Sights for Sounds: The Roles of Illuminated Initials in Italian Music Manuscripts

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name



Art & Art History

First Advisor

Scott Montgomery

Second Advisor

Annette Stott


Initials, Illuminated initials, Medieval Italian music manuscripts, Specimens, Music, Manuscripts, Italy, 16th century


The scholarship on illuminated initials is substantial, yet there is a significant absence of information when discussing the initials found in music manuscripts specifically. In this paper, I endeavor to supplement the current scholarship by focusing my research on music manuscripts produced in Italy between 1250 and 1500 A.D. in order to provide examples of the relationships between image, music, and text in the context of use. I use mainly iconographic research methods, though a considerable amount of background information is reliant on the research of other authors in the field of medieval philosophy and theology. Through my research I have concluded that the use of illuminated initials in medieval Italian music manuscripts enhances the function of the manuscript by providing another layer of understanding which audience members could use to aid them in their meditation, prayer, and in the performance of the music.


DU faculty and students may access digitized MRPs by logging in with their DU ID in the Library's Catalog. Those not affiliated with DU may request digitized or microfilmed MRPs through interlibrary loan. Hard copies of MRPs are available to use by appointment in the Art Office in the Shwayder Art Building on campus.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

This document is currently not available here.