The coniunctae of the Traditio Iohannis Hollandrini in medieval sources of liturgical chant


Over twenty late-medieval music-theoretical treatises or constellations of music-theoretical material have survived which are linked by their subject-matter, extensive concordant passages, their Central European distribution and (in many cases) their references to the teachings of one Johannes Hollandrinus. Hollandrinus's identity cannot be ascertained precisely. The writings have been the subject of a wide-ranging scholarly project directed by Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba and Michael Bernhard, supported by the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Editions of the treatises have been published in five volumes, with an introductory volume which elucidates the nature of the theoretical material and its historical context. Two further volumes containing studies of aspects of the Hollandrinus teaching, concordances and indices complete the series of publications. (Follow the link below to see the contents of the volumes.)

One of the most characteristic and original parts of the Hollandrinus tradition is its teaching on the coniunctae. These are notes lying outside the Guidonian scale, which, according to the Hollandrinus teaching, are necessary for the correct notation and/or performance of certain passages in more or less well-known chants. The treatises give musical examples for seven coniunctae: B, E, F, a, c, e, and f. An eighth coniuncta, high aa, is mentioned as a theoretical possibility but no examples are cited, except for an untexted example in one treatise alone. (Follow the link below to see a table of the coniunctae.) In volume VII of the publication series, Zsuzsa Czagány, David Hiley and Jakub Kubieniec discuss the occurrence (or avoidance) of the coniunctae in a wide range of medieval chant sources. The aim of the investigation was to answer a simple question: are the chromatic notes provided by the coniuncta theory found in manuscripts with liturgical chant for Mass and for the Office? How did scribes deal with the ‘problematic’ notes in practice? For this purpose a large body of transcriptions (199 pages in all) was assembled from a representative selection of Central European chant books. The essays by Czagány, Hiley and Kubieniec present a large number of examples from the corpus, but complete publication was clearly impracticable. Instead it was decided to place them on the Cantus Planus website.

It should be born in mind that the chants could be notated in the traditional way, while in actual performance the constellation of intervals would be altered. So one should not be optimistic about finding the chromatic notes in the written transmission of chant. Nevertheless, our survey threw up a significant number of interesting cases which form a valuable complement to the statements of the theorists.

The transcriptions were made by Jakub Kubieniec (Kraków - Polish sources [PL]), Zsuzsa Czagány (Budapest - Bohemian [BO] and Hungarian sources [HU]) and David Hiley (Regensburg - German sources [DE]). Jakub Kubieniec set up the final synoptic tables. Since they are too extensive to print in book form, they are placed on line for general consultation. Not only are they relevant to the matter of the coniunctae but they also give interesting indications of the stability and variability of chant transmission in Central Europe.

The chants are presented in alphabetical order:

introit Adorate Deum
communio Beatus servus
responsorium Conclusit vias meas
responsorium Emendemus in melius
communio Fidelis servus
responsorium Fuerunt sine querela
responsorium Gaude Maria virgo
antiphona Gloriosa sanctissimi
antiphona Hodie Maria virgo
responsorium Iesum tradidit impius
antiphona Immutemur habitu
responsorium Ingressus Pilatus
responsorium Ite in orbem universum
offertorium Iustitiae Domini
introit Laetare Jerusalem
antiphona O crux gloriosa
responsorium Quae est ista
responsorium Sancta et immaculata

Each chant is transcribed first from the Polish sources, then the Bohemian, the Hungarian and finally the German sources. (Follow the link below to see the list of sources with sigla.)

The table of coniunctae also shows the geographical distribution of the various ways of dealing with the coniuncta pitches (accidental sign, transposition, etc.).

  1. Publications of the project “Traditio Iohannis Hollandrini”
  2. List of sources and sigla
  3. Table of coniunctae and their treatment in regional groups of sources
  4. Transcriptions
David Hiley 2015