Dunkeld Music Book: Chapter 2

Chapter 2
The manuscript source: The Dunkeld Music Book GB-Eu 64

The spine of MS 64 olim Db.I.7 (henceforth Eu 64) in the Special Collections Department of Edinburgh University Library is entitled 'Dunkeld Music Book'. Until comparatively recently (Willsher, 1954, p. 807; Elliott, 1964, p. 228), it was known as the 'Dunkeld Antiphonary', more recently as the 'Dowglas-Fischer [or Fischear] Partbooks' [12].

The manuscript is listed in the 1695 University catalogue as 'Church Musick at Dunkell in 4 parts [sic] & double bound in parchment gifted by – [space left blank] in 5 vols' (Elliott, 1964, p. 232). In fact it consists of five of an original six partbooks containing 19 motets and 3 masses, one fragmentary.

See Table 1 for Elliott's list of contents, together with Table 2 which gives my revised listing. Neither composer nor title is given for any of the motets in the manuscript.

The masses are also 'anonymous' although they have titles in at least one of the partbooks. The first has 'Felix Anna' [13] at the beginning of the Sanctus in volume II although its cantus firmus has been identified (MB xv, p. 204) as the Offertory 'Felix namque' for the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The second has the title 'Cantate Domino' although its cantus firmus has not been successfully identified. One of the partbooks contains the Tenor [14] of the Mass Jhesu Christe by Thomas Ashewell (c1478 – after 1513) and is so entitled.

Elliott (1964, p. 229), partly using information supplied by Jeremy Noble and Frank Ll. Harrison, has supplied missing titles and attributions for the anonyma except for the first two masses and two motets (Te sanctum Dominum ii 7 [8] and Ave Maria). One other motet, Pater noster/Ave Maria, is listed as two motets with three and two voices respectively; this is discussed in Chapter 3.

With the possible exception of Te Sanctum Dominum the motets are known to be of continental provenance (see Appendix 1 for a list of concordances for these pieces). Although they are called motets here and in other literature [15] the texts of the earlier pieces in the manuscript are mainly Mass propers for Marian and Petrine feasts [16].

Two of them (1, 14) are settings of the Marian antiphon Ave virgo gloriosa, the second, by Jacquet of Mantua, is entitled Ave virgo gratiosa in the complete edition (CMM iii 4).

Physical description of the source

In June 1961, Eu 64 was rebound by 'D. C. & Son' by 'SMC' (folio 140). A typed note (cf. Appendix 2) pasted onto one of the flyleaves tells us that when received by the binder the volume, which had a binding of 'gold tooled light brown calf with library stamp at centre of each board', was 'badly damaged'. Census (Vol. i, p. 203f.) describes the manuscript as having "modem covers of yellow calfskin"; my inspection of the volume shows them to be in accordance with the description in the binder's note.

Bound together in this volume (140 folios, including six parchment folios at the beginning and end, and between each of the volumes) are the five extant partbooks. It appears that they were numbered ('Vol.1.', 'Vol. 2.' and so on) by the nineteenth-century Scottish antiquarian David Laing (Elliott, 1964, p. 228), who entitled the set 'Antiphonarium in usum Ecclesiae Dunkeldensis' on folio 1r. Inspection of the contents, however, shows that the volume numbering appears to be in random order since in descending order of vocal range volumes 1-5 are for voices II, III, V, IV, I respectively - the missing partbook being that for the lowest voice [17]. Nevertheless, for ease of reference volume numbers hereafter refer to those given by Laing.

There are two systems of foliation: one numbers those with music, while the second and later series includes the remnants of the parchment covers and other blank pages-it is the latter system that is used here as it enables us to describe features on non-music pages. Foliation for the MS is given in Appendix 3.

The repertory

Table 1 below gives the contents of the partbooks as identified by Elliott (1964, p. 229); the figures beneath each title refer to the folios in which the individual parts appear.

