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Tablature? What is that?

   About the concept behind:

Because polyphonic music of this era was still conceived in a linear fashion, no scores existed. Musicians read exclusively from single parts or, in the case of sacred music, from choirbooks notated in separate voices. Therefore the performance of such music on keyed or plucked instruments required a different notation, one that showed all the voices at once, which was accomplished through a technique called "intabulation". The name of the resultant written piece of music, the "tablature" (derived from the Latin word "tabulatura" which is "writing-table"), originally meant "something diagrammed on a table or wood-slab" - and its larger meaning implied order and method ("tablature of the spheres"). Instead of notes, musical tablature was written using letters or other graphic symbols, but often a combination of notes and such symbols (or letters). Most tablatures did not give the voice parts literally, but simply showed the diminution (often in a formulaic way) that the performer was to spin out further in the moment of a new realization in concert or church service.

Text supplied by Monika Fahrnberger

No, it's not a Chinese songbook: this is a Renaissance organ tablature.

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