Grotesque Medieval Music Sheets From Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male from 1542 – Design You Trust

Grotesque Medieval Music Sheets From Chansonnier of Zeghere van Male from 1542

The 16th-century scribes of Bruges had a lot of fun illuminating this musical manuscript, because it’s full of gorgeous, fascinating and downright bizarre illustrations. The song book is called the Cambrai Chansonnier and was made for the pleasure of aristocratic local Zeghere van Male.


The songbook of Zeghere van Male consists of four complementary part-books: Superius, Altus, Tenor, and Bass. The chansonnier became part of this public collection after the French Revolution, beforehand it was in the Bibliothèque de Saint-Sépulcre, also in Cambrai.

The book contains 229 compositions, extremely varied, some of them present only in this source. The special aspect of this manuscript is its marriage of music, art and culture: drawings adorn each folio. Executed by quill and with lively colors the drawings describe realistic scenes of daily life, leisurely activities, and include animals and monstrous creatures, obscene depictions and vegetal decorations. With mixed elements inherited from the Middle-Ages, the Antiquity and the vogue of the grotesque, they are a testimony of the prevailing taste in Flemish civil society in the first half of the 16th century.

Zeghere van Male (1504–1601) was a Bruges merchant dealing in linen, yarns and dyes. Also a politician, writer and cultured member of the well-to-do bourgeoisie, he is credited with not only preserving an extensive music repertory—13 masses, 2 mass fragments, 64 motets, 125 French secular pieces, 9 Flemish secular pieces, 3 Italian secular pieces, 12 textless pieces by the best composers of the time—but providing an extraordinary backdrop of illustrations, 1200 in all, together with vivid initials, foliage and grotesque characters, that depict all aspects of 16th-c. life: processions, funerals, ceremonial settings, scenes reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch.

It is interesting to note that Zeghere achieved this feat not via some sort of monumental print (music publishing by 1542 was well established) but in a sumptuously hand-made manuscript, the only way to fully take advantage of the painterly and pictorial arts. The material in this wonderful book is invaluable for musicians, folklorists and art lovers.

If you want more awesome content, subscribe to 'Oh, Design You Trust,' our brand new Facebook page! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

More Inspiring Stories

Satirical and Absurd Illustrations From JJ Grandville’s Un Autre Monde, 1844
40 Newspaper Headlines That Push The Limits Of Human Stupidity
The 17 Coolest Signatures Of Famous People Throughout History
Brave Mum Dresses As Wonder Woman For Last Day Of Chemo
Children Were Given A Task To Create Original Heroes And Pros Had To Illustrate Them, Here’s The End Result
Stunning Photos of ‘Star Wars’ Scenes Created with Lego
Artist Combines Nature And Magic To Create These Mystical Paintings
"Annihilation of Humanity": The Superb Metal Bands Logo Design by Irina Voland
Audi Service 2015 Ad Campaign
A Star Wars Fan Knows Better How To Spend His Tax Return
Adorable Comics That Have Unexpected Takes On Everyday Situations
An Artist Combines Everyday Objects With Images From His iPhone
Dreamlike Animals: Whimsical Photo Manipulation By Julien Tabet
Street Artist Creates a Series of Invasions in Ravenna, Italy
Metal Albums Look Much Less Scary With Googly Eyes
"Not Longer Life": 6 Classic Painting Reinterpretations That Reflect On Consumer Society
Politically Incorrect: This Artist Manipulates Popular Culture References To Satirize Contemporary Society And Politics
Anxiety, Poetry, Death: Gloomy Paintings by Julia Soboleva
Collection Of The Creepiest Bible Stories As Vintage Comic Books For Kids
Heart-Warming Illustrations of True Love in All Its Beauty and Joy
Artist Calls Attention To Modern Day Problems With 50 Thought-Provoking Problems
Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings 2021 Day-to-Day Calendar Is Here!
Street Artist's “Celebrity Takeover” In Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Jenny On The Job: 8 Posters Of An Ideal Woman Emancipated By World War 2