"Musiqi dünyası" № 3 (60) 2014

Article №2; 7157 - 7180 pр.
Alexei Panov, Ivan Rosanoff. Towards the Tact and Tactus in German Baroque Treatises1
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There are considerable differences in the interpretation of the well-known terms Tact and Tactus both in early treatises and in contemporary studies. And, as it has been ascertained by the authors of this article, one of the most significant meanings of these terms in theory and practice of musical performance is either only briefly mentioned in modern studies or not mentioned at all. However, it was long and well known that the terms Tact and Tactus did not signify the notions familiar to modern musicians, while as early as in the beginning of XX century G. Schünemann, A. Chybiňski and others have been writing about it [1-5]. These notions appear unusual not only to the musicians who are engaged in historically informed performance, but also to musicologists studying the problems of Tact on a scientific level. We consider it necessary to write at length on this fundamentally important interpretation of the terms Tactus and Tact which still remains quite usual for modern music theory and practice.

This fundamentally important interpretation concerns the previous universal understanding of the words Tact and Tactus as measurements/beating of meter. Aesthetic ideas of the musicians of the subsequent historical periods were not always correlated directly with the ideas of earlier times. That is why in the works devoted to these terms the emphasis was shifted later to other elements of the thesaurus. It is also necessary to take into account that in the Western Europe terminologycal system (terminosystem) these fundamental concepts of late Renaissance and early Baroque, along with those as de Modo, Modus, Mood, Tempore, Tango, Prolatione, Prolation, Mensura, Measure, Mesure, could change their meanings in the course of the historic evolution, and it had made and continues to make certain difficulties in the study of these terms both in the past and in the present time2.

The terms Tact and Tactus were given a most detailed and profound investigation by the prominent German scholar Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht. In his textual study Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie [6] one of the sections is devoted to the term Tactus. The article is composed in such a way that at first Eggebrecht offers a succinct summary of the main interpretations of the word Tactus, and then he examines in detail each of its meanings. Here we have the possibility only to mention the basic definitions.

With due consideration to the Latin origin of the word Tactus as its first meaning Eggebrecht offers the following definition: ‘TACTUS: lat., Berührung, Griff, Gefühl; ital. tatto; frz. tacte; dtsch. Tact. Rühren [Tactus: Latin – touching, contiguity, catching/feeling; Italian – tatto; French – tacte [to beat]; German – Tact, to move/touch, to stir]’ [6].

Eggebrecht connects the second meaning of the word with the term tangere, which ‘occurs in the late Middle Ages’ and is specially used ‘while playing the organ’.

The third meaning of the word Tactus referrs to the interpretation given in the work by Georgius Anselmus [Anselmi] from Parma Dialogi de harmonia, 1474 [7]. In this work the word Tactus is used as ‘touching the keys of a clavichord or zither’.

The fourth meaning of the word is directly related to the concept of ‘Abmessen der Zeit und der Noten in der Mensuralmusic [measuring time and notes in mensural music]’. Dwelling on this subject Eggebrecht also considers the effect of the ‘recurring touch [wiederholtes Berühren3] in the measuring of time…’, and further the author introduces another meaning of the term, namely, that ‘tempo itself [during the act of performing music]’ could be denoted by the term Tactus. In the context where the problem of measuring/beating time (Taktschlagens) is taken in account, Eggebrecht states that time beat here is to be understood4: ‘also the (measurments/beatings of time consisting of down- and up-beats) [auch den (aus Ab- und Aufschlag beschtehenden) Taktschlag]’. For the first time this meaning according to Eggebrecht, was ‘represented in detail in the treatise by Adam Fulda (1490)’.

It should be pointed out that the treatise by Adam von Fulda [8] had been studied as early as 1908 (!) by Schünemann [1, p. 75-76], and the corresponding text is almost verbatim presented in this author’s Geschichte des Dirigierens [2, p. 40-41]. Later it is also cited in the monography by Willy Apel [9, p. 91] 5.

Since Eggebrecht writes about the period when mensural notation was used, and since it is connected with the ‘life history’ of the terms, we would like to turn to one of the dictionaries of that time. In the Latin-German and German-Latin dictionaries by Petro Dasypodio (1536) a very significant nuance concerning the interpretation of the word tactus along with the related words - Tango [tangis, tangere] and Schlagen can be found.

