Music for female-voice choirs

We receive regular enquiries regarding music for women’s voices from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Now that our webshop is functioning, we can always direct singers to the growing number of scores there.   Join our mailing list or better still, get your choir to join our membership scheme (coming soon) for exclusive scores, three times a year.

Meanwhile, we would encourage you to turn into equal-voice sleuths: there is a wealth of music out there for equal voices, some of which is published in high clefs already, but most of which looks like it is for tenors and basses.  DO NOT BE PUT OFF: nuns in the sixteenth century would just have transposed and/or used instrumental accompaniment.  In fact, from around 1545, music written for high voices was likely to be transposed down for publication anyway.  Look around – excellent equal-voice music by Cipriano de Rore, Adriano Willaert, and Palestrina (just for starters) should be fairly easy to find either by visiting a good music library, or online at sites such as the Choral Public Domain Library (  and the Petrucci Music Library (

Music from our workshops

There is a sample of scores we have been using for workshops in our web shop, including some scores from our previous summer courses.  These are free to download – works by the nuns composers Caterina Assandra and Lucrezia Vizzana, and others by Josquin, Palestrina, Monteverdi, Morales, Victoria and more.  You can use these to get you started.

Music from our recordings

Secular Music

All of this music is published in a modern edition, but you can find a facsimile here:,_Luzzasco)

All editions for this recording were made by Deborah Roberts and are mostly still on manuscript (working on getting it all set). However, in the intervening years a lot is now available. This is a start:,_Barbara

This ground-breaking compilation of music for the women musicians of 1580s Ferrara resulted from a two-year research project funded by the AHRB. All of the music here was arranged according to documented performance practices followed by the Ferrarese musicians, but taken from madrigal collections published in the conventional format of SATB a cappella voices. We plan to re-publish these editions eventually, but those interested could look at a number of madrigal books by composers such as Cipriano de Rore, Giaches de Wert (especially his Book 8), Lodovico Agostini, and even Luca Marenzio and Claudio Monteverdi. Experiment, as we did, in using instruments such as harpsichord, bass viol, harp and lute to cover the lower parts that fall out of the range of women’s voices. In some cases you can also try transposing some parts up the octave.

 Sacred Music

All transcriptions kindly provided by Craig Monson and edited by Deborah Roberts.  This music is not yet available.

All the music is published in its original SATB format by A-R Editions.  Arrangements were made by Deborah Roberts, according to documented convent performance practice.

All editions and arrangements for female voices by Laurie Stras – motets in their original clefs are in preparation for the Alessandro Grandi Opera omnia. 

Music by Palestrina and de Rore. Originals may be found in both composers’ collected editions: all arrangements made according to convent performance practice. Chant transcribed from the Poissy Antiphonal.

All editions and arrangements for female voices by Laurie Stras, Deborah Roberts, and Sally Dunkley.  These are available in the shop.

All editions and  by Laurie Stras. Editions of the works from the Biffoli-Sostegni manuscript are available in the shop; the Brumel edition is in preparation for the Grandi Opera omnia.