i - Letters

Used with inclination to describe the angle and direction of the slant of the hand when it is not vertically upright.
A stroke, usually horizontal, which extends outwards from part of a letter such as F, E or L.
The part of a letter that extends above the height of an x, as in b, d, f etc.
A line drawn between two parts of a letter (such as A) or across a curve (such as e), which joins the two parts. Distinct from arm.
This occurs when two adjacent contrary curved strokes coalesce,for instance when b is closely followed by e, or the ascender and descender of two letters placed above one another coincide in the same way.
Either the entire letter as in a, c, e, i etc, or that part of a letter which does not include an ascender or a descender.
Broken stroke:
A stroke made in more than one movement, the direction of the pen being changed sharply without its being lifted from the page. eg: h or r.
Omission of medial letters or elements from a word, usually indicated by a line drawn above the point of omission. (See TITLE)
A short stroke through the middle of a letter such as the italic f.
The speed at which the hand is written.
Used to describe a non-formal and usually quickly written hand.A current hand would be used, for instance, to take notes for the contents of a document, and a formal hand would then be used to make a good copy. Most scribes would make use of two quite different hands which would serve for these two purposes or to highlight levels of importance in the text. See Italic and Secretary below.
ex. 1:
c1550, written by Thomas More, 'Treatise on the Passion'.
The single scribe uses the humanist italic for the Latin text, translates in a formalized bastard secretary engrossing hand,and employs pure secretary for the commentary.
The part of a letter that extends below the depth of an x, such as g, j, p etc.
When the pen-stroke moves from a higher point to a lower on the page.
The distinctive manner in which pen-strokes are traced upon the writing surface: it represents the combination of such factors as the angle at which the pen was held in relation to the way in which it was cut, the degree of pressure applied to it, and the speed and direction in which it was moved.
A common contraction of the letters '-es' or '-is' at the end of a word, and appearing as a large letter 'e' with an extended lower curve.
A carefully-written hand taken from any script. It may be intended as a highlighted title script, partly for decorative purposes, or to ensure the legibility of the text.
The smallest component of any letter or flag, any single pen-stroke.
The angle at which the quill is held by the scribe.
What the scribe actually puts down on the page.
The cross at the top of a letter such as T.
The part of a letter such as h which is added to the ascender.
The part of the letter (e.g. b) that is formed with a curved stroke to the right of the STEM.
Minim stroke:
The shortest and simplest stroke, and that used to form the letters i, m, n, and u.
The ideal formation of letters, set out by contemporary handwriting manuals and tutors. (e.g. J. Baildon and J. de Beauchesne: A Booke Containing Divers Sortes of Hands (1571)).
The part of the quill which is shaped by hand to produce a writing implement. The wide end of the quill is cut to a point, the tip of the point is squared off, a channel is cut up a little way into the quill and a small hole is made at the top of the channel to act as an ink reservoir. Modern nibs still use this principle.
Otiose stroke:
A superfluous stroke, one which does not form part of a letter, and which does not indicate an abbreviation. (Distinct from SERIF which is part of the letter, added to give it a neater or more formal finish.)
A sign employed by a scribe in place of a signature.
Width of the whole letter.
The writer of the text under consideration.
The model which the scribe has in his mind's eye when he writes - Usually SECRETARY, ITALIC or COURT. (See below for explanation of these terms.)
A decorative element or finishing stroke on a letters, comprising in its simplest form a short, thin horizontal stroke at the end of a vertical or slanting part of the letter. They were of considerable importance in some writing styles, and were produced by a lateral movement of the pen, which helped to square off the ends of letters.They are not strictly essential to the letters, but give a more finished or formal appearance, and may occasionally aid in differentiating between two letters which would otherwise look very similar in certain hands. Serifs are frequently used when the writing edge of the pen becomes frayed, necessitating more attention to the finish of the strokes: they are also used by printers.
A term applied to a hand or script which has contrasting thick and thin strokes. It results either from a change of direction in the path of a broad-nibbed writing instrument or from a-change in pressure on a flexible writing instrument. Scripts with shading can usually be characterized by the angle of their thinnest stroke with respect to the horizontal writing line. This angle is not the same as ANGULATION, which is defined above.
The main vertical part of a letter such as t or f.
An effect made by putting pressure on the pen while writing, which causes the channel to open out, thus temporarily widening the squared writing end of the nib.
The part of a letter such as b which rises above the general level of the other letters, and is also known as the ASCENDER.
A single trace made by the pen on the page; if the stroke has no sudden change of direction, it is made in a single movement. Thus, f has two strokes, but r has one broken stroke.
The y-shaped letter having no modern equivalent, which was used to represent the 'th' sound, eg: in ye [the], yt or yat [that], yis[this].
A short line (straight, wavy or looped) made over a letter or letters to indicate omission of an m or n following the marked letter. Usually occurs at word-ends.
When the stroke moves from a lower point to a higher on the page. Less usual than DOWNSTROKE.
The amount of pressure applied by the scribe when writing.
A 'g-' or '3'-shaped letter, the nearest modern equivalent of which is the '-gh' sound in words like 'through', though (arguably) pronounced more in the style of the '-ch' in (Scottish) 'loch'.

