Book VIII. Wondrous Music-Making.


On the use of the Musurgical Ark.

Its use follows its construction which, insofar as I am able, I shall describe in a few brief words. Whoever, then, intends to compose some line of music, he places before himself the Ark which has already been set-up with all its necessary items. Then, with the phonotactic system arranged on a palimpsest, he will select a melothetic theme as the foundation for the the entire composition. For example, let it be Cantate Domino Canticum nouum, Laus eius in Ecclesia Sanctorum [Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the church of saints1Psalm 149, verse 1.]. First let him divide the given theme into clear-cut polysyllables, as shown below:

VI. short penult V. long penult III. long penult V. short penult III. long penult
Cantate Domino Canticum nouum laus eius in Ecclesia Sanctorum

Having arranged the theme thusly on the phontactic palimpsest, & having opened the lid upon which is written “hectasyllables, short penults”, place this2quam read as quem. in front of you and then remove that column which has the inscription VI breve. Next, in the same manner, remove a column with the inscription V, thirdly a column with the inscription III, fourth a column with the inscription VI breve, and fifth a column with the inscription III. Place all of these columns together, arranged in the same order as the theme, as appears here, where we have displayed only the beginning of the columns lest the whole columns take up too much space.

Bass Pentagram

With the columns arranged in this order, you will be able to combine them with each other in whatever way you wish. Indeed this is the case both when they have been positioned equally with respect to each transverse series (as here), or when they been positioned unequally3That is, the columns can be arranged so that their top edges are aligned, as suggested by the diagram, above, or the columns can be arranged so that their top edges are not aligned, as shown in the figure below.. That is, however the columns are moved up or down, the transverse series will always produce the desired composition. For example:

5 Column Schema

But, in order for you to better understand our meaning, we shall give here a diagram of various transpositions4A reference to the figure shown directly above.. Accordingly, whether you take some series in the first arrangement of the five columns, AB, or some other series in the second arrangement FC, or lastly some other transverse series in the third arrangement XY, it is all the same; a composition will always emerge which serves your plan.

Corollary I.

From this arrangement, it is clear that the multitude of combinations that can result from the various dispositions of these five columns is infinite. Certainly there are so many that if some angel had set about to combine them at the beginning of the world, he would still not have finished today. But this is very clear from what was demonstrated in the first part of this book.

Corollary II.

Acordingly from this single paradigm, it is clear how one is to proceed for all the given themes that remain, for the method of working with the rest is no different.

Use of the Musurgical Ark.

Combination scheme for the 5 given columns, variously transposed.

Multitude of combinations.

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