called ars subtilior. In light of this, I suggest that the Speculum musice could have been finished as late as the 1350s by an author in his mid- to late seventies. This redating, in turn, invites broad reconsideration of the transition between ars antiqua and ars nova.

“Old” and “new” are relative terms. The theorist Jacobus admitted as much when, in chapter 27 of the final book of his monumental Speculum musice, he censured an unnamed teacher for incorrectly ascribing some notational doctrine to the ars antiqua but then partially acquitted him:

This teacher, who endeavors to expound the old ars and the new in his work, ought to recount faithfully which things are of the old ars and which of the new, and not impute to the ancients things that they did not say. … And yet, perhaps the said teacher means by “old” some ars that deals with the new manner of singing and notating. For such diversity has already arisen among the moderni that the earliest of them could be called “old” in comparison to the others.1

Those familiar with Jacobus's vitriolic tone may be surprised to see him defending a modernus in this way. But even more surprising is the reasoning behind the defense: some doctrines that Jacobus would class as ars nova innovations could accurately be described as “old” at the time when he was writing. It appears that what Jacobus calls “ars nova” stretched across several generations of theorists and encompassed several waves of theory. This “variatio inter Modernos” presents a challenge to the established chronology of the transition between the two artes, often characterized as having taken place in the ten or fifteen years following the compilation of the Roman de Fauvel (ca. 1317–18) and Jean des Murs's Notitia (ca. 1319).2 Jacobus's treatise, usually dated ca. 1330, sits at the end of this period.

But if the ars nova emerged ca. 1320, can it really be that around 1330 the earliest doctrines of the moderni could be categorized, however mistakenly, as ars antiqua? This is not just a matter of quibbling about dates. Much is at stake because the Speculum musice serves to regulate the entire chronology of what has been called “the ars nova”—that is, of French notation and polyphonic composition in the first half of the fourteenth century. Over the course of his seventh book (hereafter “SM7”) Jacobus comments on the ideas and practices of a group of “moderni,” a medieval noun derived from the word “modo” (now) that denotes contemporaries. (Colloquially but not inaccurately, we might translate “moderni” as “folks nowadays.”)3 He also engages with a range of their treatises, attesting to a library of ars nova theory that must have been in circulation by the time he was writing. Indeed, the Vitriacan Ars vetus et nova is known to us as a written treatise primarily from Jacobus's references to it.4 And because of these references, Philippe de Vitry's treatise has traditionally been placed in the 1320s, so as to antedate SM7. The Ars vetus et nova, in turn, referred to a number of motets, including notationally advanced compositions like Vitry's Douce / Garison and Tuba / In arboris, that show the ars nova system in full swing. Thus, in inveighing against the abuses of what he saw as a frivolous and illogical ars nova, Jacobus provides us with a terminus ante quem for that movement, in both its theoretical and its repertorial manifestations.

But where do we get our date for the Speculum musice? The general scholarly consensus is that many of the arguments that have bolstered the received datings for the completion of Jacobus's treatise are unsound because they rely on absence as evidence, and moreover display a misunderstanding of the nature of the papal decretal Docta sanctorum patrum. Meanwhile, an accumulation of recent work—on French notation ca. 1310–50, on ars nova theoretical treatises, and on the dates of several motets attributed to Vitry—suggests that various aspects of ars nova practice should probably be dated later than currently thought. And yet, our sense of the dating of the Speculum musice has not moved very much. After reviewing, in the first section of this article, arguments previously advanced for dating the treatise, I turn in the second section to the most advanced notations referenced by Jacobus in order to locate SM7 within the continuum of fourteenth-century notational change. The third section considers the biographical details that have been drawn from Jacobus's text and the fourth outlines the ways in which chronological considerations have borne upon various proposals regarding his identity. Taken together, I will suggest in the final section, these approaches serve to shift our dating of Jacobus's polemic to a considerably later point in time. This shift, in turn, opens up space for further reconsideration of the chronology of the transition between ars antiqua and ars nova, and also of the role that the very notion of a chronologically distinct “ars nova” has played in the periodization schemes that structure our approaches to writing the history of notated music in the later Middle Ages.

Before setting off, it will be necessary to make three comments regarding the nature and limitations of the evidence on which the present case rests. First, the available evidence is quite scant. Some of my observations will be based on new readings of passages from SM7 that have not previously been brought to bear on chronological questions. But much of what follows will be built on rereadings of the same passages that have long been used to tell different stories. I believe that the new account I offer has more explanatory power than currently accepted narratives, but I will not seek to prove definitively that the received views are untenable. How could they be, when decades of productive scholarship have proceeded on the assumption that the ars nova was fully in place by the mid-1320s? The possibility of radically different interpretations of ars nova chronology is a function of the paucity of sources, theoretical as well as practical, that can be confidently placed between the Roman de Fauvel and the early Machaut manuscripts at mid-century.

Second, different kinds of dates must be understood in different ways. As is well known, dates of composition and of copying can vary drastically for medieval texts. The Speculum musice, for instance, survives only in fifteenth-century copies, though it is certainly a product of the fourteenth century. We can say “certainly” and refer to an “it” because the Speculum musice is textually stable, and also because it is a type of treatise that is likely to have been textually stable and to have been the product of a consolidated if possibly protracted act of writing by a single author.5 For example, although the earliest copy of des Murs's Notitia survives in a compilation manuscript dated 1362, that manuscript transmits an explicit at the conclusion of book 2, indicating that “this work was completed in 1319.”6 We are thus relatively safe in treating books 1–2 of the Notitia as reflecting the state of affairs ca. 1320, though keeping in mind that musical examples especially may have been subject to change during copying.7 On the other hand, unica without dates or close concordances can only be used as evidence of the notational environment in which they were copied. This is especially pertinent when we try to situate Jacobus's work, because the main documents bearing witness to a Vitriacan Ars vetus et nova all date from the 1350s and later, and all differ significantly from each other. For example, Pn7378A describes a semibreve stemmed both above and below (the dragma), which Pn15128 and Vat307 (both copied later than Pn7378A) do not include. Clearly, we cannot conclude that the lost Ars vetus et nova text mentioned the dragma. All we can tell is that by the time Pn7378A was copied (probably in the 1350s), the dragma was in use. In what follows, I give dates of completion for those treatises for which they are known, and dates of copying for undated unica. The two types of dates must, of course, be interpreted differently and distinguished with care.

Finally, in certain cases absence may be admissible as evidence, and should in those cases be distinguished from absence of evidence. As we will see, the absence of a reference to the papal decretal Docta sanctorum in the Speculum musice has been wrongly interpreted as evidence that Jacobus's treatise must precede the decretal. Such arguments ex silentio are logically flawed. But when it comes to charting a changing system like music notation, we must occasionally allow the absence of notational features from sources and treatises to count for something. It will always be hard to prove a negative. That a particular note shape does not appear in any surviving source before a given date can always be explained by an appeal to evidence destroyed or missing; a source that does not use a particular shape can always be read as retrospective or conservative; and a theorist's failure to name a particular note shape can always be attributed to his being unfamiliar with or disapproving of a shape that was in fact already in use. And it is certainly true that there was not a single state of notational advancement in any given year, even among a close-knit northern French community whose members seem to have been reading many of the same treatises and listening to many of the same motets.

On the other hand, it is undoubtedly also true that a different set of note shapes was being used by the end of the fourteenth century than at its beginning. So, change did occur, and most of the evidence for this change will be the nonappearance of shapes and terms in some sources and treatises. When a theorist describes a complete system for his readers, his noninclusion of something in a purportedly exhaustive list constitutes evidence worth considering. In what follows, I aim to make explicit how the nature of the document in question, whether treatise or source, bears on its weight as evidence. But any account of a system that gains new elements over time must treat certain kinds of absence as evidence.

Early Datings

The story of what I claim to be the misdating of the Speculum musice begins in an unlikely place: the entry on “Jean de Muris” in François-Joseph Fétis's Biographie universelle des musiciens, first published in 1837–44. There, Fétis quoted a passage from the prologue to des Murs's arithmetical text Canones tabule tabularum, in which the author comments on the year 1321 as one in which he also came to understand many things about music: “In the same year, knowledge of the art of performing and writing music, both mensural and plainchant, pertaining to every possible mode of discanting (not only with integral durations but all the way down to the most minute fractions) … dawned upon us.”8 Although it contains no mention of a written treatise, this passage has given birth to a number of very specific myths about the chronology of des Murs's work.9 It was here that Ulrich Michels found the words “notitia artis musicae,” which he used as the title of the music treatise by des Murs that we now know by that name, and which thereby gained the date of 1321.10 As Karen Desmond has recently made clear, the broader context of this passage makes it highly unlikely that it provides any datings for des Murs's writings. Rather, his first music treatise was probably written in 1319.11

But entirely apart from its significance for the dating of the Notitia (or whatever we would otherwise call it), this passage proved influential for the dating of the Speculum musice because in Fétis's time des Murs was generally thought to be the author of that text. (The idea was an old one, dating back to a fifteenth-century explicit, and it was still current in 1907 when the second edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians confidently asserted that “the Speculum Musicae is the only work which, in the present state of our knowledge, can be attributed without hesitation to De Muris.”)12 Fétis did not actually identify the 1321 treatise with the Speculum musice, because he perceived the latter to be the work of an aged author and knew that des Murs lived at least until 1345. He reasoned that in 1321 des Murs was therefore not yet senior enough to have penned this mature work.13 But Robert Hirschfeld seems to have misread Fétis in 1884, reporting that the Biographie universelle dated the Speculum musice to 1321 and drawing from this some erroneous conclusions about des Murs's biography.14 Thus the initial identification of the Speculum musice as a product of the 1320s arose from two mistakes: a misattribution to des Murs and a misreading of Fétis.

In the twentieth century this early dating received support from a new chain of argumentation involving the Docta sanctorum, a decretal dated in its various sources to the second, fifth, and ninth year of John XXII's pontificate (hence 1317/18, 1320/21, and 1324/25; the latest of these dates appears to be correct).15 The idea that the seventh book of Jacobus's treatise must predate the Docta sanctorum was first articulated by Walter Grossman in 1924.16 Grossman argued that if the author of the Speculum musice (an aged des Murs, he believed) had been writing in the wake of the Docta sanctorum, he would surely have referred to it. He did not refer to it, reasoned Grossman, because he did not know it, and he did not know it because he was writing before it had been issued. Citing Fétis as evidence for des Murs's having written a music treatise in 1321 and placing the Docta sanctorum in 1322, Grossmann concluded, as Hirschfeld had, that the Speculum musice was from 1321.17

This argument was expanded by Michels in 1970. Unlike Grossmann, Michels knew that the Speculum musice was not the work of des Murs. But des Murs was his focus, and thus he was interested in the Speculum as a witness to des Murs's activity. Noting that Jacobus quotes from des Murs's Notitia and Musica speculativa, and that he makes no reference to the Docta sanctorum, Michels concluded that SM7 was written between the summer of 1323 (because the first recension of Musica speculativa is dated June 1323) and 1324/25 (because the ninth year of John's pontificate ran from August 1324 to August 1325).18 Finally, in 1992, this line of reasoning was further refined by Christoph Falkenroth, who also accepted the Docta sanctorum as a terminus ante quem for SM7, but who found that Jacobus quoted from the second recension of Musica speculativa, which is dated by rebus to 1325. By placing the Docta sanctorum in the middle of that same year, Falkenroth arrived at the rather narrow window of the first half of 1325 as the date of completion of SM7.19

The link between the Docta sanctorum and SM7 has lost credence. As Max Haas, Frank Hentschel, and others have pointed out, the decretal does not target any ars nova wholesale, but focuses specifically on liturgical practice. Its prohibition of various excesses in liturgical performance would therefore hardly have been useful fodder for Jacobus, who largely confined his critiques to notational matters, and who seems to have had nothing to say about the orthodoxy of the motets and hockets criticized by the pope. Thus there would have been no reason for him to cite the document even had he known it.20 In 2003, Michael Klaper posited that the Docta sanctorum probably originated as a targeted affair drafted by some musically informed petitioner in order to address a problem in his own community and to exact retribution (it decrees that offending cantors be suspended from the office for eight days).21 Its dissemination may not have been so public as to reach Jacobus, whether in Paris, Liège, or elsewhere.22 Ultimately, neither des Murs's comments about 1321 nor the Docta sanctorum do much to tie the Speculum musice to the 1320s.

Later decades have also been suggested for completion of the treatise, especially (and notably) by authors concerned with the history of music notation. Hugo Riemann, writing in 1898, proposed ca. 1340–60; less than a decade later, Johannes Wolf placed the Speculum musice in the 1330s.23 Heinrich Besseler, writing in 1925 and aware that the author was not des Murs, thought that it must date to at least the 1330s.24 Roger Bragard, the eventual editor of the Speculum's seven books, proposed ca. 1330–40 as the most likely period for their composition, and in 1980 Michel Huglo also suggested ca. 1330–40 as reasonable.25 In twenty-first-century scholarship, however, dates in the 1320s and 1330s have largely prevailed: Margaret Bent suggests that SM7 was finished in the late 1320s, Rob Wegman places it “sometime around 1330,” and Desmond and David Catalunya both suggest dates in the 1330s.26

The persistence of these early dates is notable because we no longer think that des Murs wrote the Speculum musice, or that the Speculum must precede the Docta sanctorum.27 Moreover, a number of other data points in the chronologies of the late ars antiqua and ars nova have shifted. The tail of the ars antiqua has been stretching later: Catalunya has repeatedly drawn attention to the persistence of ars antiqua notations during the middle third of the century, and the last fascicle of the Montpellier Codex (Mo), an important ars antiqua source, is now placed as late as the 1310s (or even, on art-historical evidence, in the 1320s).28 Later dates have also been proposed for a number of putatively early motets that exhibit ars nova features.29

Most recently, in a monograph of 2018, Desmond undertook a thoroughgoing revision of the ars nova and its chronology, especially as it pertains to the works of des Murs and the Vitriacan ars nova witnesses. Whereas Michels had placed a number of important treatises in the years between 1320 and 1324 (a move necessitated by his early dating of the Speculum musice, which cites and must therefore postdate them), Desmond's revised timeline is more expansive, distributing the same treatises between 1319 and the 1330s (see table 1).30 Desmond also offers a careful analysis of the nature of ars nova practice as described by both its proponents and its most prominent detractor, Jacobus, matching notational and formal features of the surviving motets with theoretical accounts. Here too, things shift toward later dates: Desmond concludes that “the ars nova critiqued by Jacobus probably dates somewhat later than current musicological narratives have tended to place it,” and that “many of the motets that current musicological scholarship classifies as ars nova motets, at the time might not have been considered as being written in the new style.”31 Specifically, Desmond argues that the notation of the Roman de Fauvel would have been classed as ars vetus by the writers of ars nova treatises. She also finds that the notational practice of imperfection by remote parts, to which Jacobus objects, was rare before mid-century.32 But even given all of this, Desmond does not ultimately move the Speculum very far from Michels's dating, opining that “a date for Speculum musicae in the 1330s probably makes the most sense,” while both conceding that “it could date from even later” and elsewhere giving both “c. 1330” and “c. 1330 or possibly later” as dates for its completion.33 This is all the more noteworthy given that several passages in Desmond's work seem to gesture toward later dates, casually aligning the state of affairs that Jacobus describes with works and developments of the 1350s.34

Table 1

Revised dates for key ars nova treatises

TreatiseMichelsDesmond
Anonymous OP before 1321 after Conclusiones 
Notitia 1321 (Besseler's dating) 1319 for books 1–2, later for the Conclusiones 
Compendium 1322 late 1320s / early 1330s 
Vitriacan Ars nova or Ars vetus et nova 1322/23 late 1320s / early 1330s 
Musica speculativa 1323 (secure dating for first recension) 1323 
Speculum musice 1323/24 1330s 
TreatiseMichelsDesmond
Anonymous OP before 1321 after Conclusiones 
Notitia 1321 (Besseler's dating) 1319 for books 1–2, later for the Conclusiones 
Compendium 1322 late 1320s / early 1330s 
Vitriacan Ars nova or Ars vetus et nova 1322/23 late 1320s / early 1330s 
Musica speculativa 1323 (secure dating for first recension) 1323 
Speculum musice 1323/24 1330s 

The fact that the presumed date of the Speculum musice has not shifted by much more than a decade despite its known origin in a series of nineteenth-century misconceptions may be surprising, but it is easy to underestimate just how many points in ars nova chronology depend on the Speculum musice. The dates of composition of individual motets, dates of the emergence of specific note forms, and dates of composition of lost and existing treatises all depend on when we place the “now” of the Speculum musice. As a result, the dates given by scholars for SM7 are often bolstered by data points stemming from unrevised chronologies of the very ars nova treatises whose own dates have been calculated on the basis of a putatively early date of completion for SM7.35 Moreover, counterevidence to what might be termed an “early ars nova hypothesis” has emerged gradually and from various quarters, and such incrementally accumulating knowledge can be slow to change broader narratives. As a useful point of comparison in this regard we might recall Michael Scott Cuthbert's observation that because fragmentary trecento musical sources “have been discovered one at a time over the past century, assumptions about the larger musical environment of late-medieval Italy have remained unquestioned beyond their usefulness.”36 So too with the issue at hand: I suggest that the idea of a Speculum musice completed in the 1320s or 1330s has outlived its usefulness. What might we see if we look afresh at Jacobus's last book, agnostic about its date but interested in situating it at some moment in the evolution of notation and composition?

