On display in the Music Library are a variety of facsimiles of musical manuscripts. Items range from a meticulous reproduction of the 15th-century Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu, a heart-shaped collection of courtly love songs worked with gilt and fine hand illustrations, to a very convincing replica of the notebook page upon which Kurt Cobain penned lyrics for the iconic song Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Facsimiles allow us to study manuscripts that may be too fragile to withstand handling, or that present geographical challenges to access. In addition, modern photo printing techniques and skilled production work convey nuances inherent in the object that cannot be reproduced in the digital sphere, such as the feel of vellum, the intricacies of fine bindings, and the sheer heft of some of the volumes.
The Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu (ca. 1460-1477). Original in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.