Private or Institutional – Small or Big? Towards a Typology of Polyphonic Sources of Renaissance Music

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In contrast to the codicology of text manuscripts or liturgical manuscripts, a systematic typology of manuscript sources of Renaissance music is lacking. This article is a first attempt to develop criteria which could be relevant for such a typology. Function and performance context are obviously among such criteria, but so are size, material, and decoration. By combining all textual and contextual parameters into a table and discussing the results, it becomes clear that no single criterion is sufficient to define a certain type of manuscript: institutional manuscripts can be big or small, lavish or simple; manuscripts whose primary function appears to be representation (rather than practical use) can range from enormous choirbooks to tiny chansonniers, from highly private to highly public objects; finally, there are books whose external appearance provides little or no clue as to what their function may have been. A Quellenkunde of the polyphonic manuscript has yet to be written.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Alamire Foundation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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