The Newest of the New

The seven books of the Speculum musice total over 375,000 words, and to ask when they were written is probably to look for a range of decades rather than a handful of years. In his final chapter, Jacobus makes clear that his work has been discontinuous and subject to revision: “O how often, for various reasons, have I interrupted this work for a time! And since Music requires a man who is not distracted from studying her, but wishes to have him all to herself, I, having been often distracted, have returned to continue this work less capable, cruder, and slower, for which reason it has taken much longer.”37 He also apparently subjected his draft to revisions: “In looking over this entire work, when I reread and wanted to emend one thing or another that I had written, … I found many things that I wish I had not said, or had said differently.”38 Eventually Jacobus made the decision that all writers of books must make—to stop tinkering: “And if I had always kept changing things, when would I have reached the end of this work? Perhaps never.”39 While these comments presumably pertain to the whole of the Speculum musice, we find them in book 7, and it is likely that this book too was written over an extended period and revised repeatedly to take new developments into account.40 For present purposes, it is not my goal to determine the internal chronology of the Speculum musice, or even of book 7. Rather, I wish to know how late the last of Jacobus's revisions might have been made. Insofar as his treatise is a terminus ante quem, what is that terminus?41

A short but dense passage in chapter 34 (“That the moderni Add Tails to Semibreves Irrationally”) contains important hints about the newest of the new doctrines known to Jacobus.42 It accompanies the only complete composition included as an example in book 7, a two-section, two-voice Franco-Occitan hocket that begins “A l'entrade d'avrillo.” This song mostly consists of longs and breves; only one passage in the second part uses semibreves.43 But it could have been notated in other ways, and Jacobus uses A l'entrade to ground his explication of the differences between (i) the earlier ars antiqua of Franco, (ii) his own preferred later ars antiqua usage (which has been called “Petronian” or “post-Franconian” in the anglophone musicological literature), and (iii) the newest approaches he has witnessed among the moderni. Figure 1 reproduces the second part of A l'entrade as it appears in the mid-fifteenth-century manuscript Pn7207, the earliest surviving copy of the Speculum musice; the highlighted material is continuous despite initial appearances, attesting to a scribe's confusion when copying material originally notated in score. Example 1 transcribes this highlighted passage in a number of ways, including modern notation (line A) and the original Franconian notation with ligatures broken up (line B). The remaining lines of example 1 are derived from the accompanying description, discussed below. The only notation Jacobus gives for A l'entrade is the Franconian original.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Second part of A l'entrade in Pn7207, 287v, detail. Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Example 1

Example 1

A passage from the second part of A l'entrade: in modern notation (line A); in Franconian notation as given by Jacobus but with ligatures expanded (line B); in Jacobus's default undifferentiated semibreve notation (line C); in the manner in which Jacobus claims that the moderni would render it (line D); in the way Vitry or Machaut would have notated it (line E); and as it appears in Pn7207, 287v (fifteenth century, line F; see figure 1)

Jacobus's introduction of the hocket reveals that it does not exemplify his default manner of notating. Rather, he includes a conversion guide to his preferred system, in which pairs of uneven semibreves do the work of Franco's longs and breves (in Franco's language, breves are broken up into a minor semibreve, worth one-third of a breve, and a major semibreve, worth two-thirds):

When the ancients wanted to sing that span of time which is [now] conveyed by the major semibreve [before] that span which is conveyed by a minor semibreve, they notated in fast measure an imperfect long for the major semibreve, a breve for the minor, and a perfect long for the two combined, as is apparent in the following duplex hocket.44

By performing the conversion Jacobus describes—that is, by replacing the dotted perfect longs with breves (), the imperfect longs with major semibreves (), and the breves with minor semibreves ()—we arrive at the version in line C of example 1.45 The change results in greater ambiguity, since a song that had mostly moved in longs and breves, which are graphically differentiated, now moves in major and minor semibreves, which are not. Accordingly, Jacobus must further specify that the first part of A l'entrade, which is characterized by a mode 2 alternation of breves and longs, “seems to represent a song composed of two unequal semibreves, of which the minor precedes the major,” while the second part—the trochaic “Plaingnant” shown in figure 1—puts the major semibreve first.46

Clearly Jacobus respects Franco. But when it comes to notating something like A l'entrade, he prefers undifferentiated semibreves to the longs and breves that form the core of Franco's system. And we may note the “now” supplied by Wegman in the above-quoted translation: “that span of time which is [now] conveyed.” While the reader is grateful for any help in making sense of Jacobus's dense comparison, this addition turns out to be slightly misleading. In the next sentence, Jacobus describes what happens in his present moment when he speaks of “modernum notandi modum” (the contemporary way of notating); moderni are, by definition, the ones who do things “now” (“modo”). Given this, I would suggest that for Jacobus the major and minor semibreve are the unmarked categories, not because they were current when he was writing, but because they were his personal default rhythmic levels for notating texted song. The spans of time conveyed by the major and minor semibreve are, for him, the rulers against which older and newer notations can be measured. Accordingly, Franconian longs and breves “seem to represent” (“repraesentare videtur”) pairs of unequal semibreves—not the other way around. Music that moves primarily in undifferentiated semibreves constitutes Jacobus's notational native language.

Finally, Jacobus explains how the hocket would be rendered by the “folks nowadays,” again specifying a conversion for each note value in the original notation:

Now since there are four species of notes in the song notated here, namely, perfect long, imperfect long, brevis recta, and semibreve, someone who wanted to notate it in the contemporary way of notating would write [1] the semibreve they call “parva” for the perfect long, [2] the semibreve they call “minor” for the imperfect long, [3] the semibrevis minima for the brevis recta, and [4] a semiminim for the written semibreve.47

By making these substitutions— , , , —we arrive at the rendition shown in line D of example 1, notated in imperfect tempus, major prolation (what would eventually be marked with the mensuration sign ).

A curious aspect of this passage has not previously received attention: Jacobus “skips” a step by insisting that the moderni would notate the breves of A l'entrade as minims and its semibreves as semiminims. The way Machaut might notate the passage in question is given in line E of example 1. In this usage, the longs of the original would become breves (), the breves would become semibreves (), and the semibreves would become minims (). If we are to read the semibreve pair at “kaberelade” as equal, the Machauldian version would be in perfect tempus, minor prolation; if as unequal (which is more likely), then in perfect tempus, major prolation.48Figure 2 charts all of these notational options.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Analogous note shapes in several notational systems of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, columns 1, 2, and 4 as described in Jacobus's Speculum musice, book 7, chapter 34

It might reasonably be posited that to convert his native notation to that of the moderni Jacobus simply added stems to the semibreves minimae, and that the “missing” rendition in line E of example 1 was skipped as a result of this process. But it is clear from other parts of book 7 that Jacobus had seen music in perfect tempus notated with breves and semibreves, since lone semibreves are among the aspects of the new ars that he criticized, and, as Desmond notes, such semibreves occur most often in perfect tempus.49 Furthermore, Jacobus reports in chapter 21 that the moderni “do not notate the major semibreve in the form of a semibreve, but give it the shape of a breve, and they call that breve imperfect.”50 Something like this “skipped” rendition was clearly known to him, then. Only he did not turn to it when describing the newest rendition of A l'entrade. Instead, he described a further level of reduction, perhaps in order to heighten the difference between the ars antiqua and the cutting edge of contemporary usage as he knew it.

Which moderni, exactly, would notate these rhythms in this way? We can be fairly certain that Vitry did not use semiminims, not only because no surviving motet attributed to him uses any, but, more conclusively, because the Quatuor principalia of 1351 affirms that the semiminim was neither invented by Vitry nor used by him (as some apparently claimed).51 We can also be reasonably confident that Machaut did not use semiminims, since they are absent from all of the complete-works manuscripts compiled in his lifetime. Examples of music that moves primarily in semibreves and minims with occasional semiminims—that moves, in other words, in the way in which line D of example 1 moves—can be found in such sources as the Ivrea Codex (Iv), copied in the last quarter of the fourteenth century. Figures 3 and 4 reproduce excerpts from, respectively, a Sanctus on folio 46r and a textless voice added to folio 54r, both unique to Iv.52 In both, semiminims are used for sesquitertia—four semiminims in the space of three minims—and therefore do not behave like the semiminims Jacobus mentions. But the level of rhythmic movement is similar. Furthermore, the example from folio 54r uses semiminims that look similar to ones described by Jacobus in chapter 24 (discussed below), with tails drawn obliquely from the top of the note head and turning toward the right. We also see a comparable level of rhythmic activity in the contratenor of the ballade Cine vermeil as transmitted in the Chantilly Codex (Ch), ca. 1410–20 (see figure 5).53

Figure 3

Figure 3

Opening of a Sanctus preserved in Iv, 46r, diplomatic facsimile

Figure 4

Figure 4

Textless voice preserved in Iv, 54r, diplomatic facsimile

Figure 5

Figure 5

Contratenor to Cine vermeil preserved in Ch, 56r. Image courtesy of CNRS-IRHT, © Bibliothèque et archives du château de Chantilly.

It is worth pausing at this point to dwell briefly on Jacobus's familiarity with semiminims. He first mentions them in a passage in chapter 24, describing one graphical manifestation of this note value and giving “semiminor” as a synonym for “semiminim.”54 “Semiminor” does not figure further in the Speculum musice, but “semiminim” appears five more times, all of them in chapter 34, during and after the discussion of A l'entrade (see table 2). From these passages, we learn that the semiminims with which Jacobus is familiar have stems that slant, curve, or possibly hook to the right (table 2, row 1); that the moderni use that notatation “nowadays” (“nunc,” row 2); that, as noted above, they would use them to represent the semibreves in A l'entrade (row 4); and that two such semiminims fit into the span of one minim (row 6).

Table 2

References to semiminims in the Speculum musice, book 7

LatinEnglishSummary
Qui vero ponunt semiminimas vel semiminores, indirecte superius caudant ipsas reflectendo caudam versus partem dexteram. (Chapter 24, B52) Those who notate semiminims or semiminors caudate them obliquely at the upper end, turning the tail towards the right. (W43) Semiminims are written with stems slanting or curving to the right. 
Moderni … aliquas nunc caudant semibreves (dico “nunc aliquas,” ut minimas et semiminimas). (Chapter 34, B65) The moderni … flag certain semibreves nowadays (I say “certain [semibreves] nowadays,” such as minims and semiminims). (my translation) The moderni notate semiminims with stems. 
Item secundum illud argumentum, illae solae principalius essent plicabiles quae essent divisibiles et, secundum hoc, minimae et semiminimae vel non deberent plicari, vel minus quam ceterae semibreves cuius oppositum faciunt. (Chapter 34, B67) Likewise, according to that argument, single notes that are divisible would be more appropriately stemmed, and therefore minims and semiminims should either not be stemmed, or be stemmed less than the other semibreves from which they are distinguished. (my translation) Even if some kinds of semibreves could be stemmed, semiminims should not be, since Franco recommends that stems mark longer notes. 
pro semibrevi ipsi posita semiminimam (Chapter 34, B69) a semiminim for the written semibreve (W56) The moderni would notate the semibreves in A l'entrade as semiminims. 
Gloriari non debent Moderni quod minimas et semiminimas quantum ad rem invenerunt. (Chapter 34, B69) The moderni should not boast that they have invented “minims” and “semiminims.” (W56) New terminology obscures a continuum of practice. 
Adhuc secundum dicta nomen minimitatis non videtur usquequaque rationabile cum pro minima duae ponantur semiminimae. Minimo autem non est dare minus. (Chapter 34, B69) In view of the said name of “minimity” it does not seem altogether rational that one should notate two semiminims for a minim. For there cannot be something that is less [minus] than the least [minimus]. (W59) The term “semiminim” is linguistically illogical, since the minim, already minimal according to its name, should not be further divisible. 
LatinEnglishSummary
Qui vero ponunt semiminimas vel semiminores, indirecte superius caudant ipsas reflectendo caudam versus partem dexteram. (Chapter 24, B52) Those who notate semiminims or semiminors caudate them obliquely at the upper end, turning the tail towards the right. (W43) Semiminims are written with stems slanting or curving to the right. 
Moderni … aliquas nunc caudant semibreves (dico “nunc aliquas,” ut minimas et semiminimas). (Chapter 34, B65) The moderni … flag certain semibreves nowadays (I say “certain [semibreves] nowadays,” such as minims and semiminims). (my translation) The moderni notate semiminims with stems. 
Item secundum illud argumentum, illae solae principalius essent plicabiles quae essent divisibiles et, secundum hoc, minimae et semiminimae vel non deberent plicari, vel minus quam ceterae semibreves cuius oppositum faciunt. (Chapter 34, B67) Likewise, according to that argument, single notes that are divisible would be more appropriately stemmed, and therefore minims and semiminims should either not be stemmed, or be stemmed less than the other semibreves from which they are distinguished. (my translation) Even if some kinds of semibreves could be stemmed, semiminims should not be, since Franco recommends that stems mark longer notes. 
pro semibrevi ipsi posita semiminimam (Chapter 34, B69) a semiminim for the written semibreve (W56) The moderni would notate the semibreves in A l'entrade as semiminims. 
Gloriari non debent Moderni quod minimas et semiminimas quantum ad rem invenerunt. (Chapter 34, B69) The moderni should not boast that they have invented “minims” and “semiminims.” (W56) New terminology obscures a continuum of practice. 
Adhuc secundum dicta nomen minimitatis non videtur usquequaque rationabile cum pro minima duae ponantur semiminimae. Minimo autem non est dare minus. (Chapter 34, B69) In view of the said name of “minimity” it does not seem altogether rational that one should notate two semiminims for a minim. For there cannot be something that is less [minus] than the least [minimus]. (W59) The term “semiminim” is linguistically illogical, since the minim, already minimal according to its name, should not be further divisible. 