ii - Scripts

For additional descriptions of scripts, see Chapter 4 (Lute Scribes and Handwriting). The following samples of current hands, tablature and common alphabets illustrate the types of hands, and most of the variations between them.

The commonest Elizabethan current hand.

Other styles of writing were in use side by side with the secretary for some purposes, but before about 1650 these were exceptional, .... It was well established by 1525. By 1650 it was well on its way toward extinction,and by 1700 it had vanished - not without trace, but as a distinct hand.[8]

The Secretary hand has far more scope for idiosyncrasies than the other scripts, though it can be highly formalized in the uniformity of the letter shapes. Its extinction as a distinct hand was due to contamination from more fluid and less complex hands such as italic. Early forms of the secretary use the Gothic form of e - the form which is recognized as the correct one for a pure secretary. (i.e.: two strokes, both curving in the same direction.) By c1600, most secretary hands made use of the italic 'e'.

ex. 2:Current secretary in text (c1560) and tablature, Wickhambrook, c1595

Predominantly oval shaped letters. One of the characteristics of the hand is the distinctive shading caused by using a wide nib: the hand frequently develops a slant to the right, and the rounded arches of minim shapes such as m, n, and the limb of h have a tendency to become pointed, the up stroke being a diagonal connecting stroke. Its simplicity and the resulting speed of writing make it usual for all the letters to be formed with the absence of pen-lifts, and the result is always elegant. It was the most important of the hands that existed side by side with the Secretary,and although it gained increasing popularity after 1550, it did not replace secretary until the early seventeenth century.

Secretary and Italic hands were often used side by side by scribes to offset certain elements, and many scribes in lute manuscripts appear to have been equally skilled in both scripts. There is less scope in the Italic hand than in the Secretary for developing a personal style, which seems to have been a desirable trait when developing one's handwriting.

ex. 3:
Italic hand in text (GB-Ob Ms.Add.C.165, fifth book of Hooker's Lawes, c1650)

and tablature, Willoughby c1560-85

ex. 4:
Bastard Italic script in text (early seventeenth century) and tablature, Trumbull c1595

Court hands were usually cursive, having grown out of a need for speed in the business of court and government. The Chancery, Common Pleas,Exchequer and Pipe Office hands grew from this root, developed by the named offices,and required to be learned by their clerks. Flowing, joined and often inclined to the right.The emphasis is on an easy currency to the script.

ex. 5:Court or cursive hand in text (Andrew Marvell, 1660) and tablature, Thistlethwaite c1575

Square and ornate book hand resembling the script which developed from handwriting used about 1200 for writing commentaries in the margins of texts. Characterized by distinct and strong shading, numerous small otiose strokes on the corners of the lobes of letters such as a, b, h, etc, and by the angular basic shape of lobe and minim. It often appears to have been squashed from above. Texts written in this style of hand are often highly compressed, closely spaced and full of abbreviations, giving little scope for personal style.

ex. 6:
Gothic book hand in text (Ob Ms.Rawlinson Poetry 32, c1470) and tablature, Euing c1610

and Willoughby c1560-85.

The similarities in Gothic hands bear witness to this effect. In lute tablature, where spacing between letters is much greater than when the script is used in a text, the scope for ornamentation and personal style is greatly increased, though the hands remain basically similar. The hands under discussion in this study are not true forms of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century book-hands, but the term is a useful one in connection with a form which has many of their characteristics. Gothic scripts always use the old secretary form of the letter 'e'.