In Dasypodio’s dictionary there is a reference note to the word Tango. The latter is explained as follows: ‘Tango, [tang]is, Ich rür an [i.e.: anrür, modern spelling - anrühre]/berühre/ich bewege/schlahe… [Tango, [tang]is, I touch, I move/stir, beat…]; Schlahen [i. e.: Schlagen – to beat]. Verberare [I beat], Percutere [I clang/beat],…Tangere [to beat, to touch…]…’ [16, without pagination]. Consequently, the word Tactus meant to touch, to move, to beat.

In Johannes Serrano’s dictionary (1539) there is a similar interpretation of the above-mentioned terms [17]. However, Serrano presents a still shorter, but at the same time – a more definite interpretation: ‘Tango,is,ere, Anrüren/berüren/bewegen/schlagen’. And in the same item there is one more very important detail: ‘Tango fit Tactus, a, um, berürt/angeblasen [and also:] Tactus, Substant[if]. Berürung/greiffung [Tango or Tactus (Tactusum), touched/moved, blown (derivative from the word to blow… blown, and mainly used when music wind instruments are concerned). Tactus, a noun. To touch/ to catch]’. [Our text in round brackets. - A.P., I.R.] Before making a brief preliminary conclusion we should note that in the Lexicon published by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1731 the word Berühren is also given as an equivalent of the Latin word tangere! [18, p. 82]

It follows from the above-mentioned sources that the verb tangere was not necessarily connected, as Eggebrecht writes that it was, with playing the organ, but was to a greater extent integrated with the concept of Tactus. Along with this it may be assumed that the name of the part of the clavichord mechanism – tangent – is a derivative form from the words Tango and tangere. It is also very important that the content of the explanations in old dictionaries directly connects the meanings of Tactus and Tango, and in every meaning one finds the words to touch, to move and finally – to beat. That is, simply saying, Tactus means ‘to beat, to hit, to touch’, and further this will become still more apparent.

The information in the dictionaries of Dasypodio and Serrano coincides with the one that Schünemann had discovered in other sources in his research. As early as in the beginning of the XX century, this renown German scholar used a large number of historic musical sources in his study, and wrote: ‘They had beaten the meter with their hand [Man schlug mit der Hand den Takt]. Throughout the XVI century almost every theoretical and practical work contained a section on measure [de tactu]. The theorist Adam von Fulda (about 1490) … is also the first to include [in his work] a section on measure [Takt] … Meanwhile, earlier and more concise information on beating meter [Taktschlagen] is given by Ramis de Pareia in the XV century [19]. A conductor should beat the meter with the hand, the foot or finger [Der Dirigent6 solle den Takt mit der Hand oder dem Fuß oder dem Finger schlagen]. Despite this very early information there are visual images which demonstrate that even in earlier times meter had been also beaten with the hand’[1, p. 75].

A century later, the interpretation of the Latin words Tactus and Tact remains the same as that in the dictionaries of Dasypodio and Serrano, and this applies not only to German vocabularies. Let us refer to one of the Latin-English dictionaries of the second half of XVII century – namely, to the then popular; dictionary of Christopher Wase: Dictionarium Minus, where it is defined as: ‘Tactus, a, um. Touch’d, struck with lightning… Tactio, nis. A touching or the sense of touching. Tactus, ûs. A touching, [noun:], or feeling; the sense of touching. … Tango, eré. To touch, to hit, feel, to moove; to strike with lightning … Tangere aliquid. Lightly to mention or describe any thing… to strike, or gently reptove’ [20].

A contemporary musician who comes across the word Tactus in old treatises has certain difficulties in disengaging from its current/modern understanding and of substituting the modern meaning by the original one. Thus, the following interpretation by Andreas Ornithoparchus [21] would become much more intelligible, if we were to use the original meanings of the terms. Ornithoparchus provides the next definition: ‘Tactus est motio successiua in cantu, mensure equalitatem dirigens. Uel est quidam motus, manu precentoris signorum indicio formatus, cantum dirigens mensuraliter. (Strikes/touches/beatings are consistent [sequentially alternating] movements in singing [while singing], which govern the uniformity of the mensuration [measure] 7. Or it is a certain movement of the hand made by a master singer8 which directs a song in accordance with the indicated mensural characters/signs).’

