Johannes Ciconia, Keyboard intabulations – Con lagreme bagnandome nel viso

May 16, 2010

Con lagreme bagnandome nel viso is a two-voice ballata of Ciconia’s, thought to lament the death of a north Italian noble of the time, given the appearance of the text in a Florentine manuscript headed “Ballata per il signor Francesco Carrara”.

The Margaret Bent 1985 complete edition gives the text of the ballata as follows:

First verse

Repeated first section: Con, con lagreme bagnandome nel viso, El mio segnor lassay, ond’io strugo inguay, quando io no penso esser de lay diviso.

Repeated second section: Ay me, dolente, ay, dura dispartita, che may non fay ritorno in questo mondo.

Second verse

Ay, ay ingorda malvasa me el viso, fuor d’ogni tempe ranca, sgroppa omay ton balanca, poy che m’ay tolto ogni mio gioco e riso.

Ay, cruda morte, ay, despietata vita, come partesti dal mio amor io cundo?


Berlin: Staatsbibliothek, Mus. 40613 (olim Wernigerode, Fürstlich Stolbergsche Bibliothek, Zb 14) (Locheimer Liederbuch), number 73 (intabulation);
Bologna: Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, Ms Q 15 (new fragment);
Florence: Biblioteca Riccardiana 1764, fol. 86 (text);
Lucca: Archivio di Stato 184 (Mancini Codex), fol. 54 (2/2);
Munich: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Handschriften-Inkunabelabteilung 352b (olim Mus. 3725) (Buxheimer Orgelbuch), number 38,137,138,139 (intabulation);
Padua: Biblioteca Universitaria 656, fol. 1 (2 Tenor fragments);
Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds italien 568, fol. 52v-53 (2/2); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds italien 1069, fol. 45 (text); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds nouv. acq. français 4379, number 3, 62v (Tenor only);
Treviso: Biblioteca Comunale 43, fol. 6v (text).


The Lucca Codex. Codice Mancini. Introductory Study and Facsimile Edition, edited by John Nádas and Agostino Ziino, Lucca: Libreria musicale italiana editrice, 1990.


1. CLERCX, Suzanne. Johannes Ciconia: Un musicien liégois et son temps, 2 vols., Brussels: Palais des Académies, 1960, Vol. II, p. 63-64.
2. NEMETH, George L. The Secular Music of Johannes Ciconia, Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University: 1977, p. 201-3 (Pn568).
3. Anthology of Medieval Music, edited by Richard H. Hoppin, New York: W. W. Norton, 1978, no. 70.
4. WILLIAMS, Carol J. The Mancini Codex: A Manuscript Study, Ph.D. dissertation (University of Adelaide), 3 vols., 1983, Vol. II, p. 41.
5. The Works of Johannes Ciconia, edited by Margaret Bent and Anne Hallmark, Monaco: Editions de L’Oiseau-Lyre, 1985. Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century XXIV, p. 130.
6. The Lucca Codex. Codice Mancini. Introductory Study and Facsimile Edition, edited by John Nádas and Agostino Ziino, Lucca: Libreria musicale italiana editrice, 1990, p. 105.


1. MANCINI, Augusto. ‘Frammenti di un nuovo codice dell’ Ars nova’, Rendiconti dell’ Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, ser. 8, II (1947), p. 89.
2. BONACCORSI, Alfredo. ‘Un nuovo codice dell’ Ars nova: Il codice Lucchese’, Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Ser. 8, I/12 (1948), pp. 585-586.
3. PIRROTTA, Nino and Ettore LI GOTTI. ‘Il Codice di Lucca. III. Il repertorio musicale’, Musica Disciplina, V (1951), p. 124., pp. 123-124.
4. PIRROTTA, Nino and Ettore LI GOTTI. ‘Paolo Tenorista, fiorentino “extra moenia”‘, Estudios Dedicados a Menéndez Pidal III, Madrid: S. Aguirre, 1952, p. 585.
5. CLERCX, Suzanne. ‘Johannes Ciconia et la chronologie des manuscrits italiens, Mod. 568 et Lucca (Mn)’, Les Colloques de Wégimont II, 1955, Paris: Société d’Edition “Les belles lettres”, 1959, p. 119.
6. FISCHER, Kurt von. ‘Zur Ciconia-Forschung’, Die Musikforschung, XIV (1961), p. 317.
7. GÜNTHER, Ursula. ‘Die “anonymen” Kompositionen des Ms. Paris BN, fonds ital, 568 (Pit)’, Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, XXIII (1966), pp. 90-91.
8. FALLOWS, David. ‘Ciconia padre e figlio’, Rivista italiana di musicologia, XI (1976), p. 175.
9. CLERCX-LEJEUNE, Suzanne. ‘Ancora su Johannes Ciconia (c. 1335-1411)’, Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana, XI (1977), p. 588.
10. HOPPIN, Richard H. Medieval Music, New York: W. W. Norton, 1978, p. 495.


