Frankish music - Planctus de Obitu Karoli (814 AD)





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Uploaded on Aug 9, 2011

Planctus (de obitu) Karoli ("Lament [on the Death] of Charlemagne"), also known by its incipit A solis ortu (usque ad occidua) ("From the rising of the sun [to the setting]"), is an anonymous medieval Latin planctus eulogising Charlemagne, written in accented verse by a monk of Bobbio shortly after his subject's death in 814. It is generally considered the earliest surviving planctus, thought its melody is written in tenth-century neumes, one of the earliest surviving examples of this sort of musical notation.

The first line (A solis ortu...) is drawn from a fifth-century hymn of Caelius Sedulius. As the Sedulian hymn was sung at Christmastime, the sorrowful Planctus presents a contrast with the joy typically associated with its opening. The poet expands upon his personal grief at the death of his emperor—and benefactor of Bobbio—by asking all the regions of Earth to mourn with him, and using the tears of Saint Columbanus, founder of Bobbio, as a symbol of the monastery's grief. The rhythm of the verse, presence of musical notation, and orientation towards contemporary events suggest popular recitation or performance. The poem, though associated with the Carolingian Renaissance in Latin letters, is not a commentary on the "disintegration" (or décomposition) of the Carolingian Empire after the death of Charlemagne.

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