Round hand:
This is not a model script, but rather a form of the Italic or Secretary base and referred to as 'round' for its solid and uniform shape, with small letters for the width of the nib and medium to heavy weight predominating, having none of the elegance or functions of a formal court hand.

ex. 7:
Round hand in tablature, Dd.9.33 c1605

A pair of folios which are joined together through the fold at the spine of a book. In most books, these leaves are adjacent only at the center of a gathering.
Blind stamping:
The impression of a binding stamp or ROLL on a leather binding, without the use of colour or gold leaf. It is more common than gold-leaf stamping on many musical volumes, where the bindings were utilitarian rather than decorative.
Generally a loose term for a block, usually of wood, into which any unique design has been cut, such as pages of printed music. The impression of the block on the paper is usually visible from the compression of the fibers under it, but not around it. Binding block stamps are usually made from brass, and some center panels are of single blocks. The term is also applied to the written area of a manuscript page that would correspond to the printed block.
Part of the impress of the mould used in making paper,formed by the chain-wires that keep the laid-wires in place. They run parallel to the short side of a sheet of paper and are more widely spaced than the laid-lines.
A description of the structure of a book or manuscript as it is prepared for binding. It is a formulaic or diagrammatic presentation of the number of leaves in each gathering, and provides (with the book's format)a first step towards determining many details of the completeness of the volume and, where applicable,of how the printer worked with the music he was to print in it. Printed gatherings are usually also marked with a SIGNATURE.
A secondary watermark in the half-sheet of paper opposite to that containing the main mark, either in the center or in the lower outer corner. It often includes the name or device of the paper maker, or a date, and is usually smaller and less complex than the main mark.
A term used to describe pages so heavily trimmed (usually by the binder) that some of their content is missing. A common result of cropping is the loss of a scribal or printed ascription for the piece of music on the page.
The ornamental lining of the inside of a book cover, usually of leather. Occasionally earlier covers are used as doublures when the original binding is replaced.
The extra sheets of paper used at the front and back of a volume to attach the book to its binding: each is a bifolium, with one folio pasted to the binding board itself (the paste-down) and the other standing free.Usually the end-papers are of a different paper from the printed pages of the book. The term is also used to refer to a FLYLEAF.
A unit of content of a volume, which may (but need not)coincide with a structural unit. The term appears particularly in the discussion of manuscripts which show evidence of layers of scribal activity.
A wheel with a line on the circumference used as a binders decorative tool.
A symmetrical 'leaf-type' design of binders stamp that is usually placed alone at the corners of borders. Some shapes of stamps are designed to be interlaced to produce repeating patterns, but fleurons are self-contained.
A blank folio at the front or back of a book which is not part of the printed volume. Many bound books have flyleaves within the fold of the end-papers, which help to attach the book to its binding.
Sequential numbering which applies to the leaves of a volume rather than the pages. In manuscript sources, foliation usually commences after the flyleaves and end-papers.
Folio: (i)
A single leaf of a book, front and back (recto and verso)together, thus comprising two pages.
Folio: (ii)
A term used to describe the approximate size of a volume,tending to refer to a page size larger than about 250 x 200 mm.
A description of the traditional relationship between an individual LEAF of a volume and the original SHEET of paper, which in almost all cases consists of more than one leaf. The most widely used terms for format are 'folio', 'quarto' and 'octavo'; each describes the number of leaves made by folding a single sheet. Some of these can exist in both 'upright' format (with the vertical axis longer than the horizontal) and 'oblong' format (in the opposite orientation). See table 1.


