TEXTS ON MUSIC IN ENGLISH
School of Music
University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100
(phone:  472-2507; Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Data entry: Jonathan Haupt
Checked by: Peter Slemon
Approved by: Peter M. Lefferts
Fn and Ft: HEREFOL2_TEXT
Title: A little treatise on discant
Source: Sanford B. Meech, "Three Musical Treatises in English From a Fifteenth-Century Manuscript," Speculum 10 (1935): 235-69 at 258-65. Used by permission.
Graphics: HEREFOL2 01GF
[-258-] Here folwith a litil tretise a-cording to the ferst tretise of the sight of descant, and also for the sight of countir, and for the syght of the countirtenor and of ffaburdon.
Ferst, for the sithgt of descaunt, it is to wete, as it is a-for-seide, that ther be 9 a-cordis of descant, scilicet a vnisoun, a 3de, a 5te, a 6te, a 8te, a 10e, a 12e, a 13, a 15e. Of the whech 9 a-cordis ther be 5 perfite and 4 inperfite. The 5 perfite be these: the vnisoun, the 5, the 8, the 12, and the 15. Of these 5 perfite ther be 3 ful perfite and 2o les perfite. The 3 ful perfite be: the vnisoun, the 8, and the 15. The 2o lasse perfite be: the 5te and the 12e. The 4 inperfite be these: the 3de, the 6, the 10, and the 13.
And with these acordis of descaunt euery descanter may ryse in voyse and falle with the plain-song, excepte out of one perfite in-to a-nother bothe of one kynde, as it is a-for rehersid.
Also it is to wete that ther be 3 degreis of descaunt, scilicet the quatreble sight, and the treble sight, and the mene sight. The mene be-ginnyth in a 5te aboue the plain-song in vois and with the plain-song in sight; the trebil be-gynnyth in a 8te a-boue in voise and with the plain-song in sight; the quatreble [-259-] be-gynnyth in a 12e a-boue in voise and with the plain-song in sight. To the mene longithe propreli 5 a-cordis, scilicet vnisoun, 3de, 5te, 6te, and 8te; to the treble longith propreli 5 a-cordis, scilicet 5te, 6te, 8te, 10te, and 12te; to the quatreble longith propreli 5 a-cordis, scilicet 8te, 10e, 12e, 13e, and 15e. Ferthermore it is to wete that of al the cordis of descaunt summe be aboue the plain-song, and summe be-nethe, and summe with the plain-song.
And so the descaunte of the mene shal begynne his descaunt with the plain-song in sighte and a 5te a-boue in voise, and so he shal ende it in a 5 hauyng next a-for a 3de, yf the plain-song descende and ende downward as ffa, mi, mi, re, re, vt. The 2de a-boue in sight is a 6te a-boue in voise, the 3de be-nethe in sighte is a 3de a-boue in voise, the 4e a-boue in sight is a 8te a-boue in voise, the 6te a-boue in sight is a 10e a-boue in voise, the wheche 10 the descante of the mene may sing yf the plain-song go low. Netherle3 ther long no mo a-cordis to the mene but 5 as it is a-for-saide.
The treble descante shal be-gynne his descant with the plain-song in sighte and a 8te a-boue in voise, and so he shal ende it in a 8te hauyng next a-fore a 6te, the plainsong descende and ende down-ward as I haue a-for saide. The 3de be-nethe the plainsong in sight is a 6te aboue in vois; the 4e be-nethe in sight is a 5te a-boue in vois; the 6te be-nethe in sight is a 3de a-boue in voise; the 8te benethe in sight is a vnisoun in voise; the 3de a-boue the plainsong in sight is a 10e a-boue in voise; the 5te a-boue in sight is a 12e a-boue in voise; the 6te a-boue in sight is a 13e aboue in voise; the 8te a-boue in sight is a 15e a-boue in voise. And in this degre of descant he that hathe a voise able ther-to may sing al thes a-cordis of descant.
