2.1 — Anni Domini notantur in praesenti linea

NotationDate11th - 12th c.
Rhythmics and strophic systemsThe melody for Anni Domini notantur clearly articulates the verse structure. Word accent is observed at the end of verse units: the accented penultimate syllable before the caesura is consistently set to a high-low tone pattern (syllables 7 and 8), while the accented ante-penultimate syllable at line endings (syllable 13) is marked either by arrival on the final followed by a turn (lines 1 and 3) or by a descending pattern (higher-lower-lower). There is no consistent attempt to mark word accent through the line, but division of the opening eight syllables into two units of four syllables is marked in the second line by a pivot around f (f-d-C-f) and in the third line by a repeating stepwise pattern (C-d-d-C, f-g-g-f). The strophe is articulated melodically through graded cadences and tonal contrast. The first three half-lines cadence on the final (d) and are rooted in a d-f-a tonal space. The next two half-lines feature open cadences on the sub-final (c) and third above the final (f) respectively; the same tones of C and f provide an alternative tonal axis for these lines, before the return to the opening tonal space of a-f-d and a cadence on the final at the end of the strophe.
NotesMusical notation for Anni Domini notantur survives in only one manuscript: Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Reg. lat. 1723, fol. 84r. The opening two strophes of the poem were notated using two different systems, alphabetic notation and neumatic notation; the melody may be reliably reconstructed from the former. The use of alphabetic notation suggests an initial attempt to convey the precise pitches of a melody that may have been either unfamiliar or not commonly associated with this text. The use of neumes for the second strophe is more efficient as a notational method and adds a certain amount of further information concerning liquescence, i.e. the neumes indicate how certain consonants are to be vocalized in singing the melody. The combination of alphabetic notation and neumes is familiar from the eleventh-century Dijon tonary, Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine H. 159, in which neumes were placed above letters to provide a full set of information for chant melodies. The dual use of alphabetic notation and neumes for Anni Domini notantur may have served a range of didactic purposes, including teaching a particular combination of text and melody and demonstrating the workings of neumatic notation.
The a-p system of letter notation used for the first strophe is associated with the early eleventh-century reforming activities of William of Volpiano in Normandy. Although William may have learned the a-p system in Italy, it is most commonly found in Norman manuscripts of the eleventh and twelfth centuries - for further details, see Alma Colk Browne, 'The a-p system of Letter Notation', Musica Disciplina 35 (1981), pp. 5-54. The neumes added to the second strophe display features associated with the so-called French style of neumatic notation. The near upright strokes used for higher single notes (the signs over the opening three syllables), two descending notes (partire and eius), and two ascending notes (sit and numerus) are typical of this style of notation. Several means of indicating pitch height are used, including a downward slant for the sign for lower single notes (e.g. indictionibus) and a higher placement of signs within the writing space for relatively high tones (anni Christi). An 'r'-shaped sign resembling the Messine uncinus is used to mark the lower note at the semitone step or mi (per quindenum). This last sign is found elsewhere in English and northern French (mainly Norman) neumatic scripts of the eleventh and twelfth centuries: see Solange Corbin, Die Neumen, Köln, 1977, p. 107. The notator also took care to indicate liquescence through an additional drag or curl at the end of certain forms such as at indictionibus and numerum.
The melodies recorded in the letters (strophe 1) and the neumes (strophe 2) are not identical. Leaving aside details of liquescence, two types of melodic changes can be traced in the neumatic notation. First, the melody is adapted for the word regulis at the opening of the second line of the second strophe to accommodate the reduction from four to three syllables. The pitches indicated by the neumes (high-low-high) are ambiguous at this point: alternative solutions could be f-d-f or f-C-f, depending on which pitch is omitted from the model provided by the first strophe. The solution preferred above leads to a cadence on the final (d) at regulis, which accords with the appearance of a punctuation sign at this point, displaced in the manuscript from its usual position at the end of the previous verse. The other point of departure occurs in the closing half line, where the melodic outline is maintained but its decoration through several tones on individual syllables differs between the strophes. No clear rationale can be traced for this alteration, which may simply illustrate flexibility at points of melodic elaboration.
 Anni_Domini   Anni_Domini2
MelodyExample 1. Anni domini notantur, strophes 1 and 2, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Reg. lat. 1723, fol. 84r
Example 2. Melodies with similarities to Anni Domini notantur:
1. Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Reg. lat. 1723, fol. 84r; 
2. Nevers hymnal, Stäblein (ed.), 1401 (p. 82); 
3. Klosterneuburg hymnal, Stäblein (ed.), 1402 (p. 227);
4. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, latin 1118, fol. 246r;
5. Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale, Conventi Soppressi F. III. 365, fol. 4v.  
