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date: 21 January 2020

Cantus coronatus (Lat.)locked

  • Hendrik van der Werf



Late medieval term, literally meaning ‘crowned song’. (The practice of awarding a prize or crown either to poems and compositions or to their creators was very widespread in the Middle Ages.) The term occurs in a treatise by Johannes de Grocheio in reference to trouvère chansons and in a manner that requires special discussion. Furthermore, in a small number of manuscripts containing trouvère chansons the term appears in its French form, ‘chanson couronnée’, or most often merely as the word ‘couronnée’ or ‘couronnez’.

Grocheio divided musica vulgaris into two categories, called ‘cantus’ and ‘cantilena’, and each of these had a triple subdivision. The three forms of the cantus were ‘cantus gestualis’, ‘cantus coronatus’ and ‘cantus versiculatus’. By the first term Grocheio obviously meant Chanson de geste, but it is not at all clear what the distinction was between the other two. It has often been assumed that Grocheio used the term ‘cantus coronatus’ as a sort of generic term for trouvère chanson, and that therefore whatever Grocheio wrote about this song must hold true for the entire repertory of trouvère chansons. However, Grocheio mentioned not only two trouvère songs as examples of the cantus coronatus, but two others as examples of the cantus versiculatus. (In the course of the treatise, the last is also called ‘cantus versicularis’ and ‘cantus versualis’.) Furthermore, he attributed different characteristics to these two categories of song and almost every remark about the cantus coronatus and the cantus versiculatus is either much too vague and elusive to be helpful or is made virtually meaningless by the author himself in subsequent comparisons with ecclesiastic music....

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Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie
Berne, Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana