Umbria: Stroncone—Choral Books


IMG_1390Stroncone was founded in the 10th century. On this field trip, we visit the town’s municipal building which houses choral books from the 14th century.

la romita pics - 119A choral book or choir book is a large format manuscript used by a musical ensemble of singers in churches or cathedrals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

IMG_1397The music is large enough so that the entire ensemble can read from the one book. Choral books were generally placed on a stand with the shorter boy sopranos standing in front and the men behind.

IMG_1419A choral book was a major investment. Many of them were utilitarian, and existing books show signs of extensive use.

IMG_1402Because of the translucency of vellum skin, you can see music, written on the verso,  showing through faintly, adding an ethereal quality.

la romita pics - 120


IMG_1395At larger cathedrals, choral books were lavishly decorated and illuminated.

IMG_1424Illuminated choral books were expensive to produce, so they were usually owned by families or institutions rather than individuals.

IMG_1423Once the printing of music became more commonplace, choral books were replaced by smaller, more economical books.

la romita pics - 112Throughout Umbria, lettering appears everywhere.

IMG_1522Even on the worn doorstep of a pharmacy in Assisi, the next town on the itinerary.



Coming up in the series:

Umbria: Assisi—Basilica of Saint Francis

Umbria: Deruta—Maiolica

Umbria: Bevagna—Papermaker

Umbria: Cascata delle Marmore—Manmade Waterfall

Umbria: Farewell—Ink, Paint, Paper, Passion