3. Guidelines for the addition of ficta

The decision of whether or not to add ficta, or even whether to follow the written-in accidentals, can range from reconstructing the intuitively obvious to the complex application of external, interpretative agendas. In what follows, I try unravelling the way I approach some of these processes, breaking the procedures down to their basic components, exemplifying them using Machaut’s oeuvre. These thoughts are presented as a practical manual, not for the universal application of ficta, but for obtaining enough initial knowledge and confidence to make decisions and stand by them. Like all such manuals, it only offers a point of departure, or a basis upon which further thought, consideration and fine-tuning should be applied.

I have divided the discussion into two parts. To begin with, the Automatic Pilot section centres on the more technical elements of ficta addition. Such inflections could be added spontaneously in real-time performance without resource to a score. The second part concerns issues which involve a higher degree of interpretation and creativity. These could also be changed within a performance situation, but relate to external reasons for distributing ficta, as well as to contexts where the more basic approach of the first section is not deemed sufficient.


Uri Smilansky


***********************STOP PRESS!!!!!!!!************************

The Complete Poetry and Music of Guillaume de Machaut Volume 1 is out now!!!!

Volume 1: The Debate Poems is now available in print.

You can also enjoy the entire volume online via the Middle English Texts Website.

Edited and translated by R. Barton Palmer, with art historical commentary by Domenic Leo, and musical commentary by Uri Smilansky, the volume contains  Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaigne, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre, and Le Lay de Plour.




The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript

Full colour facsimile with introductory study by Lawrence Earp, Domenic Leo and Carla Shapreau. Preface by Christopher de Hamel

"It is a vast manuscript of royal luxury, 390 leaves of parchment, 314 mm. by 220 mm., illustrated with 118 enchanting miniatures by a workshop of court illuminators led by the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy.They include pictures of gothic chivalry and romance, with mythology and natural history. Music is included on 235 pages of the manuscript, with almost the entire corpus of the ballades, lais and motets of Machaut, as well as his great polyphonic setting of the Mass, the four-part Messe de Nostre-Dame.The manuscript has never before been photographed in its entirety or reproduced in colour."

"Vol. 1 introductory study (225 pages colour/mono), vol. 2 facsimile (789 full colour pages) on 150gsm matt art paper. Full size reproduction, hard bound in buckram, presented in hard slipcover."

Available now from DIAMM Publications.

The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut by Yolanda Plumley

Available now from Oxford University Press

"Presents the first detailed exploration of citational practices in the song-writing tradition of fourteenth-century France. The first monograph-length study on the Ars nova chanson with new evidence about the emergence of the new polyphonic chanson. Provides new evidence about the circle of poets and composers who engaged with Machaut and created a new style of poetry and song. Explores little studied collections of lyrics and songs of the period and provides fresh insights and perspectives on Machaut's works."