1. Johannes Ciconia. Madrigaux et Ballades, Clemencic Consort, directed by Rene Clemencic (1980): Harmonia Mundi HM 10068.
2. Johannes Ciconia, Las Huelgas Ensemble, directed by Paul van Nevel (1980): Musique en Wallonie 80040-44 (set).

Donato Mancini in the All Music Guide mentions the importance of melodic line in Ciconia’s compositions. strongly evident in this ballata and its overall tone of ‘elegant sadness’. Were it not for the echoing between the two parts, the lower part could be said to be entirely at the mercy of the top line. In the version recorded by the Huelgas Ensemble directed by Paul van Nevel, this ballata grande is interpreted as a lament, complete with bracing wails, inflections and ornaments. Apart from its constant movement at a modern tempo, it recalls both a troubadour song in its simplicity and a Monteverdi lament in its emotion and to this extent is useful for pointing up how far Ciconia has moved from earlier medieval musical models. Much is lost without a second vocal part and the almost Baroque air is provided by instrumental accompaniment in the form of a solo rebec (upper voice) and a chekker keyboard (lower voice), with voice accompanied by chekker and whole sections given over to the instruments from time to time. Much more elegant and straightforward is the Orland Consort recording of two voices, which allows for focus on the lyrics and a much more subtle interplay of the two-part writing for voices. The emotion is less strident, relying for its impact simply on the resonance of the space around the voices.

Given scholarly discussion about tonal areas in Ciconia, the tonal area here is F. There is a constantly recurring four-note motif which appears for the first time in the lower part in bar 7. There is very strong contrast between long drawn-out notes and short four-note runs, first seen in bar 3 of the upper part. Repetition reinforces imitation between the two voices; bars 4 and 5 in the upper part are repeated as bars 6 and 7, with a reprise a third lower in bar 11. Upper part bar 39 is repeated as bar 40 and again in bar 41 with a slight rhythmic variation as bar 42. Also worthy of note is the long arc of melody incorporating syncopation, upper part, bars 28-32. These features become the focal points of interest in five extant keyboard intabulations of the ballata, made some fifty years or so after its composition.

These five keyboard intabulations form, with intabulations of another work, Deduto sey, part of an appendix to the Margaret Bent edition. The first retains much of the simplicity of the original ballata, with a third voice very lightly suggested through octaves and fifths in the lower part. Not surprisingly, there is florid decoration of the upper part via fioriture starting on a mordented quaver. As described on p.218 of Bent’s critical commentary of the complete works, the source is D-B 40613, no.73, pp.86-87, labelled “c.l.” (con lagreme) and dated “Anno 1455 Remigny confessoris”, i.e. 10 Oct 1455. It was identified with Ciconia’s ballata by Ludwig (see Apel K,p.vii) and is notated in German organ tablature.  

The second appears in D-Mbs 3526 no.38, fol.16-17, headed M(agister) C(onradus) C(ecus), i.e. Paumann, one of the few compositions thus ascribed to Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473) and so listed in the New Grove, “Paumann”. Eileen Southern in her article posits the M.C.C. abbreviation as being ‘Magister Ciconia canonicus’ – see page 261 of “Foreign Music in German Manuscriptts of the fifteenth-century”, JAMS 21/3 (Autumn 1968), 258-285. It is notated in German organ tablature. It contains much more florid decoration than the first, with some very long demisemiquaver runs.

The third and fourth in Bent also appear sequentially in the same source, D-Mbs 3526, the third in fol.73v-74 and fourth in fol.74v.-75. The ornamentation and long runs are again present in the fourth and fifth. In the fourth, note the syncopated rising runs in the lower part starting with a rest (bars 10 and 11); a third inner voice is strongly felt.

The fifth returns somewhat to the simplicity of the original ballata. Probably the maximum speed at which the fast runs can be played points to a maximum tempo of a quarter note to 80 bpm; at that speed, the ornamental mordent trills are played extremely quickly.


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