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A Choirbook is a large format manuscript used by choirs in churches or cathedrals during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The book is large enough for the entire choir to read from one book. Choirbooks were generally put on a stand with the smaller boy sopranos in front and the men in back. Once the printing of music became easier and more commonplace, choirbooks fell out of favour, replaced by smaller, cheaper, and easier to handle books and octavos.

"Illuminated choirbook : Resurrection", parchment by Juan de Carrión (15th century); Museum of the Cathedral of Ávila, Spain

A choirbook was a major investment. Many of them were stark and utilitarian and show signs of heavy and constant use. At larger cathedrals choir books were sometimes lavishly decorated and illuminated. Since they represent an important expense they were rarely owned by single people, but rather by families or institutions.

Major choirbooks[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Boehm, B (2008). Choirs of angels : painting in Italian choir books, 1300-1500. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.