Luciano Chessa

"La scienza sommersa": i due canoni di Johannes Ciconia

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"Le ray au soleyl" and "Quod jactatur" are the only secular compositions in the catalogue of Johannes Ciconia that contain a canonic inscription. This article will show how these two canons are the arrival point of a process in which the canonic inscriptions, used at the beginning of the fourteenth century to clarify how to overlap different counterpoint lines, become inscriptions written in a riddle form. In order to have a better understanding of the importance of this "arrival point" and the novelty of it, I have included an appendix that will list and discuss all the other pieces included in the corpus of late fourteenth century secular music with a French or a Latin text containing a canonic inscription. The deliberateness of the enigmas in Ciconia's canons will clearly emerge from my analysis of the text of "Quod jactatur". Reading this text as a declaration of poetics will prove Ciconia's intention to consciously create a riddle canon. By claiming that the "virtus" of a composition is not always directly accessible and by conceiving art as an esoteric and hidden "scientia", Ciconia is asserting here that the importance of the artistic event lays in its (de)construction, a (de)construction that would eventually melt into the light of the purest art before the eyes of the patient reader.

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