Treasures of The Library of Orfeó Català



Musical notation and liturgical practices from the Early Middle Ages to the 17th century are found in this selection, including old musical notations or plainsong books, which stand out in their organisation and origin.


Ars antiqua: Manuscript 1 of the Orfeó Català

Manuscript 1 of the Orfeó Català. Early 14th century. Manuscript music (parchment), 25 f. (23 x 14.5 cm)


Ars antiqua: Manuscript 1 of the Orfeó Català

Ars Antiqua: Manuscript 1 of the Orfeó Català

Musical codex with a selection of tropes and Marian sequences for one, two or three voices. There are thirteen polyphonic works (five Sanctus, two Agnus and six sequences) belonging to the conductus, genre, one of the two genres that characterize the repertoire of the Notre Dame School and its followers, as opposed to organum, in which the melody shines; in conductus it is the word −the verse− that prevails over the music. The writing is typical of the genre, with its square notation either separated or linked – ligatures − on the stave, open to a relative rhythmic interpretation. After the Las Huelgas Codex, it is the most important of those preserved in the Iberian Peninsula with a repertoire from the second half of the 13th century. It appears to have come from the Carthusian monastery of Scala Dei (Tarragona), but most likely it was used and even copied by the monks of the Cistercian monastery of Santes Creus, which in 1297 provided the first singers skilled in the art of polyphony in the recently founded chapel of James II of Aragon. The simplicity of the manuscript, especially demonstrated in the poor quality of the parchment, contrasts with the extraordinary quality of the copy, which bears no errors except for those corrected by their own scribes.

A sheet of parchment with Catalan neumatic notation, from an 11th century liturgical manuscript, was used as the cover of the manuscript until it was replaced in the 20th century with its current cover.

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