Friday, October 9, 2009

Compendium Musices

A page of musical notation, set within the outline of a hand.Thanks to a generous donation three years ago, we have in Rauner Library a mammoth sixteenth-century antiphonal (a manuscript book containing the choir’s part of the mass). The manuscript, produced in Spain for export, has been affectionately dubbed "the fifty cow book" because it demanded so much parchment for production.

This week we acquired a very small companion piece: a contemporary instructional manual for learning choral chanting: Compendium musices (Venice: Lucantonio, 1513).  Besides giving us insights to how our antiphonal was sung, the book is also a fine example of early printing of musical notations.