Sinkler Manuscript

Location: GB-En

Reference: Glen 143

Date: 1710 - 1717

Size: Quarto

Extent: 73 folios


The Sinkler manuscript is in fact two manuscripts bound together, both written by Andrew Adam in the early eighteenth century. The section indexed here is for a solo treble instrument, and is inscribed “Margaret Sinkler aught this musick book written by Andrew Adam at Glasgow, October the 31 day, 1710” (f. 69v), as well as “George Kincaid Glasgow the 21 May 1717” (f. 71v). The second manuscript is for keyboard, and is copied in the same hand (i.e. by Adam), and includes the names Anne Crookshanks (f. 1) and George Kincaid again (ff. iv verso, i). Andrew Adam was a Glasgow music teacher who received charitable payments from the Glasgow Town Council in 1732-3. His distinctive script also appears in the lyra-viol section of the Leyden MS.

The two manuscripts remain in very good condition, with a modern (probably twentieth century) leather binding stamped with the initials “M S” (i.e. Margaret Sinkler). A modern foliation begins at the keyboard section, so the reversed treble instrument section runs backwards from f. 69 to f. 58.

The instrumental section (i.e. Margaret Sinkler’s music book) begins with a single page of musical rudiments (f. 71), followed by a diagram headed “how to form your stops upon the treble viol according to The Gam ut or Scale” (f. 70). The diagram in fact outlines the open strings and notes in first position in a standard four-string violin tuning: at this point in Scotland the term “treble viol” remained ambiguous, and could refer to instruments of the violin or viol family. It is likely that all the solo treble tunes in the manuscript were intended first and foremost as violin tunes, though another diagram is given on f. 69, headed “The Gam ut on the Viol de Gambo The Consort way of playing”, this time giving a six string instrument in the standard tuning (on bass or treble viol) of DGCEAD.

The music consists of popular tunes, predominantly Scots airs, with some minuets and country dance tunes popular in England. Several have short sets of variations, and many are concordant with other early eighteenth century manuscripts.


Stell, Sources, 169-171.

McGregor, Violinists and Violin Music in Scotland, 101.

Links: NLS Catalogue

View this manuscript's tunes in the full tune index