University of Oregon

Early Music Manuscripts: Works of Art and Historical Artifacts

June 18-September 18, 2015
Knight Library, 3rd floor
Music Services area
During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the construction of a book of music was a laborious process which involved many steps and numerous skilled craftsmen. Each book was scribed by hand, resulting in a unique piece of work, characteristic of its purpose and its origin, and every region had its own distinctive styles of text script and musical notation. Quality and design ranged from lavishly decorated presentation books for important patrons, to hardy and functional books for everyday use, perhaps in a cathedral or monastery.  
This exhibit examines the process of creating a music book by hand, from the preparation of animal skins for vellum to the illuminated illustrations that ornamented the most expensive books. It also traces the progression of Western musical notation from roughly sketched memory cues to the highly organized system of pitch and rhythmic symbols that was in place by the early Renaissance. Showcased in this exhibit are numerous hand tools for writing, illustration, and book repair, as well as several of the library’s significant facsimile reproductions of important medieval music manuscripts, including the 14th-century French satirical allegory Le Roman de Fauvel and the spectacular full-color facsimile of the 15th-century Italian Squarcialupi Codex.   
This exhibit was curated by Music Reference & Outreach Assistant Tara Puyat (MA, Musicology, 2015), with assistance from Ann Shaffer (Music Librarian), Marilyn Mohr (Senior Conservation Technician, Beach Conservation Lab), and Marilyn Reaves (Manuscripts Assistant, Special Collections & University Archives).   
University of Oregon Libraries
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