Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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26                              NATIONAL SONGS NOT ON CHURCH SCALES.
In the Arundel Collection (No. 292), there is a song in " a handwriting of the time of Edward II.," beginning—
" Uncomly in cloystre I coure [cower] ful of care," which is on the comparative difficulties of learning secular and church music, but, except in the line, " Thou bitest asunder bequarre for bemol" (B natural for B flat), there is no reference to the practice of music.
Secular music must have made considerable progress before the end of the thirteenth century, for even Franco had spoken of a sort of composition called " Conductus," in which, instead of merely adding parts to a plain song, the stu­dent was first to compose as pretty a tune as he could, and then to make descant upon it;a and he further says, that in every other case, some melody already made is chosen, which is called the tenor, and governs the descant originating from it: but it is different in the Conductus, where the cantus (or melody) and the descant (or harmony) are both to be produced. This was evidently applied to secular composition, since, about 1250, Odo, Archbishop of Rheims, speaks of Conducti et Motuli as " jocose and scurrilous songs."
Accidental sharps, discords and their resolutions, and even chromatic counter­point, are treated on by Marchetto of Padua (in his Pomerium Artis Musicse Mensurabilis) in 1274, and the Dominican Monk, Peter Herp, mentions in Chronicle of Frankfort, under the year 1300, that new singers, composers, and harmonists had arisen, who used other scales or modes than those of the Church.b Pope John XXII. (in his decree given at Avignon in 1322) reproves those who, * attending to the new notes and new measures of the disciples of the new school, would rather have their ears tickled with semibreves and minims, and such frivolous inventions, than hear the ancient ecclesiastical chant." White minims, with tails, to distinguish them from semibreves, seem first to have been used by John de Muris, about 1330, retaining the lozenge-shaped head to the note. He also used signs to distinguish triple from common time. These points should be borne in mind in judging of the age of manuscripts.
It will be observed that " Sumer is icumen in" is not within the compass of any Church scale. It extends over the octave of F, and ends by descending to the seventh below the keynote for the close, which, indeed, is one of the most common and characteristic terminations of English airs. The dance tune which follows next in order has the same termination, and extends over a still greater compass of notes. I shall therefore quit the subject of Church scales, relying on the practical refutation which a further examination of the tunes will afford. Burney has remarked that at any given period secular music has always been at least a century in advance of Church music. And notwithstanding the improvements in musical notation made by monks, the Church still adhered to her imperfect system, as well as to bad harmony, for centuries after better had become general.
» " In Conductis aliter est operandum, quia qui vult facere Conductum, primum cantirm invenire debet pul-chriorem quam potest, deinde uti debet illo, ut de tenore, faciendo discantum."
b '' Novi cantores surrexere, et componistre, et figuristae.
qui inceperunt alios modos assuere." When music de­viated from the Church scales, it vras called by the old writers generally, Musica fatsat and by Franchinus, Hfusica Jtctaj seu colorata, from the chromatic semitones used in it.

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