Music, School of


Date of this Version



Early Music, Vol. 16, No. 2 (May, 1988), pp. 176-183.


Copyright © 1988 Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


The late 14th-century French repertory contains music characterized by an ingenuity and great subtlety whose terms of reference are entirely derived from within the art itself. One of the best-known French chansons of the period, the rondeau Fumeux fume by Solage, contains a superabundance of artifice, a wide variety of clever and audacious musical techniques. But in contrast to the extravagances of notation and rhythmic language that are the familiar hallmarks of the ars subtilior in music, the most striking feature of Fumeux fume is the proliferation of accidentals, and the bizarre tonal behavior they indicate. In addition to F, C, G, D, A, E and B, the pitches notated include Bb, Eb, Ab, Db and Gb, as well as F#, C# and G#. These accidentals are the cause of virtually all the editorial problems in Fumeux fume, and in order to assess clearly just what subtilitas there may be in its tonal language, this article presents (as Example 1) a new edition, together with a defense of its idiosyncracies. Of necessity, such an edition constitutes a version that irons out the source's ambiguities, and interprets its pitch notation as an indication of how this chanson was meant to go. It clearly accepts the presumption that most of the composer's intentions with respect to pitch can be recognized and restored from the existing source evidence; the problem is not so much the intractable one of musica ficta as the soluble one of musica recta.

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