November 29, 2012 3:52 AM   Subscribe

The Geese Book is a lavishly illustrated manuscript of choral music, written for the church of St Lorenz, Nuremberg, between 1504 and 1510. It takes its name from a whimsical illustration showing a choir of geese with a wolf as their choirmaster. The manuscript has now been digitized, and many of the chants recorded, so that you can listen to the music (or even sing along) while following the text. Highlights include Christmas, with a fox and rooster, Ascension Day, with the famous choir of geese, All Saints' Day, with a dragon eating a baby, and the Mass for St Lawrence, with a musical bear.
posted by verstegan (8 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
And a monkey playing bagpipes.

This is great. Thanks.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:56 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Superb, thanks! The chants available through the digitized link are also great.

The Mass for the Holy Lance and the Nails: Offertorium: Videbunt in quem transfixerunt is my new jam!
posted by madamjujujive at 6:07 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dancing with a bear? Or wrestling?
posted by moonmilk at 6:48 AM on November 29, 2012

Between the udders and webbed feet I submit that it is not a dragon but rather some sort of draco-platypus. Obviously the creation of an insane wizard (cf. the owlbear).
posted by jedicus at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

The woman who's pulling the tail of the "dragon" is a Wild woman (note the hairless breasts and knees). Here are some musings about this image. I also think that the dragon is not eating the child but is rather stealing it from the woman in order to adopt it. I sure would like to know if there's a legend behind this or if it's just the artist's fantasy.
posted by elgilito at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Very lovely. Thank you!
posted by cool breeze at 1:12 PM on November 29, 2012

The woman who's pulling the tail of the "dragon" is a Wild woman

Thank you for that. I thought it looked like hair/fur rather than clothing, but the zoom level on images wasn't really sufficient to tell. I also agree that the dragon is carrying the child like a momcat rather than eating it.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:49 PM on November 29, 2012

Digging further, it seems that stories of wild men and wild women were popular in German folkore at that time and a common theme for engravers. There's a casket made in Germany in the late 1400 covered with carved scenes depicting the activities of those forest people: the front panel shows a wild woman witnessing the abduction of one of her children by a griffin. The photograph is unfortunately murky (one can vaguely see the woman on the left and the griffin on the right). Apparently the carving is a copy from an earlier engraving by a Dutch printer called the Master of the Banderoles but I can't find the original image. The topic is similar to that of the Geese Book image, except that in the casket the woman is defended by a club-wielding wild man while in the Geese Book she's the one with the club (and the griffin does not have a bird's head).
posted by elgilito at 3:48 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

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