Talk:Eton Choirbook

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thanks for creating this page

  • Posted by: Vaarky 17:05, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for creating this page--so nice to see what's available all in one place, and see progress on these.

Medieval versus Renaissance music

Some of the works in this list were set as Medieval and some as Renaissance music. If we base exclusively on the date in which the book was compiled, we could state that it contains Renaissance works, but I found a differing opinion, when reading "Music in Medieval Britain" (Icon_pdf_globe.gif) by Frank Llewellyn Harrison. I'd like to quote two passages from it that relate to the Eton choirbook:

  • "Both in liturgy and music the end of the Latin rite marks the close of the medieval period, for English music was intimately bound up with the ritual tradition and held to its established styles and functions as long as the medieval liturgy remained. Though Renaissance features began to appear in English music, particularly in its secular forms, in the early sixteenth century, the transition from medieval to Renaissance concepts of structure and style, which took place on the continent in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, was not fully accomplished in England until after the mid-sixteenth century. This is not the division between the Middle Ages and Renaissance usually adopted by musical historians, but I believe it to be justified in the case of the English ecclesiastical arts, both visual and musical, in which medieval styles showed no fundamental change until the new religious ideas became established."
  • "Eton College is the only foundation of the period which has managed to preserve its own late medieval choirbook, which is listed in a chapel inventory of c. 1531 as "a grete ledger of prick song ii folio tum cuncta", a description which identifies it with the large manuscript of polyphonic antiphons and Magnificats now in the college library. Though about half of its pages have unfortunately been lost, the Eton choirbook is outstanding among the surviving manuscripts of medieval music in Britain in the value of its contents and the beauty of its writing and illumination."

Do others agree with him? —Carlos Email.gif 15:54, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

Reply by: Vaarky 15:51, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


Much as I worship Frank's work (esp. his books on the Eton Choirbook and on my favorite Renaissance composer William Mundy's sacred works), and I am less an expert, I agree more with what's written about transition music and ars nova at and disagree with Frank on this.

Ars Nova is typically seen as the transition between Medieval to Renaissance. Ars Nova is exemplified by Dunstable and Power and the Old Hall manuscript, includes faubourdon etc. It typiically coincides with the reign of the Lancastrian Kings in England, refers to the period 1420-1460 (Henry Tudor VII took over in 1457). Ars Nova in France refers to the works of Machaut et al.

Sutton is one of the earlier composers in the Eton Choirbook. We know he flourished around 1477 and have just the one 7-part piece by him. His work is not like medieval or ars nova, it's not like Pygott and Dunstable. It's more like the other pieces in the Eton Choirbook and even more like Renaissance writing by Isaac and others. That's why I think all works in the Eton Choirbook should be labeled Renaissance, and all composers (incl. Sutton). If people insist on labeling some Eton Choirbook composers as both Medieval and Renaissance, I won't object but think that is wrong. People coming to look for Sutton would expect to find him under Renaissance and he wrote in the Renaissance style and post.

Reply by: Chucktalk Giffen 14:53, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


First a minor correction about the author: the name is Frank Llewellyn Harrison (not Lloyd). Now to the points raised. I'm inclined to agree with Vaarky as well as the views expressed in various places in Wikipedia articles on Medieval music, Renaissance music, Early music of the British Isles, etc. - mostly due to the scholarship of "Antandrus", who has a wide range of knowledge, especially on early music). It would seem that, in England the Medieval (at least sacred) music period was finished by about 1450 (on the continent 1400 is usually regarded as the end of the Medieval and beginning of the Renaissance musical eras), at least in terms of compositional style, if not forms (which held on a bit longer). If I'm not mistakedn, all of the compsers appearing in the Eton Choirbook are listed at Wikipedia as Renaissance composers, although a very few might be classified (albeit not categorized and not by me) as transitional from Medieval to Renaissance. To me a telling part of Harrison's thesis is that he links the end of the Medieval period to the end of the Latin rite in England - which, to me at least, is not reflective of the changing musical styles (both sacred and secular) going on in England long before that.

