JF History of Music: Medieval and Renaissance


Week 4    The Notre Dame School and the Ars antiqua


Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York and London, 1978), pp. 215–55, 325–47 (library)


Anonymous IV, ‘De mensuris et discantu’ in Edmond de Coussemaker (ed.), Scriptorum de musica (vol. 1, Paris, 1864), 327–365, ss.IT.52. A late thirteenth-century description of the rhythmic modes, which mentions the ‘magnus liber organi’, Leonin (‘optimus organista’) and Perotin (‘optimus discantor’).

Franco of Cologne, ‘Ars cantus mensurabilis’, Eng. transl. in Source Readings in Music History, ed. Oliver Strunk, rev. Leo Treitler (New York: Norton, 1998), 226–44. MUS 780.9 J21*1


Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August-Bibliothek, MSS 677 (W1), 1099 (W2)

Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Pluteus 29.1 (F)

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 20486 (Ma)

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, n.a.fr. 13521 ‘La Clayette’ (Cl, 55 motets)

Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine, H196 (Mo, more than 300 polyphonic items)

Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Lit 115 (Ba, 100 double motets)


Willi Apel, The Notation of Polyphonic Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1942) (library). See facsimiles 44–47.

Carl Parrish, The Notation of Medieval Music (London, 1958) (library). See plates XXI–XXXI.

An Old St Andrews Music Book, ed. J. H. Baxter (London.1931) (library). Complete facsimile of W1.

French 13th-Century Polyphony in the British Library: a Facsimile Edition of the Manuscripts Additional 30091 and Egerton 2615 (Folios 79–94v), ed. Mark Everist (London: Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society, 1988) (library).


William G. Waite, The Rhythm of Twelfth-Century Polyphony (New Haven and London, 1954) (library). Includes a transcription of Leonin’s Magnus Liber from W1. N.B. Waite gives the original folio numbering rather than that added to Baxter’s facsimile edition. The original (Roman) numbers are all four higher than the later (Arabic) ones which were added following the loss of the first four folios.

Heinrich Husmann (ed.), Medieval Polyphony, Fellerer Anthology of Music, vol. 9 (Cologne, 1962) (library).

Le magnus liber organi de Notre-Dame de Paris. Vol. 5, Les clausules a deux voix du manuscrit de Florence, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Pluteus 29.1, Fascicule V, ed. Rebecca A. Balzer (Monaco: 1995) (library).

The Montpellier Codex, ed. Hans Tischler (Madison: A-R Editions, 1978) (library).


12th-Century Polyphony in Aquitaine (217)

Love’s Illusion: Music from the Montpellier Codex (692)

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Motets and Songs (707)

École de Notre Dame de Paris: Organum, Conduits, Motets (2444)


Rebecca A. Balzer, ‘Notre Dame Manuscripts and Their Owners: Lost and Found’, The Journal of Musicology, 5 (1987), 380–99 (jstor).

Mark Everist, ‘From Paris to St Andrews: The Origins of W1’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 43 (1990), 1–42 (jstor).

Anna Maria Busse Berger, ‘Mnemotechnics and Notre Dame Polyphony’, The Journal of Musicology, 14 (1996), 263–98 (jstor).

Edward Roesner, ‘The Problem of Chronology in the Transmission of Organum Duplum’, Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Patronage, Sources and Texts, ed. Iain Fenlon (Cambridge, 1981), 365–99 (library).

Craig Wright, Music and Ceremony at Notre Dame of Paris, 500–1550 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) (library).

————, ‘Leoninus: Poet and Musician’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 39 (1986), 1–35 (jstor).

Ars antiqua: Organum, Conductus, Motet, ed. Edward H. Roesner (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009) (library).

Rebecca A. Baltzer, ‘The Polyphonic Progeny of an Et gaudebit’ in Hearing the Motet, ed. Dolores Pesce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 17– 27 (library).

Hans Tischler, ‘The Earliest Motets: Origins, Types and Groupings’, Music & Letters, 60 (1979), 416–27 (jstor).

Norman E. Smith, ‘The Earliest Motets: Music and Words’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 114 (1989), 141–63 (jstor).

Christopher Page, ‘The Performance of Ars Antiqua Motets’, Early Music, 16 (1988), 147–64 (jstor).

————, The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France, 1100–1300 (London: Dent, 1989) (library).

Mark Everist, French Motets in the Thirteenth Century: Music, Poetry and Genre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) (library).

Mary E. Wolinski, ‘The Compilation of the Montpellier Codex’, Early Music History, 11 (1992), 263–301 (a revisionist view; see esp. pp. 291–9 on notation) (jstor).


Discuss the origins of the ars antiqua motet. Can it be described as a sacred or a secular genre?


There are basically two styles in the Notre Dame repertory:

Discant style, also known as note-against-note style, or syllabic style.

Melismatic style, also known as sustained-note style, or florid style.


The pieces attributed to Leonin are called organa, and consist of sections of chant, and of sustained-note style and discant style two-part polyphony. If the cantus prius factus (‘song made before; the term is Franco’s) is syllabic, it will be set in a sustained-note style; if melismatic, a discant texture will be used.

A section of a Notre Dame organum in discant style is called a clausula.

Perotin is believed to have been responsible for the substitute clausulae, in three and four parts, which were written to replace sections of the organa dupla reputedly by Leonin.

Motets were created by adding text to clausulae, which were textless (apart from the syllable/s attaching to the melismatic cantus prius factus).

The Notre Dame composers also wrote conducti, which were strophic, hymn-like pieces in two or three parts with no cantus prius factus. Being syllabic, ligatures could not be used, so it was not possible for their rhythm to be notated. Occasionally, melismas (called caudae) appear at the ends of sections, enabling the rhythmic mode of the piece to be determined.