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New medieval collection at Æon
In these 15th-century polyphonies, musica ficta or ‘feigned music’—accidentals not noted in the manuscripts but which have to be added in the melodic line—is left to the art of the performer.
In 1941, musicologist Charles van den Borren underscored the freedom and even the ‘whim’, which, according to him, held sway in this matter: ‘What are noteworthy are the alterations expressly marked and the divergences that they offer from manuscript to manuscript... Putting aside certain eventualities provided for by theory [causa necessitatis], the accident was considered a sort of ornament whose use or non-use was left to the initiative of the choral director or the performer: causa pulchritudinis, the argument of beauty, such was the watchword…’