Table 1
Inventory of Eu 64 by Kenneth Elliott (1964, p. 229)

Ave virgo gloriosa [Certon] (2,28,61,88,112)
Inviolata integra et casta [Certon] (2v, 28v, 61v, 88v, 112v)
O florens rosa [Lupi] (4, 29, 62, 89v, 113v)
Virgo clemens [Lupi] (5,30,63, 92v, 114v)
[Pater noster] [Certon] (31v, 64, 116)
[Ave Maria]   (6,91)
[O Maria stans sub cruce] [Claudin] (6,32,65,91, 116v)
[Ad nutum Domini] [Lupi] (6v, 32v, 65v, 91v, 117)
[Regina celi] [Certon] (7v, 33v, 66v, 94, 118)
[Benedicta es celorum Regina] [Josquin] (8v, 35v, 66v, 94v, 119)
[Vidi civitatem sanctam] [van Wilder?] (9v, 34, 67v, 95, 120)
[Descendi in hortum meum] [Jachet] (10v, 35, 68v, 96, 120v)
[Infelix ego] [Willaert/
?Rori sic.]
(11, 36v, 68v, 97, 121 v)
[Surge Petre] [Jachet] (12v, 37, 70,98, 122v)
[Ave virgo gloriosa] [Jachet] (13v, 38v, 71 v, 99, 124)
[Salve celeberrima virgo] [Lupi] (14v, 39v, 40, 72v, 73, 100, 124v)
[Te sanctum Dominum]   (15v, 41v, 42, 74v, 75, 101, 125v)
[Mass: Felix namque]   (17, 47, 77, 102, 127)
Mass: Cantate Domino   (22, 52v, 80,106, 132v)
Mass: Jhesu Christe [Ashwell sic] (84)

Elliott's numbering (1964, p. 229) treats Ave Maria as an anonymous sixth item with a subsequent displacement of the following items. However, as shown later, items 5 and 6 are one, bi-textual composition.

Table 2 shows a revised numbering, together with an improved layout for the foliation reference of each individual part, an indication of the number of voices employed and concordances where known. The text-only poem 'O Lord my God to thee I cry' is included. Subsequent numbering of items in this dissertation is taken from that in Table 2. Foliation is shown by voice number in natural descending order. (The binding of the partbooks places these as: 1 II  2 III  3 V  4 IV  5 I.)

Table 2
Inventory of Eu 64 (Revised)

No of
settings of
this text[18]in RISM
[Ave virgo gloriosa]
1540 2
[lnviolata integra et casta]
1540 2
[O florens rosa]
1540 3
[Virgo clemens]
1540 3
92v [19]
[Pater noster/
Ave Maria] [20]
1540 2
[O Maria stans sub cruce]
1540 1
[Ad nutum Domini]
1540 3
[Regina celi]
1553 7
[Benedicta es celorum Regina]
1520 4
35v [21]
[Vidi civitatem sanctam]
[van Wilder]
T 389, T 1464, Lb131390, WB MMR
[Descendi in hortum meum]
[Infelix ego]
1556 9
97 [22]
[Surge Petre]
1538 3
[Ave virgo gloriosa] [23]
[6] cf. no ???
[Salve celeberrima virgo]
39v 40r
72v 73r
[Te sanctum Dominum]
41v 42r
74v 75r
[O Lord my God, to the[e] I cry]
(text only)
[Mass: Felix namque] [24]
[Mass:] Cantate Domino
[Mass:] Jhesu Christe

Paper details – types and size

There are two types of paper excluding the parchment covers for each partbook, the flyleaves and other papers used in the binding of Eu 64. One paper, Type I, is used exclusively for the motets section, whilst the second, Type II, is used for the Masses. Census (Vol i, p. 203f.) tells us that 'one scribe copied the motets; another scribe copied the Masses, on different paper'.

Previous literature seems not to have noticed two bifolia (folios 114 & 121 and 115 & 120) of Type II which also appears in the motets section of 'V 01. 5', i.e. in voice I partbook (folio 114r has only six staves drawn as for the masses, the other have the usual seven each). If it were not for this use of a different paper within the motet section it might well be assumed that the three mass settings were a second layer to the manuscript, however this use of Type …
[Hmm, something wrong here! I'll need to go back to the printed thesis and correct this page.]

There might be a modem-day parallel to this use of different paper within the same liturgical book, since the English translation of the 1971 Liturgia Horarum, the revised Roman Breviary [25] has a central section consisting of the four-week psalter for the daily offices. This section is printed on thicker paper than that of its neighbours, as it is used more frequently than the seasonal or sanctoral sections and is designed to withstand more frequent handling. Perhaps the Masses section of Eu 64 was likely to receive more use than the motets which may have occasioned the use of a thicker, sturdier paper. Whatever the reason for this unusual use, both papers are largely similar in size, 269 x 192 mm portrait. The vellum covers are 263 x 193 mm, and the bound book measures 282 x 210 x 51 mm.

