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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

THE WORCESTER FRAGMENTS

Chapter:
CHAPTER 11 Island and Mainland
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

There is an English source for the Balaam motet as well as the French one, but like almost all the English sources of the period, it is fragmentary—just a scrap containing the motetus voice. The wholesale destruction of “popish ditties”—manuscripts containing Latin church music—in the course of the Anglican reformation was a great disaster for music history. Between the eleventh century, the time of the staffless Winchester Tropers, and the beginning of the fifteenth, not a single source of English polyphonic music survives intact. All we have, for the most part, are individual leaves, or bits of leaves, that chanced to survive the holocaust for a seemingly paradoxical reason: having become liturgically or stylistically obsolete, the books that contained them had already been destroyed. The surviving leaves had been recycled, as we would now put it, for lowly utilitarian purposes. Some had been bound into newer manuscript books as flyleaves (the heavier protective leaves in the front and back of bound volumes), or as stiffeners for the covers or spine. Some had even been rolled up and inserted into organ pipes to stop little leaks that were causing the pipes to sound continuously (what organists call “ciphers”).

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 11 Island and Mainland." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 18 Sep. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011005.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 11 Island and Mainland. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 18 Sep. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011005.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 11 Island and Mainland." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 18 Sep. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-011005.xml
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