Authorship and Creative Copying in Braga, Arquivo Distrital, MS 964

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Braga, Arquivo Distrital, MS 964 has long been recognised as an important source of seventeenth-century Portuguese and Spanish organ music. Scholars have naturally given priority to its rich and voluminous repertoire of liturgical and non-liturgical keyboard pieces in contrapuntal genres, almost all of which has been edited in the Portugaliæ Musica series (vol. XI, ed. Klaus Speer; vol. XXV, ed. Gerhard Doderer), though other types of music are represented (a set of elaborately ornamented responsories and lamentations for solo voice and continuo as well as miscellaneous dances and airs for keyboard await a published study). Additionally a number of questions remain about the volume as a whole, especially its dating and the related questions of why it was put together and by whom.

The Braga volume is not just one manuscript but consists of a large number of fascicles of different paper types that were assembled post-copying in the eighteenth century. It has been proposed that it consists of miscellaneous manuscripts dating from between about 1610 and 1720, which were bound in the mid-eighteenth century. However, I argue, on the basis of the watermarks and the characteristics of the handwriting, that much of it was copied by a single scribe who was working between about 1695 and 1715 and is also likely to have been responsible for assembling the various manuscripts. The identity of this copyist remains uncertain, but a close examination of his copying habits shows that his role included correcting or annotating the work of the others, perhaps in a capacity as a teacher. Several of the pieces he copied also include a significant quantity of on-the-page correction, which suggest he was a composer, or was at least modifying creatively the music he was copying.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event3rd International Conference on Historical Keyboard Music: Authorship in Keyboard Music - Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 7 Jun 20189 Mar 2019


Conference3rd International Conference on Historical Keyboard Music
Internet address


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