There are several folios missing from the ends of volumes 1, 4 and 5 resulting in the loss of part of the Mass Cantate Domino. Folio 26v at the end of volume 1 appears quite dirty and marked (by the end parchment cover removed from each of the first four volumes when bound together) in a similar manner to the first folio in each volume (e.g. folio 28r) indicating that the lost folios might have gone missing at an early date. Stains possibly caused by damp appear frequently (e.g. on folio 84 and surrounding folios).

Description of wire-lines, chain-lines and watermarks

Wire-lines for both sets of paper are vertical, whilst the chain-lines are horizontal. This seems unusual for an upright quarto format, at least in printed paper, since normally the chain lines would be vertical with any watermark in the gutter – at the spine of the book (Krummell, 1990, p. 520). The writer's inspection of the manuscript showed no visible watermarks in Eu 64. However, Willsher (1954, p. 807), apparently observing only one paper type and, presumably using C.M. Briquet's catalogue, writes 'from the watermark we learn that the paper is of early 16th-century Normandy make' (emphasis mine). If one of the paper types does have a watermark it would help determine an approximate date of the manuscript, whilst still leaving open the question as to when the other paper type was used. Chapter 6 treats the questions of date and authorship.


The binding is very tight – at least for the gatherings of Type I – making it difficult to ascertain the binding's structure. Type II which, as we have seen, is of a more durable nature, opens very easily, and the gathering structure is much easier to determine. Appendix 4 gives the collation of each of the volumes.


As noted, Census (vol. i, p. 203f., following Elliott, 1964, p. 228f.) indicates that there were two scribes employed in the copying process. However, the poem O Lord my God to the[e] I cry he[a]re my compla[i]nt on folios 43v-45v (see Appendix 5 for photo-reproduction of the relevant pages) seems to be in the same writing as that on folio 111r, i.e. in Fisher's handwriting. Elliott surmises that the wording 'with my hand at the pen William fische[...]' indicates that Fisher was Douglas' librarian (1964, p. 231).

C clefs are written differently in the motets and mass sections of each volume. The former has angled, almost z-shaped clefs, the latter are more rounded. Whilst this may simply be a difference between formal and informal scripts by the same person it is reasonable to assume that they are by different scribes. Indeed it is possible that different persons were employed as scribes: as text-writers, as music copiers, and in drawing the initials.

There are two instances in the manuscript where music has been written with no corresponding text: folios 3v and 43v. The first of these is one line of music immediately preceding O florens rosa. Since it is almost identical to that on the following page, at first glance it might be thought that it is from a different setting of the work which has been abandoned. Comparison with folio 29r, however, shows it to be the beginning of voice III (albeit with a ligature replaced by its two constituent notes). Folio 43v, stave I, also leaving space for an initial, is a repetition of the music from the previous verso – the beginning of part two of the anonymous Te sanctum Dominum. This suggests a number of possibilities: first, that the music was written before the text and, secondly, that there was a gap between the writing of different pieces. In the case of Te sanctum Dominum, furthermore, it is possible that Scribe I turned two pages by accident, starting writing on folio 43v instead of 42v before discovering his mistake. [26]

This might also help to explain the peculiar juxtaposition of the music of Te sanctum Dominum with the poem O Lord my God to the[e] I cry written rather crudely under staves as though to be set to music. If folio 43v had been spoilt by the incorrect writing of the music then perhaps William Fisher had (later?) used this and the following four pages to write out a favourite devotional poem. Other possibilities are that the person writing the text did not know, or perhaps understand, what the music-copier had written.

The music is certainly copied from at least one other source. Folio 75r in volume 3 has eight staves drawn. The first of these lines up with that on folio 74v but the rest are placed higher on the page than those on the previous verso showing that Scribe I knew that this part would require an additional stave. We can see from folio 15v, 3rd system, that minims, as drawn by Scribe I, are formed by two strokes. Notes on the third line and below, having ascending stems, are drawn first with a vertical line (sometimes leaning to the right as it descends) from the top of the stem, followed by a stroke from the top of the note-head, in which the quill moves down and to the right, moving in a clockwise direction to complete the shape. Frequently the stem and note-head do not meet up, and often the note-head is incomplete. Notes on the third space upwards, with descending stems, are drawn in the same manner, with more success in marrying the stem and note-head.

Whilst Scribe II usually has descending stems for notes on the fourth line upwards, there are instances (folio 28r, 1st system) in which both the fourth line and space have ascending note-stems. Minims are also drawn with two strokes. The descending stem curves to the right, whilst the note-head is a squarer shape to that of Scribe I.