The semiminim is frequently characterized as present in French theory in the 1320s or even earlier. But so far as I have been able to ascertain, this dating rests only on the circumstance of its being mentioned in SM7, presumed to be early, and in several Vitriacan ars nova sources whose early datings are themselves derived from the early dating of SM7.55 If we remain agnostic about the dating of SM7, semiminims appear to be a much later phenomenon. The earliest securely dated treatise to mention them is in fact the Quatuor principalia of 1351, whose English author-compiler, John of Tewkesbury, objects to their use on conceptual grounds.56 Around the same time or perhaps somewhat later, the author of Sex sunt species in Pn7378A (copied ca. 1350–60) seems skeptical about terminology while explaining that a minim is worth two semiminims, “if one can speak of semiminims.”57 The Compendium totius artis motetorum, copied ca. 1350, gives an example of a semiminim.58 So does Coussemaker's Anonymous III, also copied around 1350.59

The Libellus cantus mensurabilis describes semiminim rests in its myriad (mostly fifteenth-century) sources.60 The date of ca. 1340 often given for this treatise depends on the notion of des Murs's authorship, but the Libellus is at least as likely to have been compiled by someone else on the basis of des Murs's teaching: it announces itself as being “in accordance with” or “after” des Murs (“secundum magistrum Iohannem de Muris”), and it updates the theory of the Compendium.61 The earliest source of the Libellus, the third Berkeley treatise dated 1375, is an updating of an original that might not in fact have mentioned semiminims at all; significantly, the Libellus does not include the semiminim in its list of note shapes, which is limited to the maxima, long, breve, semibreve, and minim.62 Moreover, several points of doctrine indicate that the original text may date from around 1350 or later.63

No treatise securely dated to the 1320s or 1330s mentions semiminims. They are not present in des Murs's 1319 Notitia, in Handlo's 1326 Regule, or in the 1336 Compendium de discantu mensurabili of Petrus frater dictus Palma ociosa. Nor do they feature in the Omni desideranti notitiam, a treatise that Desmond argues is a revision of the earlier Vitriacan Ars vetus et nova.64 All of these texts are more systematic writings than SM7, so their failure to mention the semiminim—though not conclusive in itself—is worth taking into account.65

In light of this, Jacobus's familiarity with semiminims gives book 7 a rather late cast. Even more suggestive in this regard is a passage in chapter 24, in which the author describes the semibreve shapes he has encountered in the writings or compositions of the moderni. (“Semibreve,” for him, is a category that includes minims and semiminims.) The variety of shapes he has seen is striking:

Among the moderni there has been great dissent regarding the formation and figuration of the semibreve. Certain moderni were curtailing [syncopabant] some of them, but figuring others half-full inside. Others were using strokes only at the lower or higher ends, sometimes drawing the line at the higher end directly above the semibreve, and sometimes in some other way. And others were using strokes both above and beneath … calling them dragmas. Others were using strokes not at the higher or lower ends, but at the sides or in the middle.66

The figurae Jacobus describes here are of various vintages. Semibreves with stems attached to the sides rather than the top are present in early fourteenth-century English sources and mentioned by Handlo in 1326.67 In contrast, the dragma, a figure with stems both above and below (), is named or exemplified in many of the treatises that mention semiminims, including the Quatuor principalia, Anonymous III, and the Compendium totius artis motetorum.

The word “syncopabant” is hard to interpret. The discussion of “syncopa” as syncopation—as in Omni desideranti, for example—does not seem to be relevant, since it does not involve unusual note shapes, which are the topic of Jacobus's paragraph.68 If we take the word to mean something like “curtailed” or “diminished,” then Jacobus might be referring to void notation: the author of the Tractatus figurarum, for instance, discusses the void semibreve in a chapter headed “De diminutione figurarum,” and describes the effects of voiding as imperfection and diminution.69 Jacobus contrasts this shape in short order with figures that are “half-filled” or “partially filled inside” (“interius semiplenas”), which I take to refer to what have been called “semivoid” or “half-void” note heads. Karen Cook, who has tracked theoretical references to such shapes, finds them only in Italian sources that are notably late; the Tractatus figurarum, usually dated to the last quarter of the fourteenth century, advocates for graphemes such as and .70 An appendix added after ca. 1375 to one of the sources of Johannes Boen's Ars—also an Italian source—speaks of a “hooked and dotted semi-dragma” (“semidragma punctata et uncata”).71 The Tractatulus de cantu mensurali seu figurativo musice artis mentions a “semivacua” while citing motets dated ca. 1380 and ca. 1400.72

It seems to me that Jacobus must have seen, or at least heard tell of, note shapes that belong to the set of practices that modern scholarship has called “ars subtilior.” Moreover, such shapes apparently did not even seem rare to him: his use of the imperfect tense throughout the passage (“quidam illarum quasdam syncopabant, quasdam … figurabant. … Alii … caudabant. … Alii nominabant”) suggests a set of notational practices that is concurrent with his writing, widespread, and not notably recent.73 Although ars subtilior is traditionally associated with later, southern practices, Anne Stone has made a compelling argument both for Paris as a “hub” of ars subtilior composition and for an earlier emergence of these techniques than usually posited.74 Could the discussion in chapter 24, perhaps one of the latest edits made to book 7 of the Speculum musice, be an early attestation to these practices? Or do we risk turning Jacobus into a music-theoretical Methuselah in proposing that he lived to see such novelties?

The Oldest of the Old

As the lack of consensus over his identity demonstrates, autobiographical information is not readily forthcoming from Jacobus's treatise.75 He was apparently of an advanced age by the time he finished book 7, in which he describes himself as “debilis” (frail) and “senex” (old) in contrast to the moderni, whom he calls “iuvenes.”76 While this might initially seem to suggest that des Murs and Vitry were young and sprightly when Jacobus was writing, the terms “iuvenis” and “senex” are usually adjacent in Latin schemes for the stages of life (infans, puer, adolescens, iuvenis, senex). Some medieval writers used fifty as the boundary age between the two, following the schemes laid out by Isidore in the Differentiis and Etymologiae:

By this count, Jacobus might have been somewhat over fifty, and the contemporaries he criticized somewhat under fifty, at the time of writing.78 But here too we must interpret with caution. Far from evincing a monolithic view of old age, medieval texts preserve a range of schemes that divide the human life into three, four, seven, and sometimes five or twelve stages, and the number of stages has an inevitable impact on the placement of old age.79 For example, Vincent of Beauvais (thirteenth century) divides life into six stages, placing iuventus at twenty-eight to fifty years of age, followed by gravitas from fifty to seventy-two, and only then by senectus for those aged seventy-two and older.80

Then as now, old age was relative, depending both on one's vantage point (when we are twenty, forty seems old, when we are seventy, fifty seems young) and on the person: Petrarch, aged nearly fifty, wrote in a letter to Boccaccio that some people are older at fifty than others are at sixty.81 And in any case, Jacobus's invocations of life stages are clearly in the service of rhetoric: “I am now one of the ancients who are called backward by some. I am an old man [senex]; they are clever and young [acuti et iuvenes]. Dead are they whom I uphold; alive are they against whom I dispute.”82 The author wishes to earn the reader's goodwill and to valorize his act of championing theorists who are dead and cannot speak for themselves. Mining such passages for historical information is perilous.

Furthermore, and more concretely, it is worth remembering that Jacobus does not name any of the moderni with whom he disagrees, and that with this term he aggregates a group of people who presumably included Vitry and des Murs (insofar as he cites works by both) as well as a host of unnamed others: “many are they against whom I undertake this last … work.”83 It may well be that the term “iuvenes” more obviously applied to a later generation of theorists writing treatises during the decades that, I suggest below, must have passed between des Murs's Notitia of 1319 and the completion of the Speculum musice. While it is reasonable to assume that Jacobus was somewhat older than Vitry and des Murs, it may be that these two were no longer iuvenes when his words were penned, or that they were iuvenes only in relative terms. Whom we take Jacobus to mean by “iuvenes” ends up depending on when we think his treatise was finished. Thus, their identities cannot be used to date the treatise itself.84

We get only a little farther when we try to date SM7 on the basis of its heroes rather than its villains. Jacobus writes reverently about the teachings of Franco and is especially complimentary about “that worthy singer, Petrus de Cruce, who composed so many beautiful and good measurable songs.”85 Among the musical examples in SM7 are two excerpts from motet tripla attributed there to Petrus de Cruce—motets found in Mo fascicle 7 (copied ca. 1290) as well as in the later Turin Manuscript (Tu, copied in the early fourteenth century).86 Indeed, Jacobus is one of very few sources of information we have about Petrus de Cruce, and the received biographies of the two theorists turn out to be logically intertwined.

Petrus is usually described as having been active in the final decade of the thirteenth century, perhaps after completing his own education ca. 1290. This limited sphere of activity is the basis of the oft-repeated claim that Jacobus was a student in Paris in the 1290s.87 But Petrus's period of activity likely overran the 1290s; indeed, the span of his career is contingent upon the dating of SM7.88 We know that he was paid in 1298 for the composition of a rhymed office for Saint Louis, and that he was resident in the palace of the bishop of Amiens in 1301–2.89

Ernest Sanders and Peter Lefferts allow for the possibility that Petrus was still alive in the 1320s, though note that, if that was indeed the case, “he was no longer at the cutting edge of innovation in the 1320s” since “Robert Handlo and Jacobus of Liège placed him among their older figures as opposed to the moderni.”90 But those two theorists treat Petrus in tellingly different ways. Handlo, writing in 1326, situates him between Franco and the moderni, rather than grouping him with Franco:

The preceding rule of Franco … obtains when the value of the breve does not run beyond the proportion of [i.e., does not exceed] three semibreves. … It is, nevertheless, safer and more suitable in motets and in other songs where there are [up to] three semibreves [per breve] for a punctus to be added [i.e., to mark breve boundaries] between two and two [semibreves], or between three and three, or between two and three, or between three and two, as Petrus de Cruce employs it. Singers nowadays do the same.91

In contrast to Handlo, Jacobus states explicitly that Petrus is dead, describing him and Franco together as “teachers who were so distinguished in their times, and whose memory is deserving of blessing.”92 All we can say, then, is that Petrus died well before the writing of this passage in the Speculum musice. We may also note Handlo's use of the present-tense “employs” (“ponit”) in his description of Petrus as a notator. While it would be rash to read too much into this, it is consistent with his still being alive in 1326, even if he did not qualify as a modernus.

Other evidence points in the same direction. In a recent analysis of rhythmic figures in Petronian tripla, David Maw observes a difference between the motets preserved in Mo fascicle 7 (compiled ca. 1290) and those in fascicle 8 (compiled perhaps in the 1310s)—a difference he characterizes as that between “a phase of discovery” and “a phase of mastery.” Reasonably positing that agents close to Petrus and his circle were responsible for the compilation of these fascicles, Maw implies that the newest pieces of fascicle 8 were not yet available to the compilers of fascicle 7, thus extending Petrus's period of compositional activity through the first decade or more of the fourteenth century.93

Petrus left a book of polyphony to Amiens Cathedral (a book that, like the first and last fascicles of Mo, began with “Deus in adiutorium”), and this bequest is recorded in an inventory of 1347.94 This is the first surviving inventory of the Amiens Cathedral treasury, and therefore its date does not imply that Petrus died so late. Even so, 1347 is the terminus ante quem for Petrus's death. If Petrus lived into the mid-1320s or even the 1330s, Jacobus could have become acquainted with him or his work during a long span of time that might have included the 1290s but need not have been limited to that decade.

Jacobus certainly studied in Paris at some point: he refers to having “heard” books 1 and 2 of Boethius's De institutione musica there, and these were central to music education at the university's arts faculty.95 But this fact cannot help us determine when he studied, since at present there is no consensus as to how long he stayed or how old he was while in attendance.96 At least one aspect of Jacobus's testimony points to his having been in Paris in the 1320s or 1330s, either as a student or on a subsequent visit. He famously reports having heard a concert in which motets in both the old style and the new were sung.97 Such a concert can only have taken place when there were motets in the new style. As Desmond has convincingly shown, the latest motets in the interpolated Roman de Fauvel—motets such as Tribum / Quoniam—have more kinship with the old ars than with the new. For current motets (“moteti moderni”) to be performed in what Jacobus calls the new manner of singing (a manner that, he explicitly notes, involves a profusion of imperfect consonances), the concert would probably have had to occur no earlier than the mid-1320s.98

Ultimately these biographical details prove inconclusive. All we can be sure of is that the notational status quo during the years in which Jacobus would have grown up, which might be said to constitute his notational native language, featured a profusion of undifferentiated semibreves. This style of notating was on the rise by ca. 1290, when Mo fascicle 7 was copied, and it remained current through the second decade of the fourteenth century, as attested by Mo fascicle 8 and the interpolated Fauvel of ca. 1317–18.

Around 1319, des Murs theorized the minim as an independent note value. What profile can we imagine for a theorist who would object to this move? If Jacobus had been born in the early 1270s, he would have been almost fifty at this time. He would have been firmly set in his ways and would likely have been already at work on a long treatise on music. But even a person born ca. 1280 would already be forty—still a iuventus, but fully formed and firmly committed to the notational system of the century's first decades. On the other hand, a Jacobus born in 1290 would likely have been more amenable to updating his usage than the author we encounter in the Speculum. On these grounds, ca. 1280 emerges as a reasonable educated guess for his latest possible birthdate. He could of course have been born earlier, but then we would run into problems at the other end. Recall that we have no evidence for the use of the dragma or semiminim before the 1340s, and the semivoid note shapes he seems to know probably date from later still.

And there are other hints, in addition to the late note shapes, that SM7 was finished at a time when the ars nova was in full swing—and had been for some time—both in practice and in theory. Jacobus makes clear at the outset of his book that the “new” practices were in fact universally accepted at the time of his writing, and that he considered himself to be the sole remaining champion of the old ways: “I am alone—which saddens me—and many are they against whom I undertake this last satirical and polemical work.” He also implies that he has been waiting for someone to defend the ars antiqua: “I do not doubt that the contemporary way of singing, and the treatises written about it, must be displeasing to many capable men, but I have not seen anyone who would write down something on the matter.”99 Far from commenting on a movement that is incipient, Jacobus's text evokes a climate in which various factions of moderni have written many conflicting treatises describing a range of sub-semibreve values: “Now, however, in distinguishing their semibreves, the moderni are laboring greatly in their treatises, but they are not in firm agreement. For how many varieties have they used in them?”100 And then there is Jacobus's complaint about the lone semibreve; Desmond observes that such a note appears only in music in perfect tempus with full-fledged ars nova rules of imperfection, and that no such figurations are present in Fauvel; we find them only in later sources such as the Machaut manuscripts and Iv.101

The obvious compromise here is to accept that Jacobus was indeed old, especially by the standards of his time, when he was writing. He might have been in his late sixties, in his seventies, or perhaps even nearing eighty. While this would be a noteworthy age for him to have attained, it is by no means impossible and was probably not even as rare as is sometimes claimed. Shulamith Shahar has argued persuasively that the oft-cited notion that medieval people were considered old after the age of forty is a myth, noting that medieval legislative texts often define the onset of old age as occurring in one's sixties.102 We know that Vitry died at seventy and suspect that Machaut lived into his late seventies. Jacobus draws attention repeatedly to his old age and decrepitude, and I propose that we take him at his word.

When the various data are weighed, I believe we should place the completion of SM7 sometime in the 1340s or 1350s. Because we have been accustomed to thinking of the Speculum musice as an earlier treatise, this date range may seem jarring. But the overall tone of book 7 is consistent with an author who completed his training and passed the bulk of his most productive years under an old regime that began to change when he was around forty, and who became more and more bewildered as the 1320s, 1330s, 1340s, and perhaps some of the 1350s spawned ever more innovative musical and music-theoretic repertoires. The alternative scenario—that a conservative defense written ca. 1330 of a system that was only beginning to be explored ca. 1320 happens to include the earliest accounts of notational developments otherwise emergent only in the 1350s or later—is hardly tenable.

