30 Years Research on La Rhétorique des Dieux – A Brief Introduction (Andreas Schlegel)

Rhétorique des Dieux (D-Bkk 78.C.12) is among the most spectacular mid-17th century sources of French lute music. According to its preface the manuscript is devoted to the music of Denis Gaultier, and it was planned to contain twelve sections following Zarlino’s modal system (including the Aeolian and Ionian modes) with each section containing a Prélude and eight further pieces.
In May 1987 I handed in my first study on the
Rhétorique, entitled “Der Codex Hamilton als periphere Quelle der Werke Denis Gaultiers” (The Codex Hamilton as peripheral source of Denis Gaultier’s works), to the Institute of Musicology at the Basel University. I had then discovered that paper leaves were inserted in this parchment codex, which interfere with the integrity and the uniformity of the book, and which are not mentioned in the preface. Among other deviations from what the preface states and the fact that only just under two thirds of the pages meant to contain music were indeed filled with tablature, my comparison of the concordances showed that the pieces in the Rhétorique are often singular variants. I could differentiate between two music scribes: Notator A, and Notator B. This study was the starting point in my attempts to solve the mysteries of the Rhétorique’s extremely complex genesis. It was the collaboration with François-Pierre Goy which developed into the key to success in these attempts.

About 1989 Robert Spencer gave copies of a manuscript then in his hands to François-Pierre Goy and me. Presently this is manuscript 12 in the private library of Matthias Schneider (D-Fschneider Ms. 12). It contains entries by the
Rhétorique’s writer Notator B. Matthias Schneider consented in 2008 to an edition of the complete works written by Notator B. Thorough investigation of the sources (see B-Bc FA VI 10 on this website) and the biographies of all of those who are connected with the Rhétorique led to a growing complexity of the project. We have now come near to the point where we will be able to define our publication’s format, and where we will have to work on the clearly arranged representation of our results. Seeing that further time will elapse with this, François-Pierre Goy and I decided to publish here a preliminary report delivered in the form of a lecture held during the Lute Festival in Bremen on 1 June 2013.

Since then further discoveries of high importance were made. The identification of Montarcis is one example for this. We have decided to add information about these new discoveries in the appropriate places of our lecture’s original text. This is marked “Addition 2016” and appears in italics.