In this definite case there is a possibility to check the correctness of our understanding of the definition by Ornithoparchus with the one, given in the officially published old translation of the whole body of his treatise (1609), published by the prominent English lutenist and scholar John Dowland [22, p. 46]:

This comparison shows that the main idea and the special terms are adequately interpreted in this paper.

If we return to Germany we will find that the German theorist and Cantor from Nürnberg Ambrosius Wilfflingseder (1561) explains the word Tactus in his treatise very precisely and compactly: ‘Tactus is a uniform motion of the finger or the hand [used] so that all the notes and intervals are sung in accordance with their cost or value [i.e. prescribed by their duration in the notation]’[23, without pagination].

Special attention should immediately be attracted to the words ‘gleichförmig bewegung’ used in the meaning of a uniform motion. An even more important point should be emphasized here: Tactus, as Wilfflingseder interprets it, is neither a measure in our contemporary sense of the word, nor any unit of mensural notation. It is a physical gesture of a person, of whom it has been demanded to perform the act of measuring/beating the meter uniformly/evenly! It is namely this point that seems to us conceptionally important. It seems to be that in modern historically informed performance just the other way about is proclaimed and heard. The general aim of most of the musicians adhering to this new idea is to steer of from observing uniformity in the sequence of metric beats.

The requirement of adhering to the uniformity of meter is specifically commented in the basic study by W. Apel: ‘Practically every theorists gives longer or shorter explanations on the tactus as the unit of musical time… the important fact is that nowhere is a remark to be found which would give the slightest justification for the assumption that the duration of a note could be varied according to the text, the character or feeling of the piece, or whatever other romantic ideas a modern conductor may have in his mind’ [9, p. 190]. On the same page Apel states that to achieve the ability of uniformly/evenly meter, i. e. ‘the fundamental and unchangeable’ units of time, it was required to go through hours of training: ‘To the singer of this period proportia tripla or proportio sesquitertia meant a definite and fixed tempo, derived from the integer valor, and familiar to him through his long training in a normal tempo which represented for him the natural pulse of music.’

However, it is necessary to emphasize that this direct conclusion, which Apel brought forth, should be understood purely contextually, namely, only in relation to ‘uniformity’ of measuring meter at that historical period. If we give a broader meaning to the notion of musical performance encompassing about a hundred-year period of 1550-1650 in Europe (especially in Italy) we can see that profound changes were taking place: firstly, the composers were writing music portraying very certain affects, and, secondly, the performers were able to transfer adequately those musical affects. Thus, in the third volume of the famous treatise by Prætorius Syntagmatis Musici, based mainly on Italian musical theory and practice, in the paragraph, where along with other Italian terms the terms Presto, Adagio, Lento are explained, it is written that ‘these words are often used by Italians in various places in concerts9… because of the necessity to make alternate changes in [the loudness] of voices and choruses, and I am not displeased about that. Though, there are some persons, especially in the churches, who consider such usage wrong. I myself do not consider such changes [solche Variation] to be neither unpleasant nor unsuitable, if they are performed with fine moderation and with proper/good gracefullness, expressing the affect and moving people’s feelings [die affectus zu exprimiren vň in den Menschen zu moviren] … Often the composition itself along with the text and the meanings of the words require that sometimes the meter/beat [Tact], but not too often and not too much is taken now fast and now again sometimes slow …’ 10 [24, p. 132].

Since earlier we stepped outside the German boarders, and addressed ourselves to materials from English works, we cannot omit mentioning the interpretation of the term Tactus by the prominent Spanish musician Thomas de Sancta-María (1565) [27]. Concerning the treatise by de Sancta-Maria and his interpretation of meter (and Tactus) Otto Kinkeldey [28, p. 29] as early as 1910 already cited in his study: ‘Meter is the amount of time which is needed for passing from one downbeat to another … meter [i.e. the measuring/beating of the meter] is subdivided into two parts – downbeat and upbeat. Both of them should be equal …’ 11

It is evident that de Sancta-Maria demanded the meter/measure (compas, i.e. tactus) to be beaten precisely uniformly. We should remind that this most significant characteristic of the term Tactus found in many early treatises is either not mentioned at all in modern studies, or it is only briefly named (as it was already stated above).

