Speaking from Abbey Chapel, where a reproduction of one of the original manuscripts now hangs, Mueller explained that medieval musical manuscripts were quite large because they were made to be sung by a group of singers standing at a distance. The ornate lettering and specific designs were once meant to help guide the singers’ eyes as much as to showcase scribes’ talents.
Such manuscripts were collected in books, or codices, said Mueller. But wars, commerce, and chaos led to the books becoming unbound. Many of the individual leaves were scattered around the world. But recently, digital databases have come online in an attempt to codify and catalog the individual leaves, giving hope that some of these pieces may ultimately be reunited.