TransmissionThe melody recorded for Anni Domini notantur in the Vatican manuscript shares notable similarities with a hymn melody and a melody recorded for two related secular songs. In the hymn repertory, the melody is first found in association with a hymn for St Stephen, Sancte dei pretiose, as preserved in a twelfth-century hymnal from Nevers that employs the same melody for a hymn for St Vincent, Christi miles pretiosus. As may be seen in the musical example below, the melody in the Nevers hymnal (no. 2) is almost identical to that recorded in the alphabetic notation for Anni Domini notantur (no. 1). The only points of difference lie in groups of more than one note, where the melodic shape is maintained but the elaboration differs slightly, i.e. at the fourth syllable of the first line, and at the eleventh and twelfth syllable of the third line. A later version of the same hymn melody with a number of divergences was recorded for Pange lingua gloriosi in the fourteenth-century Klosterneuburg hymnal (no. 3).
The three hymn texts and Anni Domini notantur share not only a common poetic design but also a prominent assonance in their opening line that may have prompted their melodic association, i.e. Sancte dei pretiose, Christi miles pretiosus, and Pange lingua gloriosi.
A second melody closely related to that recorded for Anni Domini notantur is found for two related secular poems, the nightingale song Aurea personet lyra (no. 5) and its apparent parody Aurea frequenter lingua (no. 4). The melody for Aurea personet lyra may be reliably reconstructed from an alphabetic notation that survives in an early twelth-century central Italian collection of music theory now held in Florence. Neumatic notations for Aurea personet lyra were also added to several manuscripts copied from the eleventh century onwards: for full details, see Michel Huglo, 'Deux séquences de musique instrumentale', Revue de Musicologie 76.1 (1990), pp. 77-82 at pp. 79-81. It may be added here that a single neume was added to the Cambridge Songs manuscript at the point that the melody deviates from the expected sequence structure, see Cambridge, University Library, Gg. V. 35, fol. 434v. An Aquitanian notation from which pitches may be reconstructed with some confidence was added to the first strophe of Aurea frequenter lingua in a late tenth-century troper from South West France.
Comparison of the melody recorded for Anni Domini notantur with the two secular melodies (nos. 4 and 5) reveals several points of similarity. The melody for the opening eight syllables of the first line is almost identical, but correspondences are less precise thereafter. Whereas the secular melodies assume a strict AAB form with repeated cadences on the final (d), the melody for Anni Domini notatuntur proceeds in a more varied fashion, witness the varied opening of the second line and differing stepwise falling pattern at the end of the same line before the open cadence on the sub-final (c). While all three melodies trace a rise from the low C to g in the first half of the final line, the melody for Anni Domini does not return to the final at the caesura but employs an open cadence on f leading to a final falling line of slightly wider ambitus. While the hymn melody departs from the melodies after the first eight syllables, the shared overall melodic direction (especially in the rise from C to g in the opening eight syllables of the third line) suggests that the relation is one not simply of opening quotation, but of flexible transformation of the whole melody.
The simplest explanation of the surviving musical evidence is that a melody composed for Aurea personet lyra was adopted for its parody text Aurea frequenter linguam in a process of contrafactum. The clearly defined axis of the melody between final and fifth as articulated most strongly at its opening suggests a date of composition not long before its earliest surviving notations. This melody was later quoted and transformed in a hymn melody newly composed for St Stephen (Sancte dei pretiosi) and repeated for the closely related hymn for St Vincent (Christi miles pretiosus). The melody for Anni Domini notantur is in all probability directly related to the hymn melody rather than the secular song melody since its pitch content is almost identical to the version found in the Nevers hymnal. Whether the melody for Anni Domini notantur preceded the hymn melody or vice versa remains an open question.
After the opening three lines, the melody for Aurea personet lyra proceeds in double versicles (AA, BB, CC) and recapitulates three times to create a triple cursus structure. While the melody unfolds in the manner of a sequence, the text is composed in strophes of fifteen-syllable lines with regular accentuation through the line. The consistent terminal 'a' rhyme used for both Aurea frequenter lingua and Aurea personet lyra recalls French sequence texts and the generic association of the sequence with Alleluia melodies. The first strophe of Anni Domini notantur also features terminal 'a' rhymes, which may have been one among several reasons for the association with the earlier secular melody. It therefore remains possible that the melody recorded for Anni Domini notantur is the opening of a sequence (AA) whose continuation (BB CC etc.) was not recorded, yet this is unlikely since the repetition of the melody for the second strophe can be explained as the result of using two different notational formats, perhaps for didactic reasons. In all probablity, the melody for Anni Domini notantur was repeated strophically throughout.