Splitting hairs — is it a manuscript copybook or a manuscript tunebook? Or, both?

I’ve been “rearranging” the small collections in the Bethlehem part of our holdings, trying to create collections that make sense of items that do not fit into the the major settlement congregations (Bethlehem Congregation, Nazareth Congregation, Lititz Congregation, Dover Congregation, Lancanster Congregation).  Over the years we have received donations from various congregations in the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America and from individuals.

With effort to have things make sense fifty years down the road, I’ve been working under the principal of putting “like” things together, such as printed music, manuscript music, tunebooks, bound volumes of printed music, and bound manuscript copybooks. I have encountered some bound manuscript copybooks which have atrributes of Moravian tunebooks.

The model for Moravian tunebooks is Christian Gregor’s Choral-Buch (1784), which used conventional organization of tunes according to metre.  Tunes were labeled by an alpha-numeric order (22H, affectionaly known as Art numbers), had descriptive title identifiers (Wareham) and had a known text incipit associated with the hymn or chorale (Nun danket alle Gott). These conventional were common in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I believe the Moravians, because of their intimate use of hymns and chorales, created personal tunebooks by copying identified tunes for their own use. These personal manuscript copybooks are for individual instruments or for piano.  Some include at least one verse of text, while other include multiple verses or only a textual incipit.  In some copybooks other songs with piano accompaniment are included with the chorales.

Why does this diffientiation matter?  In sorting materials in the Bethlehem collections, putting “like” things together is one of my goals.  So, manuscript copybooks that include only hymn tunes/chorales with Art numbers or tune names,  but which lack underlaid text or have only textual incipits will be gathered with tunebooks.  On the other hand, manuscript copybooks which may include some hymns/chorales identified in this way but also include other music, such as songs with piano and choruses, will be gathered with manuscript copybooks.

Here are two examples

The first is in tunebook style — close score, textual incipit, tune name, and indication of metre (L.M.). Four tunes are given in this example.

The second is in copybook style, which includes not only chorales with text, but this arrangement of “The heavens are telling” from Haydn’s Creation.

One thought on “Splitting hairs — is it a manuscript copybook or a manuscript tunebook? Or, both?

  1. “In sorting materials in the Bethlehem collections, putting “like” things together is one of my goals.”

    I truly identify with this goal! 😉


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