From Krummel/Sadie 1990,511

The completed block of type that is locked into place and used to print all the pages on one side of a sheet of paper.
The discolouration of paper leaves through damage by fungus or paper mildew, so called because it consists of gingery or reddish-brown patches. It may be the result of the paper's having been stored in a damp place; in books from many periods it is caused by the fungus growing in the felts used for making the paper.
Blocks of wood or printing type used to make an incomplete page of type up to the full size of the printing block so that the finished page is firmly anchored in the printer's FORME. If a piece of music in a music book does not occupy the whole of a page, what would otherwise appear as white space on the page may be filled with furniture of blank staves. In some cases this type of furniture has been used by a later owner of the book for adding short manuscript pieces. (See Genoa p.vii)
The prime structural element of a book, consisting of a group of BIFOLIA which have been folded together to allow them to be sewn or stapled as a unit into the binding. There are usually practical upper limits to the size of a gathering. If a book is in quarto format a gathering will normally contain four folios; it will contain eight if two sheets have been folded, one inside the other. The size of the gatherings in a larger volume, and the points at which they begin and end, need have nothing to do with the musical content of the book, and in the case of manuscript books, this often indicates that it was written after binding.
The blank area of an opening nearest to the spine, made up of the inner margins of two facing pages. In manuscript sources that were bound after copying, some of the musical or literary content may become lost or unreadable in the gutter.
Part of the impress of the mould used in making paper, formed by the laid-wires. They are close together, usually fainter than CHAIN-LINES, and run parallel to the long side of a sheet of paper.
Landscape format:
The more standard term for what music bibliographers usually refer to as oblong format.
A single piece of paper in a book, consisting of two pages, front and back. The term FOLIO is often used in the same sense; the only reason for preferring 'leaf' is to avoid confusion with other meanings of 'folio'.
Manuscript paper:
Paper on which staves have been ruled or printed for writing music. It has been printed at least from the middle of the sixteenth century. The earliest examples appear to be German in origin. In England the distribution of manuscript paper was included in the restrictive privilege awarded to Byrd and Tallis in 1575.
Oblong [landscape] format:
A format in which the first fold of the sheet is made parallel with the long side; this usually, though not always, produces pages in which the long axis is horizontal as opposed to the more normal vertical. The term does not necessarily apply to the dimensions of the page. The distinguishing features are the position of the watermark and the direction of the CHAIN-LINES. In upright quarto format the watermark is in the GUTTER and the chain-lines are horizontal; in oblong quarto the mark is split between two adjacent folios, in the center of the top edge, and the chain-lines are vertical.
The practice of numbering each page of a volume rather than each folio. It rarely appears in musical volumes before the sixteenth century; foliation persists in manuscript sources longer than in printed books.
A chisel-like instrument with a line set on a curved rocker used as a binders decorative tool.
A large decorative ornamental shape stamped usually in the center of a binding that may be composed of one or more BLOCKS.
The most common surface for printing music. All paper prior to c1880 is hand-made. Hand-made paper was produced by dipping a sieve-like mould into a vat of pulp and then turning out the wet sheets of pulp so formed, separated by layers of felt, on to a pile. The sheets show a pattern impressed by the wires in the mould, usually as heavier CHAIN-LINES and lighter LAID-LINES, together with any watermark that may be present. The rough edges of the paper produced by this process are usually trimmed away when bound or collected in GATHERINGS. Paper intended for printing is usually of a lower quality than that intended for manuscript.
The leaf of paper pasted to the inside of the binding board of a book, usually half a bifolium, the other half of which is sewn with the book itself.
A piece of paper carrying a corrected reading, pasted over the incorrect notes or words. More commonly found in printed sources than in manuscript.
Quarto: (i)
A term used to describe the format of a book in which each sheet of paper is folded twice after printing, to produce eight pages half the size of those in Folio format, or four folios.
Quarto: (ii)
A term loosely used to indicate the approximate size of a printed book, that is about 250 x 200 mm. Rastrum (Latin: 'rake'):
A multi-nibbed pen, or scorer, used to draw all the lines of a staff at once. Used for music MSS at least since the fifteenth century, rastra appear to have been made with four, five and six nibs (or tines), and even with ten or up to 30 in groups for drawing pairs or groups of staves. Whether they were made from metal or quills is not known, and certainly if they were an assemblage of quills their life would have been very limited.
The first side of a folio and the right-hand page of a book when open. If a book is foliated, the numbers usually appear on the recto.
A wheel with an elaborate design on the circumference used as a binder's decorative tool.
The name given to the whole piece of paper, as it comes from the paper mill and as it is run through a printing press, before being folded for binding.The sheet size and its relation to the format of a volume gives rise to the various descriptive names.
A letter appearing on the first page of each GATHERING of a book and on subsequent pages with the addition of a numeral,indicating the position of the gathering in the book, and that of the page within the gathering, acting as aids to the binder.
the traditional processes of binding require that each folio be attached to another, through the spine, so that the stitching may grip on the paper. A single folio, if it is to be bound, must have a part of the leaf (the stub) on the other side of the spine to prevent it from slipping from the binding. Occasionally it is glued to an adjacent folio. A stub may also be the remains of a folio that has been removed from a previously bound book.
Upright [portrait] format:
any format in which the vertical axis is longer than the horizontal.
The second side of a folio or the left-hand page of a book when open. Reverse of the RECTO.
The trace left in paper by the wires in the mould; these produce a visible thinning in the paper which is visible when held up to the light.The four elements of watermarking are the LAID-LINES and CHAIN-LINES, both traces of the basic structure of the mould, and the COUNTERMARK and watermark. The term is usually used to refer specifically to the last of these. The watermark is produced by a wire device mounted on the chain-wires of the mould. It is usually in the middle of one half of a complete sheet; the original reason for this seems to have been that it would then be in the middle of a leaf when the paper is folded once, to make folio format. If there is a countermark,it would appear either in the middle of the other half of the sheet, or in its lower outer corner. Although many designs were in use for some years, individual devices probably did not last long as they were quite fragile, and could easily become distorted. Many designs were intended to be statements, not about their manufacturer,but about the quality and size of the paper. Together with a countermark bearing the manufacturers name or device, they ensured that both quality and source of paper were apparent to the stationer.

