Book VIII. Wondrous Music-Making.




On the Scope & Intention of the Author.


ince in the preceding sections we promised that we would relate a method whereby everybody, even someone unskilled in music, can attain a perfect knowledge of composing, we wanted to fulfill those promises here once we have explained what our invention consists of.

Since I would observe, and had learned well by frequent experience, that on account of some wondrous cause the one is contained in the all and the all is contained in the one; that is, I had sagaciously perceived that in all the sciences and faculties there is a single principle to which, following some correpsondence, everything else is reduced but that these things could not be treated without a complete knowledge of combinations, I therefore founded the combinatoric art wherein I exhibited the impressions of my mind and represented the principles of all the sciences to my eyes as if through various dances,1orchemata. Presumably a reference to systems of concentric, rotating discs. such that nothing could seem easier than by means of these things to arrive at an exact knowledge of everything in a short time. And since I discovered the power of combination was so wondrous in everything else, I found it to be most especially so in music. And it seemed that nothing else was desired except for us to take the principles of music explained extensively in the preceding sections and render them here in methodical tables which we call Musarithms, or harmonic numbers. And this was executed exactly as it was conceived in my mind.

But lest there be lurking anything in music which is also ἄμουσον, that is, unmusical, we have made three tabulated syntagmata in which, by means of several compositional tablets, we have arranged whatever is rare or outstanding in the whole of melothetic, or compositional, music according to the order and method which follows.

The First Syntagma contains ten tables2Actually eleven are listed here and twelve are referred to subsequently. or tablets where we present the whole of poetic, or metrical, music-making such that from a given type of verse you may compose a melody upon it using any desired method.

Tablet I displays musarithms with polysyllabic feet, from bisyllabic up to heptasyllabic. But we have included in this tablet only polysyllables whose penultimate syllable is long, as the front of the tablet indicates. At the bottom of the columns, metrometric notes are placed which measure the given feet.

Tablet II displays musarithms of polysyllabic feet, together with the metrometric notes corresponding to each, whose penultimate syllable is short.

Tablet III exhibits musarithms for adonic and dactylic meters and those of the form: Gaudia mundi, Tollite lumina.

Tablet IV exhibits musarithms for iambs, euripideans and dactyls whose form is the much sung hymn Ave maris stella; using this table, you will make the desired melody from such a verse with no effort. The remaining details of the table will be explained in their proper place.

Tablet V exhibits musarithms for anacreontic meters whose form is O ter quaterque felix, together with metrometric notes corresponding to each one added to the bottom of the columns.

Tablet VI exhibits musarithms for iambic archilochic octosyllables whose form is Veni Creator Spiritus. We have placed these in four columns and at the same time in four-line stanzas, that is, through the same number of verses, together with metrometric notes corresponding to each.

Tablet VII contains musarithms for iambic archilochic enneasyllables whose form is Amant venena parricidæ. We have arranged them into four-line stanzas in four columns according to their four verses together with metrometric notes corresponding to each as the tables indicate.

Tablet VIII contains musarithms for decasyllabic meters whose form is that verse of Prudentius, Magne Creator verum omnium, arranged into four-line columns and with metrometric notes added on the bottom.

Tablet IX contains musarithms for hendacasyllabic, or phaleucian, meters whose form is O Virgo gloriosa Mater Dei in four-line columns together with metrometric notes added on the bottom.

Tablet X contains musarithms for sapphic meters arranged in order in four-line columns together with metrometric notes.

Tablet XI contains musarithms for asclepiadean choriambic dodecasyllables whose form is Mecænas atavis edite regibus arranged in order in four-line columns together with metrometric notes.

The Second Syntagma contains VI tablets on which we display poetic, or metrical, music-making using flowery & artful musarithms.

Tablet I contains musarithms for adonics and dactyls in a flowery and artful progression of voices, arranged together with the metrometric notes annexed to each musarithm.

Tablet II contains musarithms for iambic euripidean hectasyllabic meters arranged in a flowery and artful progression of voices, together with metrometric notes annexed to each musarithm.

Tablet III contains musarithms for anacreontic heptasyllabic meters arranged in a flowery and artful progression of voices through metrometric notes attached to each.

Tablet IV contains musarithms for iambic archilochic octosyllabic meters arranged in a flowery and artful unequal progression of voices through notes annexed to each.

Tablet V contains musarithms for enneasyllabic and decasyllabic meters arranged in a flowery and artful progression of voices.

Tablet VI contains musarithms for sapphic and phaleucian hendecasyllabic meters in a flowery and artful style arranged with metrometric notes annexed to each.

The Third Syntagma, which however we decided to omit in this work for reasons that will be disclosed later in their proper place, contains six tablets appropriate not just for poetic, but also rhetorical music-making, using which, with syncopation or ligature, and an artful progression of figures, we express every musical grace.

Tablet I contains musarithms of polysyllabic feet, to nearly all of which we have annexed metrometric notes.

Tablet II contains musarithms of the aforementioned feet.

Tablet III contains musarithms of the various and more principal syncopations & ligatures which are suited for inciting the emotions.

Tablet IV contains musarithms of artful fugues by which the beginning of a line of music can be artfully establishd.

Tablet V contains musarithms of polyphones, that is, for a composition that is to be arranged for more than five voices.

Tablet VI contains compositional musarithms suited for both a recitative and comic style suitable for a theatrical style, and containing also a system for composing music in a chromatic and enharmonic style.

And with these three syntagmata, we have rightly embraced whatever in the whole of music is rare, elegant, beautiful, and moving, as the reader will with admiration see in the progression of this work.

And this our new musurgia consists most especially of an artful arrangement of compositional columns from which a harmony, however it be made, will emerge always and by necessity new such that, because the compositions of this sort are infinite, infinite also is the diversity of harmonic variations that arises. For example, there are so many combinations from the first tablet that the whole universe from the earth all the way to the firmament could easily be filled with sand which the diversity of resulting harmonies could then exhaust; nay, if all the writers of the whole world from its founding had set themselves to describing the harmonic combinations of still just this sort they would not yet have exhausted them. But since these things are known to those who are imbued in the mysteries of numbers, I by myself do not wish to pursue the matter further, especially since we demonstrated extensively in the first part of this book what I wanted to include here as well in order to quash the insults from certain practicing musicians who, when they see these things, immediately object that the music which emerges is always the same. But let us not dwell on their ignorance; experience herself will show the truth. Whoever, then, knows how to adapt these columns onto moveable tiles artfully, and according to the rules which will be prescribed in the fourth part of this book, and whoever knows how to correctly transfer the harmonic numbers on to a melotactic scale, he will also know that he can compose with any given tone and any given words and any artful mode such that, in the same way a practitioner of Algebra, by following the dictates of a rule, succeeds in elucidating paradoxical questions with a facility that even though he himself is the one performing the operation, he is unaware what he has done, and so unexpected is the result that the algebraist is scarcely aware it has been produced, so for those melothetes3melothetis. Ostensibly from melotheta, a practioner of melothesia or musical composition; a composer. who follow the dictates of the rules here, even the ἀμούσοις [unmusical], the desired harmony will nevertheless emerge. But lest we keep the avid reader in suspense any longer, let us now advance nearer to the arcana of our musurgical contrivance.

In all the sciences there is one principal foundation.

Order of
the tables constructed for composing vocal music.

Synatg. II.

Synatg. III.

What this new method of composing consists of.

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