Creating a Tudor Musical Miscellany: The McGhie/Tenbury 389 Partbooks

Katherine Butler*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The best-known Tudor manuscript partbooks tend to be complete or near-complete sets, associated with known individuals, elegantly copied, and with a clear repertorial focus. Yet such manuscripts are not the norm among extant partbooks. Rather most are obscure in origin, the product of workaday copying, and survive as orphans or partial sets. They are miscellanies with wide-ranging contents, complex and seemingly chaotic in their compilation, and their challenges have tended to deter scholarly attention. This article focuses on one particular miscellany from which two partbooks survive—the privately owned McGhie partbook and Bodleian Library Tenbury MS 389—to explore what such collections can reveal about the methods and habits of compilers and the circulation of music. These partbooks were assembled in a series of stages that demonstrate several different strategies for the collection and selection of pieces, methods for organizing scribal labour, and the influence of musical print culture on manuscript production.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergcaa057
Pages (from-to)234-270
Number of pages37
JournalMusic and Letters
Issue number2
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


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