Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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4. Historical position.

The combined traditions of all the manuscripts containing ‘Garlandian’ material seem to imply that with a copy of Boethius's speculative treatise together with the anonymous De plana musica and De mensurabili musica, a university student in Paris about 1260–80 would have had all the written music theory he needed to make him a musicus. Testimony about the teachings, now attributed to Johannes de Garlandia, continues in the 14th century not only from Guy de Saint-Denis (c1315) but also from the Englishmen Roger Caperon (Commentum super cantum) and Robert de Handlo (Regule, 1326). Caperon called Johannes de Garlandia his revered teacher, and Handlo cited him for ideas about the division of the semibreve into minims. Although the latter treatment clearly pertains to early 14th-century notational theory, if Johannes de Garlandia was actually a contemporary of Hieronymus de Moravia, rather than a mid-13th-century theorist, it is entirely plausible that he should have participated in the developments leading to the Ars Nova. A subsequent hint of this possibility is the incorporation of part of the Introductio musicae planae secundum magistrum Johannem de Garlandia into the Ars contrapunctus secundum Philippum de Vitriaco (CoussemakerS, iii, 23–7) and the ascription of the latter treatise in one manuscript source to Johannes de Garlandia (which led Coussemaker to edit yet another, anonymous version under Garlandia's name: Optima introductio in contrapunctum pro rudibus, ibid., 12–13).

The complicated transmission and derivative sources of the Garlandian treatises led Coussemaker, Riemann and others to postulate both an older (13th-century) and a younger (14th-century) music theorist named Johannes de Garlandia. It now seems more likely that only one person bore this name, whose career in Paris spanned the last decades of the 13th century and the first decades of the 14th; on the other hand, the most important writings associated with Johannes de Garlandia, De plana musica and De mensurabili musica, were probably the work of another, nameless author active about the middle of the 13th century. The tremendous accomplishment of this anonymous theorist in systematizing the rhythmic modes and their notation should not be underestimated merely because these matters quickly underwent change and modification. The whole mensural system, and indeed the development of late-medieval polyphony itself, would not have been possible without the systematic formulation of the theory of Notre Dame polyphony in De mensurabili musica.

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