Med-Ren paper: “The flores of Flos vernalis”

08/06/2019 — Research

The Med-Ren 2019 conference took place in Basel (Switzerland) in July 3rd-6th. I presented a paper on Flos vernalis and 14th-century creation of keyboard intabulation.


The London, British Library, Add. 28550 (Robertsbridge) contains some of the oldest keyboard intabulations that we know, if not the oldest, which in addition presents unique notational features. One of its pieces (Flos vernalis) is the intabulation of a motet for which we knew only fragments of the original vocal version (Oxford, All Souls, 56, binding strips). Such fragments do not transmit the complete vocal piece, thus, until now a complete comparative analysis could not be conducted. The situation has now changed after the identification of one more Flos vernalis concordance in Karlsruhe (Badische Landesbibliothek, Lichtenthal 82, pastedown). This makes possible a full comparison of the upper part, and leads to improve our understanding about the intabulation and ornamentation techniques (flores) of the fourteenth century. The rich ornamentation possibilities recorded in Flos vernalis will be discussed in this paper. The better we understand how Flos vernalis was adapted into a tablature form, the more we will be able to recognize the characteristics of two different intabulation techniques for polyphonic vocal works: one that transcribes literally the composition into a tablature form (seen in two intabulations of Fauvel’s motets in Robertsbridge codex), and another one that includes a larger amount of ornamentation or flores (Flos vernalis).

Med-Ren Basel website