Hughes, Richard Vaughan
The ritus canendi vetustissimus et novus of Johannes Legrense: a critical edition with translation, introduction and notes on the text.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The aim of the present work is to provide for the reader a modern edition of Ritus Canendi from which Coussemaker's frequent misreadings have been removed. The late Professor Albert Seay's own edition, published in 1980, also contains errors, many of which remain serious enough to mislead the reader, and it was on these grounds that a re-working of the Latin text was felt to be justified.
The work also contains a full English translation of the Latin text, in the belief that such treatises should enjoy as wide a readership as possible. The process of translation has involved the present editor in a study of such word usage as is relevant, and this in turn has provided an insight into Johannes' unnamed sources and influences.
The Introduction can be read without reference to the full text, since it contains ample quotations from the body of the treatise, with the original Latin accommodated in the footnotes in all cases.
Two main influences are identified in the Introduction:
1. The long tradition of the medieval speculative treatise is clearly represented. Here the emphasis is on Reason, and the close relationship between musical interval and mathematical ratio as portrayed in the legendary Pythagoras. If one is to view Johannes' work solely within this context, he is seen as a true conservative, for he mounts a strong attack against Marchetto da Padua's anti-Pythagorean views, and in particular his equal division of the whole tone and his ensuing chromaticisms. The views of modern commentators on Johannes' standpoint are also here discussed.
2. The Introduction also portrays Johannes as part of that spirit of enquiry which characterized Renaissance humanism, for he becomes the first to seek to interpret aspects of Greek music theory as described in the De Musica of the sixth century theorist and philosopher Boethius. Particularly significant here is Johannes' inspirational grasp of the basis of Boethius' modes; a summary of the medieval perception of these modes provides the context whereby incongruities in Johannes' text are identified, and the observations of recent writers commented upon.
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