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The fate of the choirbook in Protestant Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Magnus Williamson


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Large folio choirbooks sitting on a lectern were the default format used by singers throughout central and western Europe in the later middle ages. Changing attitudes towards the use of sacred space and towards the roles of church song at the Reformation led to the demise of folio choirbooks in the firmly Protestant lands in Calvinist northern Europe and Elizabethan England; but in Catholic Europe they persisted for many decades (in the case of Spain, into the twentieth century). This parting of the ways is seldom remarked in the existing scholarship, and very rarely explored in terms of performance practice. Very few ensembles have tried to sing ad lectrinam, and yet experiments in lectern singing have proved remarkably fruitful, transforming singers' experiences and behaviours.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Williamson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Alamire Foundation

Year: 2015

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 117-131, 135 (plate)

Print publication date: 01/10/2015

Acceptance date: 12/06/2015

Date deposited: 08/10/2015

Publisher: Brepols