Granted, the Speculum musice has some glaring omissions for a treatise finished in the 1340s or 1350s. Most significantly, Jacobus never used the word “prolatio” to indicate the length of the semibreve in minims. In the 1336 treatise of Petrus frater dictus Palma ociosa, “prolatio maior” already means three minims to the semibreve, and “prolatio minor” two. In SM7, “prolatio” most often carries the less technical sense of a “putting forth” or performance,103 and in one case Jacobus quotes des Murs's Compendium, which speaks of the note values maxima, long, breve, semibreve, and minim as the five “partes prolationis.”104

I have argued above that in some cases absence can serve as evidence, and the absence of these terms from Jacobus's vocabulary is admittedly inconvenient for the present argument. However, SM7 is not systematic enough as a treatise for us to be able to draw very much information from the terminology it excludes. It was not Jacobus's goal to give a comprehensive account of ars nova notational theory.105 Rather, he identifies his “first and primary intention” as that of “defending the ancients.”106 His talking points are aspects of the older doctrine, which he presents with some care before attempting to show how the moderni have undermined or misunderstood them. For example, chapter 11 explicates tempus, referencing Franco and Aristotle, while chapter 12 demonstrates “how the previously stated description of tempus is being attacked by contemporaries.”107 Thus, Jacobus's failure to mention major and minor prolation is less informative than it might seem, because prolation has no analogue in the old system.108 As a parallel, it is worth noting that SM7 never explicitly mentions red notation, which some of the treatises Jacobus cites certainly discussed.109

It may be that Jacobus never encountered music in minor prolation, since it was rather rare in the first half of the century outside of the Machaut corpus, which enjoyed limited circulation. Vitry may never have used minor prolation. And it is clear that Jacobus had limited access to theoretical texts. He claimed to have seen around fifteen treatises on music, but this number apparently included Boethius, Franco, and other antiqui as well as treatises by contemporaries.110 Furthermore, a comment in chapter 6 suggests that Jacobus did not have des Murs's Musica speculativa at a time when he would have wanted to engage with it.111 Book 7 may well have been written in an environment or location that precluded easy access to the latest music-theoretical writings, and the range of texts available to its author may have been somewhat eclectic. For all of these reasons it will always be more fruitful to focus on the things Jacobus does mention, rather than his apparent omissions. Giving too much credence to the latter puts us at risk of falling into the same logical trap that resulted in the Speculum musice being placed before the Docta sanctorum.

Which Jacobus?

The late date range suggested here for the completion of the Speculum musice will necessarily have implications for evaluating the historical candidates who have been proposed as the treatise's author. This is especially true for the most recent, and most detailed, proposal of this kind: Margaret Bent's identification of Jacobus as James of Spain, an illegitimate nephew of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of King Edward I. This hypothesis is driven by an archival discovery—a listing of “a book containing the musica of Magister Jacobus de Ispania, divided into seven books, of which the first letters make his name, Jacobus,” in a 1457 inventory of the Vicenza sacristy.112 Bent identifies this as a book previously mentioned in a 1419 bequest, noting that the attribution therefore constitutes an earlier witness to Jacobus's treatise than any surviving manuscript of the treatise itself.113 When it comes to deciding among possible candidates named Jacobus de Ispania, the dating of the treatise is of paramount importance.

For Bent, “The probable life-span for Jacobus is 1260s or 1270s–1330s. He most likely completed the Speculum in the later 1320s.”114 These dates are derived from a line of reasoning that begins with the idea that Jacobus knew Petrus de Cruce personally in Paris in the 1290s.115 If students usually entered university aged fourteen or fifteen,116 a birthdate of ca. 1280 would result for Jacobus. Bent rejects this idea, however, because a person born so late would not have called himself “old” in the 1320s. Invoking scholarly consensus against the possibility that the treatise was finished any later than ca. 1330, Bent characterizes Jos. Smits van Waesberghe's dating of ca. 1340 as “rightly judged to be too late” by Suzanne Clercx and others.117 The solution to this problem that she offers instead is that Jacobus could have been at Paris as a “mature student” aged twenty-five or thirty.118

Several other candidates previously suggested as matches for Jacobus are disqualified by Bent as “probably too young to have had direct contact with Petrus, and too young to be ‘old’ c. 1330.”119 But we will recall that the timeline of Petrus de Cruce is itself derived from the presumed dating of the Speculum musice; Bent dismisses one candidate—a dominus Petrus de Croy who died in 1336—as being “too late if we are to take literally Jacobus's statement that those he praises are dead.”120 The idea that the Speculum musice was finished by 1330 thus rules out several possible candidates for its authorship, anchors Petrus's biography, and forces the “mature student” hypothesis. But all of these turn out to be moving pieces. For example, if instead we posit a treatise finished, say, ca. 1345 by a theorist in his sixties, then a dominus Petrus de Croy who died in 1336 could still be the theorist Petrus de Cruce, who by then would have been dead for a decade.121

By my reading, it is mainly on the strength of the chronological match that James of Spain (for whom, as Bent notes, “there is no direct evidence of his having musical interests or having been in Paris or Liège”) is put forward as the author of the Speculum: “His dates (1267/8–1332) fit almost perfectly with what is most plausibly guessed for the life-span of the theorist, and much better than those of earlier identities.”122 If the Speculum musice might instead have been completed in the 1340s or 1350s, James of Spain, who died in 1332, could not have been its author.123

The redating proposed here encourages a fresh look at the other candidates to have been brought forward. Perhaps most promising, if we are to be guided by the Vicenza sacristy inventory, is a candidate mentioned by Bent but dismissed as too young. This is the Jacobus de Ispania who was a canon of Amiens in 1326, when Pope John XXII awarded him expectation of the cantorship and the prebend of the cathedral of Châlons-sur-Marne.124 Bent points out that “the tenure of an Amiens canonry by someone who may have been a musician stands in a long tradition of musical cultivation there,” noting the city's “links with Paris, documented books of organum, and … [the presence there of] Petrus de Cruce, from Amiens.”125 If indeed this Jacobus de Ispania were to turn out to be the author of the Speculum musice, his contact with Petrus de Cruce could have taken place in Amiens as well as in Paris.126 Identifying this Jacobus de Ispania with our author could be compatible with the evidence of the Vicenza inventory, whether he was of Spanish origin (as Bent proposes) or from Liège, as per Wegman's argument that “Ispania” can be a reference to Hesbaye.127

The Jacobus de Montibus put forward by Richard Crocker and Oliver Ellsworth, for whose candidacy Desmond has more recently made an argument, is less obviously compatible with the Vicenza evidence: Desmond finds him identified as Jacobus de Montibus Anoine (“of Hainaut”).128 Since Jacobus de Montibus was active in Liège, one could posit that he became known for his place of residence rather than that of his birth. From the point of view of the argument presented here, this Jacobus is either somewhat too early or chronologically plausible, depending on which year in the wide range of possible death dates one selects: he may have died between 1337 and 1343, but he was certainly dead by 1347.129 Finally, although the case was never very strong for identifying the writer of the Speculum musice with Jacobus de Audenaerde, the canon of the cathedral of Saint-Lambert in Liège who is mentioned in a petition of 1313–14 addressed to the pope by the masters and students of Paris, this Jacobus, who died before 1361, should in any case not be dismissed for chronological reasons.130

In addition to reopening the question of Jacobus's identity, the present hypothesis invites us to look again at his putative reliance on the teachings of William of Ockham—a connection that has been questioned on chronological grounds. In a dissertation of 1989 and a book of 1990, Dorit Tanay argued that Jacobus employed Ockham's favored method of metalinguistic analysis and his law of parsimony (commonly known as “Ockham's Razor”) in his critique of the moderni.131 Bent dismisses this possibility on the grounds of Ockham's dates of activity:

[A] dependence on Ockham is … ruled out by a simple chronological argument. The probable life-span for Jacobus is 1260s or 1270s–1330s. He most likely completed the Speculum in the later 1320s; it was long in the making. … William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347) was a full generation younger, and did not begin his education until that of Jacobus was long over; he is thought to have studied theology at Oxford 1309–21. There is no way that Jacobus could have absorbed the Summa totius logicae, published by a much younger man c. 1323, in time for it to have coloured or deeply informed what must have been his life's work, started much earlier. Moreover, Jacobus seems mostly to have revered his elders and disagreed with his juniors—is he not likely in old age to have viewed Ockham likewise as a young upstart or simply ignored him?132

If, however, I am correct to suppose that Jacobus was born around 1280, then Ockham was his near contemporary. And if SM7 could have been written in the 1340s or 1350s, Ockhamist influence would not be hard to justify. Reading Jacobus's treatise with a fresh set of expectations about the kinds of authors he did or did not know may bring to light further resonances with texts previously thought to have been too late for his consideration.

Finally, imagining Jacobus as writing at mid-century sharpens questions about the intended efficacy of his intervention. Hentschel argued in 2001 that Jacobus's seventh book, though by no means “satirical” in the modern sense of the word, can be read as incorporating elements of humor. This interpretation positions Jacobus as “a lone fighter” who “writes with a healthy measure of self-irony,” because he “knows that even if his arguments gain traction generally, they will not stop the musical developments.” For this reason, Jacobus “breaks up his own criticism through humor, as though he wished to hint to his readers that his criticism was in vain anyway.”133 As Hentschel notes, getting at this potential humor is difficult for the modern reader because it requires a more detailed cultural context than we have so far been able to adduce for SM7.134 Indeed, Hentschel accepts ca. 1325 as the date of completion for the Speculum and also identifies 1324–25, the period in which the Docta sanctorum was issued, as the “heyday” of ars nova.135 But if this were the case, then the futility of Jacobus's arguments would be far from self-evident. After all, in the practical arena, the battle could hardly be considered won in the mid-1320s if we are to take sources such as Pn571 as indicative. This manuscript, dated to 1326, transmits two Fauvel motets in a transitional notation that uses both upward- and downward-pointing stems, “tagging” some semibreves as semibreves minimae rather than treating them as minims per se.136 And while we must remember that the paucity of sources from the 1320s makes it hard to say what exactly was the standard for those years, this paucity itself is likely a function of the transitional or experimental notations used in that decade; it seems likely that no notational consensus of the kind that Jacobus describes had yet been reached. If, however, we imagine him writing some thirty or more years after the completion of book 2 of the Notitia, then Hentschel's reading of SM7 as the compulsive creation of an author who knows his argument to be futile becomes more attractive as it gains in explanatory power.

Decades of Debate

In the 1320s, the Docta sanctorum denigrated the activities of some “disciples of a new school” and around the same time Handlo spoke of “moderni cantores.”137 Around 1350, the compiler of the Quatuor principalia and, I argue, the author of the Speculum musice placed Franconian theories and practices in opposition to those of some moderni. Are there any contradictions here? I think not. There are always new schools emerging, and there are always moderni afoot.138 That the meaning of “modernus” is “a contemporary” is easy to forget in the wake of modernism's co-option of the term; for us moderni, the word “modern” often evokes cultural revolutions and avant-gardes tied to specific decades in the early twentieth century. But this was not true for John XXII or Jacobus. As long as we are convinced that the former's “disciples of a new school” are the same as the latter's “moderni,” their testimonies point together to a single event: “the ars nova,” a tumultuous decade between ca. 1315 and 1325 during which everything changed. But if Jacobus was writing in the 1340s or 1350s—if, in other words, the last defender of Franco's ars antiqua is also one of our earliest witnesses to ars subtilior practices—then the transition between ars antiqua and ars nova starts to look less like a revolution and more like a cross-fade. A certain amount of historiographical fallout results from this, both for the received chronology of ars nova, and, on a broader scale, for the role that the concept of ars nova has played in defining an era of Western music history.

First, shifting the terminus ante quem provided by Jacobus's treatise invites major revisions to the chronology of French composition and music theory in the decades between the Notitia and the middle of the fourteenth century. Fully fleshing out that chronology is beyond the scope of this article, but its contours may be briefly sketched. The interpolated Roman de Fauvel of ca. 1317–18 contains only the glimmers of a transition beyond the Petronian semibreves of the (perhaps only slightly) earlier Mo fascicle 8. Among the newest repertoire included in Fauvel is the motet Garrit / In nova, which must have been the first composition, or one of the first, to shift modus from perfect to imperfect with red ink. Fauvel may also be described as making very limited use of minim stems, though the five short upward strokes appended to the semibreves of the two-voice conductus Quare fremuerunt on folio 1r are better understood as “tagged” semibreves minimae than as minims in the ars nova sense.139 And if we are not sure what to call them, that uncertainty might be indicative in itself: in 1319 des Murs reported that the doctores musicae “argue daily among themselves” about the names and shapes of notes.140

The few witnesses we have from the mid-1320s attest to an intermediate notational state, in which the minim was still regarded as a species of semibreve rather than an independent note value. In Handlo's 1326 Regule, all but one of the twenty-eight occurrences of the word “minima” refer to unstemmed semibreves minimae, and the minim is clearly not considered an independent value: it cannot be used in hocket, and Handlo explicitly states that it does not have a corresponding rest.141 Nor is the minim a full-fledged value in Pn571, a source of the same year that transmits two Fauvel motets using “tagged” semibreves.142

According to the theorist Heinrich Eger von Kalkar, writing in 1380, it was “about fifty years ago—that is, around the year of our Lord 1330,” that des Murs, Vitry, Machaut, Egidius de Murino, and others “dedicated themselves particularly to the definite measurements of the spans of music, regulating it with square and quadrangular notes, simple and ligated, as well as with dots and rests.”143 The fully theorized system of major and minor prolation that stands behind the copious examples in Petrus's 1336 Compendium de discantu mensurabili confirms the impression that by the early 1330s the possibilities afforded by the theorizing of the previous decade were beginning to be worked out in practice.

The 1330s and 1340s must have witnessed a new generation of treatises that used motets—some older, some quite recent—as their examples. I believe that the Vitriacan ars nova ancestor text may date from ca. 1330–35, though demonstrating that it does so is well beyond the scope of the present study. Easier to place is the Compendium totius artis motetorum, which cites twelve motets: five now lost and four from Fauvel, together with the more recent Douce / Garison, Tuba / In arboris, and Mon chant / Qui doloreus. Yolanda Plumley has found that the last of these incorporates quotations from ballades written by Jehan de le Mote upon the death in 1337 of Guillaume I, Count of Hainaut.144 Since a motet mentioned only by name is hardly a good example unless its readers know it, we may reasonably posit at least a few years between the composition of the ballades quoted in the motet's text and the motet's citation in the Compendium, where it exemplifies perfect tempus and major prolation. Wolf's dating of ca. 1340 thus seems somewhat early and, given also the treatise's mention of dragmas and semiminims, later in the 1340s might be more likely.145

In any case, it will be useful to distinguish between des Murs's Notitia, which handles mensural theory in a speculative way without reference to any existing compositions, and the later treatises, which cite a range of motets composed, or renotated, in the no-longer-very-new system. Grouping these two kinds of treatise together and assuming that they all stem from the 1320s would create a vacuum at mid-century during which little seems to have taken place in either theory or practice. On the other hand, positing a space of a decade or two during which the implications of the Notitia's innovations were realized in practice, and during which a body of post-Fauvel motets accumulated, explains these differing relationships to practice as resulting from two chronologically distinct waves of theorizing.

The mid-1330s and 1340s seem to have brought with them composition in four voices: motets with essential contratenors are cited in treatises dated to the 1350s but not mentioned in the Compendium or the ars nova ancestor text.146 The semiminim and fusa must also have gained currency in the 1340s, though, as mentioned above, around 1350 both the Quatuor principalia and the earliest Parisian ars nova witness still treated these small notes with a certain amount of mistrust. In the 1350s, the first glimmers of the notational complexity we call “ars subtilior” might have become visible. It is around this time, I propose, that the author of the Speculum musice wrote the latest passages in his treatise and decided to stop revising.

