Chez Schedel

Aberdeen Early Music Collective

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


Chez Schedel focuses on the late middle ages, in particular in the central-German city of Nuremberg. We are reconstructing a musical entertainment taking place in the circle of Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514), based on insights gained from the study of manuscripts from the geographical area.

Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514), a doctor and humanist in Nuremberg, is today most well-known for his lavishly illustrated Nuremberg Chronicle, a world history, which was one of the first printed books combining text and illustrations. He also left behind a music manuscript of special interest, now known as the Schedel Songbook. This was probably assembled partly during his student days in Leipzig, and partly in Nuremberg. Although riddled with errors (he does not appear to have been a particularly competent musician), it provides a valuable catalogue of music from across Europe, combining many of the biggest hits with many songs known to us only from this one source.

The Buxheim Organ Book is the largest, most important keyboard manuscript of the 15th century. It appears to be from the same area of Germany, and shares many pieces in common with the Schedel Songbook. It includes “intabulations” (ornamented keyboard arrangements) of songs, settings of plainchant melodies, dance pieces, and teaching materials for learning how to improvise. Because its tablature notation is more literal as regards pitch content than the more usual mensural notation, it provides valuable clues as to performance practice—and it helps us make sense of some of the odder situations encountered in the sloppily-notated Schedel Songbook.

In addition to German songs of relatively local origin, we include many pieces by famous French and English song-writers. In keeping with the practice of the period, we are not so concerned with questions of the composers’ intentions, but rather with reconstructing what these pieces might have sounded like, interpreted in the Nuremberg of Schedel’s time. Thus, the original titles are often mangled, and lyrics of love songs replaced with Latin texts (often in praise of the Virgin Mary). Specific ornamental variants are drawn from the German manuscripts, and suggestions for performer-added accidentals are based on the patterns observed in the Buxheim Organ Book.
Original languageMultiple languages
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventChez Schedel -
Duration: 30 May 201530 May 2015

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