A hundred years later in Germany Christopher Demantius in his treatise [30] wrote the following:

‘What is Tactus? It is an equal [uniform] movement of the hand, [so that] the notes, the dots [of augmentation] and pauses would be directed by [their] value [note duration]’. It is possible to confirm the authenticity of our translation from Latin, as later Demantius offers a German version also. We should pay attention to the fact that in the German version the word Tact, is used instead of Tactus:

‘What is meter/measure? It is a definite or uniform [equal/even] movement of the hand, so that the notes, the dots [of augmentation] and pauses would be properly estimated and held according to their value and duration’ [30, without pagination].

The following text from Demantius’s treatise, presented in the form of a table, giving parallel Latin and German versions, offers a fuller idea of the then-existing understanding of the Latin musical terminology, and in our case we should pay special attention to the treatment of the terms Tact and Tactus. Particular attention should be paid to the Compendium written by Heinrich Faber (? - 1552) and published later by the precentor Melсhior Vulpius in 1608 [31] as a bilingual edition (Latin and German). A previous edition had been translated into German by Christoff Rid (1586) [32].


For comparing, we offer two tables from these versions of Faber’s Compendium with a version from the Latin edition of (1569) [33]:

Version by Rid (1586) [32]:                                             Version by Vulpius (1608) [31]:


The Latin edition of (1569) [33]:

The identical scheme is presented even more precisely in an excellent (what concerns its content and its design) Compendium by Adam Gumpelzhaimer [34], based on Faber’s ideas.

Gumpelzhaimer’s treatise – also prepared and published both in Latin and in German languages – was issued more than ten times and had a deep influence on German musical science of that time.

Gumpelzhaimer [34, part 2, p. 7] – the scheme and the interpretations are much more improved:

From the examination of the above-given schemes it becomes evident that the Latin word Tactibus was translated/understood as Schleg (plural: old spelling) and Schlag and Schläge (plural – other spelling). In the table from Vulpius’s edition of Gumpelzhaimer two terms are even placed one under the other: The same interpretation exists in Gumpelzhaimer’s scheme.

So, Tactibus is definitely understood as Schlag, i.e. strike (beat), having in mind the ‘strike’ by a hand, foot or a strike with a certain object while beating/measuring meter.

In one of the footnotes in the Musica Nova by Nicholas Gengenbach there are also very precise definitions of the words Schlag and Tactu: ‘Schlag [strike] or Tactu is retained as long as it is necessary for the hand to accomplish the down-stroke [literally: to strike down – mit der Hand niedergeschlagen. - A.P., I.R.] and to make the up-beat, as, for example, on a maxima the up-and down-beats will be done eight times. On a longa – four times. On a brevis – two times, and so on … A Semibrevis or [one] full stroke is to be sung a half [during] the hand [carrying out] the down-beat [im niederschlagen], and a half – [during] the hand [carrying out] the up-beat’ [35] (see the ill. below). According to this explanation one Schlag embraces two gestures of the hand: one – down, and the other – up.

Approximately beginning from the middle of the XVI century German musicians often used the word Schlag instead of the terms Tactus and Tact. For example, one finds the same explanations of the notation (note duration/value) where the word Schlag is used in the works by Martin Agricola [36], Johan Quirsfeld [37] and in the works by many other authors. In neither of the mentioned works the very notion Schlag is explained in detail. It is evident that everybody at that time perfectly knew and understood what was meant. As a result of the investigation undertaken here this notion has also become completely clear to us: what is meant are the strikes by a Tactistae or the main singer (and so on), who is measuring/beating meter. For example, we meet this very interpretation given in the form of a scheme in the works of the next authors:


Agricola/Figulus [36, without pagination]: Quirsfeld [37, p. 12]:


The term is explained by Quirsfeld briefly and clearly in the paragraph ‘On Tact/measure’: ‘What is Tact? Tact is the movement by the hand, and consists in lowering [Niederschlagen] and rising [Auffheben], by which the notes and music are measured [the word Gesang in this context might possibly mean singing]’ 12 [37, p. 15].

During the same years Tact and Schlag receive an analogues interpretation in the explanatory Latin-German and German-Latin dictionary by J. Frisius: ‘Tact [is] a strike in singing [Takt; schlag im gesang]. Modus – is singing in accordance with Tact. [Modus – das singen nach dem tackt]. Modulatio – is the beating of the Tact [Modulatio – den tackt schlagen].’ [38, p. 234 (from the second German-Latin section)], further: ‘Schlag or Tact in singing. See / Tact’ [38, p. 205 (from the same section)]. In the first section (Latin-German) there exists a translation of the given words from Latin almost fully coinciding with the interpretations given in above mentioned dictionaries by Demantius and Serrano.

