Professor Matteo Nanni

Professor Matteo Nanni

I am professor of musicology at the University of Gießen (Germany). One of my main research fields is medieval and early modern music with a particular focus on history of musical notation.


  • There is only indirect. The so called liquescent neumes are an evidence of that.

  • Thanks Edel!

  • Yes, you are absolute right!

  • Great question! Actually not any more. You are right. In fact the distinction of punctum and virga in the square notation has lost its original function. But it is exactly thank to that "transcriptions" from neumes into square notation on lines that it was possible to deduce the function of punctum and virga!

  • Dear Kathryn, thank you very much for your question. The three manuscripts you refer to are three beautiful exemplars of Aquitanian neumes (a neumatic family from south France that made also use of lines). On STep 2.4 you can find on the table of the neums a comparison of the main neumatic forms. The Aquitanian neumes make a stron use of single dots compared...

  • You may use a quite simple rule for that: every end of an ordo is marked by a stroke which means a rest. In modal notation the size of the stroke does usually not indicate the length of the rest. Depending from the mode you are, you should fill up the rest of the "bar" with a rest of the length required.

  • This is a nice idea! Actually we have too little notated testimonies of "street music" from that time. Therefore it is too speculative to give a definitive answer on that. But there are actually sources of music that can be related to dance in that style: the conductus.

  • Dear Brenda, you are right, the medieval copyists did sometimes write the notes in a way that it appears to us as ambiguous. A good way to be sure if a note is is on the line or above or below is to compare it with the other voices. If some strange sounds full of dissonances will come out, there may be a misreading.

    Concerning the rests at the end of the...

  • Thank you Jeanne for you question. It is common to transcribe with so called octave clefs. Under the g-clefs there is a little 8 that indicates, that the notes written should be read an octave lower. This use can be helpful to avoid ledger lines.

  • Dear Clovis, thank you again for your very precise questions. Concerning the question of staff lines we should by no means think that only Guido proposed that use! We have notational lines in use since the carolingian times (9th century). Of course not in the same way as in the Aquitanian neumes or the italian neumes uesed by Giudo. Concerning the question 3...

  • Dear Gianpaolo, very nice that you have done the full transcription of this motet. Actually you have touched and recognized a point that in the daily work with medieval manuscripts can alway happen: In the end of the tenor voice there is actually an error done by the copyist. After the rest it should be a (perfect) Longa followed by another (perfect) Longa....

  • Thank you for your answer and your suggestion. Concerning the question of neumatic transcription of a melody it is important to emphasize the fact that the neumes are not a systematic codification that permit to deduce strict rules. We can only make observations on the praxis how neumes were used, and I would not exclude that in some cases neumes were used to...

  • Dear Clovis, thanks a lot for your comment, which touches a lot of very important questions. I think it is very important to add the perspective of articulation, accent, and other musical parameters in the discussion. More on that you find in week two.
    The "Alas my love" nematic example has to be taken as a – somehow tentative – example of how melody can be...

  • Exactly! That's how it worked in a medieval scriptorium. Musical script was developed in a clerical milieu where the modern distinction between musicians, singer, theorist... why not theologian etc. was not as sharp as nowadays.

  • In some of your comments you have reflected on the difference between composing and copying. Actually this is a very important question because, as we will see, the concept of composition and work of art in the middle ages was quite different than nowadays. An important clue is that until the late middle ages the composers of most compositions were...

  • Thank you Erwin for your interesting point of view!

  • I agree with all you! It is very nice to see the first results of some of you on the Padlet (see the link below). The best thing to to... is always try by oneself!
    I am eager to see more of your beautiful handwritings!

  • It takes a bit time for getting familiar with the medieval writing... but it is with it!
    Go on and after a while everything will be clearer and clearer.

  • I am happy that exercise this is helpful!

  • Yes, the glossary can be a good help and do not be afraid, during the next week there will be more on all that.

  • It is very interesting to see how many different approaches and backgrounds you all bring with. This variety is a very good starting point for great discussions!

  • Dear learners, I want to welcome you all to this course. I hope you will enjoy it and that the course will give you the opportunity to get more and more curious about medieval music and its history.

