Medieval and Renaissance Music Seminar Series - ‘Disiecta Membra Musicae: A new facsimile edition of music manuscript fragments from 14th-Century England’

30th November 2023, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Presenter: Peter Lefferts (University of Nebraska)

Discussants: Andrew Wathey (The National Archives and University of Northumbria) and Jared Hartt (Oberlin College).


A volume of facsimiles of English fourteenth-century polyphonic music in preparation for the series Early English Church Music is intended to supersede Harrison and Wibberley, Manuscripts of Fourteenth Century English Polyphony (EECM 26, 1981). It will fill the current gap between Summers and Lefferts, English Thirteenth Century Polyphony (EECM 57, 2016) and Bent and Wathey, Fragments of English Polyphonic Music c. 1390-1475 (EECM 62, 2022). As in the latter two, leaves will be reproduced in colour, mostly at full size, and in their original order; further, about twice as many sources will be reproduced as in the 1981 book. This talk will address some of the most

interesting features of the relevant new sources uncovered in the last 45 years, consider questions about provenance that have been raised by scholarship on the codices housing these musical fragments in their bindings, and offer a taste of the discoveries yielded by the use of modern research tools, from basic internet text searching to high-resolution digital and multi-spectral imaging. In addition, the repertoire of the extraordinary Dorset rotulus will serve as the point of departure for remarks about what is new in our picture of 14th-century English music.