[-260-] [Anonymous, Discant, 260,1; text: 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15] [HEREFOL2 01GF]
The quatreble descanter shal be-gynne his descante with the plain-song in sight and a 12 aboue in voise, and so he shal ende it in a 12e hauyng nexte a-fore a 10e, yf the plainsong descende and ende dounward, as a-for-saide. The 3de be-nethe the plain-song in sight is a 10e a-boue in voice, the 5te benethe in sight is a 8te a-boue in voice, the 2de a-boue the plain song in sight is the 13 in voice, the 4 a-boue in sight is a 15 a-boue in voice. This degre of descant longith to a childe to syng, for the sight of the mene and of the quatreble bethe bothe one sight in degre. Ther-for the mene muste be sunge of a man and the quatreble of a childe. Also yt is to knowe, whan thu settist a perfite note a-yenst a ffa, thu must make that perfite note a ffa as mi, ffa, sol, la. Also it is fayre and meri singing many jnperfite cordis to-gedir as for to sing 3e or 4or or 5e 3dis to-gedir a 5te or a vnisoun nexte aftir, also as many 6tis nexte aftir a 8te, also as many 10is nexte aftir a 12e, also as many 13is nexte aftir a 15e. This maner of singyng is mery to the synger and to the herer. Here folwith a exsaumple of the quatreble si3t.
[Anonymous, Discant, 260,2; text: Cum angelis et pueris] [HEREFOL2 01GF]
The sight of the countertenor of descant and his acordis. Thus sufficientli sped of the sightis of al the degreis of descant, it is conuenient to declare the 9 acordis of the counter-tenor sight longyng to descant. Of the whech countertenor thes be the 4 [-261-] syghtis be-nethe plainsong: a 8te, a 6te, a 5te, a 3de, and vnisoun euyn with the plainson[g]. And a-boue the plainsong: a 3, othir 4, a 5te, a 6te, a 8te. Thes acordes be as wel in syght as in voice, ffor a 8te benethe in sight is a 8te benethe in voyce, and so forthe bothe aboue and be-nethe of al the othir syghtis longyng to the countertenor. Also a man that hathe a low voyce may syng a countertenor in-stede of a mene, ffor whan the tenor is hye the countertenor may be low, and whan the tenor is low than the countertenor may be the mene. And alwey sette thi voce yn the same note and in the same twne that the plain-song is in, and alwey be-gynne and ende thi countertenor in a 5te, and thi countergemel begynne and ende in vnisoun.
[Anonymous, Discant, 261] [HEREFOL2 01GF]
The sight of countir with his a-cordis. Al thes processis fortunatli passid, nou attentli is for to procede ferthir to the sightis and the a-cordis of counter, the whech sight was contriuid out of the syght of the mene degre of descant and triuyd vpsodoun. And as ther longith propreli to the mene sight but 5 a-cordis, so ther longith no mo but 5 a-cordis propreli to the sight of counter, the whech be these: vnisoun, 3de, 5te, 6te, and 8te.
How thu shalt dispose thes a-cordis. Thu must conceyue yf the plain song begynne hye, than thu shalt be-gynne thi counter in a 8te, the wheche is in sight a 4e benethe the plain-song. And yf the plain-song be-gynne low, than thu shalt be-gynne thi counter in a [-262-] vnisoun with the plain-song, the whech is a 5te aboue the plain-song in sight. The 3de aboue the plain-song in sight is a 3de benethe in voice, and the plain-song him-selfe euer a 5te benethe in voice. The 2de nexte be-nethe the plainsong in sight is a 6te be-nethe in voice. The 4e benethe the plain-song in sight is a 8te benethe in voice. Also yf ye haue a low voice whan the plain-song gothe hye, than ye may haue 4 a-cordis mo, the whech be these: a 10e, a 12e, a 13e, and a 15e. Of the wheche 4 a-cordis the 10 and 12 be in vse be sight natural, for euery 6te in sight benethe the plain-song is a 10e benethe in voice and euery 8te in sight benethe the plain-song is a 12e benethe in voice. But, as for 13e and 15e, ther is no sight be-nethe the plainsong with-in 4 rwlis and 4 spacis that wil serue it, but yf ye chonge your sight.
