Changes in Old Hispanic Notation in the Tenth and Eleventh Century

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The Leon Antiphoner, The "Book of Hours of Ferdinand I" and the "Breviary of the Queen Sancha" are three Old Hispanic musical manuscripts that represent an ideal testbed for musical palaeographical analysis. The three manuscripts are securely dated, being the león Antiphoner written at the beginning of the tenth century and the other two manuscripts dated respectively to 1055 and 1059. The dating of Leon 8 is a recent discovery based on the decoding of two cryptographic inscriptions and the reattribution of a royal monogram to King Sancho I. The three manuscripts have in common: I) the Old Hispanic liturgy; 2) the style of musical notation - the so calle "vertical" neumes; 3) melodies; 4) a connection with the Leon-Astur royal family. In this proposal I discuss the palaeographical differences in the notation of these manuscripts and the changes that occurred in the Old Hispanic vertical notation in a chronological gap of c. 150 years, that is, form the beginning of the tenth century to the middle of the eleventh century - a few years before the abandonment of Old Hispanic liturgy and notation due to the imposition of Gregorian liturgy in Iberian peninsula (in 1080).The study of the notation of Old Hispanic manuscripts has not attracted much scholar attention because of its complexity and because of the lack of later pitched versions that could give a clue toward and understanding of the musical meaning of the Old Hispanic neumes. The few attempts of systematic paleographical analysis were made by Herminio Gonzalez-Barrionuevo who focus just on few manuscripts produced after 1080, containig Gregorian chants but writtens with Old Hispanic neumes. The research I propose has an innovative methodological approach because it focuses on the examination of the Old Hispanic neumes in terms of their own mode of functioning, that is, when they were used to represent Old Hispanic melodies. Furthermore, this overview on the development of Old Hispanic notation is now possible because of my recent secure dating of the León Antiphoner to 900-905, while previous hypothesis ranged from the first third of the tenth century through the eleventh.

Presentation in the ‘Cantus Planus’ Study Session
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
EventInternational Musicological Society 20th Quinquennial Congress - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 19 Mar 201723 Mar 2017


ConferenceInternational Musicological Society 20th Quinquennial Congress


  • Old Hispanic musical manuscripts
  • «Leon Antiphoner»
  • «Book of Hours of Ferdinand I»
  • «Breviary of the Queen Sancha»
  • Paleographical analysis
  • Liturgy
  • Musical notation
  • Melodies
  • 10th-11th centuries


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