In the Betreu und Gründliche Anleitung written by the cantor, organist and composer Georg Falck [39, p. 51] the term Tact is correlated with the term Mensur, and this gives a new shade to the general meaning. Further, the explanation where it is stated that the meter is not simply ‘beaten’, but serves to assist music players is also new: ‘What is Mensur or Tact? Tact – is a proper/appropriate and invariable/steady lowering and rising of the hand or any object in it, with the help of which [by which] the whole chorus of musicians, both singers or instrumentalists is to be regulated and to be conformed to’.

In the treatise written by the prominent German composer and theorist J. R. Ahle and issued by his son J. G. Ahle in 1690 an even more detailed table of the note durations is given, and each of these durations, alike in the works of the previous-mentioned authors, receives a certain number of ‘strikes [Schläge]’:

Thus, the whole-note [Semibrevis] is equal to one strike. The definition of Tactus, compared to the definitions of other authors, is formulated somewhat differently, although the general meaning is constant: ‘What is then the Tact? Tactus is the time necessary for lowering [literally – for striking down] and lifting the director’s hand’13 [40, p. 11].

J. S. Beyer [41, p. 10] uses the word Tact instead of the word Schlag in an analogous scheme in the treatise devoted to teaching singing. This term can as well be found in many other sections of the treatise, for example, where the signs of the metric measures are explained. It might be possible to suppose that the word Tact began to acquire the meaning which it received afterwards. But Beyer continuous to adhere to the former point of view, and writes on page 25, where the definition of the word Tact is given: ‘What is the Mensur or Tact? Tact is a proper/appropriate lowering or rising of the hand which a singer or an instrumentalist [Instrumental - Musicus] should observe/follow [to conform with]’ 14.

Towards the end of the XVII and at the beginning of XVIII century the word Tact continued to designate the lowering or rising of a musician’s hand who was appointed to measure/beat the meter. One might presume that probably, this usage of the word was accepted by not very prominent musicians? But even if we apply to the study by J.G. Walther (the manuscript of 1708 г.) [42, p. 28], here in Chapter 5 On Tact we can read: ‘§ 1. Tact – is a regular [i.e. steady/regular/equal] movement produced by the hand or even if [it is] formulated only in one’s idea/intentions/mind [im Sinne formirte regulaire Bewegung], by which the sound as well as the time is measured’15. Interpreting the word Tact in his famous Musicalisches Lexicon [43, p. 592] Walther, as we consider, applied for information to the notions given in other explanatory dictionaries and in special musical studies, because if we return to his manuscript we shall find there references to dozens of musical sources including Ahle, Printz and many others who wrote on Tact and which were also abundantly used in his Lexicon. The interpretation in Walther’s Lexicon is next: ‘Tact. [French and German] Tactus [Lat.] Tatto [Ital.] is the measurment of time and of the musical notes; undoubtedly [the origin is] from à tangendo, from [the meaning] to touch [to move, to stir, to strike], because in old times such measurment was produced by the feet … just as well as now it is usually performed/carried out by the hand …’ 16. However, in Walther’s Lexicon the term Tactus is used also in another sense, i.e. to define metric measures, for example, Tactus Totalis [43, p. 29]. The term Tact has an analogues usage in the basic work Der General-Bass in der Composition by J. D. Heinichen [44, S. 263].

If we shall turn to the works of the prominent German theorist and composer W.C. Printz we will find detail information about the functions of ‘a director’ or ‘a shlagist’ (a ‘measurist’ in France). According to his explanations ‘brevis or a double strike [doppelter Schläge – i.e. two movements of the hand measuring meter on Semibrevis’es], lasting for two strikes should be held as long as the Tactirer [der Tactirer, i.e. a person measuring/beating meter] makes the third strike, when, in the wink of an eye17, the next note or pause should be started/taken’ [46, without pagination, Chapter IV; compared to the first edition (1689) in Latin the text of the title is a changed in some details].

