Fourteenth Century Counterpoint: Music of the Chantilly Codex

Fourteenth Century Counterpoint: Music of the Chantilly Codex

Colin McAllister
Productions d’OZ, 2005

“You may well be wondering why on earth any guitarist should be interested in the 14th century counterpoint of the Chantilly Codex. Those unfamiliar with the area often suppose medieval music stops at Gregorian chant, which is hardly fruitful transcription material (prove me wrong dear reader…?) but the strange fact is that from a rhythmical point of view there is more complexity in this kind of music than that of any of our normal repertoire up until the “proper” 20th century material.

And there lies the clue, because the transcriber Colin McAllister is a specialist in various contemporary guitar matters, and I reviewed his volume The Vanguard Guitar: Etudes and Exercises for the Study of Contemporary Music in 2005. Much here actually looks like contemporary music at least in the rhythms, where you find many odd shifts of meter, 2 against 3, and strange things like tuplets of 4 over 2 but in 9/8 time. The notes however fall almost entirely in first position so there is relatively little difficulty in finding them – handy when you are counting like mad.

Any player who can approach let alone really do these rhythms justice has a really strong rhythmic sense, and this collection is recommended to anyone interested in challenging contemporary music, anyone who really wants to sharpen their rhythm generaIly, and of course to all who like medieval music.”

– Stephen Kenyan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

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