If it surprises us that, around 1350, there might still have been someone who preferred to think in terms of undifferentiated semibreves, we might recall that this is exactly what the transmission of the ars nova complex suggests. Collections of treatises comparing the old system with the new were still being copied in the 1350s and 1360s, and perhaps later.147 And if we look at chapter 37 of the fourth part of the Quatuor principalia, completed in 1351, we can find the same distinctions between Franco and the moderni and the same basic equivalence between the semibreves of the ancients and the newer minim that we see in SM7:

According to Franco, there are six species of rest; but according to contemporaries [secundum modernos], there are seven. The ancient and contemporary experts agree in everything except the minima: for in the time of Franco, the minima and its rest were unknown. The ancients, nevertheless, used to perform the minor semibreve just like the minim, and thus in a certain way they practiced the art of the minim; but the moderni discovered the minim and its rest, in which consists the beginning of all mensurable music.148

We also find in both the Quatuor principalia and SM7 the same mistrust of arbitrary notation, the same respect for figures approved by the ancients, and attestations to the same general level of development in the notational system, together with disparaging mention of the semiminim and the dragma:

Perhaps someone says that shapes can be placed at will; they can—but because the aforesaid shapes were invented by the ancients, approved by experts, and used for a long time, on that account it is great foolishness to contradict them or to produce new shapes without necessity, as did these new singers who can be said to be the discoverers of novelties. Some posited the semiminima and some the dragma; some made alteration by the cauda yrundinis, and gave a punctus to the rest, and imagined many other extraordinary things resisting the statements of the approved ones.149

The main difference between John of Tewkesbury and Jacobus is that John approves of the minim and Jacobus does not. But this does not necessarily make Jacobus earlier. After all, he too reports that at the time of his writing there is agreement on the notation of the minim—if on nothing else: “By now they practice many novelties, although there is one point on which they more generally agree, namely, they place a stem on the minima semibrevis vertically at the upper end, thus: . But those who notate semiminims or semiminors caudate them obliquely at the upper end.”150 The attitudes of the writers differ. John must be a younger man—he probably came of age in the 1340s and was still alive in 1392.151 For him, the minim, to which Jacobus would never be reconciled, was the natural foundation of measurable music. But the two theorists seem to be describing approximately the same moment in the development of mensural notation.

And what should we call this moment? If the redating of the Speculum musice opens up space for revising the chronology of theory and composition in the French fourteenth century, it also invites broader reconsideration of the ways in which the notion of ars nova, as a pairing with ars antiqua or ars vetus, is deployed for purposes of periodization. Within musicological discourse, “ars nova” sometimes designates a span of time.152 And yet we know that ars is not aetas. Nor is it even “art,” although for the English speaker the grandeur of the false cognate is understandably irresistible.153 A Latin dictionary will remind its reader that ars is a “skill in joining something, combining, working it,” and by extension, “any physical or mental activity, so far as it is practically exhibited.”Ars is also “science” or “knowledge” and, again by extension, “the theory of any art or science.”154 So ars is about doing something and then theorizing the doing. Ars is activity. Old and new activities can and do coexist, in part because people of different generations coexist, doing the activities and theorizing them as they go. Indeed, it is on this basis that Fuller reframed the Vitriacan ars nova, arguing that Vitry was known for a practice rather than for an epoch-making text, and emphasizing the “continuum from old to new” that connects the two artes.155

It is hard to write histories without defining periods, and it would certainly be convenient if “the ars nova” could be the fourteenth century—or at least most of it, contained on one side by Petrus de Cruce's influence and innovations (limited in this neat scheme to the 1290s) and on the other by, say, the death of Machaut in 1377 or the first layer of Trém, copied in 1376.156 “The ars subtilior” could then take over, itself a transitional few decades connecting Machaut to Du Fay. This would be helpful, just as it would be helpful if the Italian word “trecento” actually referred in musicological scholarship to music composed in the fourteenth century.157 But the realities are messier.

It would perhaps be better to characterize what Jacobus calls “ars nova” as a new method of encoding—that is to say, a new media format. It is backward compatible in the sense that anything that could be indicated in the old system could also be notated in the new system, although the opposite is not true (pace Jacobus).158 As Lisa Gitelman has noted, it is tempting to use new media to generate new divisions of history that are neatly segmented but apparently less value-laden than the traditional ones. “The age of print” may be preferable to “early modern” insofar as media regimes have clean beginnings: we cannot say when the first “early modern” book was published, but we can point to the date of production of the Gutenberg Bible.159 But the Gutenberg Bible was not the first printed book, and aesthetically it is deeply indebted to manuscript culture. “New media,” Gitelman reminds us, “are never entirely new.”160 By allowing “ars nova” to be a period marker rather than an activity, we pass over the messiness of the transition between artes: there are plenty of sources featuring notes that could be described either as tagged semibreves or as stemmed minims, and there are motets notated in the old way in some sources and in the new way in others. In other words, the question “Is Firmissime / Adesto an ars nova motet?” is best countered with the follow-up “In which source?”

Jacobus might not have agreed. Haas has drawn attention to the terminological—and ideological—distinction between the Vitriacan pairing ars vetus/ars nova and the ars antiqua/ars nova of the Speculum. The former dyad allows for ars nova as a legitimizing extension to an earlier (vetus) system, whereas the latter formulation situates the older doctrine as an ancient and time-honored (antiqua) ars that can be supplanted but not enhanced.161 The more we emphasize the rupture of ars nova, the more we are forced to see the two movements as incompatible, and this is what Jacobus would like us to see: his ars antiqua is, Haas argues, “an older, self-contained corpus that is not supplemented but rather unjustly replaced with an ars nova by the moderni: ‘the new (ars) reigns, the old is banished.’”162

The author of the Speculum musice was engaging in periodization for his own reasons and to his own ends. Appreciating his age and his lateness relative to the phenomena he observed is fundamental to understanding his narrative. It may even be that, given the importance of firsthand experience in cultures that rely on human memories for their histories, writers who engage in acts of periodization are more likely to be aged. Wegman's evocative recent reading of the treatise Anonymous IV casts its author as an old man “coping with short-term memory problems” for whom it was “easier … to recall things that used to be said decades ago—about Leonin and Perotin, for example—than something he himself had said or done only minutes before.”163 If the author of Anonymous IV was writing, as we think he was, in the late thirteenth century, then the developments of ca. 1200 that he recounts must surely have taken place before he was born. Yet his aging mind served as a unique repository of history that otherwise would have been lost. And I have already mentioned von Kalkar, who died at the age of eighty in 1408, and who was already over fifty when he constructed a timeline of ars nova in his Cantuagium. In reading his comments, we can follow his memory back through Apollinis / Zodiacum, a motet of the 1350s that he might have encountered during his studies in Paris, to the moment when Vitry and others turned their attention to notational reform, which he places in 1330. Kalkar was born in 1328; he certainly would not remember 1330. In this case, his testimony takes us up to the bounds of his own life, and no doubt relies on what others had told him. Jacobus too was old, and perhaps this was no coincidence. In the Middle Ages, the old men of music theory were uniquely positioned to organize the musical past.

Because Jacobus periodizes, he is attractive to the historian. But periods are not ideologically neutral.164 When used synchronically (that is, to confine a particular project to a defined historical span) they create a dangerous appearance of monolithic culture, suppressing difference through a circular feedback loop in which the questions we ask about a given period are predetermined by our notions of what that period is. And used diachronically, to divide a historical span into sections, period markers tend to privilege some historical moments over others.165 In letting Jacobus set the terms of engagement—in taking his word for what ars nova is or is not, for example—we allow a critic of a movement to define that movement even as he reifies and flattens his beloved ars antiqua in the act of opposing it to an ars nova.166

All of this would be true even if the Speculum musice were written in the 1320s, but resituating it in the 1340s or 1350s makes the problem much more acute. Reading Jacobus's account as a product of the mid-fourteenth century has the potential to productively disrupt our chronologies and the narratives they underpin. Instead of proving that “the ars nova” might have “happened” later, I hope that the findings presented in this article will shed light on the range of artes that coexisted in interesting and productive ways during the theorist's lifetime—let us say, between ca. 1280 and 1355. At the end of his life, Jacobus was able to look back on Franco's old way of doing things and compare it not only with the notational practice that he himself preferred, but also with a newer way (though one so old, he admits, that it might be called “old” by some!) and with the newest ways of the moderni. All of these artes were once new. Letting go of “the ars nova” as a chief focal point of our histories stands to help us tease apart the different kinds of change to which almost every compositional parameter—sonority, notation, poetic style, and form—was subject between Franco and Machaut. There is no longer any reason to suppose that all of this went from old to new in a single, turbulent decade.

Notes

This argument has benefitted substantially from the expertise of David Catalunya, Karen Cook, Michael Scott Cuthbert, Lawrence Earp, James Hepokoski, Andrew Hicks, Ariadne Lih, Philippa Ovenden, and William Watson. I am especially grateful to Margaret Bent, Karen Desmond, Anne Stone, and Rob Wegman for years of fruitful discussions about ars nova chronology and the Speculum musice, for sharing pertinent unpublished work in draft, and for providing comments on several iterations of this article. Thanks also to the Journal's readers for their focused and generous engagement.

1.

Jacobus Leodiensis, Speculum musicae, 7:57: “Hic doctor, qui veterem artem atque novam intendit in opere suo divulgare fideliter quae veteris sunt et quae novae, debet repetere et non imponere Veteribus quae minime dixerunt. … Sed forsan tactus doctor aliquam artem vocat veterem quae de novo cantandi modo tractat et notandi. Tanta enim variatio inter Modernos iam facta est ut priores ipsorum veteres vocentur respectu aliorum.” Translation from Jacobus de Ispania, Mirror of Music, 47 (modified). Further references to the above-cited edition and translation of Speculum musice book 7 are given in an abbreviated format: B [page number of Bragard edition]/W [page number of Wegman translation]. The notational practice in question is that of using duplex longs in ligature. According to Jacobus, the contemporary theorist in question identified this as a practice in the ars vetus; Jacobus cites Franco to show otherwise. See the discussion of this passage in Desmond, “Did Vitry Write an Ars vetus et nova?,” 456–57.

2.

For the received views, see, most pertinently, Fallows, “Ars Nova”; Bent and Wathey, “Vitry, Philippe de”; Kügle, Manuscript Ivrea; and Leech-Wilkinson, “Emergence of Ars nova.” The date for the copying of Fauvel derives from a scribal rubric on folio 10v that refers to “Phelippe qui regne ores” (Philippe who reigns now), which must have been written after the coronation of Philip V at Reims on January 9, 1317. Philip reigned until 1322 and thus the manuscript could be from as late as 1322, though dates in the range ca. 1317–18 are usually given. See Le Roman de Fauvel, 19–21, 48–53.

3.

Dorit Tanay points out that moderni need not be practitioners of explicitly innovative doctrine: “It should be noted that in medieval culture the term modernus denoted merely a contemporaneous mode of thought, rather than a necessarily radical or innovative one. For example, the moderni against whom Ockham argued were philosophers who adhered to the older Realist philosophy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries”: Tanay, Noting Music, Marking Culture, 148 (Tanay's emphasis). For a broad survey of the shifting and multiple senses of “modern,” see Gumbrecht, Making Sense, 79–110.

4.

A Vitriacan Ars nova treatise, called into existential doubt by Sarah Fuller, has been recently recuperated by Karen Desmond as an Ars vetus et nova, a lost “ancestor text” that can be gleaned through multiple textual concordances in the surviving witnesses and especially through Jacobus's references to a certain “doctor modernus”: Fuller, “Phantom Treatise”; Desmond, “Did Vitry Write an Ars vetus et nova?” The dating of the ars nova corpus in relation to Jacobus is laid out in Michels, Die Musiktraktate, 50–55; see also the summary and criticism of this scheme in Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” 35n64. The derivation of Michels's dates is discussed below.

5.

In her recent account of novelty in the ars nova, Desmond has divided the treatises into three types on the basis of content, structure, and authorship. Type 1 includes “treatises, often with a known author, that prescribe and set forth a comprehensive (and sometimes novel) system of mensural notation.” Type 2 includes “short compendious treatises, usually anonymous, that contain summaries of notation rules, and which are often based on the treatises of type 1 and have the function of practical manuals.” Type 3 is for “longer more discursive treatments of music theory, which often outline the mensural theories of several authors, and sometimes subject these theories to a historical or critical evaluation.” Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 23. We can observe that treatises of types 1 and 3 are more likely to be textually stable, more likely to be attributed to an author, and more likely to carry a date of completion. Indeed, these three things are clearly related.

6.

Pn7378A, 60v, quoted in Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 28: “Completum est hoc opus anno domini 1319. Explicit.” Desmond argues convincingly that this explicit does not apply to the Conclusiones, which des Murs added later (28–32). For more on Desmond's new datings, see below.

7.

Music examples are especially susceptible to updating because they are sometimes left out by copyists, as in the ars nova witness in Pn7378A.

8.

Fétis, Biographie universelle des musiciens, s.v. “Muris (Jean de)”: “Eodem anno notitia artis musicae proferendae et figurendae tam mensurabilis quam planae, quantum ad omnem modum possibilem discantandi, non solum per integra, sed usque ad minutissimas fractiones … nobis claruit” (my translation). Volume 6 of the Biographie universelle, in which this entry appeared, was published in 1840. The prologue survives in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Digby 190.

9.

See Poulle, “Jean de Murs,” 244.

10.

Michels, Die Musiktraktate, 2–8.

11.

Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 28–33, 85–90.

12.

Stainer, “Muris, Johannes de.” See the rich historiographic account in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 1–3.

13.

Fétis, Biographie universelle des musiciens, s.v. “Muris (Jean de)”: “There is too much learning in it for it to be considered a product of the author's youth” (“Il s'y trouve trop de savoir pour qu'on puisse le considérer comme le produit de la jeunesse de l'auteur”; my translation).

14.

Hirschfeld, Johann De Muris, 28: “At the end [of the Canones tabule tabularum] there is a hint that the author completed an extensive music-theoretical work—the Speculum musice, says Fétis—in the same year” (“Am Schlusse desselben findet sich der Hinweis, dass der Verfasser im selben Jahre ein umfangreiches musikalisch-theoretisches Werk—Fétis meint, den Speculum musicae—vollendet habe”; my translation). Noting that the Speculum is the work of an old man, Hirschfeld did not believe that des Murs could have lived much past 1321. He therefore posited that Fétis must have erred in reporting that des Murs had written a letter to Clement VI (r. 1342–52), and suggested that the letter must instead have been addressed to Clement V (r. 1305–14). We know now that Fétis was correct.

15.

See Klaper, “‘Verbindliches kirchenmusikalisches Gesetz,’” 87–89. For a study of the decretal, its dissemination, and its influence through the Counter-Reformation, see Körndle, “Die Bulle Docta sanctorum patrum.”

16.

Grossman, Die einleitenden Kapitel, 49–50. For a similar argument, see Clercx, “Jacques d'Audenaerde,” 100.

17.

Grossman, Die einleitenden Kapitel, 50: “We can only explain this complete silence and disregard by the fact that de Muris did not know the bull. And he did not know it, rather could not have known it, because he had already written his Speculum before 1322. And now we turn with more interest to the information provided by Fétis, who in his Biographie universelle des musiciens names a Magister Johannes de Muris, who in 1321 wrote, in addition to a philosophical work, a work on music, which we believe to be our Speculum musice” (“Wir können uns dieses vollständige Schweigen und Nichtberücksichtigen nur dadurch erklären, daß de Muris jene Bulle eben nicht gekannt hat. Und er hat sie nicht gekannt, vielmehr konnte sie nicht kennen, weil er schon vor 1322 sein Speculum verfaßt hat. Und nun wenden wir uns mit mehr Interesse den Angaben von Fétis zu, der uns in seiner Biographie universelle des musiciens einen Magister Johannes de Muris nennt, der im Jahre 1321 neben einem philosophischen auch ein Werk über Musik verfaßt hatte, wie wir glauben unser Speculum musicae”; my translation).

