Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities
2010—2011 Forum on Virtuality
From Note to Tone: The Enigmatic Notation of Matthaeus Pipelare
Experienced singers normally require no instruction on how to read music—that is, how to translate written symbols into heard song. However, sometimes the musical symbols are not the only source of information. Fifteenth-century music occasionally includes inscriptions, known as verbal canons, which tell the singer what to do with the notes they accompany. This notation opens up a space between the written and the sounding, with musical manipulation taking place off the page. My project for the Humanities Forum is to consider the notational usage of Matthaeus Pipelare, a composer who took particular interest in both verbal canons and complex notation. Pipelare’s music advances considerations of what exactly notation was for when it was more than a written record of sound.