DIAMM

Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music

The Dow Partbooks

A full-colour facsimile edition of Christ Church Oxford Library, MSS 984-988

DIAMM has published The Dow Partbooks in partnership with the Viola da Gamba Society (UK).

There are 5 partbooks (Discantus-ii + i + 93 folios, Medius-ii + 93 + i, Altus and Tenor-ii + 95 + i folios each, Bassus-ii + 89 + i), each original measuring 142 x 194 cm. They are presented published in full colour on matt art paper in open-flat soft covers, with an introductory volume by John Milsom with comprehensive indexes and finding lists, all included in a hard slipcase.

Robert Dow’s partbooks, copied in Oxford around 1580, rank among the most beautiful of all Tudor music manuscripts, and are also an important and authoritative source for the works they contain. Conceived with both singers and instrumentalists in mind, they contain a varied repertory suitable for voices and viols, including Latin-texted motets, English-texted anthems and consort songs, and a selection of In nomines and textless chansons, scored mainly for five-voice texture. Featured composers include William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Robert White, Robert Parsons, Philip van Wilder and Alfonso Ferrabosco Sr. Dow was a trained calligrapher, and his exquisite penmanship, executed in black ink on printed red staves, is unusually accurate and easy to read.

Pages: 5 partbooks (Discantus 192 pp, Medius 192 pp, Altus 196 pp, Tenor 196 pp, Bassus 184 pp) and 1 vol introduction, full text 96pp, each facsimile volume measuring 170 x 240 mm (landscape format)

Images from and detailed source descritions of each partbook are available on the DIAMM website. While the descriptions are always available, you must be logged in to DIAMM in order to see the images. Please sign up for your free DIAMM account here or log in here. Once you have logged in, please come back to this page and use the links below to be taken direct to each partbook’s page.

Discantus ¦ Medius ¦ Altus ¦ Tenor ¦ Bassus

A contents list for the partbooks can be found here (PDF document)

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