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Das Lochamer Liederbuch (The Locham Song Book)


A Short Introduction to the Manuscript

The Lochamer Liederbuch is counted today among the most important sources for German-language music in the fifteenth century and is, for that reason, also somewhat controversially and not completely appropriately described as 'the first German song book'.

It is true that the manuscript corresponds in structure and content mostly to the concept of the later collections that today are generally described as 'German song books' [Note 1] and actually precedes them as the earliest completely surviving source from that time. Nevertheless it is different from these in one respect: instead of exclusively polyphonic pieces it includes particularly monophonic songs (or possibly the tenor lines of originally polyphonic songs) and does not use the later notation customary in part-books. On the other hand it only with difficulty draws a dividing line with the earlier collections of German songs or song texts such as the Oswald codices or the mixed collections of poems that go back to the anthologies of the Minnesingers. And finally it must be called the 'first surviving' song book, despite the methods of transmission being arbitrary and subject to chance - we cannot for a moment guess how many such collections have been lost over the centuries or lie still undiscovered in some corner or other.

Notwithstanding, the importance of the Liederbuch with its altogether fifty anonymous melodies handed down [Note 2] and thirty-two instrumental arrangements is undisputed. Apart from three Latin contrafacta that are included, practically all the songs have German texts, only nine are notated polyphonically and for only three can authors be ascribed through parallel surviving sources: one poem of the Monk of Salzburg, one tenor of Oswald von Wolkenstein and one contrafactum on a tenor of Gilles Binchois.

Contrary to obvious conjecture the Lochamer Liederbuch, sometimes also known as the Locheimer Liederbuch, stems neither from Locham nor Locheim. The name of the manuscript was first given in the nineteenth century and in fact due to an owner's note on page 37 - in the middle of the manuscript. There it says: 'Wolflein von Lochamer ist das gesenngk püch' (This song book belongs to Wolflein from Lochamer). This owner and his entry are dated to a period around 1500. The book itself, on the other hand, was already in existence in Nuremberg in the middle of the fifteenth century and was actually at first set up in two separate parts, written on paper, one part of songs, one instrumental. Researches into the manuscript have shown that both were first written separately and brought together at a later stage - yet apparently still by the original owner of the manuscript itself. The greater part of the manuscript was drafted by this one hand and drawn up about the year 1452, as some date entries show. After this point in time the parts were bound together and there followed additions from other hands, extended over the subsequent years. It is probable that the principal writer was Frater Judocus von Windsheim, who later, in the year 1460, entered his name into the manuscript. Apart from the song book there is no information on him, although there are conjectures about his identity. From the context it is, however, evident that he must have studied and later entered the religious life. The main part of the song book was probably made during his student years. It is certain that he came from the Nuremberg region and was among the circle of the famous blind organist and lutenist, Conrad Paumann - possibly he was himself even a pupil of Paumann. Evidently he could in any case play a keyboard instrument and eventually himself also made arrangements for it (called 'Intabulations' or 'Tablatures'). Stylistically these instrumental arrangements fit the so-called 'Paumann School', as presented particularly in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch (about 1460). A particular feature in the instrumental part of the Lochamer Liederbuch, as in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch, is the Fundamentum organisandi that in both sources is attributed to Conrad Paumann. It deals with a kind of composition and improvisation teaching for keyboard instruments: with the guideline of the particular melody of an invented lower part possibilities are offered for an improvised and decorated counterpoint as an upper part. This kind of collection of examples has a long tradition in the performance of vocal improvisation. For the instrumental treatment of improvised counterpoint Paumann's Fundamentum with his systematic method is, however, something new and brings the instrumental pieces of the Lochamer Liederbuch into a clear connection with Paumann's School. The intabulations of the instrumental part of the Lochamer Liederbuch are sometimes arrangements of monophonic and polyphonic pieces from the song section, thus providing a connection between both halves of the manuscript; the repertoires overlap, but do not duplicate. From the appearance of the writing and the contents it is clear that both parts, in any case, belong together and the main writer, at least partly, deliberately made intabulations of pieces that he had already given as songs.

On the Recording

While the Lochamer Liederbuch includes polyphonic pieces - in which the part with the text as a rule lies in the tenor - most pieces in the song section are, nevertheless, notated monophonically. Both the way they are written down as well as the parallel existence of polyphonic versions and tablatures in other manuscripts shows that many of these melodies were either taken from a polyphonic context or that a polyphonic version of such songs was at least customary.

The present recording offers a representative selection of monophonic and polyphonic songs from the first part of the Lochamer Liederbuch, as well as individual instrumental versions from the second part. A particular focus is given to richly varied interpretation in order to provide different approaches for a stylistically suitable treatment of this repertoire. Alongside interpretations that keep very near to the original wording of the source are versions formed by various combinations of original arrangements: monophonic tenors are filled out polyphonically from other sources, upper parts are ornamented in the style of the instrumental diminutions of the Fundamentum organisandi, instrumental versions are placed by their song models or both are brought together in arrangements.

