General Index of music editions on this site
by first line
   by composer


Other editions and papers on this site:

Copenhagen Chansonnier

Complete Works of Gilles Mureau

Uppsala MS 76a

Peter Woetmann Christoffersen

Papers on

Basiron’s chansons
Busnoys & scibes PDF
Chansons in Fa-clefs
Chansoner på nettet
Fede, Works
Dulot’s Ave Maria
Open access 15th c.
MS Florence 2794



Anonymous, Missa Sine nomine a 3 (Missa La plus dolente)
in Parma, Bibl. Naz. Palatina, Fondo parmense, ms. 1158

Edited by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen

Kyrie and Gloria from a mass for two equal high voices (c'-f", a-f") and a tenor voice, which is based on canonic imitation at the unison between the upper voices all the way through. The musical material in the mass is borrowed from an anonymous three-part rondeau “La plus dolente qui soit née” written for a similar disposition of the voices. The mass is simple and euphonious and an obvious choice for performance with the boys of a maîtrise supported by their maître.

The anonymous Missa Sine nomine in MS Cappella Sistina 14
Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (October 2018)

The introduction discusses the sources for the anonymous four-part mass (Cappella Sistina 14, and the ‘Lucca Choirbook’) and its date and origin (1450s, Northern France or Burgundy). Its most remarkable trait is its strict adherence to the Caput model, which is reduced to a rigid scheme. This produces an extreme unity of sound all the way through the five sections, a sound picture apparently developed deliberately in keeping with the practises of improvised polyphony in singing on the book – a sacred sound.

Sound files illustrating Missa Sine nomine: KyrieSanctus

See also the discussion in my article
‘An experiment in musical unity, or: The sheer joy of sound. The anonymous Sine nomine mass in MS Cappella Sistina 14’, Danish Yearbook of Musicology 42 (2018), pp. 54–78.

In the middle of the fifteenth century a principal concern of the new sacred genre, the cyclic cantus firmus mass, was the question of musical and liturgical unity. How to balance the quest for unity and the wish for diversty in musical expression or varietas, which Tinctoris advised in his teachings of counterpoint. I take a closer look at an anonymous mass dating from the decade just after 1450, the Missa Sine nomine in MS Cappella Sistina 14, in which the composer was intensely involved with the problem of unity, so involved that he – according to our ideas about music – has focused on ‘unity’ to such a degree that it became rather to the detriment of ‘diversity’. The mass was highly regarded in its time, and this fact puts our aesthetic understanding of the period’s music to test. In addition to the classical analysis of how such a cantus firmus mass is structured as a musical architecture transmitted in writing, we have to ponder how it served as a sounding reality, and how it may have related to the little we know about the musical practices of the period.

Guillaume Du Fay, Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua (Mass ordinary)
Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (June 2019)

The introduction discusses the sources for and the identification of Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua and Du Fay's strategies in creating freely composed mass music. It concentrates on 1) his exploration of the rhythmic tensions between triple and double time, between tempus perfectum and imperfect minor modus under brevis equivalence, and the 3:4 relations on all rhythmic levels; and 2) his use of hexachords to build larger musical structures. The mass ordinary seems to be part of a process of reconsideration and refinement of his musical thoughts and practices during the 1440s.

Guillaume Du Fay, Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua (Mass proper)
Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (October 2019)

The introduction discusses the sources for and dating of the proprium mass, its copying into MS Trent 88 as part of a long series of mass propers, and the controversies concerning Du Fay’s authorship of the cycle as a whole. After a discussion of its elements and of the careful design of the plenary mass for St Anthony as regards performance forces and sound, I conclude that it seems most probable that Du Fay composed most of the music, with the help of associates in Cambrai under his supervision in order to finish the project, as one among many proper masses.

Guillaume Du Fay, Missa Se la face ay pale
Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (June 2018)

The introduction discusses briefly the date of creation for Missa Se la face ay pale, around 1450, its context as one of three masses on secular chansons that were copied into MS Trent 88 simultaneously, its relation to its song model, and Du Fay’s exploration of the rhythmic possibilities offered by equivalence of the semibreves under an overriding pattern of perfect minor modus. The perfect longae bars are indicated in the edition, which presents the oldest source, MS Trent 88.

Johannes Ockeghem, Missa Quinti toni
Edited with an introduction by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (June 2021)

The interpretation offered in the present edition is based on an understanding of the hexachordal disposition of Ockeghem’s mass. Since some aspects concerning Missa Quinti toni have not been touched on in the existing literature, the introduction has become quite extensive. After a survey of the sources and their special features, I discuss the relationship between Du Fay’s and Ockeghem’s masses, the questions of Ockeghem’s use of a model, his composing with hexachordal procedures, the use of imitation, and finally his handling of the rhythmic layout of the mass.


Gregorius presul meritis. The anonymous three-part motet in the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 2794. An abandoned dedicatory song from the 1470s?
Introduced and edited by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen (December 2018)

Simple polyphony

Songs for funerals and intercession. A collection of polyphony for the confraternity of St Barbara at the Corbie Abbey. Amiens, Bibliothèque Centrale Louis Aragon, MS 162 D.
Edited by Peter Woetmann Christoffersen
– with an introduction ‘Prayers for the dead, funeral music and simple polyphony in a French music manuscript of the early sixteenth century’ (September 2015)

MS Amiens 162 was made in Paris in 1502 in cooperation between a professional music copyist and the young monk Antoine de Caulaincourt. The MS contained simple polyphony for funerals and commemorative services, and it was to be used in a confraternity, Confrérie Ste Barbe, at the big Benedictine monastery in Corbie (near Amiens). During this period the monastery was struggling to preserve the privileges as an independent religious institution, which it had enjoyed for nearly a thousand years. It was a fight against the French kingdom, against the bishop of Amiens, and – maybe primarily – against the ideas of a new age, fought with arguments as well as violence. A bold move to bolster its position was the demolition of the abbey’s old main church and starting the building of a vast new one in 1502. The founding of the confraternity and the ordering of the music manuscript in Paris were probably deliberate moves to ensure local support for the building project.

The MS offers music whose sound may compare with contemporary art music in fullness and solemnity, but monks who were neither able to read modern mensural notation nor improvise simple polyphony could perform it. Their competence in singing the daily liturgy was sufficient for this sort of polyphony. The repertory was carefully selected from different traditions, and it was revised and supplemented after use, which contributes to its uniqueness.

We do not know anything about the confraternity and its relations with the monastery, except for the fact of the existence of the music manuscript. This, of course, brings up many questions and hypotheses, which may be discussed. On the other hand, we know more about the main persons in the story, abbot Pierre d’Ostrel and Antoine de Caulaincourt. The last mentioned gave in fact an almost day-to-day account of life in the monastery in his Chronicon corbeiense - and he signed the music manuscript.