donderdag 27 maart 2008

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John Hothby (Hocby, Octobi, Ottobi, Otteby) (b c1430; d Oct or Nov 1487). English theorist and composer. His father's name was William. Nothing is known of his early life, nor where and when he became a Carmelite friar and obtained the master's degree in sacred theology. He may be identical with the John Otteby, Carmelite friar of the Oxford convent, who was ordained subdeacon on 18 December 1451 in Northampton (Emden, p.1409; the belief that Hothby studied at Oxford in 1435 rests on a mistaken identification, p.969). Before settling in Lucca, where he was installed as chaplain of the altar of S Regolo at the Cathedral of S Martino in February 1467 with the obligation to teach plainchant and polyphony, he had, by his own account (Epistola), travelled in Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain (‘Britania magiore’) and Spain. In the Excitatio quaedam musice artis he refers to his fellow student at the University of Pavia, Johannes Gallicus (here called ‘Johannes Legiensis’); this may have been before Gallicus completed his treatise Ritus canendi, by 1464. A connection with Florence and acquaintance with Lorenzo de' Medici seems to be indicated by the letter Hothby wrote to him on 17 November 1469 on behalf of a friend (ed. Seay, 1956).
Hothby was much appreciated in Lucca, both at the church and by the city fathers, who augmented his salary beginning in 1469, lest he accept another offer and leave Lucca. In 1469 he was called a lector in sacred theology. In addition to music, he taught grammar and mathematics. His fame as a teacher may be the reason for his journey to England in March 1486, at the request of Henry VII. He died ‘in Brittania’ (if Brittany, then on the return trip to Lucca, where his post was held open for him for two years) in October or November 1487.
None of Hothby's treatises exists in definitive form; they survive in multiple versions, with different titles, in both Latin and Italian and sometimes a mixture of the two. Reacting to Bartolomé Ramos's criticisms in his Musica practica (1482), Hothby says that he had kept his works back 20 years, and Ramos can only have seen faulty versions made by his students (the often incomprehensible surviving copies support this statement). F-Pn lat.7369, copied by Frater Matheus de Testadraconibus in 1471 while studying with Hothby, may indicate his curriculum: it contains treatises by Johannes de Muris, Anonymous V, Hothby's treatise on proportions, the Dialogus ascribed to Odo, and Guido's Micrologus; several of these works are also found in other manuscripts containing Hothby's writings.
Five different versions of his teachings on notation are extant. These are concerned mainly with note shapes, ligatures and mensuration, with particular emphasis on proportions, the latter also treated in two other works. Hothby was a proponent of the system of notating proportions with a combination of signs and figures (modus cum tempore signs), demonstrated in his motet Ora pro nobis. The brief counterpoint treatises, after explaining consonances, demonstrate a form of improvised counterpoint related to the English practice of sights. The Tractatus de arte contrapuncti secundum venerabilem Priorem Johannem de Anglia, published by Reaney in two versions (CSM, xxvi, 1977, pp.25–42, 43–9), is probably not by Hothby, who was not a prior; it is based on the early 15th-century Ad avere alcuna notitia del contrapunto (I-Fl Redi 71, ff.24v–28v; ed. A. Seay, Quatuor tractatuli italici de contrapuncto, Colorado Springs, CO, 1977, pp.17–24). These rather sketchy treatises probably supplement lectures based primarily on Guido and Johannes de Muris.
Two treatises of a more speculative cast are the Italian Calliopea legale, all versions of which are ‘abbreviated’, and the related Latin Tractatus quarundam regularum artis musice, the most definitive of Hothby's works, which exists in several versions with different titles and a different ordering of material; the section on the division of the monochord is also found separately. The Calliopea is divided into four sections: hexachords and mutation, melodic movement (developed from Guido's Micrologus), rhythmic movement (including notation) and intervals. Idiosyncratic terminology (‘voce’ is not a hexachord syllable but letter; B is called ‘A del secondo ordine’; notes of the hexachord are divided into principe, comite and demostratore according to their function) masks the novelty of Hothby's views. Dividing the gamut into three orders (naturals, flats and sharps), he demonstrated hexachords embracing five sharps and five flats, making it possible to sing all six syllables on each degree of the gamut, using schiere promiscue (mixed hexachords). The Tractatus goes further in adding three more orders, the fourth ranged on the division between G and A, the fifth on the division between G and A (producing quarter-tones with the first three orders), and the sixth splitting the comma into two schismata. Although he states that the last three orders have not been used in practice, in a letter to an unnamed cleric (Epistola) he describes his own keyboard instrument as having red keys for quarter-tones. The Tractatus also includes an extended discussion of intervals and modes, based on Guido, Johannes Afflighemensis (identified with Pope John XXII, a common error) and Marchetto of Padua.
Three treatises were occasioned by Hothby's dispute with Ramos. In the Excitatio he takes issue with 14 passages in Ramos's Musica practica, especially his new division of the monochord and his rejection of Guidonian solmization. The Epistola, written in Italian to an acquaintance of Ramos's, defends his position on semitones and properties. The Dialogus takes up more points of disagreement (here Ramos is not named); it also has interesting sidelights on contemporary practice, naming a number of English musicians and a mass found in the Lucca choirbook (I-La 238), which was copied in Bruges and given to Lucca Cathedral by Giovanni Arnolfini before 1472.
Hothby is commonly considered a conservative, since his teachings are based firmly on Boethius, Guido and Johannes de Muris and he rejected the innovations of Ramos. But the Calliopea and its Latin analogues show that he tackled issues that were to have far-reaching consequences. His six orders anticipate Nicola Vicentino's L'antica musica ridotta alla moderna prattica (1555), both in theory and in practical application on the keyboard, though Hothby retains Pythagorean intonation. His proposal to resolve the octave species with the diapente and diatessaron reversed (resolutiones), suggesting hypothetical modes 9–12, anticipates Glareanus's Dodecachordon. If his idiosyncratic terminology was meant to mask his avant-garde notions, he largely succeeded.
Like many theorists, Hothby also composed. Only nine works remain, copied into the Faenza codex (I-FZc 117) in the early 1470s by a fellow Carmelite, Johannes Bonadies. Probably written before he came to Lucca (perhaps with the exception of Diva panthera; a panther appears in the Lucca city arms), they are mostly undistinguished. Tard'il mio cor, in ballade form, is attractive, and the more ambitious Amor is heavily influenced by Bedyngham's O rosa bella. The English idiom is noticeable.

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