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22                                  MANUSCRIPTS—THIRTEENTH CENTURY.
and fifteenth century." On the same page he tells us that the notes of the MS. resemble those of Walter Odington's Treatise11 (1230), and seem to be of the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and he can hardly imagine the canon much more modern. Then he is " sometimes inclined to imagine" it to have been the production of the Northumbrians, (who, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, used a kind of natural symphonious harmony,) but with additional parts, and a second drone-base of later times. By " additional parts" I suppose Burney to mean adding to the length of the tune, and so continuing the canon. Next in reviewing " the most ancient musical tract that has been preserved in our vernacular tongue" (by Lyonel Tower), he says, this rule (a prohibition of taking fifths and octaves in succession) seems to have been so much unknown or disregarded by the composer of the canon, " Sumer is icumen in," as to excite a suspicion that it is " much more ancient than has been imagined." And finally, " It has been already shown that counterpoint, in the Church, began by adding parts to plain chant; and in secular, music, by harmonizing old tunes, as florid melody did by variations on these tunes. It was' long before men had the courage to invent new melodies. It is a matter of sur­prise that so little plain counterpoint is to be found, and of this little, none correct, previous to attempts at imitation, fugue, and canon; contrivances to which there was a very early tendency, in all probability, during times of extemporary descant, before there was any such thing as written harmony : for we find in the most ancient music in parts that has come down to us, that fugue and canon had made considerable progress at the time it was composed. The song, or round, ' Sumer is icumen in,' is a very early proof of the cultivation of this art." He then proceeds to show how, according to Martini, from the constant habit of descanting in successive intervals, new melodies would be formed in harmony with the original, and whence imitations would naturally arise.
Ritson, who knew more of the age of manuscripts than of musical history, is of opinion that Burney and Hawkins were restrained by fear from giving their opinion of its date, and says it may be referred to as early a period (at least) as the year 1250. Sir Frederick Madden,b in a note to the last edition of Warton's English Poetry, says: " Ritson justly exclaims against the ignorance of those who refer the song to the fifteenth century, when the MS. itself is certainly of the middle of the thirteenth." Mr. T. Wright, who has devoted his attention almost exclusively to editing Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, and early English manuscripts, says: " The latter part of this manuscript, containing, among others, the long political song printed in my Pol. Songs, p. 72, was certainly written during the interval between the battle of Lewes, in May, 1264, and that of Evesham, in the year following, and most probably immediately after the first-mentioned event. The earlier part of the MS., which contains the music, was evidently written at an earlier period—perhaps by twenty or thirty years—and
■ The best summary of the state of music in England,      complete of all the early treatises, -whether -written here
about 1230, is contained in Walter Odington's Treatise,      or abroad.
which is fully described in Burney's History of Music,         •■ Keeper of the Manuscripts in the British Museum. vol. h\, p. 155, et seq. Burney considers it the most

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III