Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Karen Desmond
Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society
Texts in Play: The Ars Nova and its Hypertexts
New Orleans
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
The sources that transmit early Ars nova theory present a complex web of interdependencies. Apart from the more substantial texts of Jehan des Murs and Marchetto da Padova, there are a number of sources containing short texts that appear to emanate from the orbit of Philippe de Vitry. Vitry’s status as the author of a definitive written text has been thrown into doubt in recent years, with a hypothesis emerging that the extant sources are but remnants of a fluid teaching tradition originating with Vitry. Editions of these 'Vitrian' texts are found today in various edited volumes, journal articles dating from 1908, 1929 and 1958, and in the nineteenth-century Scriptores edition of Edmond de Coussemaker. The various presentation formats, and specific editorial policies and accessibility issues, however, have served to obfuscate attempts at their analysis and interpretation.

While HTML versions of medieval music theory treatises are available online (TML, Lexicon musicum Latinum), technologies available today could better present the relationships between these texts. In this paper, I demonstrate how digital technologies could more fully realize the potential of a truly 'hypertextual' edition, and more accurately (and cost-effectively) reflect the fluidity and variance that characterize medieval texts. The digital edition I have prepared, following the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), of an important text of the Ars nova (incipit 'Omni desideranti notitiam') is the first modern edition of this text, extant in three Italian sources dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. My analysis of Omni desiderata notitiam demonstrates that Jacobus de Montibus used it, in his Speculum musicae, as a primary authority for the Vitrian tradition (in a written version), as did other fourteenth-century theorists. I reconsider the importance of this text within the early Ars nova, and I extrapolate on the advantages of presenting the entire Ars nova textual tradition online. The modern reader of a digital edition, using hypertext, could mimic the intertextual and indeed hypertextual experience existent within the medieval work (whether text or music), whose web of reference and allusion was apparent to the medieval reader in on the 'game.'