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Baude Cordier

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Cordier's rondeau about love, Belle, Bonne, Sage, is in a heart shape, with red notes indicating rhythmic alterations.

Baude Cordier (fl. early 15th century) was a French composer in the ars subtilior style of late medieval music. Virtually nothing is known of Cordier's life, aside from an inscription on one of his works which indicates he was born in Rheims and had a Master of Arts. Some scholars identify him with Baude Fresnel, a harpist and organist in the court of Philip the Bold, though other scholars have rejected this.[1]

He is best known for his unique and experimental notational methods, often with shapes relating to the subject matter. These include a heart-shaped staff in Belle, Bonne, Sage, a rondeau about love, and numerous circles in the Tout par compas suy composés rondeau. Such an approach is thought to have inspired later composers, ranging from Gilles Binchois to Karlheinz Stockhausen.


It has been suggested that Cordier was the pen name of Baude Fresnel.[2][1][3][4]


External audio
audio icon Tout par compas in a manuscript animation performed by Fortune Obscure

Cordier's works are considered among the prime examples of ars subtilior. In line with that cultural trend, he was fond of using red note notation, also known as coloration, a technique stemming from the general practice of mensural notation. The change in color adjusts the rhythm of a particular note from its usual form. (This musical style and type of notation has also been termed "mannerism" and "mannered notation.")[5]

Ten of Cordier's secular pieces survive, most of which are rondeaux:

  • some are in the rhythmically complex late fourteenth-century French style of ars subtilior, such as "Amans amés secretement" (Lovers, love discreetly).[6]
  • others are simpler, with greater emphasis on lyrical melody, such as "Belle, Bonne, Sage", also transcribed in HAM, and characterized with "Amans" as a rondeau.

Two of the composer's chansons are in the Chantilly Manuscript and are well-known examples of eye music:

Cordier's Tout par compas suy composés.
  • a circular canon "Tout par compas suy composés" ("With a compass was I composed")—more eye music, in which the manuscript is written in a circle.[9]

Many commentators have speculated that Cordier's unique and experimental notation inspired certain notation by later composers, such that in as Refrain by Karlheinz Stockhausen,[10] and Gilles Binchois's Je ne pouroye.[11] Cordier's work was among the earliest Western compositions to include performance instructions to explain how to use the specialized notation.[12]

His mass movement in the Apt MS is in the later, simpler fifteenth-century style.


List of compositions by Baude Cordier[13]
Title No. of voices Genre Manuscript source: Folios[n 1] Reaney
Gloria 3 Mass movement R 11
Dame excellent ou sont bonté 4 Ballade R 10
Amans, amés secretement 3 Rondeau R 6
Belle, bonne, sage, plaisant 3 Rondeau R 8
Ce jour de l'an que maint 3 Rondeau R 1
Je suy celuy qui veul 3 Rondeau R 3
Pour le deffault du noble dieu Bachus 3 Rondeau R 2
Que vaut avoir qui ne vit 3 Rondeau R 4
Se cuer d'amant par soy 3 Rondeau R 7
Tant ay de plaisir et de desplaisance 3 Rondeau R 5[n 2]
Tout par compas suy composés 3 Rondeau R 9
No other works by Baude Cordier survive


Cordier's works are included in the following collections:

  • Reaney, Gilbert, ed. (1955). Early Fifteenth-Century Music. Corpus mensurabilis musicae 11. Vol. 1, Works of Baude Cordier, Johannis Cesaris, Johannis Carmen, Johannis Tapissier. Cambridge: American Institute of Musicology. OCLC 83198152.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "v" and "r" stand for verso and recto respectively; in left-right language books, verso is the front page while recto is the back page.
  2. ^ Also reprinted in Strohm 2005, p. 142


  1. ^ a b Reaney 2001, § para. 1.
  2. ^ Wright 1973.
  3. ^ Grove 2001.
  4. ^ Bergeron 2001.
  5. ^ See Parrish, Carl. The Notation of Medieval Music. W. W. Norton, 1957.)
  6. ^ Transcribed with commentary in Archibald T. Davison and Willi Apel: Historical Anthology of Music (HAM): Oriental, Medieval and Renaissance Music (Harvard University Press)
  7. ^ A modern transcription and music media file of "Belle, Bonne, Sage."
  8. ^ The text and English translation of the song
  9. ^ Bergsagel 1972, pp. 1175–1177.
  10. ^ Toop 2001, §2 "Works".
  11. ^ Fallows 2001a, §6 "Secular works".
  12. ^ Fallows 2001a, §5 "Early history of performance instructions".
  13. ^ Reaney 2001, § "Works".


Journals and articles

External links[edit]