Two fragments in German Sangallian notation at the Biblioteca Estense in Modena

Stefania Roncroffi
Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali di Reggio Emilia e Castelnovo ne’ Monti


The Biblioteca Estense in Modena contains various fragments with musical notation, mostly recovered from bindings of manuscript volumes or printed books. Of particular interest are two of these, shelfmarked α.&.1.0 n. 14a and 14b. They come from an antiphonary with musical notation of the German Sangallian type. The text is in Carolingian script and hands down antiphons and responsories for the feasts of Saints John and Paul and Saint Peter, but it is well readable only on one side of the parchment, as well as being mutilated both horizontally and vertically: the two fragments each cover about a folio and a half of the original manuscript, which was made up of folios measuring about cm 22 × 17, a very small format, compatible with its antiquity. In all likelihood, the original codex was assembled in Bologna, perhaps for the monastery of St. Colombano, just before the middle of the 11th century, in the years immediately preceding the making of the famous Bolognese gradual preserved in the Angelica Library in Rome under no. 123. Thus the discovery of the two fragments, of particular importance for their antiquity and the liturgy they hand down, helps in the reconstruction of a rich and stimulating cultural environment, where the development of a typical Bolognese musical notation originated, which shows many points of contact with the Sangallian one. 

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