By: Amy Chen, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow
We have some professors who return to the Division of Special Collections every semester to show their students favorite items from our holdings.
Dr. Jennifer Roth-Burnette, of the UA Early College, often brings her honors Music and Political Movements course (UH 155) to see books pertaining to political and music reform in early modern Europe. We are delighted to host her students while they examine some of the oldest books in our collections.
Today, they not only got a lesson, but gave one — in the art of observation. Shannon Driscoll found a little insect lurking near the binding of our Spanish early modern codex.
As this codex dates to the 1500s, we would love to ask him about his trip from Spain to the missions of either Central or South America, how he came to live at the University of Alabama after residing with a collector in Louisiana, and why did those who created this volume choose such an idiosyncratic set of music? After all, the codex is quite odd for including music from all different types of services together; usually, each ceremony’s music would be bound separately. We think the monks who created this volume chose a wide range of songs to compile a “best hits” anthology to send to the colonies to help them start a new religious community, but we are not entirely sure. It could be that they simply selected the songs that would have been most difficult to memorize, as most people learned music by ear rather than by following notations during this era. For these reasons, this little insect holds many stories we wish he could tell.