Thanks for your considerations, Vaarky and Chuck, and also for the author name correction; it was abbreviated as "Ll." and I imagined it could only stand for "Lloyd". —Carlos Email.gif 17:55, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Davy Salve Regina - one or two?


I'm mystified by the appearance of two settings by Davy of Salve Regina - in particular, the one claiming to be a 6-part setting. The 5-voice setting (as in Harrison) is basically 5-parts, but there are some treble gymels (gemells) at the beginning and later in the work - a gymel is a splitting of the part into two parts. These are annotated in the treble part in the Eton Choirbook. The fact that the work begins with treble gymells makes a modern edition look like it is a 6-part work (and I suppose, in some sense, it is). I'm wondering if the 6-part setting listed (and requested) is actually a confusion with the 5-part setting (which is the only Davy setting I'm aware of).

Also, I'm pretty sure I've seen elsewhere that there were only 93 items in the Eton Choirbook. The addition of the 6-part Davy would make 94.

That's exactly the reason for my confusion. E.g. this edition. Frank's book classified it as 5, but it appears to need 6 voices simultaneously. Some gymels allow one of the other parts to cover a line, keeping it to 5 voices at all times, but in this case it would require 6. I think CPDL should index it based on the minimum number of independent voices needed to perform the piece. --Vaarky 18:02, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

new layout

Chuck, with relation to the list layout, I would suggest to make it in a tabular format as is in other Music Publications, with columns for the original index number, title, composer and # of voices, what do you think? —Carlos Email.gif 18:42, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

the new layout in tabular format looks great! --Vaarky 18:02, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Agree, very nice indeed! —Carlos Email.gif 18:21, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I was already working on a revision when Carlos mentioned it above - what he saw was just an interim step in the process. I'm going to prepare an alternate which lists the works in the order that they appear in the Eton Choirbook, also in tabular format. -- Chucktalk Giffen 11:28, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Chuck, in that case may I suggest another option? If you make the list completely tabular (ie. with composer name as a column, too), you could convert the table into a sortable one.
This way there wouldn't be the need to duplicate all the page content just to have an alternative view. (Though I understand why you're trying to avoid repeating the composer name in every line). —Carlos Email.gif 17:48, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

proposal to merge the two pages

A test page was created with the contents in tabular format as suggested above. If everyone agrees, my suggestion is to replace the current two pages with a single one in that format. This would avoid the duplication of information, simplifying maintenance. It is also sortable by voices, besides order, title and composer. —Carlos Email.gif 13:35, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry I didn't see this before commenting elsewhere about subpages. The only problem with this test page is that it does not alphabetize the composers by surname – which was my original problem when I created the separate index page. Is there a way to accomplish this (without separately listing surnames and firstnames)? – Chucktalk Giffen 20:19, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Humm, I remember to have seen a similar trick on IMSLP, will try to discover how it works. —Carlos Email.gif 21:53, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I found it, it was based on a wikipedia template called hs. See if you like the results. —Carlos Email.gif 23:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for finding {{hs}} Carlos! Now I recall that kludge, too. If there are no objections, let's incorporate the new sortable table into the Eton Choirbook page and delete the index page. (Note: I just did it!) – Chucktalk Giffen 14:15, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Nice, thanks! —Carlos Email.gif 14:50, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Horwood's Gaude virgo Mater Christi

  • Posted by: Vaarky 01:49, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Isn't this listed as incomplete in the Frank Harrison edition? If it's incomplete, it should be annotated in the right-most column.

foli- pagination

I'm confused: Carlos added folio numbers that agree with DIAMM, yet when I look at the 2nd IMSLP file I see the opening with Brown's Stabat juxta (fol 17v-?) with the right page numbered 24 in pencil. This may have to do with rebinding; can we add another column showing the modern foliation with some explanation? I can only guess the original index had its own numbering. Richard Mix (talk) 10:31, 31 January 2021 (UTC)