from Florence MS Banco Rari for 3 instruments.
These six pieces have survived in a single source, MS Banco Rari (formerly Magl. XIX 59) of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence. This manuscript, written in the workshop of the di Giovanni brothers of Florence in the 1490s, is a very large collection of (mostly) secular pieces, predominantly by composers from Northern Europe. As many of the pieces without texts turn out to be chansons found texted in other sources, there is always a little doubt whether pieces such as these six are truly instrumental. There are, however, some suggestive features, such as very abstract treatment of short phrases, and pauses in unusual places. Also, in at least three cases there appear to be echoes of that seminal instrumental number, Martini´s La Martinella, which is also found in the same Florentine collection, together with three other similarly titled numbers. No. 1 here shares an identical opening phrase with the Martini piece, while the opening phrase of the second half of no. 2 resembles that of La Martinella; in no. 6 there are no direct quotes, but there is a certain similarity of style and melodic contour.
All but one of these pieces (no. 5) appear in a group towards the end of the Florence MS (f.260v-267), which perhaps adds some plausibility to the notion of a family of instrumental pieces. The odd one out, found earlier in the manuscript (f. 93v) is not only in a different mode, but shorter and less abstract: while the lines are rather ornate in a way which may seem to us instrumental, it could well be a chanson of the type cultivated by Agricola; whatever its origins it does, like many of the other pieces in the collection, make an effective instrumental piece. Of the set of five, no.4 here experiments with, for its time, some remarkably short phrases.
In this edition the original note values have been halved throughout. Editorial accidentals appear in the usual way above the stave, applying to the one note only, while original accidentals, printed on the stave, are taken as applying to the whole bar until contradicted.
At the time when the Florence manuscript was written, players of loud wind instruments (shawms, sackbuts, cornetti) would have been used to transposing such music up a fifth. It is also possible that recorder players would have done the same, as it is only in the sixteenth century that we find references to bass recorders. With this in mind we have provided an alternative version of these pieces at the higher pitch (see below).
A version of these pieces a transposed up a fifth, suitable for Renaissance wind instruments, is available as EML 281a