TEXT CONTAINING PART OF THE OFFICES FOR QUADRAGESIMA SUNDAY.

(Italy: 12th century). 225 x 165 mm. (8 7/8 x 6 1/2"). Single column, 14 lines of text and neumes in a small, lovely Caroline minuscule.

Matted. Rubrics in red, capitals of various sizes, some touched with yellow. Recovered from a binding, so with overall (though moderate) darkening, recto with a couple small rough patches obscuring just a few letters or neumes, verso with residue of binder's glue, with the text difficult to read in a few places, but generally in quite a reasonable state, especially given its history, with one side perfectly legible, and the other side with the sense of the text never lost.

This leaf contains antiphons and responsories for the lengthy and majestic night office on the first Sunday in Lent (called in a rubric here by its ancient name "Quadragesima Sunday"). The musical notation found here represents an early, but not the first, generation of neumes. When neumes first appear in the ninth century, they are the only thing occupying the area above a musical text and are thus described as "in campo aperto" (literally, "in an open field"). The earliest forms are also described as adiastematic because they appear more or less in a straight line, whereas later neumes (like those used for the present leaf) are diastematic, meaning that they reflect changes in melodic direction by being placed in a higher or lower vertical position above the text. Here, the notes are organized around a single line representing the "F" pitch--the first step in the development of the staff, and one of the most important advancements in the history of Western musical notation--which allowed singers to actually "read" the melody and find the relative pitch of each note without having to rely solely on memorization.
(ST16379-152)