18.

Michels, Die Musiktraktate, 50–55.

19.

Muris, Die “Musica speculativa,” 32–33.

20.

See Haas, “Studien zur mittelalterlichen Musiklehre,” 410: “The phrase ‘nonnulli scholae discipuli’ refers not so much to a single school as to adherents of a certain trend. … In any case, the bull cannot in any way be understood as a writing against ars nova—a point on which research today agrees—but merely as an injunction that makes mention of church music practices” (“Die Wendung nonnulli scholae discipuli zielt kaum auf eine einzige Schule, sondern eher auf Anhänger einer bestimmten Richtung. … In jedem Fall kann—darüber ist sich heute die Forschung einig—die Extravagante nicht als Schrift gegen die ars nova überhaupt verstanden werden, sondern lediglich als Verfügung, die kirchenmusikalische Praktiken erwähnt”; my translation). Hentschel draws attention to the incompatible views expressed in the two documents; for example, while John XXII objects to hockets, Jacobus complains that the moderni do not use them enough: Hentschel, “Der Streit um die ars nova,” 128–29. For an argument that ars nova really is the target of Docta sanctorum, cf. Hucke, “Das Dekret ‘Docta Sanctorum Patrum.’”

21.

Klaper, “‘Verbindliches kirchenmusikalisches Gesetz,’” 77–78, 80–81.

22.

Klaper notes that in the time of John XXII a decretal was considered published once it had been attached to the cathedral doors at Avignon; the social networks of the Curia were presumably sufficient to spread the information farther afield: ibid., 81.

23.

Riemann, Geschichte der Musiktheorie, 233: “Das Speculum musicae wird in die Zeit Philipp de Vitry zu setzen sein, d. h. um 1340–60”; Wolf, Geschichte der Mensural-Notation, 1:72: “approximately in the fourth decade of the fourteenth century the Speculum musice must have been written—that witty work composed by the aged Johannes de Muris to vindicate the practice of the ancients” (“ungefähr in das vierte Jahrzehnt des 14. Jahrhunderts, muß auch die Abfassung des Speculum musicae fallen, jener geistvollen Schrift, welche der greise Johannes de Muris zur Rechtfertigung der Praxis der Alten verfaßt hat”; my translation).

24.

Besseler, “Studien zur Musik des Mittelalters,” 181n3: “The positioning of the Speculum in 1321 is difficult to reconcile with the particulars of book 7 (cf. Wolf, Geschichte der Mensural-Notation, 1:72), which could only have originated in the 1330s at the earliest” (“Die Ansetzung des ‘Speculum’ auf 1321 ist mit den Einzelheiten in Buch 7 schwer in Einklang zu bringen (vgl. Wolf, Geschichte der Mensuralnotation 1, 72), zum wenigsten dieses letzte durfte frühestens erst in den 1330er Jahren entstanden sein”; my translation).

25.

Bragard, “Le Speculum musicae,” 94; Huglo, “De Francon de Cologne,” 59.

26.

Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 55; Wegman, “Jacobus de Ispania,” 257. Desmond gives the final book as “probably completed in the 1330s”: Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 7. Catalunya has Jacobus “probably writing in the early 1330s”: Catalunya, “Insights into the Chronology,” 424.

27.

As early as 1953, Bragard described the reasoning behind the 1321 dating as “a catalog of errors”: Bragard, “Le Speculum musicae,” 92 (“une cascade d'erreurs”). More recently, Desmond has evocatively characterized Michels's datings as “a house of cards,” and Bent has dismissed the “false logic” linking the decretal with the treatise: Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” 35n64; Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 54.

28.

Catalunya, “Music, Space and Ritual,” 87–129, 261–306. On the dating of the eighth fascicle of Mo, see the essays collected in Bradley and Desmond, Montpellier Codex, especially Stones, “Style and Iconography”; Baltzer, “Decoration of Montpellier 8”; and Curran, “Palaeographical Analysis.” Stones and Baltzer propose dates in the 1310s and 1320s on the basis of art-historical analysis, while Curran opts for ca. 1290–1310 on paleographic grounds. Curran notes, however, that his comparanda are all French and often Parisian, in accordance with the working theory of a Parisian origin for Mo fascicle 8—a theory he ultimately questions (53).

29.

See Bent, “Early Papal Motets,” 9–14, and Zayaruznaya, “Evidence of Reworkings,” 155–59.

30.

Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 27–34.

31.

Ibid., 20; see the analysis on pages 115–59. It must be stressed that the innovative nature of Fauvel is not at issue here. As Desmond explains, her intent is “not to deny the changes in motet style described by Leech-Wilkinson, Sanders, and others in some of the [Fauvel] motets. But: their ars nova may not be the same as Jacobus's ars nova, nor the ars nova claimed and celebrated by Jacobus's moderni, nor the ars nova outlined in the Vitriacan Ars nova witnesses” (16).

32.

Ibid., 154: “What is unclear, however, is the extent to which this technique [of partial and remote imperfection] discussed by Des Murs, Jacobus, and AnonOP was actually adopted by composers before the middle of the fourteenth century.”

33.

Ibid., 28, 33, 157.

34.

For example: “a motet, Apta/Flos, written c. 1350 … exemplifies the ‘descent of these speculations into practice’ that Jacobus describes” (ibid., 34; and see 35–69); “by the time CS3anon3 (c. 1350) was copied, minims with ascending stems were the default notational practice (as Jacobus noted was the case at the time he was writing book 7 of Speculum musicae)” (136–37); and “If, however, ars nova notation was first systematised only in the 1330s with the Conclusiones of Des Murs, followed by the Ars vetus et nova of the doctor modernus and the composition of the first motets that exploited the possibilities of the new notation, with the criticisms of Jacobus later still, Machaut's juxtaposition of the old and new notational styles in Remede may still have registered as a relatively current and apt metaphor to its audience of c. 1350” (238).

35.

For a recent link between the dating of the Speculum musice and that of the ars nova treatises, see Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 59, 61; Bent speaks of “the new ars nova treatises of c. 1320–25” and suggests that “completion of Book VII in the late 1320s would give Jacobus time to know the ars nova treatises.” This argument is circular, however, because the early datings of these treatises are themselves largely dependent on an early dating for SM7, as noted elsewhere by Bent and Andrew Wathey: “The [ars nova] treatise has been dated about 1320 … on grounds of the state of development of its notational theory and in relation to other datable treatises from the 1320s, notably that of Jacobus of Liège”: Bent and Wathey, “Vitry, Philippe de.” Bent's dating of SM7 is discussed below. For further comments on the dating of the Ars vetus et nova and revised chronologies that propose a slower pace of notational development in the first half of the fourteenth century, see Zayaruznaya, “Evidence of Reworkings,” 155–63, 174–75; Zayaruznaya, “New Voices for Vitry,” 387; Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” 35; and Desmond, “‘One Is the Loneliest Number.’” Cf. Leech-Wilkinson, “Emergence of Ars nova.”

36.

Cuthbert, “Trecento Fragments,” 4.

37.

B97/W80: “O quotiens variis ex causis opus hoc ad tempus intermisi! Et cum musica hominem requirat ab ea in tractando non distractum, sed ipsum habere velit solum, saepe distractus, inhabilior, rudior et tardior ad opus hoc prosequendum redditus sum unde factum et longiorem habuerit tractum” (translation extensively modified).

38.

B96/W79: “Ego inspiciens ad totale opus hoc, cum relegerem et emendare vellem haec et illa quae scripseram … multa repperi quae utinam non dixissem vel aliter dixissem” (translation modified).

39.

B96/W79: “Quodsi semper dicta variassem, ad finem huius operis quando pervenissem? Forte nunquam.” Dissertation writers, take note.

40.

Cf. Desmond's analysis of des Murs as a constant reviser of his treatises in Music and the “moderni,” 76–101.

41.

While questions as to when and why Jacobus began to write SM7 are at least as interesting, I do not tackle them here because I believe that the notion of SM7 as a terminus ante quem has so colored the currently received chronology of Vitry's musical and theoretical works that we do not yet have a good enough grasp of the state of French theory or practice in the 1330s and early 1340s. Once Desmond's recent arguments and the present hypothesis have been evaluated, we will be in a better position to answer questions about when Jacobus might first have been prompted to mount his attack.

42.

B65: “Quod irrationabiliter moderni semibreves caudant” (my translation).

43.

Although A l'entrade survives uniquely in the Speculum musice, its notation is purely Franconian, and it could be a product of the mid-thirteenth century. See the translation and commentary in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 160–62, and Bragard's edition in Jacobus Leodiensis, Speculum musicae, 7:70–71. See also Desmond's commentary on the passage discussed here and her transcription of the hocket's second half in Music and the “moderni,” 115–17.

44.

B68/W56: “Cum Antiqui illam temporis morulam quae per maiorem importatur semibrevem proferre volebant illi quae per minorem in cita mensura, pro maiore semibrevi longam ponebant imperfectam, pro minore brevem, pro utraque longam perfectam, ut in sequenti patet hoketo duplici” (translation modified).

45.

Jacobus does not explain how the semibreves in the older notation would convert in this version, but a downward stem on the longer semibreve would do the trick—he condones this practice in the following chapter. This practice of “tagging” semibreves with downward stems in order to depart from expected patterns is prevalent in the Roman de Fauvel and sources from the 1320s; see Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 136–41, and the discussion of Pn571 below.

46.

B69: “Primus processus tacti cantus, ille scilicet qui est super litteram A l'entrade, et cetera, repraesentare videtur cantum ex duabus semibrevibus inaequalibus confectum quarum minor maiorem praecedit; secundus illum qui e converso in littera secunda Plaingnant” (my translation).

47.

B69/W56: “Cum autem in posito cantu quattuor sint notarum species, scilicet longa perfecta, longa imperfecta, brevis recta et semibrevis, si quis ipsum notare velit secundum modernum notandi modum, pro longa perfecta semibrevem ponat quam vocant parvam, pro longa imperfecta semibrevem quam dicunt minorem, pro brevi recta semibrevem minimam, pro semibrevi ipsi posita semiminimam” (translation modified).

48.

Jacobus never tells us, and the shortest notes probably go by so fast that it hardly matters. Although pairs of semiminims divide minims into two equal halves, as Jacobus explains elsewhere (see below), we cannot use the semiminim pair to argue that the semibreves in the original Franconian version divided the breve in half, since there is no claim made that the notations produce identical results, but only similar ones: “as far as the thing is concerned [that is, the actual temporal duration], the said notes seem to be similar in value and measure, no matter what names they may have”: B69/W56 (“Tactae enim notulae quantum ad rem, quicquid sit de nominibus, consimilis videntur valoris et mensurae”).

49.

Desmond, “‘One Is the Loneliest Number,’” 407–13.

50.

B46–47/W39: “Item maiorem semibrevem in forma semibrevis non ponunt sed formam sibi dant brevis vocantque ipsam brevem imperfectam.”

51.

See Aluas, “Quatuor principalia musicae,” 131–32, 382 (“Qui autem dicunt predictum Philippum crochutam vel semiminimam aut dragmam fecisse, aut eis consensisse, errant, ut in motetis suis intuenti manifeste apparet”), 656 (“But those who say that the aforesaid Philippe would have made the ‘crochuta’ (or ‘semiminima,’ or ‘dragma’), or that he would have consented to it, err, as it manifestly appears in examining his motets”). See also below.

52.

For the Sanctus, see Cattin and Facchin, French Sacred Music, 330. The textless voice is edited in Kügle, Manuscript Ivrea, 248–49.

53.

A cultural context for the notation of Cine vermeil is offered by Jason Stoessel in “Interpretation of Unusual Mensuration Signs,” 192–200. Although the provenance of Ch is southern, Cine vermeil has been linked to the Duke of Berry and a northern French provenance; see Günther, “Unusual Phenomena,” 103–6, and Plumley, “‘Episode in the South’?,” 131–34.

54.

As Karen Cook has shown, “semiminor” is used variously in fourteenth-century theory: Cook, “Terminology.” Vat307 and Pn7378A offer it as an alternate term for the minim where semiminims are also in use, so that the word “minim” can be reserved for the smallest note values present—that is, semiminims. On the other hand, Johannes Hanboys (ca. 1370) and the theorist Robertus de Brunham quoted by Hanboys, whom Lefferts places in the second quarter of the fourteenth century, both used “semiminor” as a synonym for a subminim value, as Jacobus does here; see Lefferts, “Anonymous Treatise,” 240.

55.

Peter Lefferts, for example, observes that “the semiminima was alive and well in Paris in the early 1320s. It is mentioned, for instance, both by Jacques de Liège and in the complex of treatises related to Philippe de Vitry”: Lefferts, Robertus de Handlo, 49. Karl Kügle notes that “Jacques … provides incontrovertible evidence for the origin of the semiminim (or the addita) as one of the many—and conflicting—types of modified semibreves invented in the early decades of the fourteenth century”: Kügle, “Notation of Codex Ivrea,” 238. Karen Cook, who has written a comprehensive history of the semiminim, places Speculum musice book 7 in 1325 and gives ca. 1315–35 as a date range for the ars nova complex: Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 61.

56.

Aluas, “Quatuor principalia musicae,” 131–32, 382, 656; see also below. The Trianguli et scuti declaratio de proportionibus musice mensurabilis of Johannes Torkesey, an English treatise that treats the semiminim and includes it in a triangular figure, would stand as the earliest manifestation of this note shape if its author were indeed the “Johannes de Torkeseye” who died in 1340 and whose candidacy is cautiously advanced in Woodley, “Torkesey [Torksey], John.” (For an edition, see Reaney and Gilles, (Willelmus), “Breviarium regulare musicae.”) Woodley confirms, however, that he singled out this Torkesey partly because his dates seemed to align with the received chronology, and that “there were undoubtedly many other Johns from the village later in the century” (personal communication, November 13, 2018). Biographical considerations aside, the earliest terminus ante quem for Torkesey's treatise is 1372.

57.

Reaney, Gilles, and Maillard, Philippi de Vitriaco “Ars nova,” 63: “si dici possent semiminime”; see also Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 58–59. Michael Walter argued in 1994 that the word “semiminima” in the Vitriacan corpus refers not to a note value smaller than a minim but to a “single” minim: Walter, “Kennt die Ars nova-Lehre die Semiminima?” This argument is deployed in part to explain inconsistencies stemming from the accepted chronology (41–42) and requires the interpretation of several relatively straightforward passages in deeply unintuitive ways (for example, the claim that the semibreve of minimum tempus imperfectum consists of two altered minims, 50). Walter's presupposition, that the terminology of “semiminima” and the grapheme of the semiminim need to be investigated separately, is well taken, but in the present case it is clear that Jacobus means by “semiminim” precisely what one would initially expect: a note value smaller than the minim that is written with a flag that slants or curves.

58.

See Wolf, “Ein anonymer Musiktratat,” 34. Cook also cites the treatise De figuris, attributed by a late fifteenth-century scribe to Petrus de Sancto Dyonisio, as a potential early witness to semiminims, but notes a conflation with Petrus's Tractatus, usually dated shortly after 1321 because it is derived from the Notitia (now 1319), and shows that the two sources with examples of semiminims are from the late fourteenth and late fifteenth centuries: Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 313–29; Cook, “Text Mining,” 662–64.

59.

See Reaney, Gilles, and Maillard, Philippi de Vitriaco “Ars nova,” 82–93, previously edited in Coussemaker, Scriptorum de musica, 3:370–75; see also Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 61–62.

60.