Erasures and corrections

There are a number of erasures and corrections in the manuscript. One example is on folio 6r where a C4 clef with its attendant flat key signature has been erased and replaced by a C2 clef.

Initials and ink colours

The illuminated initials are all in red and usually appear at the beginning of a motet or mass 'movement'. In addition to assisting the reader to locate the start of pieces they are for decoration purposes, since the scribe has usually repeated the initial letter as part of the text, although exceptions are to be found at folios 18v and 29r. They appear to be the work of one person since there is little or no variation between them.

Glynn Jenkins (1988, p. 94) sees this as evidence that only one scribe was involved in the entire manuscript. The present writer, however, takes the view that the draftsman of the initials was not necessarily the same scribe as the one who wrote the music, or even the text. Indeed there might have been as many as six hands in the manuscript (not including library call-marks and Laing's inscriptions): motets text, motets music, mass texts, mass music, initials, scrawled poem and inscriptionby Fisher.

Table 3 below shows where space has been left for the initial at the beginning of a stave and where the stave has been overwritten.

Table 3
Comparison of the application of initials in folios of Eu 64

lines overwritten by an initial are:
2v 4r 4v 5v 6r 6v 7r 7v 8r 8v 9v 10v 11 r 11 v 12v 13r 13v 18v 19v 28v 29 29v 30r 31r 32r
32v 33r 33v(x2) 34r 35r 35v 36r 36v 37r 37v 38v 48r 49r 50r 50v 53r 54r 55r 56r 61v 62r 62v 63r 63v 64r 65v 66v(x3) 67v 68v(x2) 69v 70r 70v 71v 77v 78r 79r 80r 80v 81v 82v
83v 84r 85r 86v(x2) 88v 89r 89v(x2) 90r 91r(ii) 91v 92r 92v 93r 94(x2) 94v 95r(x2) 96r 97r 98r 98v 99r 102v 103v 104v 105r 106r 107r 112v 113v 114r 114v 115r 116r 116v
117r 117v 118r 118v 119r(x2) 119v 120r 120v 121v 122r 122v 123r 128r 128v 130r 131r 132v 133v 134v 135v 136r
lines drawn from left margin and/but no initial:
14v 15v 39r [otherwise ruled] 39v 40v 42v 43r 72v 73r 73v 74r 74v 75r 76r 100r 100v 101v 124v 125r 125r(ii)
space and initial:
1 r 5r 17r 28r 40r 41 r 41 v 42r 47r 61 r 65r 66r 77r 88r 91 r(i) 102r 112r 127r
space left, no initial
15r 16r 16v [otherwise ruled] 41r 75v 101r 124r 125v(i)
108v S[anctus] appears in left margin – perhaps as an afterthought

Scribe I is quite inconsistent in his application of space left for initials. The second opening of each volume, for example, has no initials, even though space has been left for them. In Te sanctum Dominum, six parts out of seven have one parte with a blank space left, the other parte draws the stave from the beginning of the left margin, leaving room for an undrawn initial. For both partes of the remaining voice, Tenor 2 in the attached edition, the stave is drawn from the left margin; again no initial is drawn.

A transfer of wet ink from the initials on folio 5r and subsequent rectos onto previous versos (e.g. 5r on 4v, 6r on 5v etc.) has occurred – it is not a 'bleeding through' of the ink from one side of a folio to another, as the shape of the initial can clearly be seen on the verso pages. This indicates that the bifolios had been gathered together before the initials were drawn; whether this is true or not of the writing of the music is another matter. The exception to this rule is folio 22r where there appears to be no 'blotting' on 21v, which might indicate that Cantate Domino was written into this partbook at a different time from the rest of the Masses.

Another example of the inconsistent application of initials can be seen in the opening of folios 16v (the last folio in the motets section of Vol I) and 17r (the beginning of Felix namque). Folio 16v leaves space for an initial but is blank other than 6¾ drawn systems; folio 17r, has an initial K[yrie] which has blotted onto folio 16v. This suggests either that, at least in this partbook, both motet and mass sections were bound together at the time the initials were drawn, or that they were unbound, with the folio laid on its preceding folio after the initial was drawn.

