PRoMs - The Production and Reading of Music Sources

Mise-en-page in manuscripts and printed books containing polyphonic music, 1480—1530

Manuscript: Edinburgh, Great Britain, National Library of Scotland, MS Adv. 5.1.15

Manuscript type: choirbook

RISM siglum: GB-En 5.1.15

DIAMM Source Key: 1757

Folio(s): All folios

Date: c. 1501-1546

Location of origin: Stirling, Great Britain


Probably copied at the Chapel Royal of Scotland at Stirling, where Robert Carver may have been employed by King James IV (Elliott 1960). Previously thought to have been copied by Carver at Scone Augustinian Abbey in Perthshire.


Person: Carver, Robert
Person type: scribe
Note: <p>Most of the manuscript was copied by a single scribe (perhaps Robert Carver); the variant forms of this scribal hand suggest that the copying took place over a long period of time (<a href="/bibliography/#entry999" data-tooltip="" class="has-tip tip-top reference" data-placement="top" rel="tooltip" data-original-title="" title="Elliott, Kenneth, &lsquo;The Carver Choir-Book&rsquo;, Music and Letters, 41 (1960), 349-57"><i class="fa fa-book"></i>Elliott 1960</a>).</p>

Basis for description: original

Edinburgh, Great Britain, National Library of Scotland, MS Adv. 5.1.15, All folios

Physical description

Material: paper

Number of leaves: v + 180 + iii

Format: upright

Page dimensions: 382 x 282

Quire structure: Text version

Index / Table of Contents: typewritten table of content by D. W. Stevens, 1950 on modern endpapers ff. iv-v

Other devices: 1. Modern foliation 1-180, pencil top right

Page details (zoom):

Preparation and Copying

All folios


Disposition of Voice Parts Key

Pricking none visible
Ruled grid always,
single line to left and right, sometimes extra line in outer margin with narrower text block (or outer line first, then inner line added to make the text block narrower); often but not always double line for text, either c. 2.5 mm apart in red crayon, or c. 4 mm apart in hard point, almost invariably only where text present.
Ruling pattern highly irregular
5-12 pentagrams, ruled with pen and straightedge, very variable in precision and regularity of size and spacing; see 60v-61r for very irregular ruling, almost decorative; sometimes on a kind of 10-stave grid with unruled staved left as spaces between voices, but not very consistent or regular
Staves omitted from grid n/a
Incomplete staves often,
often not clear whether stave left incomplete as part of pre-planning or partial stave added because scribe ran out of space
Medium and colour of grid Frequency Folios Note
red crayon or hard point normally
Colour of staves Frequency Folios Note
brown often
black often
Ruling medium Frequency Folios Note
straightedge always
Indentation for initials Frequency Folios Note
single normally always there in main corpus, not in additions; usually single, c. 60-80 mm deep, but also very variable in depth and occasionally double
Extra space between voice parts Frequency Folios Note
variable space, not on grid always
Space provided for separate text Frequency Folios Note
no separate text always
Adhoc adaptation Frequency Folios Note
notation and staves extended into margin rarely
partial additional staves sometimes often not clear whether stave left partial as part of pre-planning or partial stave added because scribe ran out of space

Copying of text and music

Language(s) Latin
Higlighting some litterae notabiliores, red
Order of Copying music first
Presence/absence of text Voice part Frequency Folios Note
fully texted with one text all voice parts always
Colour(s) of notation black brown
Type(s) of notation void mensural
Type of notation note void mensural, all, angular teardrop shape approaching rhomboid form, often leaning clockwise; upstems drawn together with noteheads, downstems separate
Monophonic notation present
4v, 5v,
Tenor partly in square notation
Level of calligraphy poor
Non verbal performance instructions Folios Note
signes-de-renvoi rarely
signa congruentiae rarely
numbers to indicate note lengths 16v-18r Apparently contemporary or near contemporary. Also in many triple-metre sections series of dots of division, again apparently contemporary or original.
Later changes Folios
rather many corrections, mostly through erasing and overwriting; later additions on blank spaces (f. 3v), untexted short pieces or drafts, 175r, possibly some of the short and incomplete pieces at beginning and end
Types of script cursive (Anglicana)
Level of calligraphy fair
Colour(s) of text black brown
Multiple texts no
Text repetitions none
Abbreviations fairly many
Non underlaid vocal text none
Liminary text Composer designation Robert Carver (sometimes quite elaborate, esp. 70v, there in T in Gloria) sometimes, usually at end of piece bottom recto. ff. 7v, 8r: 'Cantus xix partium'. No voice designations. Occasional 'verte' instructions.
Later changes text added later by different hand, rarely


Level of Decoration fair
Decoration initial type Frequency Folios Initial type(s) Size position Description Discrepancies
penned initials always decorated, decorated with grotesque heads, plain initials in indentation at the beginning of every voice part. Some initials are for two voices at the same time. large monochrome initials, mostly in red, some in greenish blue or with yellow wash (ff. 4r-6r, 158r-180v).