Next Printz gives a basic, well-grounded and even more exact explanation concerning all note durations: ‘§ 2. When a Spondee Tact18 is subdivided into four most even fractions/parts [vier gantz gleiche Theile], namely, into Niderschlag and Auffzug19, and each of these fractions/parts [i.e. Niderschlag and Auffzug] is once more divided into two equal [fractions], and spondee meter in whole will be subdivided/distinguished into four most even fractions: a singer must pay extreme attention [gantz genau Acht geben] to properly/appropriately very precisely hold [gantz richtig ausgehalte] a semibrevis [the whole-note], namely, as long as these four fractions are held, a minima [a half note] – as long as the two, and semiminima [a quarter note] – as long as this one fraction; and two fuses [quavers] or four semifusas [semiquavers], in such a way so as to comprise [in result] the value [duration] of the one fourth fraction [of the whole part of the Spondaische Tact] [and] that none [of them] even for a blink of an eye [keine einem Augenblick] one could be longer or shorter than the others’ [46, without pagination].

The widely emphasized importance of measuring/beating meter recommended by early musicians resulted in the forthcoming into existence of a completely new definition unusual for a modern reader. Thus, in French and German works the authors began to name Tact as ‘the soul of music’! For the first such mentioning, to our knowledge, is written in the treatise by de la Voye [47, p. 11].

A similar description can be found in the well known French treatise by C. Masson [48, p. 6]:

Among German treatises, we can cite from the works by J.L. Steiner [49, p. 15]: ‘Tact is the soul in music [Der Tact ist die Seele in der Music]’ and by M.H. Fuhrmann [50, p. 44]: ‘What is Tact? Таcт is a proper/appropriate movement of the hand, when I am marking/beating down and again up … Tact is the soul of music’.

It is very interesting that in the treatise by one of the famous musician of the last decade of the XVIII century, namely J.A. Hiller, it is also said that Tact and everything what pertains to measure, and what is called tactrichtige singen oder spielen, but not melody or performance, as it should be expected in the period when the Classical style flourished, is determined as the soul of music [die Seele der Musik] [51, p. 38] 20:

1 The authors acknowledge Saint-Petersburg State University for a research grant

2 In this article the authors consider it necessary to apply not only to music treatises, but also to old Latin, German, French and English explanatory dictionaries – especially bilingual and translational ones.

3 Further it will become clear that the author means repeated actions/movements of a musician’s hand or something else to measure time. But such phrases as ‘wiederholtes Berühren’ or (Latin:) ‘continua motio in mensura’, nonplus many scholars even nowadays.

4 We should point out that using the word Tact as a synonym of the words Tact and Tactus found in various studies devoted to the period of our concern (XV – early XVIII centuries) completely misleads any reader, because it is from the terminological sense incorrect. Tact in that period of time did not at all mean the notion which came into existence approximately in the late XVII – early XVIII centuries. This word along with the word Tactus meant measuring/beating of the meter/time while performing music. That is why in this work the authors use, as synonyms of the words Tact and Tactus, not the word Tact, but meter or such lexemes as beatings of meter, or beating of time. Thus, Tact and Tactus in the early years did not correlate with the term Tact in its modern understanding! Tact in our contemporary scholarly interpretation, if we have the right to say so, ‘had not been born yet’ at that time! Practically in all modern research works we come across historically baseless interpretations of the words Tact and Tactus, what leads to a substantial misinterpretation of their meaning considering the context of the subject under discussion.

5 These questions are partially touched upon by Marina Girfanova [10-12], cf. also: [13-15].

6 Notwithstanding the fact that the word Dirigent is used in contemporary works on musicology, in which the theory of music notation is being studied, in earlier times it had another sense – not the one we find in the XIXth-XXI-st centuries. In earlier times the words direction, Directore, Director, Dirigens, and other were often met, but according to the above mentioned dictionary of Dasypodio, the root of the word was Rego. Hence from this root derive the other modifications as, for example, Regolo – rule/law, regulare – uniformly/regularly, dirego – to properly/appropriately direct, direction and dirigirung (Dirigent). Consequently, in the relation to the art of music of the XVI – first half of the XVIII centuries, the matter concerns a person (musician) who regulates/beats the meter. The problems of interpretation and of performance were the least ones which bothered the tactist. His task was to beat the measure/pulsation uniformly/regularly in conformity with the requirement of the ‘mensura modi, temporis et prolationis’.

7 We should remind once more that the term Dirigens (as has been stated earlier) was not yet conceptually connected with the idea of conducting. The use of the word conductor in translations of such early documents sometimes might completely confuse the unprepared/unsophisticated reader.