The A version of the recensio maior reads “et pause semiminimarum fiunt ut pause minimarum cum semicirculo” (and semiminim rests are made like minim rests with a semicircle), and the B version reads “et pause semiminimarum fiunt ut pause minimarum, sed cum semicirculo”: Muris, Ars practica mensurabilis cantus, 73–74, 119. Version B also mentions the semiminim a second time, in the context of explaining that in diminution a minim could be substituted with a semiminim (“pro minima semiminima,” 120); version A does not include this possibility, ending its list of note value substitutions with “pro semibrevi minima” (76). The third Berkeley treatise, the earliest source of the Libellus and an updating of the earlier, northern European recensio minor, also ends this list with “pro semibrevi minima” and has a different formulation about rests: “Pause semiminimarum fiunt sicut pause minimarum, addita superius quadam semicirculacione” (semiminim rests are made like minim rests, with a kind of semicircular curve added above): Berkeley Manuscript, 180, 178. For a discussion, see Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 75–76.

61.

Muris, Ars practica mensurabilis cantus, 3. See the summary of the arguments for and against des Murs's authorship in Berkeley Manuscript, 5–7. Daniel Katz comes down in favor of des Murs's authorship: Katz, “Earliest Sources,” 23–32.

62.

See Berkeley Manuscript, 148, and Muris, Ars practica mensurabilis cantus, 3–4, 97.

63.

This guess is consistent with Roesner's hypothesis that “the recensio minor was at least a generation old by 1375”: Roesner, review of Ars practica mensurabilis cantus, 537. For example, the Libellus describes the notational practice, attributed to “some singers, including Guillaume de Machaut and many others” (“quidem cantores, puta Guillermus de Mascandio et plures alii”), of imperfecting the perfect breve in minor prolation by a single minim, or the imperfect breve in major prolation by two minims: Berkeley Manuscript, 160; see also Muris, Ars practica mensurabilis cantus, 25, 103–4. In Machaut's surviving oeuvre this usage is evident only in a few works that seem to come from the later 1340s—for example, Rose lis (Rondeau 10) and De petit po (Ballade 18), both of which are late additions to his earliest complete-works manuscript; see Earp, Guillaume de Machaut, 310–11, 369–70. The description of this as a widespread practice of the kind implied by “and many others” may gesture toward a date of ca. 1350 or later. On this practice, see Vivarelli, “La mutatio qualitatis,” 276–88.

64.

Desmond, “Did Vitry Write an Ars vetus et nova?,” 480, and Desmond, “Texts in Play.”

65.

The place where we would most expect to see a semiminim if it played a role in early ars nova theory is in the second table of the Notitia, chapter 6, which lays out “five kinds of singing” (“cantandi quinque species”) as they apply to the four gradus: Michels, Johannis de Muris, 81. The fifth kind of singing, which deals with “unities and their divisions” (“omnibus unitatibus et fractionibus earumdem,” 82), when applied to the fourth gradus (which treats the relationship of semibreve to minim) would result in semiminims if the minim were divisible. In the table illustrating the possibilities, however, only minims are depicted in the pertinent cell (as opposed to, for example, the corresponding cell for the third gradus, which depicts semibreves and minims, or for the second, which depicts breves and semibreves). Given that des Murs's prose describes each type of singing only once, the implication when prose and table are considered together seems to be that “and their divisions” (“et fractionibus earumdem”) does not apply to the fifth mode of singing for the fourth species. I thank Anne Stone for drawing my attention to this passage.

66.

B51–52/W43: “Fuit enim inter Modernos de semibrevis formatione vel figuratione magna dissentio. Nam quidam illarum quasdam syncopabant, quasdam autem interius semiplenas figurabant. Alii ipsas tantum inferius vel superius caudabant, tractum vero superiorum nunc directe super semibrevem erigendo, nunc aliter. Alii tam superius quam inferius ipsas caudabant easque … dragmas nominabant. Alii non in extremitatibus superioribus vel inferioribus, sed in lateribus sive in medio ipsas caudabant” (translation modified). See also Desmond's discussion of this passage in Music and the “moderni,” 122–25, which includes manuscript images of some of the note shapes mentioned here.

67.

Handlo attributes the usage to Admetus of Orleans; see Lefferts, Robertus de Handlo, 146–47. On the forms and in English notation around 1300, see Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 40–48.

68.

Omni desideranti notitiam, 29–31.

69.

Tractatus figurarum, 72–75: “A perfect semibrevis, as here , if it should be found hollow, as here , accepts diminution and imperfection” (“Semibrevis perfecta ut hic si inventa fuerit vacua ut hic accipit diminutionem atque imperfectionem”). The second treatise of the Berkeley manuscript also describes void colored notation as used by those who wish to diminish notes: Berkeley Manuscript, 128 (“et in unum illorum colorum diminuere volent, ponunt eum vacuum”). Jacobus's talk of “truncated” note shapes could also point to note heads that survive only in much later contexts—for example, in the works of Matteo da Perugia—which look as though they have been sliced down the middle, or have had chunks taken out of them; see the figures cataloged in Stoessel, “Captive Scribe,” 1:217. These examples are too late for our purposes. It is of course also possible that Jacobus is referring to some other shapes that do not survive.

70.

A range of other semivoid shapes can be found in the various sources for the treatise; see the edition and variants in Tractatus figurarum. The Tractatulus de figuris et temporibus copied alongside the Tractatus figurarum also has semivoid notes; see Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 244–48.

71.

See Cook, “Theoretical Treatments of the Semiminim,” 230–42, here 258.

72.

The manuscript—Melk, Stiftbibliothek 950—is dated 1462, and the treatise cites Degentis / Cum vix and Ave coronata / Alme parens. Desmond suggests that Jacobus could be referring here to red or void semibreves, rather than semivoid ones: Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 123. I find this interpretation hard to reconcile with Jacobus's wording.

73.

See also Tanay's cautious allusion to the intellectual continuities between Jacobus and the ars subtilior: Tanay, Noting Music, Marking Culture, 163. Desmond also modifies Wegman's translation to reflect the original's imperfect tense: Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 123. I thank Andrew Hicks for discussing this passage with me.

74.

Stone notes that “there is … a fair amount of information to suggest that the complex rhythmic practice of the Ars subtilior did not emerge suddenly in the last two decades of the fourteenth century,” adducing, for example, the “nonchalance” with which the author of the Berkeley manuscript discusses contemporary practice that appears to be “commonplace and established”: Stone, “Ars subtilior in Paris,” 395.

75.

The two most recent proposals concerning Jacobus's identity, discussed below, are put forward in Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” and Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania.

76.

B96 (“debilis”); B6 (“senex”; “iuvenes”).

77.

Hofmeister, “Puer, Iuvenis, Senex,” 289–90.

78.

Wolf, who took the Speculum to be a work by Jean des Murs, proposed a birthdate of 1265 for Jacobus and placed SM7 in the fourth decade of the fourteenth century, noting that it must be later than the Ars nova treatise, Anonymous III, and Johannes Vetulus de Anagnia (a theorist who has since been placed in the second half of the fourteenth century). To Wolf, the writer's description of himself as old and frail suggested a man no younger than seventy at the time of writing. Wolf, Geschichte der Mensural-Notation, 1:72.

79.

See Shahar, “Who Were Old,” 315–19.

80.

Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum naturale, bk. 31, ch. 75, cited in Shahar, “Who Were Old,” 318.

81.

See Folts, “Senescence and Renascence,” 223.

82.

B6/W6: “Adhuc sum de numero Antiquorum quos horum aliqui rudes vocant. Sum senex, illi acuti et iuvenes. Mortui sunt quos sustineo; vivunt contra quos disputo” (translation modified).

83.

B6/W5: “illi multi contra quos opus hoc ultimum … aggredior.”

84.

For this same reason, it is hard to derive much information from Jacobus's statement “alive are they against whom I dispute” (“vivunt contra quos disputo”). We do not know when des Murs died. The possibility of his having died in the plague of 1347–51 is invoked to explain the absence of documentary references to him that can be definitively dated later than 1345 (for example, in Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 12), though Lawrence Gushee hastily dismisses a reference of 1357: Gushee, “New Sources,” 20–21. Des Murs's last known work makes predictions about the astrological conjunctions of 1357 and 1365. Even if he did die in the plague, we cannot assume that Jacobus would have known this.

85.

B36/W31: “ille valens cantor, Petrus de Cruce, qui tot pulchros et bonos cantus composuit mensurabiles.”

86.

Jacobus's motet citations are carefully examined and contextualized in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 21–34.

87.

This may have originated in 1925 with Besseler's suggestion that Jacobus studied in Paris during the last quarter of the thirteenth century and was influenced during this span by the art of Petrus de Cruce: Besseler, “Studien zur Musik des Mittelalters,” 180. Similar suggestions have been made by Wolf and Bent: Wolf, Geschichte der Mensural-Notation, 1:72; Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 21. Yet “cantor,” in the context of “valens cantor,” is, for Jacobus, a technical term that designates a rational singer-composer learned in music, a category for which he also uses the term “practicus musicus”; see Harne, “Unstable Embodiments,” 119–25, 131–36. Thus, there is no particular reason to deduce from his words that Jacobus ever heard Petrus sing or that the two were personally acquainted (a point also made in Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 119n9).

88.

See, for example, Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 34, where several candidates for the musician Petrus de Cruce are dismissed on the grounds that they are “too late if we are to take literally Jacobus's statement that those he praises are dead.”

89.

See the documentation brought together in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 32–33.

90.

Sanders and Lefferts, “Petrus de Cruce.”

91.

Lefferts, Robertus de Handlo, 100–103: “Regula Franconis precedens … locum habet quando valor brevis non currit nisi ad proportionem trium semibrevium. … Securius tamen et verius in motetis et in aliis cantibus ubi semibreves sunt, addatur punctus inter duas et duas, vel inter tres et tres, vel inter duas et tres, vel inter tres et duas, ut ponit Petrus de Cruce. Hoc idemque faciunt moderni cantores” (translation modified). The “preceding rule” is that when four semibreves are placed between longs or breves, they should fill two breves (minor–major–minor–major). Handlo advocates for dots to separate groups of breve-equivalent semibreves to reduce ambiguity.

92.

B54/W45: “doctores qui temporibus suis fuerunt ita valentes et quorum memoria benedictionem habeat.”

93.

Maw, “‘Je le temoin en mon chant,’” 180. On the dating of Mo fascicle 8, see note 28 above.

94.

Garnier, Inventaires du trésor, 265: “Item [librum] alium organicum. qui fuit magri Petri de cruce.” In an inventory of 1419 this book is described in more detail as “a noted book of organum which is said to be that of master Petrus de Cruce. After the calendar it begins in the first line of the first page with ‘Deus in adjutorium’”: ibid., 307 (“liber organicus notatus qui vocatur magistri Petri de Cruce. post kalendarium incipit in prima linea littere primi folii. Deus in adjutorium”; my translation).

95.

Jacobus Leodiensis, Speculum musicae, 2:136: “De duobus primis libris, quos Parisius audieram.” On the place of the first two books in the Parisian arts curriculum, see Rico, “Music in the Arts Faculty,” 28–33. Bent posits that Jacobus could have studied first in Oxford, then in Paris: Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 85–89, 136, 139–40; cf. Wegman, “Jacobus de Ispania,” 258–59n26.

96.

Desmond estimates that it would have taken Jacobus about nine years to complete bachelor's and master's degrees (including the required two-year regency) and that these studies would have begun in his mid-teens: Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” 21. Wegman speculates that Jacobus completed a doctorate in theology, citing his deep familiarity with a wide range of doctrinal issues well beyond the realm of music and noting that the minimum age for this degree in Paris was thirty-five: Wegman, “Jacobus de Ispania,” 261n33. Bent suggests that Jacobus was “a mature student in Paris in [the 1290s], aged perhaps twenty-five to thirty”: Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 61; for more on Bent's datings of SM7, see below.

97.

B95: “Fuerunt ibi cantati moteti moderni et secundum modum modernum, et veteres aliqui.”

98.

On the profusion of imperfect consonances in the “new manner of singing,” see chapter 9 of SM7 (B17–19); this soundworld is not prevalent in the motets of Fauvel, which are still largely composed of perfect consonances. On the mathematical, philosophical, and aesthetic meanings of consonance for Jacobus, see Hentschel, Sinnlichkeit und Vernunft, 14–18, 35–88, 129–53, 175–216.

99.

B6/W5–6: “Quia solus sum (de quo tristor), illi multi contra quos opus hoc ultimum satiricum et disputativum aggredior. Non dubito tamen quin multis valentibus modernus cantandi modus displiceat tractatusque super hunc confecti; et tamen non vidi qui super hoc aliquid scriberet” (translation modified).

100.

B38/W32: “Nunc autem in discernendo suas semibreves Moderni multum laborant in suis tractatibus nec bene sunt concordes. Quot enim varietatibus in eis usi sunt?” (translation modified).

101.

Desmond, “‘One Is the Loneliest Number.’” The mid-century rotuli (for example, Br) show some of these features, but Desmond posits that they may represent notational updatings of motets copied in an ars antiqua style.

102.

Shahar, “Who Were Old.” See also Christine Cave and Marc Oxenham's osteoarchaeological evaluation of forty-one individuals buried in an Anglo-Saxon cemetery during the fifth through the seventh centuries, which found that eight of them were probably in the age range of sixty-five to seventy-five years at death and seven were seventy-five or older: Cave and Oxenham, “Identification of the Archaeological ‘Invisible Elderly.’”

103.

For example, “the performing of sounds at the same time is commonly called organum”: B10/W9 (“haec sonorum simul facta prolatio ‘organum’ vulgariter appellatur”).

104.

B49–50/W41: “Elsewhere this teacher calls the meanings of these figures ‘parts of prolation,’ where he says ‘How many [parts of prolation] are there? Five. Which? Maxima, long, breve, semibreve, minim’” (“Alibi vocat hic doctor tactas figurarum significationes prolationis partes ubi sic ait: <Partes prolationis> quot sunt? Quinque.—Quae? Maxima, longa, brevis, semibrevis et minima”; translation modified). Cf. Michels, Johannis de Muris, 119. The Compendium is difficult to date (as noted by Christian Meyer in Muris, Écrits sur la musique, 82). The early 1320s date usually given for it is deduced only from Jacobus's familiarity with it. See also Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” ch. 1.

105.

Harne posits that Jacobus's primary objections to the ars nova were aesthetic, and that “though Jacobus' critique is usually understood as a theoretical undertaking, it does not appear that Jacobus thought of his labors in terms of music theory”: Harne, “Ends of Theory,” 8.

106.

B6/W5: “Principali et primaria intentione ad Antiquorum excusationem quaedam de musica mensurabili scribere disposui.”

107.

B26–28/W22–23: “Qualiter a modernis impugnatur prius posita temporis descriptio” (translation modified).

108.

Cf. Catalunya, “Insights into the Chronology.” It would also be a mistake to assume that Jacobus understood the new doctrine perfectly. For example, his assertion in chapter 2 that the moderni do not notate altered breves as breves is untrue—they do.

109.

Red notation is covered in some detail in the ars nova witnesses; see Desmond, “Did Vitry Write an Ars vetus et nova?,” 476–77.

110.

Desmond (ibid., 443) reads this passage as referring to fifteen ars nova treatises, but that does not seem to me to be its sense in context. Jacobus notes that a particular question relating to the consonant status of the fourth “has not been addressed by any author of music [whose] work I have seen, excepting this one modern author [des Murs]; and I think I have seen fifteen different treatises on music, perhaps even more”: B17/W15 (“Quaestio a nullo auctore musicae, <cuius> opus viderim, mota est nisi ab hoc solo actore moderno; puto tamen me vidisse quindecim tractatus distinctos de musica, vel etiam ampliores”; translation modified).

111.

