What is an antiphonal? How big could they make manuscript books in the 16th Century? What are some ways music was represented in the 16th Century? What might work well in a Harry Potter movie? We acquired an item that may answer several of those questions at once.
This antiphonal dates from about 1525-1575 and is approximately three feet by two feet. The original cowhide binding is sewn on seven bands of cords laced into wooden boards with decorative brass bosses with scroll-designed furniture and has two fore-edge metal clasps. The text is in Latin. The item presents staff notation with staves in red and bar lines in yellow.
Antiphonal, Antiphonary, or Antiphoner. Properly the Roman Catholic Church’s collection of traditional plainsong antiphons, but the use of the word has become more comprehensive and it now generally means the book containing all the traditional plainsong for the Divine Office, in distinction from the Gradual, which contains all the plainsong for the Mass.
(The Oxford Companion to Music, 9th ed.)
The Latin term antiphona was borrowed directly from Greek, where it meant the octave. In the first century C.E., antiphona was used in the East to describe singing of two choirs in alternation, one of men and one of women (presumably singing an octave apart), and subsequently it referred simply to psalmody consisting of the alternation of two choirs. By the 4th century, when the term was first used in the West and when St. Ambrose introduced antiphonal singing there, antiphona referred, as it has in general since, to a melody that accompanied the antiphonal singing of a Psalm.
(The New Harvard Dictionary of Music)