The opening [Track 1] 'Wach auf mein hort der leucht dort her'of Oswald von Wolkenstein - one of the few songs to which an author can be ascribed - is also one of the first pieces in the Lochamer Liederbuch and is given there monophonically. The rendering presented here combines the song setting of the first part with the intabulation from the second part of the song book, with the counterpoint of the instrumental version retained as accompaniment to the sung verse. The wording of the poem as well as details of the melody appear in the manuscript of the Lochamer Liederbuch version in contrast with the original version in the Oswald manuscripts - doubtless due to oral transmission - in simplified and possibly 'eroded' form. The monophonic [8] 'Ach meyden dw vil sene pein'has also been arranged polyphonically for this recording on the basis of a polyphonic instrumental version. The three-part [2] 'Der winter will hin weichen'breaks off in the manuscript in the third verse. Although a completely transmitted text exists in another manuscript, for this recording the fragmentary version nearer to the source was chosen. Textual nuances are accentuated also in the similarly three-part [6] 'Möcht ich dein wegeren'through different instrumentations of the verses and newly ornamented upper parts. [10] 'Mein trawt geselle vnd mein liebster hort'goes back to a text of the Monk of Salzburg, which is given only incomplete in the Lochamer Liederbuch and there has a new setting. For this recording we fall back on the original text of the Monk and bring together the later three-part version of the Lochamer Liederbuch with the instrumental setting from the Buxheimer Orgelbuch. Similarly the three-part [24] 'Des klaffers neyden'is combined in the recording with the matching instrumental version. For the realisation of the famous [22] 'Der wallt hat sich entlawbet', a dialogue between two lovers, a very simple setting without further arrangement was chosen. And finally with [19] 'Ein vrouleen edel von naturen', also in three parts, is a composition included in the present selection in which the text is carried not by the tenor but by the upper part, and which originally took its pattern from the rondeau form of the Burgundian chanson - textually, formally and in the kind of musical composition. Since the text for a rondeau form in the Lochamer Liederbuch is too incomplete, for the recording a version with adapted instrumental parts from the Buxheimer Orgelbuch has been constructed, which nevertheless gives an impression of the earlier form and its characteristic repetitions.

A different degree of arrangement is offered particularly with the many monophonic song settings in this recording: [3] 'Czart lip wie suß dein anfanck ist', given in the Lochamer Liederbuch with a single verse but in the Schedelsche Liederbuch actually in three parts with three verses is here, like [15] 'Ich sach ein pild In plaber wat', given strictly according to the Lochamer Liederbuch version in a very reduced interpretation for unaccompanied voice. Other monophonic songs are either sparingly accompanied by instruments, as with the tranquil [4] 'Verlangen thut mich krencken', or heterophonically filled out with many partly improvising instruments, as in the spirited versions of the lighthearted [16] 'Ich spring an disem ringe', [18] 'Mir ist mein pfërd vernagellt gar'and [17] 'Es fur ein pawr gen holz'. The last of these appears in fragmentary form in the manuscript and includes only one short verse. Mentions in other sources suggest, however, that this must have been, in its time, a favourite popular song.

Other songs notated monophonically are set for the recording in discrete counterpoint, such as [14] 'All mein gedencken dy ich hab'and [9] 'Mit ganczem willen wünsch ich dir', with a simple fauxbourdon given to the latter and followed by the instrumental version. Others have a newly ornamented upper part, such as [13] 'Mein frewd möcht sich wol meren'and [26] 'Ich bin pey Ir', which, as the final piece of the recording, is arranged in the form of a cantus firmus for a virtuoso basse danse with two very spirited additional parts.

Judging from the way the instrumental part of the Lochamer Liederbuch is written it is assumed that these versions were arranged for a keyboard instrument. Since organists and notably Conrad Paumann, however, also had command of other instruments and played, among others, harp, lute, fiddle, and recorder, it can be taken as a starting-point that in the tablature a style is reflected that could be used generally for instrumental music of this period. On the basis of the instrumental versions and of the Fundamentum organisandi the members of the ensemble have undertaken the arrangement of the pieces for their instruments and the provision of some diminutions for repetitions in the style of the Lochamer Liederbuch. In this way there are, among others, new versions for [5] 'Mein hercz in hohen frewden ist', [11] 'Anauois', [12] 'Paumgartner'(arranged in rondeau form for this recording), [20] 'Wilhelmus Legrant'and [21] 'Ellend dw hast'. Under the title [7] 'Do mit ein gut Jare' / 'Der Summer'lie two versions of the same basic composition in which the first offers a two-part intabulation from the instrumental part of the song book - here interpreted as a solo on the plectrum lute - and the second version as a textless three-part version from the song section of the manuscript. With [25] 'Benedicite almechtiger got'we have, however, also included in the recording a solo version with a keyboard instrument.

A New Edition

Parallel to this recording there is now a new performing edition of the Lochamer Liederbuch published in several parts and with notes on performance by Marc Lewon, issued by Verlag der Spielleute, Reichelsheim/Germany. www.spielleute.de

Marc Lewon
English Version: Keith Anderson


[1] In the fifteenth century these include principally the Glogauer and Schedelsche Song Books and in the sixteenth century the numerous printed song books such as that of Arnt von Aich and the famous collections of 'Frische teutsche Liedlein' of Georg Forster.

[2]The exact number of the songs can vary in the secondary literature, since two of the songs are doubled and written out with slight variations and two melodies are only rudimentary and included without title or text.


Sung texts and translations are available at www.naxos.com/libretti/557803.htm


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