C - MUSICAL (Specific to the Lute Repertory)

The horizontal or diagonal stroke(s) attached to the STEM or crossing one or more stems, which indicate the division of the beat and the value of the note.
The shape formed by the beam of a single FLAG when it curves back toward the stem. See example 9below.
Continuous flagging:
(See FLAG)
One stem is given for each note in the tablature. More usually associated with mensura germanica, but occasionally found in mensura gallica. Usually the germanica system BEAMS multiple notes of the same duration together in groups within bars, but some earlier manuscripts, such as RA58, do not join notes into groups, leaving them as single flags over each note.

ex. 8:
Continuous flagging, mensura germanica, Sampson

Course: (i)
String or double string on a lute, usually made from gut.Double strings are tuned in unisons or octaves depending on whether they are bass courses or not. Even octave-tuned courses are transcribed as unisons.
Course: (ii)
Sometimes taken to mean the line in the tablature system representing the corresponding course on the lute
A decorated version of a simple, usually chordal, piece of music. This usually involves rapid running-notes over the same harmonic ground. Divisions are usually found in repeated STRAINS of dance music; where they are not written out it would be expected that the player would improvise them. Several treatises are devoted to the art of improvising divisions, both vocally and instrumentally.
Added BEAM on single Flags which halves the duration. Used when describing scribes who join beams together when drawn on one stem and with one pen-stroke.

ex. 9:
Flags showing beam extensions and bulbs, 31392

The sign placed above a letter indicating the duration of the note or notes below it.
Hold sign:
Lines drawn nearly horizontally across the stave below the 'melody' line, though occasionally they are found above it, indicating that one of the notes in a chord is to be held in a situation where it is clear that others are not. Although hold signs are not often carefully placed, it is usually obvious from the context to which note(s) it is intended to be applied.
The re-working of a piece of music not originally written for the lute, and its recording in tablature form. The term is used to describe both the process of arrangement, and its final appearance.
Mensura gallica:
Rhythm indication which makes use of mensural notes - note-head, stem and beam - to indicate the duration of the notes above which they have been placed. Named in Fuhrmann 1615.
ex. 10:Table showing mensura gallica and mensura germanica from Fuhrmann1615.

ex. 11:
mensura gallica, ML c1620

Mensura germanica:
The rhythmic system that uses flags rather than mensural note values. Named in Fuhrmann 1615.

ex. 12:
mensura germanica, Sampson c1610

Renaissance-G tuning:
Rhythm-change flagging:
The rhythm is only indicated when it changes from one note value to another: thus one germanica or gallica FLAG suffices for all the notes following in the tablature until a new flag is introduced. This is the predominant system in use with mensura gallica, and is sometimes found in mensura germanica.

ex. 13 :Rhythm-change flagging, mensura germanica, Willoughby

The vertical down-stroke of the flag or note.
In order to change the pitch of a COURSE on the lute, the string is held against the fingerboard behind a fret,thus preventing it from vibrating for its full length, and raising the resulting pitch. The course is therefore 'stopped' on that fret.
A section of music, usually dance music. Most English dances fall into three equal strains of four, eight or 16 bars, which are repeated in an ornamented form (see DIVISIONS) before moving on to the next strain.
The system of six, sometimes seven, parallel lines used to write out music for the lute. Each line represents a COURSE of the lute. The position of the fingers on the instrument is indicated rather than the notes that will sound when the course is struck. Extra courses are indicated using oblique strokes followed by the letter representing the note to be played. German tablatures dispense with the system of lines, and use only the letters or numbers indicating which frets the player should employ. Examples of French, Italian and German tablatures may be found below, pp.14-19.
Vieil ton:
Also known as 'Renaissance-G tuning'. The pattern of notional pitches designated for each COURSE of the lute or, more accurately, the intervals between them, that comprise the tuning most frequently in use during the period 1540-1630. Where pitch is given in relation to another instrument, it appears that the lute was most often conceived as being in 'G' (i.e. the treble and 6th courses were at the pitch of g' and G respectively), though where it appears with the voice the pitch is less often fixed, and just as frequently appears to be in 'A'.

The Lute Page Julia Craig-McFeely's Thesis Glossary