Musical Exemplarity in the Notational Treatises of Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435-1511)

Whittaker, Adam (2016) Musical Exemplarity in the Notational Treatises of Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435-1511). Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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The notational treatises of Johannes Tinctoris are among the most studied music theory texts of their age. The level of meticulous detail and apparent rigour, twinned with a fairly comprehensive survey of most aspects of practical music that the fifteenth-century musician would need to know, make his treatises invaluable to understanding musical practices and pedagogy of the later part of the Middle Ages. Although not conceived as a set as such, his twelve music treatises contain some significant interdependencies, particularly those focussing on specific areas of mensuration and notation practice.
Despite much scholarly attention being directed towards his texts, particularly his De arte contrapuncti and Proportionale musices, the use of musical examples in his notational treatises has remained largely underexplored. Indeed, the broader field of musical examples in music theory treatises has been much neglected, both in modern scholarship and in critical editions, something that this thesis begins to address.
This study sets out, for the first time, a methodology for interpreting the exemplary content found in music theory treatises of the manuscript tradition, particularly those of the late fifteenth century. It synthesises Tinctoris’s strategies of exemplification into three distinct models: instantiation; citation; extrapolation. In examining musical examples, it is clear that this relatively little explored resource can be used to better understand the readership(s) for music theory and the ways in which musical notation could be read in the fifteenth century. Indeed, the methodology established through this study opens up new avenues for exploration in scholarly research.
Due to the variety of musical examples found in Tinctoris’s works, his treatises make an ideal test case for this methodology, showing it to be sufficiently rigorous to be applied to a variety of other texts in the future. Thus, this thesis contends that musical examples, which are often treated poorly in modern scholarly editions, can reveal great insights into the intended function of particular texts, and yield new findings to inform our study of the period.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
March 2016Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Adam Whittaker
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 15:02
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54

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