In the early seventeenth century, an astonishing amount of music was printed in German-speaking lands. Almost all composers aspired to publish their output. In addition, simpler genres of music appeared in many devotional books, occasional pamphlets and song-sheets. Printing and publication allowed musical texts to circulate widely in society, particularly in Lutheran lands where literacy was relatively high and where music had enjoyed a privileged position since the Reformation. Printing also extended conceptions of music to include printed texts as well as performances. Besides being performing material, such texts could be symbols of social status, temporal power or religious authority.
This thesis uses Leipzig as a case-study to investigate the functions and meanings of printed music in the first half of the seventeenth century. After an introduction to the place of music and printing in Leipzig (Chapter 1), Chapter 2 examines bibliographical and archival evidence of the city's music printing. Music was not a specialist commodity but instead was produced by most print-shops and alongside ordinary books. It did not cost much more than other kinds of text and was produced in similar print-runs to ordinary books. Chapter 3 considers the occasional pamphlet, a music-publishing genre unique to Lutheran culture. Occasional pamphlets were printed after performances at weddings, funerals and other events, as a souvenir of the event and a symbol of social status. Chapter 4 discusses how the act of publishing music encouraged composers and editors to fill their books with displays of authority, partly to counter anxieties about how a book would be received by the public. These displays of authority shaped conceptions of the musical text and also of the figure of the author. Finally, Chapter 5 asks how performers used printed music. Besides considering why printed music was copied into manuscript, this chapter examines how printed music was assimilated into oral traditions and investigates the relationship between orality and literacy.