Aquitanian Notation in Iberia: Plainchant Fragments in Braga and Guimarães (11th – 15th century)

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Solange Corbin was the first scholar to regard the lozenged punctum employed as mi-sign (“special punctum”) as the main characteristic of a “Portuguese notation” derived from Aquitanian notation. Even though Corbin’s findings were later partially revised, the special punctum is still regarded as a graphical feature mostly peculiar to Portuguese manuscripts. This palaeographical study investigates the use of the special punctum and the changes that
occurred to Aquitanian notation in 104 fragments dated from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries in the archives of Braga and Guimarães. This research demonstrates that the special punctum was the preferred scribal device employed to convey semitonal information, but that it was not systematically employed. Over the course of four centuries Portugal witnessed the coexistence of two parallel systems for notating plainchant. While both systems employed the typical elements of Aquitanian notation on a single line without clefs, one was perfectly diastematic while the other conveyed no indications of semitones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-372
Number of pages46
JournalRevue de musicologie
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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