Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Theinred

THEINRED (fl. 1371), musical theorist, at an early age entered the Benedictine order. He was afterwards made precentor of the monastery at Dover, where he died and was buried. In 1371 he wrote a treatise ‘De legitimis ordinibus Pentachordorum et Tetrachordorum,’ which he addressed to Alured of Canterbury. The name Alured has been repeatedly transferred to Theinred himself, and Moreri has further corrupted his name into David Theinred. The treatise is an exhaustive disquisition in three books upon scales and intervals; it employs the ancient letter-notation instead of the usual musical signs, which do not occur throughout. The copy in the Bodleian Library is the only one known to be extant. Boston of Bury gave the title as ‘De Musica et de legitimis ordinibus Pentacordorum et Tetracordorum lib. 3;’ Bale, probably misled by this statement, described two separate treatises, and was followed by Pits. Both writers bestowed the highest encomiums on Theinred's learning, Bale calling him ‘Musicorum sui temporis Phœnix,’ which Pits extended into ‘Vir morum probitate, multiplicique doctrina conspicuus,’ although both apparently made these assertions only on the ground that the precentor of a monastery must have had such qualifications. Bale adds that Theinred was the reputed author of several other works whose titles he had not seen. Burney spoke slightingly of Theinred's treatise, but Chappell shows that Burney had but cursorily examined it, and does not even correctly quote the opening words ‘Quoniam Musicorum de his cantibus frequens est dissensio.’ It was announced for publication in the fourth volume of Coussemaker's ‘Scriptores de Musica medii ævi,’ but did not appear.

[Bodleian MS. 842; Boston of Bury, in Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib., introd. p. xxxix; Bale's Script. p. 479; Pitseus, Script. p. 510; Burney's General Hist. of Music, ii. 396; Chappell's Hist. of Music, introd. p. xiii; Ouseley's contributions to Naumann's Illustrirte Geschichte der Musik, English edit. p. 562; Nagel's Geschichte der Musik in England, p. 64; Weale's Cat. of the Historical Music Loan Exhibition, 1885, p. 123.]

H. D.