A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Hucbaldus de S. Amando

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HUCBALDUS DE S. AMANDO (Hubald de S. Amand; Hugbald de S. Amand). Our knowledge of the condition of Music during the early Middle Ages is derived chiefly from the information furnished by three learned writers, of whom the earliest was a Monk, named Hucbald, of S. Amand sur l'Elnon, in Flanders, who is frequently mentioned under the title of Monachus Elnonensis. He was born about the year 840, and flourished, therefore, a full century before Guido d'Arezzo, and a century and a half before Magister Franco the only two writers whose musical treatises possess an interest comparable with his own. Of the details of his life we know but very little more than that he was a disciple of S. Remi of Auxerre, and the intimate friend of S. Odo of Cluny; that he was a Poet, as well as a Musician;[1] and, that he died, at a very advanced age, in the year 930. But of his life-work we know all that need be desired.

Of Hucbald's 'Enchiridion' or tract, 'De Harmonica Institutione'—the only work by him that has been preserved to us—the two most perfect copies known are those in the Paris Library, and in that of S. Benet's (now Corpus Christi) College, Cambridge. The title of the Paris MS. is 'Enchiridion Musicæ.'[2] The Cambridge MS. forms part of a volume[3] entitled 'Musica Hogeri, sive Excerptiones Hogeri Abbatis ex Autoribus Musicæ Artis,' and containing, besides the 'Enchiridion' of Hucbald, a less perfect copy of another 'Enchiridion' by his friend, S. Odo of Cluny, which, though written in Dialogue, resembles it, in many respects, so closely, that copies of the one MS. have sometimes been mistaken for the other.[4]

In this tract, Hucbald describes, under the name of Symphonia, the primitive form of Part-writing called, by Guido d'Arezzo, Diaphonia, or Organum, and, by Magister Franco, Discant. Of this Symphonia he mentions three kinds, which he calls Diatessaron Symphonia, Diapente Symphonia, and Diapason Symphonia; in other words, Harmony in the Fourth, the Fifth, and the Octave. Examples of these rude attempts at Harmony have already been given, in vol. ii. p. 469, and vol. iii. p. 427b. But, in addition to the rules for the construction of these, he tells us, in his Eighteenth Chapter, that so long as one voice continues to sing the same note, the others may proceed at will; of which method he gives the following example:—

{ \clef bass \cadenzaOn \relative c' << { c1 c d e f f e c e d c d c b a b \bar "||" } \\ { c, c c c c c c c b b a b a g a b } 
\addlyrics { Te hu -- mi -- les fa -- mu -- li mo -- du -- lis ven -- er -- an -- dam pi -- is. } >> }

These examples are written in a peculiar form of Notation, invented by himself, which has already been described, and illustrated by his own examples, in the articles above referred to. He did not, however, confine himself entirely to this ingenious device, but supplemented it by the invention of fifteen arbitrary signs, for representing the notes of the Gamut, from Γ, to aa, together with four more signs, of like character, for the four Authentic Modes—

Primus character DMM p696.png Primus qui et gravissimus Græce Protos dicitur vel Archos.

Secundus character DMM p696.pngSecundus Deuteros tono distans a Proto.

Tertius character DMM p696.png Tertius Tritos semitono distans a Deutero.

Quartus character DMM p696.png Quartus Tetardos tono distans a Trito.

The number of examples given in illustration of these principles, and others deduced from them, is very great; and the tract concludes with an account of the descent of Orpheus into Hades, in search of Eurydice.

[ W. S. R. ]

  1. He dedicated to the Emperor, Charles the Bald, a poem in praise of baldness, beginning 'Carmina Clarisonæ, Calvis, Cantate Camœnæ'; in which every word began with the letter C.
  2. No. 7202.
  3. No. cclx.
  4. Hucbald and S.Odo were both disciples of S. Remi of Auxerre. S. Odo was born a. d. 878, and died in 942.