  • Dear Louise, we are planning to rerun the course November of this year. In behalf of my team I would like to ask you for the permission for using the first line of your commentary as testimonial for the new course. If you agree, we would be very happy about that!
    Thanks a lot and all best wishes
    Matteo Nanni

  • Dear Estrella,
    the certificate of participation that future learn offers is just for the participation. Please ask your academic institution if they accept it as part of a music course.
    Thank you again for your interest and have a nice time!

  • Dear Robert, I have just posted these explanations about the tuning system on another conversation with Emilysue on step 7.3.
    Here the short information:

    The Lute is tuned in equal temperament.
    The keyboard is tuned after Arnolt Schlick (1511)

    Here some more informations about the instrument-reconstructions:

    Ich spiele ein Renaissance- Cembalo...

  • The tuning of the Michal Gondko's lute follows to the late-mediaeval and renaissance treatises and is called: equal temperament.
    Corinas keyboard make use of a more complicate tuning system:

    It follows the description of the early renaissance treatise by Arnolt Schlick (1511), and has almost-pythagorean fifths and fourths, while the major thirds are a...

  • I can understand the problem very well! The tablature notation is actually a very especial way to visualize musical phaenomena. It is closely linked to the specific manner to play the instrument. This may explains the difficulties to follow them.

    Concerning the "sharp" we already used this term in step 4.6. It is actually a word that indicates all kind of...

  • Yes, we will upload a pdf version during the next days.

  • I would like to welcome everybody who started during the last week!

  • Indeed the instruments are reconstructions of ancient instruments tuned in the late-medieval temperament.

  • Actually European music history owes the invention of the lute to the arabic culture. The Oud was introduced in Spain during the arab period. From there, during the 13th and 14th centuries, the medieval Lute was developed.
    Thank you Andrew for the great youtube video!

  • The role of the conductor in gregorian chant is quite a difficult question. In this case Dominique Vellard is indicating both the voice articulation and the cue.
    After the second Vatican Council gregorian chant is not any more so much in use in the catholic church. Of course you can still find many places practicing it. For that purpose there is a very good...

  • Dear Adrian, at the present point it is not possible to provide the whole transcription. You can find the transcription by the musicologist Wolfgang Rehm in an older publication dated 1957: Die Chansons von Gilles Binchois (1400-1460), Mainz : B. Schott's Söhne, 1957, p. 10–11. For the re-run of this course we will provide an own transcription.

  • Dear Robert, thaks a lot for your question. I think that a short focused text will be the best. About 200 words will be fine.

  • Dear all, I want to apologize in name of my team the typo error you found in this text. It has been corrected adding a clarifying specification.

  • Dear Christos thank you very much for your suggestion! Actually this further musicological spects would be very interesting, however it would go beyond the scope of the course.
    This are topics that can be learned in a musicology course for example at the Basel university.

  • Dear Stephanie, please apologize we will change it as soon as possible.

  • Great! I am happy to see the good quality of the interaction between the learners!

  • During the 15th century an important change concerning the materila occured. While during the past centuries all music manuscripts were written on parchment during the 15th century the scribes began to make use also of paper.

  • Yes, you are absolutely right. A little graphic error occured. The example will be corrected soon into: void Semibrevis, black Semibrevis, black Minima.
    I apologize.

  • Yes, actually many ensembles transpose the pieces in order to fit better with the singing voice. Historically it is not a problem at all, because the establishment of a "standard pitch" was decided in a conference in Stuttgart (Germany) 1834. The A fas fixed to 440 Hz.

  • Don't worry! I find great that you joined this course.

  • Thanks Emilysue for that and for all the other posts.
    The idea of this article was not to transcribe the piece, but if you would like to do that, it is a good exercise.

    Concerning the accidentals (sharp and flat) I can confirm that in many medieval manuscripts you will find many cases in which a sharp-sign is missing. In Guillaume de Machauts Gloria (on...

  • Dear Anna the division of the longa in three time units was introduced in the first half of the 13th century and was described by many theorists and in a special manner by Franco of Cologne.
    If you read in the first table of 4.4. (in the rules for pre-franconian ligatures) "2 tempora" than this means the following situation:

    A ligature with the duration of...