A parcel arrived outside my front door – just a few weeks before The Song Company’s True-Love-Storytour. It weighed over seven kilograms. It was the delivery of a superbly-produced facsimile of the Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript (known as “Vg” to use its scholarly siglum or abbreviation), one of the most significant surviving manuscripts from the 14th century. Vg is almost the earliest of the “complete works” of that century’s most accomplished composer, Guillaume de Machaut. In the 21st century, with the help of its modern UK publisher, the Oxford-based Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), this 800-page manuscript “has gone from being the most secret and enigmatic of the Machaut sources to the most accessible” as DIAMM puts it.

A page from VG, courtesy of DIAMM

So it was with considerable care and some frisson that, having opened the parcel, I gingerly unwrapped a big red book – at once solid and exquisite, full of beauty, history, power, and emotion – a book that was to grace the stage in True-Love-Story, enabling me to sing the contratenor part in De toutes flours, one of Machaut’s most effervescent songs, straight...

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