And, as for the chonge of your sight, ys this: whan the plain-song riste hye into Csolfaut, than is your 12e benethe in voice in Cfaut; than the same low not that ye haue in Cfaut holde it and chong your syght in-to Csolfaut and not your voice, and than ymagyn Csolfaut your 12e, the 2e benethe in sight your 13e, the 4e be-nethe your 15e. Nou is this sight alterid, for where-as ferst euyn with the plain-song whas your 5te in voise nou is your 12e, and whereas was the 2e benethe the plain-song in voice your 6te nou is your 13e, and where-as was the 4e benethe the plainsong your 8te nou is your 15e. This same rwle may ye kepe be-twene Dsolre, Dlasolre, and al other base keyys, whan the countersight goth low.
[-263-] Now it is conuenient to knou how that the counter shal be shape to serue the plain-song bothe ascending and descendyng. Ye shal, as it is a-for-said, yf the playn-song begynne hye, begynne your counter in a 8te; and yf the plain-song beginne resonable low, begynne in a vnisoun with the plain-song; and, as ye beginne in a 8te or in a vnisoun, so ende your counter in a 8te or a vnisoun. Also, whan the plainsong ascendit, the cou[n]ter may shape his sight a-boue the plainsong to descende dounward to close with the plain-song in a 8te, with a 6te nexte afor or a 5te. And, if the plain-song descende, it is conuenient the cou[n]ter to ascende and to close with the plain-song in a vnisoun, with a 3de next a-fore. Also the counterre may bothe ascende and descende with one or 2o or 3e jmperfite a-cordis be-for a perfite corde as wel as the descaunter. Also the countere may close dounward in a 12e with a 10e be-for him, and also in a 15e with a 13e nexte be-for him be chongyng of his syght atte the 12e. And this chongyng of sight in counter is the qvatreble sight in descaunt.
Nou here folwithe 2o exsamplis of the counter sight, ferst of the plain wey of countir, and than the 2de of chongyng of si3t.
The sight of ffaburdon with his a-cordis. For the leeste processe of sigtis natural and most in vse is expedient to declare the sight of ffaburdun. The wheche hathe but 2o sightis: a 3de aboue the plain-song in [-264-] sight, the whech is a 6 fro the treble in voice, and a euyn with the plain-song in sight the wheche is a 8te fro the treble in voise. These 2o a-cordis the ffaburdener must rewle be the mene of the plain-song. Ffor whan he shal be-gynne his ffaburdun, he must attende to the plain-song; and sette his sight euyn with the plain-song and his voice in a 5te benethe the plain-song; and, aftir that, whethir the plain-song ascende or descende, to sette his sih3t alwey bothe in rwle and space a-boue the plain-song in a 3de; and, aftir that the plain-song hauntith his course eythir in acutis fro Gsolreut a-boue to Gsolreut be-nethe, to close dunward in sight euyn vpon the plain-song vpon one of these keyes, Dlasolre, Csolfaut, Alamire, or Gsolreut benethe; and, yf the plainsong haunt his course fro Gsolreut be-nethe down toward Are, conuenientli than to se be-fore where he may close with 2o, or 3e, or 4e 3dis be-fore eythir in Ffaut benethe, or Dsolre, or Cfaut, or Are; and al these closis gladli to be sunge and closid at the laste ende of a word; and, as ofte as he wil, to [-265-] touche the plain song and voide ther-fro, excepte twies togedir, for that may not be inas-moche as the plainsong sight is a 8te to the treble and a 5te to the mene. and so to euery degre he is a perfite corde, and 2o perfite a-cordis of one nature may not be sung to-gedir in no degre of descant.