The examination of the Paduan manuscripts required the use of many analytic tools from other fields as well as a careful observation of details in the fragments. The most meticulous scrutiny was found in the last three chapters focusing on the five manuscript fragments. While the details of a composition or the observations of notational systems can at times be interesting in themselves, it is when we step back and see the relationship between these findings and the Paduan music tradition as a whole that the full significance of each oblique-stemmed semibreve or untrimmed bifolio reveals itself.
We have seen that the production of manuscripts of polyphonic music at Santa Giustina during the first decades of the fifteenth century might have had more to do with a general expansion of the monastery under a new Venetian-appointed Abbot than it had to do with increased desire for music manuscripts. Patronage of the Paduan composers whose works were copied into these manuscripts originally came from both civic and religious structures–these structures being closely intertwined in Padua, especially under Carrara rule. Although the records of patronage have largely been destroyed, in the texts of celebratory motets we can reconstruct who the principal patrons were of such composers as Johannes Ciconia.
Unwritten musical traditions were a large part of the musical life of late fourteenth-century Padua. Although we were not able to examine traditions such as instrumental performance and monophonic song, the tradition of popular songs from Sicily can be seen in the Paduan fragments and in other manuscript sources connected to Padua, such as the Reina codex. In PadB, the anonymous two-voice ballata Se per dureça most likely has a Sicilian song at its root. This siciliana-ballata exhibits the characteristic homophonic declamation of text at the beginning of phrases, short phrases articulated by rests, and motion by parallel fifth, unison, and octave.
The Paduan fragments present works by local composers, composers from other parts of Italy, French composers, and composers from the Low Countries. We know that several composers represented in the fragments were in Bruges at the same or nearly the same time. It is possible that Senleches, Egardus, and the composer of Apolinis ecclipsatur (possibly Petrus Vinderhout) worked in the same musical circles; if so, it is logical that some of their music would travel together. We have also seen a possible attribution of Or sus vous dormés trop to Perneth, who is represented by the fragment of a Credo in I-Pu 684.
Paduan musical interests as seen in the fragments covered a vast range of styles. In GB-Ob 229, ff. CV and DV illustrate this range of interests well. Folio CV contains a sacred composition, a Sanctus by Barbitonsoris. This piece has large homophonic sections, particularly at the beginning. The Sanctus uses simple rhythms (even though the structure is quasi-isorhythmic) and uses the imperfect consonances of the third and the sixth. Two folios away, however, the same scribe has copied Ciconia’s Sus unne fontaine. This ars subtilior composition displays three contrasting meters which change throughout the piece. A greater contrast in styles could hardly be imagined. The presence of Machaut’s Ma fin est mon commencement in PadA, and nowhere else outside the Machaut manuscripts, suggests that interest in complex and intellectually challenging compositions was not limited to the music of local composers such as Ciconia.
While compositions like Sus unne fontaine, En ce gracieux tamps, and Dolçe fortuna suggest different styles all of which look toward the music of the present and future, the Paduan fragments preserve much music from as far back as the first half of the fourteenth century. Jacopo da Bologna, who wrote most of his works c. 1340-60, has as many compositions in the fragments as anyone except Landini. The sacred composition, Benedicamus domino also is from an earlier tradition. This composition in PadA uses a liturgical tenor written entirely in longs with an upper voice whose rhythm is clearly derived from the old rhythmic modes.
Si e piena la terra in PadC and Per chio te in PadA are evidence a tradition of the performance of ritornelli independent of the terzetti of a madrigal. I have not seen evidence of this tradition in the context of other cities or times. Machaut’s Ite missa est preserved in PadA independent of the rest of Machaut’s mass suggests, with the ritornelli above, that brevity did not prevent a composition from having use in Paduan musical circles. The questions of performance practice of pieces less than thirty seconds in length are enormous and will have to be examined in future studies.
The codicological examination of these Paduan fragments has enabled us to see the layouts of large portions of three gatherings of PadA and a single gathering in PadB. Examination of the arrangement of compositions on a folio has raised questions about the contents of these manuscripts and the influences upon the scribe copying them. In PadB, the blank space on the final five staves of f. AV no longer allows us to say with total certainty that Aler m’en veus is a two voice composition whose second voice would have been found on the adjacent page in the original manuscript. This is a discovery which would not have been possible had Ciconia’s virelai been examined apart from the norms of Paduan manuscript structure. The layout of voices along with the style of decoration in the left margin of the anonymous Sanctus on f. A of GB-Ob 229 raises questions of French influence on a scribe in Santa Giustina.142
Analysis of the arrangement of notes and parts tells us how many parts some compositions originally had. An examination of the layout of pages caused the determination that PadA originally contained a three-voice version of Perneth’s Credo rather than the four voice version seen in concordant manuscripts. An approach similar in philosophy though differing in methodology determined that a three-voice version of Apolinis ecclipsatur was originally found in PadC. By counting the number of noteheads the scribe could fit on a staff and comparing this to the number of noteheads which would have been necessary to fit the five-voice Apolinis ecclipsatur, we know that a five-voice version could not have had the concurrent page turns necessary for performance.
Gregory’s Law states that pages facing a single opening should both be from the same side of the animal: flesh against flesh, hair against hair. In the course of this study, it was shown that this rule was obeyed in Padua even in the case of flyleaves designed to protect manuscripts. An exception to this rule was seen in the pasting down of the first folio of PadC, raising the possibility that the aesthetic quality of a manuscript might have been an influence on fifteenth-century decisions to preserve older music.
The study of paleography in the Paduan manuscripts showed that two scribes were responsible for the production of different compositions in PadB. Since there is a change in scribes after Dolçe fortuna on f. BV, we cannot tell if the use of strict Italian notation in A piançer l’oche is because of scribal predilection or because this is the notation in which the piece was transmitted.
The picture of Paduan music life and traditions revealed by the five fragmentary manuscripts in this study is itself still somewhat fragmentary, though not at all contradictory. Reconstruction of a greater portion of the Paduan musical tradition could be accomplished by similar studies of the other securely attributable Paduan sources of the late trecento and early quattrocento. This study applied tools from the fields of paleography, codicology, filiation, notational study, and musical biography toward deciphering seventeen folios of music prepared c. 1400 in Paduan musical circles. These tools revealed the depth and richness of the Paduan musical tradition preserved in fragments of disassembled manuscripts from the Abbey of Santa Giustina.