Musical Transcription and Bookbinding Based on 16th Century Music Book

I transcribed ten pieces of instrument specific 16th century French lute tablature from Adrian le Roy’s book Tiers Livre de Tablature de Guiterre into modern musical notation. All ten modern versions were then converted into commonly used 16th century music notation without compromising the original sound, arrangement, or style. In addition, the final 16th century musical transcriptions are printed, arranged and bound into a book crafted using materials and processes appropriate to the original artifact.

In order to accomplish the transcription, I went through every note, chord, and rhythm marker in each of the original pieces and converted them, note by note, into modern notation. This process does not readily lend itself to photographic documentation as it is very much a mental exercise which is then verified visually against the original, and aurally on an instrument such as the guitar.

Please see the paper Musical Transcription and Bookbinding Based on 16th Century Music Book for complete project documentation and references. The images and commentary below show the details of the finished project.

Title page from the original 1552 book.

An example of the music in le Roy’s 1552 book. This is Prelude, the first piece in the book.  It shows the written 16th century lute notation.

Image Page from the replica book.  This image is actually on the main title page in le Roy’s book but I extracted it to a separate page so as to have enough room on the title pages for additional lines.

This is the title page from the replica book with the title in the same style as le Roy’s 1552 book.  I have the title page in the original French and then I translated it into English.

This is the Preface in the replica book.  Note, there is no actual preface in the 1552 book.  There is, however, a statement of royal privilege for printing.  I decided to replace it with a preface in order to make it more personalized.


Autre Prelude

Un Advocat

La la la ie ne

Jean de Lagny

Pour un plaisir que si peu dure

Il estoit une fillette basse-dance

Demi basse-dance


Tourdion plus diminue and Table of Contents

Marking and cutting the paper.  The paper used for the book is Arhem 1618 printmaking paper, in 70lb weight 100% cotton rag.  This paper comes from Schut Papier, originally named De Veentjes paper mill, in Heelsum, Netherlands. De Veentjes paper mill was founded in 1618. Arnhem is the longest running line of paper, dating back to the mill opening, thus it would be very close to the actual paper used in the production of the original book.

Folding and creasing the pages

Cutting the back boards for the book.  I used 7pt Davey bookbinding boards instead of wood boards.

Using an awl and cradle to punch holes in the signatures for sewing.

Stitching the signatures together using traditional unwaxed linen thread.

A view of two sewn signatures using a modified kettle stitch.

Marking and cutting the goatskin leather for the binding.

Interior view of the decorative spine binding.

Interior view of finished decorative spine binding.

Cover of the original book from 1552

Cover of the replica book

Spine binding from the original 1552 book

Spine binding from the replica book

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