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John Morehen

revised by Richard Rastall

(Fr. parties séparées; Ger. Stimmbücher)

Manuscripts or printed books that contain music for only a single voice (whether human or instrumental) of a composition, as opposed to those sources (scores, choirbooks, table-books etc.) that supply the complete music. The Shrewsbury fragment (Shrewsbury School, MS VI, c 1430) is probably the lone survivor of a set of three partbooks (S. Rankin, PRMA, cii, 1975–6, pp.129–44), but otherwise the format seems to date from the late 15th century, becoming standard for the dissemination of ensemble music in the 16th and 17th centuries. Among the earliest surviving partbooks are the three known as the ‘Glogauer Liederbuch’ ( D-B Mus.ms.40098), which date from about 1480; the earliest printed partbooks extant are the four books comprising the Misse Josquin issued by the Venetian printer Ottaviano Petrucci in 1502. With the increasing use and availability of scores from the late 17th century onwards the role of partbooks was to some extent pre-empted, although the practice of performing from separate parts has survived for certain types of music (e.g. chamber and orchestral music) to the present day. This is partly because of the considerable expense involved in providing every performer with a score containing much material not strictly necessary for his individual need....

Article

John Morehen

(It., Lat.)

In its strictest sense partitura means simply ‘score’, and as such is the equivalent of partition (Fr.), Partitur (Ger.) etc. It is more specifically used, however, to describe sources of keyboard music of the 16th to the 18th centuries notated in open score (usually four staves), as opposed to those in keyboard score (on two staves) or one of the types of keyboard tablature. In many of the earliest uses of this notation, most of which are Italian, the word ‘partitura’ and its most common derivatives (spartiti, partite etc.), were used on title-pages to describe music that had originally been written for voices or other instruments but had later been ‘scored’ for solo instrumental performance, usually on a keyboard instrument. Some scholars consider that early partiturae of this nature may have been issued for study purposes rather than for performance, although the two functions are not mutually exclusive. The use of the term ‘partitura’ was later extended to include collections of works conceived originally for keyboard instruments. The earliest surviving source in ...

Article

Thurston Dart

revised by John Morehen and Richard Rastall

(Fr. tablature; Ger. Tabulatur; It. intavolatura)

A score in which the voice-parts are ‘tabulated’ or written so that the eye can encompass them. In practice, scores in staff notation with one voice-part per staff are not usually called tablatures unless they are for a solo keyboard instrument (see §2(v) below). The term is more often used for a condensed score in which two or more voice-parts are written or printed on a single staff or comparable area of the page, although when this consists entirely of staff notation it is more often called ‘keyboard score’ or (for concerted music) ‘short score’. The common use of the term ‘tablature’ therefore excludes these; the following article thus discusses any notational system of the last 700 years that uses letters, numbers or other signs as an alternative to conventional staff notation. Such systems were chiefly used for instrumental music; dance tablatures are beyond the scope of this article. For a discussion of tablature in its historical context, ...

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John Morehen, Richard Rastall and Emilie Murphy

A manuscript or printed book of the 16th or 17th century in which the vocal or instrumental parts of an ensemble composition are displayed in order for the performers to read their parts while seated across or around a table. It is an extension of the choirbook system in which one volume suffices for all the performers, as opposed to the partbook system in which each performer is allocated an individual book. Whilst the partbook system remained predominant in the period, the Lyons printer Jacques Moderne was probably the first to issue a collection in which parts were disposed in inverted positions on the upper half of each side, recto and verso, of an opening (Le parangon des chansons, 1538). A similar system, but with the complete recto page inverted, was adopted by Pierre Phalèse for lute duets (1568). The continental sources in table-book format are considerably outnumbered by the English sources; the earliest printed English source was Dowland’s ...