Jacobus quotes a lengthy passage on the dissonance of a fourth below a fifth, citing its origin in “a certain compendious work” by “a certain modern teacher”: B14–15/W13 (“quidam modernus doctor in quodam opere de abbreviatione”). It has been identified as the 1325 version B of des Murs's Musica speculativa; see Muris, Die “Musica speculativa,” 32–35, 285. After quoting des Murs, Jacobus writes that he would have responded to his argument “earlier in its proper place, and also to certain other statements in the said work, if I had seen it [at that time]”: B16/W14 (“Haec sunt verba tacta doctoris ad quae respondissem, puto, supra in loco suo et ad quaedam alia quae habentur in tacto opere, si illud vidissem”). As Bent notes, since the issue in question is the consonant status of the fourth, the proper earlier place would have been in book 2 or book 4 of the Speculum: Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 60n52.

112.

Quoted and translated in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 64: “Item liber in quo continetur musica magistri Jacobi de Ispania partitus in septem libris quorum litere prime faciunt hoc nomen Jacobus.”

113.

Ibid., 64–65.

114.

Ibid., 56.

115.

Ibid., 33. Petrus is listed as resident in the household of the bishop of Amiens in 1301–2, and Bent suggests this implies that “Jacobus could have known him [in Paris] in the mid-1290s,” though conceding that, since Petrus might have traveled with the bishop on diplomatic missions, “his presence in Amiens need not preclude continuing contact with Paris” (ibid.).

116.

See ibid., 49.

117.

Ibid., 53.

118.

Ibid., 61.

119.

Ibid., 49.

120.

Ibid., 34.

121.

This dominus Petrus de Croy was archdeacon of Ponthieu, the northern half of the diocese of Amiens, and died before October 1336; see Johnson, “Aspects of Late Medieval Music,” 487–88.

122.

Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 82. Bent notes that “published registers of university, papal, clerical and administrative documents over the relevant period in fact present almost no candidates in the right date range”; that “wide enquiries about other candidates named ‘magister Jacobus de Ispania’ among Spanish colleagues have yielded no further candidates at the right dates”; and that James of Spain “stands out as the most conspicuous, indeed the only ‘magister Jacobus de Ispania’ in the relevant period”: ibid., 81, 81n1, 82 (my emphasis).

123.

Certainly nothing in the evidence adduced for his authorship of the Speculum is so strong as to encourage us to “make it work”; Bent rightly points out the treatise's English resonances, but we can as easily imagine that another Jacobus attended Oxford as a mature student as we can that James went to Paris as one.

124.

See Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 132n72. This Jacobus de Ispania is identified as being “within the approximate date range” (131) but is ultimately not pursued because the reference is not to James of Spain but to “a different and younger man,” since “the ‘English’ James may anyway have been too old at this time to serve as a cantor” (134, 132).

125.

Ibid., 132. Bent cautions that “the possible musical connection should not be exaggerated; the cantorship may have been a largely administrative role” (132–33); but we should recall that there is no musical connection of any kind for James of Spain.

126.

Another “magister Jacobus de Hispania” mentioned by Bent, this one with no demonstrable musical connections, may also now regain entry to the list of candidates. According to an eighteenth-century listing of masters of the Sorbonne, he collected some quaestiones that were later codified by Nicholas of Paris: “Ea autem diversis temporibus a Jacobo de Hispania primum scripta et collecta sunt; postmodum vero a Nicolao in unum veluti corpus cum aliis compacta”: Pierre Feret, La faculté de théologie de Paris et ses docteurs les plus célèbres: Moyen âge (1894–97), quoted in Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 131n71. Bent reads this evidence as indicating that this Jacobus was contemporary with Nicholas and therefore too late for consideration, since Nicholas wrote about the schism and therefore after 1378 (131–32). However, the “postmodum” in the listing suggests that their work was successive rather than collaborative. And there is no reason why the two could not have overlapped for a decade or more, even if Jacobus was older than Nicholas—if, say, Jacobus lived from 1280 to 1355 and Nicholas from 1320 to 1380.

127.

Wegman, “Jacobus de Ispania.” The Liège hypothesis gains further support from Bonnie Blackburn's recent discovery of a reference to the author of the Speculum musice as “Jacobo del Leodio” in an early fifteenth-century Italian manuscript (personal communication, June 29, 2019).

128.

Crocker, “New Source,” 166; Berkeley Manuscript, 9; Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus.”

129.

Desmond notes that payment records for the church of Saint Paul survive for 1307, 1310, 1321, 1322, 1336, 1344, 1346, 1347, and 1360, and that Jacobus is listed in the 1321, 1322, and 1336 accounts. The earliest notice of his death is in a 1347 obituary of the chaplains of Saint Paul; she concludes that “As Jacobus was certainly deceased by 1347, and does not appear in the account books of St Paul for 1344, we could assume that he died between 1337 and 1343.” Desmond, “New Light on Jacobus,” 30. Wegman suggests rather that Jacobus may have retired to a monastery during these years (personal communication). Our only firm terminus ante quem comes from the 1347 obituary.

130.

See Waesberghe, “Some Music Treatises,” 107–8; cf. Clercx, “Jacques d'Audenaerde,” 95, 100–101.

131.

Tanay, Noting Music, Marking Culture, 146–81. On Jacobus's philosophical context and ambitions, see also Della Seta, “‘Utrum musica tempore mensuretur continuo,’” and Aertsen, “Speculum musicae,” 318–21.

132.

Bent, Magister Jacobus de Ispania, 56–57. Bent shows that the “principle of economy later known as Ockham's razor” has earlier precedents than Ockham's formulation (57–59, here 57), but Tanay had already described this sentence as “a famous proverb that appeared in many late medieval writings including Ockham's own”: Tanay, Noting Music, Marking Culture, 161.

133.

Hentschel, “Der Streit um die Ars nova,” 129–30: “Jacobus war Einzelkämpfer; und er schreibt mit einem gehörigen Schuß Selbstironie. … Möglicherweise weiß er, daß, selbst wenn seine Argumente überall greifen, sie nicht die musikalischen Entwicklungen aufhalten … bricht [er] aber seine eigene Kritik durch Humor, als wolle er seinen Lesern andeuten, seine Kritik sei ohnehin fruchtlos” (my translation).

134.

Ibid., 125: “Gerade das Verständnis kritischen Humors ist auf die genaue Kenntnis des historischen Kontextes angewiesen, aus dem er erwuchs, von dem er inspiriert wurde und gegen den er eventuell ins Feld zog.”

135.

Ibid., 111 (on the dating of SM7); see also 126: “Die Bulle Docta sanctorum patrum von Papst Johannes XXII … stammt folglich aus der Zeit zwischen August 1324 und August 1325, also aus der ‘Blütezeit’ der ars nova.”

136.

Pn571, 144r–145r, available online at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84510972/f291.item. On this practice of “tagging” semibreves, see Desmond, “‘One Is the Loneliest Number,’” 404–7. On the dating of Pn571, see Wathey, “Marriage of Edward III,” 14–24.

137.

Klaper, “‘Verbindliches kirchenmusikalisches Gesetz,’” 72. For Handlo, see note 91 above.

138.

The 1320 Statutes of the General Chapter of the Cistercian Order are also sometimes cited as an allusion to the ars nova (see, for example, Desmond, “Behind the Mirror,” 16–17), but their objection to a list of novelties that includes hockets echoes thirteenth-century critiques, as is clear from the series of passages collected in Dalglish, “Origin of the Hocket,” 7–9. In this context, Dalglish observes, “the well-known bull of Pope John XXII, Docta sanctorum, may be seen not as an isolated remonstrance against the sophistications of ars-nova polyphony but rather as yet another in a series of attempts to curb the extravagant liberties regularly taken by singers in performing church music” (10).

139.

On tagging, see notes 45 and 136 above. On the stems in Quare fremuerunt, see Le Roman de Fauvel, 32–33. Although Fauvel is often described as the first great monument of the ars nova, its notational system is broadly continuous with the notation favored by Petrus de Cruce, which requires singers to apply predetermined patterns to chains of semibreves set off by dots, though with the difference that some of the motets in Fauvel seem to call for a duple division of the breve. Desmond points to the misattribution of ars nova notational practices to Fauvel as resulting in part from the circumstance that this aspect of the ars vetus system is described most explicitly in treatises we tend to categorize as ars nova treatises (even though it is always marked there as ars vetus practice): Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 120, 130–41. Wolf's characterization of the Roman de Fauvel as the “final consummate expression” of the ars antiqua is apt: Wolf, Handbuch der Notationskunde, 1:330 (“letzten vollendeten Ausdruck”).

140.

Michels, Johannis de Muris, 74: “It remains for us to describe with which note shapes, signs, and marks the aforementioned things should be consistently drawn, and by which nomenclature or by which words they are to be called, since in our times our doctores musicae argue daily among themselves about this” (“Restat quoque, quibus figuris, signis, notulis, quae dicta sunt, convenienter debeant designari quibusque sermonibus vel vocibus appellari, cum modo tempore nostro super hoc cotidie nostri doctores musicae ad invicem convixantur”; my translation).

141.

Lefferts, Robertus de Handlo, 160–61: “Neither minoratae nor minimae have corresponding rests” (“minorate vero nec minime pausam non habent correspondentem”). The rule that “A hocket never runs upon minimae and minoratae” is attributed to Johannes de Garlandia: ibid., 164–65 (“Super minimas et minoratas nunquam currit hoketus”). It could be that Handlo was not privy to the latest Parisian developments. But he clearly had access to a large range of theoretical sources, and given the active cross-channel exchange at this time, he is unlikely to have been too far behind.

142.

See note 136 above.

143.

Kalkar, Das Cantuagium, 44–45 (my translation). Kalkar does not name the theorists individually, but specifies that they are listed in the motet Apollinis / Zodiacum, and that he has seen one of them (presumably Vitry) elevated to a bishopric: “quidam magni artistae Parisius, quorum nomina in quodam discantu ponuntur, qui incipit ‘Zodiacus,’ si bene recolo, et (quorum) unum vidi episcopum, ante annos circiter quinquagita, circa annum videlicet Domini millesimum trecentesimum tricesimum, specialiter dederunt se musicae certis mensuris temporum ipsam regulantes sub notis quadratis et quadrangulis, simplicibus et colligatis punctis etiam et pausis.” On this passage, see also Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 5–6.

144.

Plumley, Art of Grafted Song, 231–36. It is not impossible that the ballades postdate the motet, but the compositional order proposed by Plumley is the more convincing option.

145.

Wolf, “Ein anonymer Musiktraktat,” 34.

146.

Vos / Gratissima is cited in the Quatuor principalia (1351); O candenda / Rex is cited in Boen's Musica (1357); and O candenda / Rex, Impudenter / Virtutibus, and Apta / Flos are all cited in Boen's Ars (before 1367). Cf. Desmond, Music and the “moderni,” 202, which posits on the basis of circumstantial evidence that Vitry's Vos / Gratissima might have been composed in the 1330s.

147.

For example, Pn7378A, Pn15128, Vat307. The last of these, though usually placed ca. 1400, has recently been redated to the 1350s or 1360s; see Manzari and Stoessel, “Intersection of Anglo-French Culture.”

148.

Aluas, “Quatuor principalia musicae,” 433, 689: “Pausacionum secundum Franconem, sex sunt species; sed secundum modernos sunt septem. In omnibus enim concordant antiqui et experti moderni, minima excepta; nam in tempore Franconis, minima et eius pausa erant incognite. Tamen semibrevem minorem pronunciabant antiqui veluti minimam, et sic quodammodo artem custodiebant minime. Sed moderni minimam et eius pausam invenerunt, in qua tocius mensurabilis musice principium consistit” (translation modified).

149.

Ibid., 434, 690: “Forte dicet aliquis figuras ad placitum esse ponendas; sunt etenim, sed quia supradicte figure ab antiquis sunt invente, et per expertos approbate, ac per multa tempora usitate, iccirco magna stulticia est eis contradicere, aut novas figuras sine necessitate producere, ut isti novi cantores, qui dici possent novarum truffarum inventores, fecerunt. Aliqui semiminimam et aliqui dragmam posuerunt; aliqui vero per caudam yrundinis alteracionem fecerunt, et punctum pausis dederunt, et multa alia mirabilia repugnancia dictis approbatorum imaginaverunt” (translation modified). On the insular “cauda yrundinis” or “swallow's tail,” a double flag used to mark the major semibreve, see Lefferts, Motet in England, 138–41.

150.

B52/W43: “Et adhuc multas faciunt novitates, licet communius nunc in hoc concordent quod, inter semibreves, minimas superius directe caudant sic: . Qui vero ponunt semiminimas vel semiminores, indirecte superius caudant ipsas” (translation modified).

151.

See Florea, “John of Tewkesbury.”

152.

See Kügle, “Ars novaArs subtilior,” and Fallows, “Ars Nova.” See also the discussion of ars nova as a period marker in Rillon-Marne, “Émergence de la notion,” 4.

153.

Fallows gives “Ars Nova (Lat.: ‘new art’)” in the heading of his Grove Music Online article, and I evoked the same usage in the title of my monograph The Monstrous New Art.

154.

Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary, s.v. “ars.” Leo Schrade had already insisted on this distinction in his “Chronology of the Ars nova,” 39.

155.

Fuller, “Phantom Treatise,” 48. See also the discussion and literature reviewed in Tanay, “Transition from the Ars antiqua.”

156.

On periodizing as a necessary evil, see Besserman, Challenge of Periodization. Virginia Jackson also concedes the necessity of periods, while arguing that being aware of their distorting potential could lead to narratives less subject to those distortions: Jackson, “Introduction: On Periodization.” On the layers of Trém, see Bent, “Note on the Dating.”

157.

See Cuthbert, “Trecento Fragments,” 3n5.

158.

The new system's specificity with regard to short rhythms meant, however, that it did not capture the indeterminacy of undifferentiated semibreves in the ars vetus, and it is possible that this feature was appreciated or even instrumentalized by users.

159.

Gitelman, “Ages, Epochs, Media.”

160.

Ibid.

161.

Haas draws a parallel with the four divisions of logic—the logica vetus, logica nova, logica antiqua, and logica moderna: Haas, “Studien zur mittelalterlichen Musiklehre,” 388–90.

162.

Ibid., 390: “Ein älteres, in sich geschlossenes Corpus, das von moderni zu Unrecht durch eine ars nova ersetzt, nicht aber ergänzt wird: Regnat nova (ars), exulat antiqua” (my translation). The quotation is from chapter 47 of SM7 (B91).

163.

Wegman, “World according to Anonymous IV,” 704.

164.

On the disciplinary and institutional dangers of periodization, see, for example, Hayot, “Against Periodization.”

165.

This can even happen on multiple scales at once: technologically determinist accounts of ars nova can describe it as an improvement on ars antiqua even as the “Renaissance” leaves the Middle Ages in the dust. On synchronic vs. diachronic uses of periodization, see the discussion and literature cited in Patterson, “Place of the Modern,” 51–54.

166.

“The newness of new media,” Gitelman writes, “like periodization generally, depends upon a species of back-formation. We would never have orality (whatever it is) without literacy nor manuscript as such without an age of print”: Gitelman, “Ages, Epochs, Media.”

Works Cited

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Br Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 19606 
Ch Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 564 (Chantilly Codex) 
Fauvel Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Français 146 (Roman de Fauvel
Iv Ivrea, Biblioteca Capitolare d'Ivrea, MS CXV (115) (Ivrea Codex) 
Mo Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine, H 196 
Pn15128 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Latin 15128 
Pn571 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Français 571 
Pn7207 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Latin 7207 
Pn7378A Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Latin 7378A 
Trém Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, NAF 23190 
Tu Turin, Biblioteca Reale, Vari 42 
Vat307 Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS. Barb. lat. 307 
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