South African Journal of Cultural History

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Two unknown music fragments in the Grey Collection of the South African Library, Cape Town

C Steyn


Among the Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the Grey Collection in the National Library in Cape Town there are two fragments with music notation, one large, one small. Although research has been done on most of the music manuscripts in the Collection, these fragments have not been studied before. Fragments of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts have been neglected in scholarly research, but recently serious studies have been made have been made in several overseas centres. Of the two fragments discussed in this article, the smaller one, consisting of only two folios, is the more interesting. It forms part of an earlier binding of MS Grey 3c16, a 15th century copy of Guido delle Collone’s Historia destructionis Troiae, and although no date or provenance is mentioned in the fragments, it has been possible to establish that it was a 12th century noted missal that had probably belonged to Dryburgh Abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery on the Scottish border. Early noted missals in which chants, readings and prayers appear in the correct liturgical order, as in this fragment, are very rare. The larger fragment, MS 48b3, consists of 43 leaves and is very wellpreserved and attractive with many decorative initials in bright colours. It formed part of the sanctorale of a very large choir book and was possibly in use in the Bologna region of Italy in the 15th century. A more precise dating and provenance could not
be established, however.

Keywords: Cape Town, choir book, fragment, Grey Collection, manuscript, missal, music notation, National Library

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