Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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M.F. Bukofzer: ‘“Sumer is icumen in”: a Revision’, University of California Publications in Music, ii (1944), 79–113, esp. 80–81


John of Garland.

See Johannes de Garlandia.

John of Lublin.

See Jan z Lublina.

John of Salisbury

(b Salisbury, c1115; d ?Chartres, 1180). English scholar and prelate. One of the best-educated and able writers of his time, from 1136–47 he studied in Paris and Chartres under such masters as Peter Abelard and William of Conches. He served as secretary to Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury and afterwards to Archbishop Thomas Becket, and he was exiled in the service of both; he was an early promoter of the cult of St Thomas. From 1176 to his death he was Bishop of Chartres. His famous treatise on political morality, the Policraticus (1159; dedicated to Becket), has an extensive discussion of music.

Chapter six of the first book of the Policraticus is entitled ‘De musica et instrumentis et modis et fructu eorum’, and occurs in the context of a discussion of the pastimes of courtiers. Written in learned language, and not heavily dependent on conventional music treatises in its precise wording, the chapter deals mainly with aspects of music which John regarded as abuses. In particular he compared musica mundana and humana with musica instrumentalis, to the disadvantage of the latter: he spoke of its harmful effects, especially in connection with certain modes. The discipline of numbers rules the heavenly bodies, musica mundana and humana, but instruments can control behaviour. The Phrygian mode is to be avoided. Music can, on the other hand, diminish the power of evil and violence. The principal, and indeed the sole, use of music is in the praise of God.

In a passage frequently quoted, John objected to those who sing in an ‘effeminate fashion’, and whose performances ‘strive to enervate astonished little souls’. These voices display a ‘facility in ascent and descent, in the dividing or doubling of notes, in the repetition of phrases, and in their combination, while … the highest notes of the scale are so mingled with the … lowest, that the ears are almost deprived of their power to distinguish’. Writing of the ‘very smooth singing of those who sing first, and those who follow, of those who sing together, and those who finish, of those who sing in between, and those who sing against others’, John was almost certainly referring to polyphonic music, perhaps of the early Notre Dame school; otherwise his writing may be evidence for the performance of complex polyphony in England, although it should be noted that this passage is not untouched by literary exaggeration. His comments are not unlike those of his contemporary Aelred of Rievaulx.

John notes the instruments used at secular banquets, using terms that are clearly classical and partly biblical (cithara, lira, tympanum and tibia). Subsequent chapters contain minor references to musical instruments, and to the abuses of actors, mimes and other performers, and their audiences.

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