'Cacatum non est Pictum', Canon worked out by Willem (1815) Gardi 9, mp3 version
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
The source for this sketch is Add. MS 29997 from the British Library, and dates from late 1815 or early 1816.
"Cacatum non est pictum" is an obscene Latin proverb, which means as much as "That what's shat, is not painted". What this exactly signifies is unclear. Some speculations are: "In what was being said, the bad things are left out"; "That what comes easily can't have great value"; "One shouldn't hang ones dirty linen in public"; "That what's part of nature is no art"; "Nobody ever shat gold". We would be happy to hear from anyone who can shed light on this matter or its apparently classical source!
The Beethoven sketch consists of three chunks. The first, 6 bars long, has only a single melodic line, and ends with a repeat sign. The second chunk of 4 bars has also just one voice. The last chunk, for two voices, is 5 bars long.
The solution for the canon is very easy to find: the second voice enters after 2 bars on the prime, the third voice after 4 bars, also on the prime. This results in a perfectly regular 3-part canon. The only problem with this solution is that bars 3-6 of the melody are rhythmically and melodically rather stiff. It is as if Beethoven has only roughly indicated what he intended to do for these 4 bars.
When we take a closer look at the 2nd chunk of the sketch, it becomes clear that it represents a more lively version for bars 3-6 of the first chunk. It's not only harmonically almost identical to the bars it has to replace, it even takes care to avoid concealed fifths and other contrapuntal awkwardnesses when placed in context.
The third chunk of the sketch seems to represent another attempt by Beethoven to set the same text. The 2nd voice behaves like a fugue-answer, although it is incorrect, strictly speaking. It has a quaint, medieval quality, but it is impossible to speculate what Beethoven wanted to do with it.
The midi with the completion gives two versions of the Cacatum canon: the first is based exclusively on chunk 1 of our sketch. Then follows the same solution, but now with bars 3-6 replaced by the melody of chunk 2.
Solution by Willem. World premiere for the Unheard Beethoven.