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Introduction to Music in Medieval Manuscripts 

This course offers a brief introduction to medieval music paleography, especially between the ninth and fourteenth centuries. It provides an overview of musical scripts used in medieval Europe, the graphic features that distinguish them, and developments in music writing technologies over the course of the period. By considering various regional notational styles, students will learn how musical notation can aid in situating manuscripts chronologically and geographically. In addition, students will briefly be introduced to resources that can help identify the content of musical manuscripts.
Rather than focusing on the transcription of medieval musical notation, or its semiotic qualities, this course focuses exclusively on its paleographic features. No knowledge of modern musical notation is required, nor is musical experience necessary. In your application, please indicate your previous experience in paleography and codicology.

Basic knowledge of Latin and basic palaeography/codicology is helpful, but not necessary. This is a course designed for beginners, so ability to read modern western musical notation is helpful, but also not necessary.

Essential reading

There is no essential reading required for this course.

Recommended further reading

  • Bell, Nicolas. Music in Medieval Manuscripts. University of Toronto Press, 2001.
  • Grier, James. Musical Notation in the West. Cambridge University Press, 2021.
  • Haines, John, editor. The Calligraphy of Medieval Music. Brepols, 2011.
  • Huglo, Michel. “Toward a scientific paleography of music.” The Calligraphy of Medieval Music, edited by John Haines, Brepols, 2011, 13-21.
  • Rankin, Susan. Writing Sounds in Carolingian Europe: The Invention of Musical Notation. Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • Treitler, Leo. “The Early History of Music Writing in the West.” With Voice and Pen: Coming to Know Medieval Song and How it was Made, Oxford University Press, 2007, 317-364.
  • —“Reading and Singing: On the Genesis of Occidental Music Writing. With Voice and Pen, Oxford University Press, 2007, 365-428.

Course tutor