Monthly Archives: October 2018

More medieval Sicilian music

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I havLuteLadyCapellaPalatinaen’t had a lot of time to do much in the way of research lately. I keep trying to change that, but overall, I am a lazy lump and being a freelance writer and editor, I have clients to keep happy, because eating and keeping my bills paid is nice.

At present I am looking into pieces of music in anticipation of getting my rehabbed rebab/citole back one of these days. One of the pieces I would like to play is one allegedly from the Troparium de Catania, called “Anni novi circulus,” and it’s a Christmas song.

There’s just one problem: I cannot find the damn lyrics anywhere and my Latin is not good enough to just listen to the versions I have found and write the words down. You think one scholar would have analyzed the text in an article but apparently when it comes to early medieval music, the Troparium de Catania doesn’t get a lot of scholarly love.

MS 19421 allegedly has “Anni novi circulus.” But Madrid also has three other manuscripts of Norman Sicilian music. There’s MS 288; MS 289; and Vitr 20/4. They’re all scanned images and not searchable except for me straining my eyeballs. Pretty simply, I am just trying to find the three words “Anni novi circulus” and hoping that the rest of the words of the song are there. Wish me luck!

Here is Al Qantarah’s version of “Anni novi circulus.”

Trouvere Medieval Minstrels also did a version of “Anni novi circulus” on their CD “Magna Melodia”; here is a video with a snippet of the song and some glorious images of the Cathedral of Monreale and the Capella Palatina. The CD itself is available on iTunes and Amazon.

An UPDATE!

The fabulous Gill Page of Trouvere graciously replied to my inquiry, and has told me the words are in MS 289. But even better, there is actually a thesis available from David Hiley, where he transcribed the pieces of 289, with lyrics.

I have just bashed out my own version in SoundCloud, and now look forward to transcribing and performing more of these pieces.