Gradual of Cividale

  • S. XIII (post 1291) – XIV; parchment; mm 360 × 250; ff. I, 348, I’. Square notation on red tetragram.
  • Cividale del Friuli, National Archaeological Museum. Archives and Library, codex LVI

Written for the Church of Cividale, whose dedication day is here recalled, the codex witnesses the Germanic tradition impact on the Friulian area melodies.

After the “Rubrica libri chori domini decani” (list of the chants for the offices of some saints: Thomas Becket, Florian, Cantius Cantianus and Cantianilla …, f. 2r), there follows the gradual with added temporale and sanctorale. Then there are trops (f. 6r); offices of the dead, offices of devotion and other different circumstances (de sancta Maria, pro pace…); some Hallelujahs (f. 212r); a kyriale with troped and polyvocal pieces (f. 223r); the troper: Benedicamus Domino and responsories (f. 247r-260v); a Sequentiary (f. 261r-347v). The codex dates back to the end of thirteenth – beginning of the fourteenth century. Its provenance from Cividale is proved by the collegiate church dedication date (July 1st) and by the peculiar series of the Mass Alleluia shared with other local sources. On f. 216v a rubric introduces the hallelujah Felix corpus, to be sung in the offices of the Virgin, the composition of which is assigned to the Dominican cardinal and musician Latino Malabranca († 1294): Istud alleluia fecit frater Latinus fratrum praedicatorum venerabilis cardinalis Hostiensis et Velletrensis episcopus. In the hallelujah repertoire of the ms. Cividale LVI there are other interesting melodies and a number of trops that wholly draw on the hallelujah melody. These are easily recognizable since they are syllabic, that is to say they usually have a single note on each syllable, while the original Alleluia sections are with melismatic fioriturae of several notes and entire vocalises (melisma) on some syllables. A rubric of the codex reminds of a peculiar performing praxis: the trop is sung by two chanters on the pulpit placed in the middle of the choir, while the remaining parts of the Alleluia are sung by the chorarii (f. 148r). It is also remarkable the C C (do do) variant (instead of H H always present both in the Alleluia and in the trop parallels) in the cells 140 and 141 of the codex LXXIX: the raising to the minor third instead of the second (A C instead of A H) is a clear sign of the familiarity with the so-called ‘Germanic dialect’ which has left a deep mark in the melodies conveyed in the Friulian and South-Tyrolean areas.

f. 251r, trop of Benedicamus Domino sung on Easter before St. Donatus’ altar upon the end of the procession to the baptismal font

f. 251r, trop of Benedicamus Domino sung on Easter before St. Donatus’ altar upon the end of the procession to the baptismal font

f. 130r, Easter chant Cum rex gloriae

f. 130r, Easter chant Cum rex gloriae

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