Current Research: Plotz Organ Tablature

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(formerly Berlin, Preußische Staatsbibliothek; the so-called "Plotz Organ Tablature")
Deutsche Version

Mus. ms. 40056
The Plotz Organ tablature (Plotz-Tabulatur) provides important insight into the activities of Samuel Scheidt, who was "Organist" and "Kapellmeister" in Halle (today's Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany) in the first half of 17th century. This manuscript gives in addition a detailed idea of the organist's job according to divine service in this time. The tablature is named after two signatures given on one of the last pages of the Ms. ("Johannes Plotz" and "Caspar Plotz"). These two "Plotz" both came from Brieg (Brzeg; Silesia, Poland) and spent most time of their life in Leutschau (Levoca; Spiš-Region, Slovakia).

Compared to all other extant organ tablatures this source is a special case because of the presentation of its contents. Michael Praetorius writes in Syntagma Musicum III (1619) that in his time this type of notation, the "Buchstabentabulatur", was very popular among German organists, because - among other reasons - it was suitable for use in composition. Sketches giving evidence of compositional processes or representing outlined improvisations are, however, extremely rare given the large number of extant 17th century tablatures. The Plotz Organ Tablature numbers among these few examples.

This Ms. was first made known by the musicologist, theologian and organ expert Christhard Mahrenholz (Diss. Göttingen 1924 on Samuel Scheidt; research director: Friedrich Ludwig). He edited some Canons and the disposition of an organ built in Halle 1624-26 under supervision of Scheidt (Moritzkirche; Johann Heinrich Compenius, 1597-1642). After the Second World War the Ms. was considered lost; for years it remained unnoticed among other Berlin Mss. in the Biblioteca Jagiellonska Kraków. A detailed discussion of this tablature is lacking as of yet.

This study provides a complete transcription and analysis of the "Plotz" (edition with detailed commentary). Last but not least, it will be a contribution to the work and biography of Samuel Scheidt.

First information:  Hendrik Dochhorn: Artikel Scheidt (Familie), in: Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Personenteil, Bd. 14, Kassel 2005, Spalte 1217-1249.

Links to the libraries:        Biblioteka Jagiellonska        Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - PK

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