8 Let us address ourselves once again to the old Latin dictionary of Dasypodio [16]. There the word ‘precentor (præcentor)’ is defined the following way:

’ [Præcentio, the prior singing. Præcentor – a first/main singer]’.

9 Prætorius treats the word Concert not as ‘a concert’ in the modern sense of the word, that is, as a music piece composed in a certain structure [24, p. 4-5], but, firstly (briefly speaking) he meant by it a musical performance of a musical piece: motet, madrigal and so on, created for 3-4-5-6 voices or instruments accompanied by the organ, secondly (after Ludovicus Viadana): such pieces as ‘a Mutet [i. e. Motet] in 5. 6. or more voices performed on the organ’, it could also be a ‘Madrigalia’, composed for ‘dreyen vnd vier Stimmen cum Basso generali pro Organo…’; thirdly, the word Concert [lat. by Prætorius: Concertare] could also be used especially when two choruses (one lower, the other - higher) were singing ‘one opposite the other [ein … gegen einander]’, on this subject he writes in detail in the 3-rd part of the 3rd volume [25, p. 152-168; the page-numbers are confused].

0 The necessity to change tempo while performing madrigals is prescribed in the prefaces to G. Frescobaldi’s Toccatas. He also considers it necessary to use many other elements of the madrigal performance style in the execution of his toccatas [25, 26].

11 In the dissertation by Warren E. Hultberg [29, p. 32-33] its author offers a citation from Thomas de Sancta Maria in full, providing the original terminology in round brackets: ‘There are four requirements for carrying the compas [i. e. meter] forward: (l) steady downbeat (baxo) and upbeat (alto); spending no more time on one than the other; (2) the hand striking on the downbeat remains for the duration of a half-compas, not raising until the upbeat is struck; similarly, the hand striking the upbeat remains until the downbeat is struck; (3) all notes which occur on the downbeat or upbeat must be struck together, neither before, after, stronger, nor weaker; (4) all the ensuing compasses (measures) are determined by the duration of the first’.

12 ‘De Tactu. I. Was ist der Tact? Der Tact ist eine Bewegung mit der Hand/ und bestehet im Niederschlagen und Auffheben / nach welcher die Noten und der Gesang abgemessen wird.’

13 ‘Was ist denn der Tact? Der Tactus ist die Zeit des Niederschlagens und Aufhebens / so mit der Hand des Directoris geschicht’.

14 ‘Was ist die Mensur oder Tact? Der Tact ist eine richtige Niederlassung oder Aufheben der Hand / wornach sich so wohl der Vocal-als Instrumental – Musicus zu richten hat’.

15 ‘§ 1. Der Tact ist eine mit der Hand, oder auch nur im Sinne formirte regulaire Bewegung, womit der Klang, und mit diesem auch zugleich die Zeit abgemeßen wird’.

16 ‘Tact. [gall & german] Tactus [lat.] Tatto [ital.] die Abmessung der Zeit, und Music=Noten: ohne Zweiffel à tangendo, von derühren, weil in den ältesten Zeiten solche Abmessung durch den Fuß … gleich wie jetzo gemeiniglich durch die Hand verrichtet…’.

17 Marked out by us. – A. P., I. R. We should stress the point that the notion ‘in the blink of an eye’ can be found many times in Printz’s explanations. It definitely indicates that the regularity/evenness of producing the sound or its pausing performed under the actions/Schläge of the director should not be upset even for the smallest time-lapse (‘not in the blink of an eye’ – that is: ‘not for a split moment’). It means that no ‘inner-measure agogic’ or prolongation of note duration is intended/presumed by Printz, and, still more, it is unequivocally forbidden (cf. also: [45]).

18 Spondaische meter; it should not be forgotten that the word Tact by Printz, as well as in this context by Walther, does not mean Tact/measure in the modern understanding, but it most definitely means the process of ‘beating/measuring meter’.

19 In the previous sections of the Compedium Printz explained that Niderschlag and Auffzug are beaten in four measures: two semiminimas each.

20 But at the same time in Germany there also existed other viewpoints! ‘Interpretation or performance is the soul of melody, and Tact/measure is a mechanism where [it] exists’ – as was written in 1781 by G.S. Löhlein in his violin treatise [52, p. 101].


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