Studies in the Printing, Publishing and Performance of Music in the 16th Century

By Agee, Richard J. | Notes, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Studies in the Printing, Publishing and Performance of Music in the 16th Century


Agee, Richard J., Notes


SIXTEENTH- AND SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY STUDIES Studies in the Printing, Publishing and Performance of Music in the 16th Century. By Stanley Boorman. (Variorum Collected Studies Series.) Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. [xii, 362 p. ISBN 0-86078-970-5. $109.95.] Music examples, illustrations, plates, indexes.

This collection of essays, all published between 1977 and 1995, demonstrates the astounding variety and the remarkable depth of Stanley Boorman's research. The volume forms a handy reference work for the reader, since each of the eleven essays appeared in a different source (a few of these rather obscure); they may also be seen as preliminary studies for the author's magisterial, recently published Ottaviano Petrucci: Catalogue Raisonné (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Boorman effectively groups the articles into three distinct areas of his interests, as indicated by the title: 1) "Printing" treats printing-house procedures as revealed in the books themselves; 2) "Publishing" deals with that end of the process; and 3) "Performance" moves beyond printed sources to manuscripts and implications for composition and performance practice.

The first section-"Printing"-opens with "The 'First' Edition of the Odhecaton A." Here Boorman determines what bibliographers would refer to as the "sophisticated" nature of Petrucci's first publication (Venice, 1501) in the exemplar now at the Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale in Bologna. That is, through an analysis of changes in paper, staff patterns, text incipits, signature patterns, and the deterioration of capital letters, the book appears to exhibit sheets from four different settings of type and two distinct editions. The author concludes by noting variants among chansons from the Odhecaton A and northern Italian manuscript sources. The second article, "Petrucci's Type-Setters and the Process of Stemmatics," posits that two typesetters consistently employed distinct habits in Petrucci's Motetti de la Corona I (Fossombrone, 1514), particularly in their spelling of Latin, the use of minor color, proportion signs, and ligatures. Boorman contends that printed books went through most of the processes that were also involved in preparing a manuscript, and he concludes that the first typesetter had rigorous training in traditional notation, and the second more familiarity with current trends, much as a scholar would analyze a manuscript copied by two scribes.

The next essay, "A Case of Work and Turn: Half-Sheet Imposition in the Early Sixteenth Century," highlights Boorman's interest in descriptive bibliography. He confirms Petrucci's first simultaneous printing in 1503 of text and staves, thus replacing the labor-intensive multiple-impression process with double-impression. In the same year, with further issues of the Odhecaton A along with the Misse Brumel and Misse Ghiselin, Petrucci began to use half sheets prepared separately and imposed for work and turn press work. In the wide-ranging "Printed Music Books of the Italian Renaissance from the Point of View of Manuscript Study," Boorman explores the technical evidence apparent in publications from Venice (and elsewhere), including Frottole libro sexto (Petrucci, 1506), Corfini's Motetti à 5-12 (Alessandro Gardano, 1581), Metallo's Magnificat a 4 & a 5 (Melchiorre Scotto, 1603), and Massaino's Opus 31 motets (Angelo Gardano, 1606). The printing anomalies observed here resolve questions as to the content of a musical edition, its provenance or authenticity, or the homogeneity or inconsistencies of its readings. The fifth essay, "The Salzburg Liturgy and Single-Impression Music Printing," provides intriguing evidence from missals with chant printed from the single-impression process around 1500 that foreshadows the widespread adoption of that process in printing polyphonic music from the 1520s onward.

The second section-"Publishing"begins with "Early Music Printing: Working for a Specialized Market." Boorman states that sixteenth-century plainchant and music for the reformed churches raises several ecclesiastical, but few musical, questions, and the intended audience was known. …

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