School of Music
University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100
(phone: [402] 472-2507; Internet: plefferts1@unl.edu)

Data entry: Peter M. Lefferts
Checked by: Peter Slemon
Approved by: Peter M. Lefferts

Author: Anonymous
Title: Court of Sapience (excerpt)
Source: E. Ruth Harvey, ed., The Court of Sapience (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 68-71. Used by permission of the University of Toronto Press.

[-68-] Incipit de musica.

A lyte besyde within a place of blys
Dame Musyk sat, and with her ladyes thre:
The fyrst hyght Dame Armonyca, ywys,
[-69-] The second Rethmica a lady free,
The thyrd hyght Metrica ful of beautĀŽ,
The song she prycked, she numered notes trewe,
Theyr melodye formed an heven newe.

The fyrst delyted her in tunes mete;
The second mesured dyte with the note;
The thyrd numered her songe with certeyne fete,
And whiche be her boundes ryght wel she wote;
And with them were good clerkis that thus wrote,
And sayd that musyk was the pure connynge
And veray wey of trewe parfyte syngynge.

They wrote also who that fyrst musyk found:
Some sayd Tubal, some Linus Tibeus,
Some Zetus, Amphyon, as they dyd understond,
Some sayd also it was one Orpheus,
Some playnly said, for ought they coude discusse,
That by the soune of hamers in a forge
Pyctagoras fyrst musyk ganne to forge.

Dame Musyk ganne on her craft to record,
And made a wey how folk shold fyrst begyn;
Her example was in a monycord--
An instrument quadraunt, long, holowe within,
Of whiche the myd one strenge had with a gyn--
Oute of the whiche dyvers tunes she wrought,
And thus the ground of musyke first she sought.

She taught sex syllabes, whiche we notes clepe,
And in her craft they necessary bene,
Whiche on an ympne thou mayst brynge to hepe,
If thou his metre can proporcyon clene:
Ut queant laxis is hit whiche I mene--
Ther mayst thou fynd ut, re, my, fa, sol, la;
These syllabes sex useth Dame Musica.

[-70-] She taught the notes by her monycord
As she the streng dyd touche or gan it pulle,
And, as she lengthed or shorted the cord,
Which hye, which lowe, which sharp and which is dulle
Of al these notes taught she at the ful,
Theyr varyaunce, and theyr dyscencyon,
Theyr ordre eke, and theyr ascencyon.

A gamma-ut than wonderly she found--
Whiche is a rewle to teche them for to synge--
And it to knowe she taught them on their hond,
By whiche they wote the ground of al syngyng:
The notes they knowe therby and theyr chaungyng,
And proveth eke whiche songe is fals or trewe;
To musyk thus she gan the wayes shewe.

She taught them than whiche were tunes parfyte,
And yave hem lust to here theyr concordaunce,
Whiche tunes eke ben cleped inparfyte,
And whiche in song shold be theyr governaunce.
Proporcyon she had in remembraunce,
Dyapason, and dyapente eke,
And dyatesseron nas not to seke.

Which large, which long, which breve or semybreve,
Mynym, crochet, in rule and eke in space,
Al this she taught; but, for I must be breve,
In this mater I nyl no ferther trace;
For, though I wold, therto I have no space.
But whoso lust of musyk for to wyt
For veray ground to Boece I hym remyt.

And to a clerk whiche cleped is Berno,
Johan de Muris, and John de Musica,
To Guydo eke in his Metrologo;
[-71-] There mayst thou see of Dame Armonyca,
Of Dame Metryk, and Dame Rethmica;
Of al musyke the veray ground parfyte
There shalt thou fynd, with blysse and al delyte.

And these with Musyke were in joye and blysse
And helped her provynce with her armonye,
And with them was eche instrument, ywys,
That is of musyk and of mynstralcye:
Harp, lute, pype, trump, fydel, ribibe, sautry,
The rote, the orgons, and the monycord,
The gyterne, symbale, and the clavycord.

Explicit tractatus de musica.

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