On folio 17r the beginning of the Gloria 'Et in terra pax' has no initial. Folio 18r has an initial 'P' for 'Patrem omnipotentem' even though neither this voice [II] nor [III] sing these words from the beginning of the Credo, beginning instead at 'factorem caeli et terra'. This might indicate carelessness on the part of the draftsman in not checking the text or simply being on 'automatic pilot' since he would have known without thinking that the Gloria is followed by the Credo. If the draftsman was Scribe II, then the drawing is likely to have been a different 'project' to the writing of the text and/ or the music. It is possible that this use of the initial letter of a mass 'movement' was standard practice [27].

We have already seen how the 'E' of 'Et in terra pax' at the beginning of the Cantate Domino Gloria on folio 22 does not leave a 'blot' on the previous folio, unlike the 'P[ater]', 'S[anctus]' and 'B[enedictus]'; the' A[gnus]', however, which is on a verso, has a spread of ink to its recto.

Study of the manuscript seems to have raised more questions than it has answered. Chapter Six will go further into the issues of date and authorship.


12 Questions concerning Robert Douglas and William Fischer, Dunkeld, Edinburgh and Lincluden will be addressed in Chapter 6.
13 A five-voice motet by Gombert entitled 'O felix Anna' can be found in CMM, vi, vol. 8.
14 Ashewell's Mass Jhesu Christe is another example of a source which has not been used in providing a reliable reading.
Appendix II to the EECM edition (Bergsagel, 1976, 207f) of this work is a discussion of the Forrest-Heyther partbooks notation of the tenor part of the mass, and this is followed by a transcription of the Eu 64 part which realises the ligatures. Eu 64 may only have recorded the tenor part, since although there are folios missing from the end of three of the partbooks, there is one (volume 2) which has the complete Cantate Domino Mass and no sign of an Ashewell part. Unless this were written on a fresh folio which is now missing there would have been at least one partbook without the Ashewell Mass, in which case it is likely, or at least possible, that only the tenor part was written in. The question remains as to why the tenor part is there at all, especially since it differs so much from the Forrest-Heyther manuscript that Bergsagel did not even try to incorporate this reading into his edition for EECM.
15 Harry M. Willsher (1954, p. 807) refers to the non-Mass items as Marian anthems and hymns.
16 Willsher (1954, p. 807) writes of Marian hymns and anthems, but does not mention the obviously Petrine Surge Petre.
17 As shown later, the voice parts for the six-part works should perhaps be labelled C, Q, A, T, B, 6. The CMM edition of Lupi's works indicates that the missing voice in the eight-part motet Salve celeberrima virgo is voice VII; voice VIII is in 'Vol. 4.' Te Sanctum dominum, on the other hand appears to be missing voice VIII – see the editorial policy.
18 cf. Lincoln (1993) various pages. Although this is a very useful resource it should be noted that it does not include collections by single composers, neither is it entirely free of selectivity.
19 In vol IV item 4 is copied after items 5 to 7
20 The folio numbers in italics indicate the Marian words in this bi-textual work.
21 In vol II item 9 is copied before items 10 and 11
22 This part sets the words 'Miserere mei Domine' only.
23 'Ave virgo gratiosa' in CMM iii, 4
24 Vol. 3 has the inscription 'Felix Anna' at the beginning of the Sanctus.
25 (London and Glasgow, 1974)
26 The two lines of music on folios 3v and 43v have different endings to those of which they are duplicates.
27 cf. amongst other works, Missa Christi Resurgentis by Biber, 3rd Trombone part, folios 46v-47r in Clements, James, Heinrich Biber's Missa Christi Resurgentis: A Historical-Critical Edition, unpublished MMus dissertation (Royal Holloway, University of London, 1998).

Some remaining research questions

Mass Jesu Christe

Why is the tenor (and only that part) written out in Eu64?
Why is it so different to that in the Forrest-Heyther manuscript that Bergasel dismissed this reading?
Is this reading from a different stemma to that in Forrest-Heyther?
How did it come to be in Eu64? Was Ashewell in Scotland with Margaret Tudor (for her marriage to James IV in 1513?)


What reasons did the 1695 University catalogue have for describing it as “Church Musick at Dunkell”?
How did the five extant partbooks get there?

Ave virgo gloriosa

Why is Jachet's setting “gratiosa” in CMM?
What's the difference in text between “Ave virgo gloriosa” and “Ave virgo gratiosa”?

Surge Petre

Text is composite: a conflation of several scriptural texts (Acts, Matt 16 etc.)
Do they appear in any other compositions with this name? Any chant?
If not, who compiled the text?

To be added to this page: texts for all the works (incl. “O Lord my God to thee I cry”)


Contact Alistair Warwick at:
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