Franco of Cologne

Belgian theorist, who flourished during the Eleventh Century, and who is usually credited with having been the first to collect and systematize the laws of measure. Although a great uncertainty prevails as to the time Franco lived, the place of his birth and his position in the musical world, his writings are the earliest known, in which the subject of notation is treated. Naumann in his History of Music, says: "We are indebted for the oldest and most trustworthy information extant on the subject of notation and descant to Franco of Cologne. The exact period at which this learned master lived is not known, but most probably it was during the Twelfth and the early part of the Thirteenth Century. It is curious that even up to a very recent date the personality of Franco was surrounded with much mystery. It is owing to the researches of the distinguished Belgian musical historian, Coussemaker, that we are in possession of more positive information regarding him." It was Coussemaker who proved the existence of another Franco, Franco of Paris, who had been confounded with Franco of Cologne down to present times. The researches of Coussemaker set at rest any doubt that existed regarding the personality of Franco of Cologne. Franco according to this authority advocated the adoption of the mensural song, which he improved greatly. He also originated the uneven tempo or triple time, and his labors in the diffusion of a knowledge of musical harmony were of the greatest value. He gave the name to the new notation which is spoken of as the Franconian system. Franco is believed to have pursued his studies under Adelman at Liege. Riemann agrees with Coussemaker that there were two Francos, and that Franco of Paris was older than Franco of Cologne with whom he is so often confounded. Both acted as chapelmaster at Notre Dame, Paris. Moore's Encyclopedia of Music is authority for the statement that Franco of Cologne was a monk of the Eleventh Century and that he was the next after Guido to improve descant, and the first to write descants to secular airs, called roundelays. He wrote Ars cantus mensurabilis and Compendium de Discantu.