Mensuration and Proportion Signs: Origins and Evolution

Overview

In the fourteenth century composers and theorists invented mensuration and proportion signs that allowed them increased flexibility and precision in notating a wide range of rhythmic and metric relationships. The origin and interpretation of these signs is one of the least understood and most complex issues in music history. This study represents the first attempt to see the origin of musical mensuration and proportion signs in the context of other measuring systems of the fourteenth century. Berger analyzes the ...

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Overview

In the fourteenth century composers and theorists invented mensuration and proportion signs that allowed them increased flexibility and precision in notating a wide range of rhythmic and metric relationships. The origin and interpretation of these signs is one of the least understood and most complex issues in music history. This study represents the first attempt to see the origin of musical mensuration and proportion signs in the context of other measuring systems of the fourteenth century. Berger analyzes the exact meaning of every mensuration and proportion sign in music and theory from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, and offers revisions of many currently-held views concerning the significance and development of early time signatures.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198162308
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Oxford Monographs on Music Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

University of California, Davis
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The Representation and Interpretation of Mensuration Signs 12
I Tempus Signs 12
II Modus Signs 13
III Prolation Signs 27
IV Intrinsic Signs 28
V Modification of Geometric Signs and Figures to Diminution and Proportion 29
VI Mensuration when No Sign is Given 29
VII An Explanation of [actual symbol not reproducible] and [actual symbol not reproducible] in German Sources 31
2 The Origins of the Mensural System and Mensuration Signs 33
3 The Relationship between Perfect and Imperfect Time 51
I The Problem 51
II Method of Investigation 54
III Theorists who Favour Breve Equality 57
IV Theorists who Favour Equal Breve and Equal Minim 69
V Theorists who Favour Equal Mining 71
VI Placement of Tactus (Battuta, Mensura) 78
VII Conclusions Drawn from Theoretical Evidence 78
VIII Equal Breve in Musical Sources 79
IX Origins of the Equal-Breve Tradition 80
X Suggestions for Performance 84
4 The Relationship between Major and Minor Prolation 87
I The Problem 87
II Major Prolation Combined with Minor Prolation 91
III Major Prolation in All Parts 99
5 Diminution by Stroke and by Mode Signs 120
I The Problem 120
II Cut Signs 125
III Diminution in the Fourteenth and Early Fifteenth Centuries 140
IV Conclusions Drawn from Theoretical Evidence 144
V Modus cum tempore Signs 148
VI The Relationship Between Cut Signs and Modus cum tempore Signs 159
6 Proportion Signs 164
I The Problem 164
II Which Proportions were Used? 166
III How were the Proportions Indicated? 168
IV From Mensuration Signs to Fractions 178
V The Relationship of Proportions to each Other 182
VI Is the Mensuration Dependent on the Proportion Sign or the Preceding Mensuration Sign? 185
VII The Mensuration of the Note-Values Compared in a Proportion 197
VIII The Influence of Arithmetic on Mensural Proportions 198
IX The Division of the Battuta in Unequal Proportions 210
X The Compared Note-Value in a Proportion 212
Conclusions 227
Appendix: Index of Signs 233
Bibliography 241
Index of Compositions 255
General Index 260
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