Red Book of Montserrat

Song list

O Virgo Splendens PDF
Laudemus Virginem PDF
Splendens Ceptigera PDF
Polorum Regina PDF
Mariam Matrem PDF
Stella Splendens PDF
Los Set Goyts PDF
Ad Mortem Festinamus PDF
Cuncti Simus Soncanentes PDF
Inperayntz de la Ciutat Joyosa/
Verges Ses Par

Download zipped archive of Noteworthy files

Download zipped archive of PDF files

About the event

On the Monday of Rowany Festival, while the Fighter Auction Tourney is happening, there will be a session of group singing going on in the Tavern. The aim of this session is to allow singers of diverse backgrounds, experience and ability to come together to sing in a relaxed, pressure-free environment. It isn't a concert or a formal performance, but a simple opportunity for folk to share the joy of singing and to extend the general, shared repetoir of singers in Lochac.

You don't need to be a fabulous singer, and you don't need to read music. If you can hold a tune, you are welcome to join us. Please try to familiarise yourself with the music before the event as we won't be teaching it on the day.

This music was chosen specifically because it was writen to be sung by ordinary people, not professional singers or musicians. Most of the pieces are one or two part pieces, and are generally simple and easy to learn.

For the benefit of those who do not read music, or do not read it well, the pieces have been transcribed into noteworthy so you can hear the music and sing along. One part pieces have been transcribed in a higher and a lower octave, so you can practice with the more comfortable pitch. Two part pieces have the parts transcribed seperately as well, so you can learn your own part seperately.

PDFs of the music have 'best fit' layouts for printing; it is suggested you print your music from this. There will be some printed copies available at Festival, but if possible, please print and bring your own copy.

About the Music

This collection of music is generally refered to as the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, or in English, the Red Book of Montserrat. The music is all medieval, although the title is not. Montserrat, in Catalonia (north-eastern Spain and part of southern France), is the site of a monastery which contains the famous shrine of the Black Madonna (so called because the wood used to carve the image of the Virgin Mary, sometime in the 12th Century, is black). In the Middle Ages this was, with Santa de Compostella, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain.

Montserrat became a centre for learning, as well as pilgrimage, and the large number of pilgrims coming from all over Southern and Western Europe began to cause some problems with the monks of Montserrat. One of the biggest issues was the pilgrims habbit of singing and dancing in the church and the area around the shrine. The monks recognised that this was an expression of the joy the pilgrims felt at achieving their goal, but the songs that were known in common to these large numbers of people who came from widespread locations tended to be secular and in some cases rather inappropriate for a sacred place.

Rather than try to prohibit the pilgrims desire to sing and dance with joy and exultation, the monks instead gathered a collection of music with suitable words for the pilgrims to sing. Most of the music is in the popular, secular style of the 14th Century, and it is likely that these were originally well known secular pieces that were assigned more suitable, religious lyrics.

Three of the songs (Polorum Regina, Stella Splendens, Los Set Goyts) are specifically described as dances to be 'done in the round' (and so can be compared to the caroles of England and France); three more (O Virgo Splendens, Laudemus Virginem, Splendens Ceptigera) are canons (rounds) for two or three parts; one song is actually two different songs that can be sung together (Inperayntz de la Ciutat Joyosa / Verges Ses Par). Most of the songs are in latin, but Inperayntz de la Ciutat Joyosa / Verges Ses Par and Los Set Goyts are in Catalan.

There are only ten pieces surviving, although there were at least 14 originally in the collection. During the Napoleonic War, most of the precious manuscripts at Montserrat were destroyed. This collection survived in part, and in the 19th century was given a red velvet cover, which has given the name to the collection.

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