Treatise on Thorough Base

Scope and Content

Translation into English by Lord Gifford of Treatise on Thorough Base, a work concerning the theory of music, by Domenico Quadri. 'The treatise covers the rudiments of music, including clefs, keys, chord structures etc. (using a 19th-century approach), rather than thorough bass in the 18th-century sense' (Cooper).

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, thoroughbass is 'a base part extending through a piece of music, and written by itself, with figures indicating the chords or harmonies to be played with it; a figured bass, basso continuo; esp. (formerly) an accompaniment thus written or played; hence loosely, an accompaniment in general. Also, the method of indicating harmonies by a figured bass, or the art of playing from it; loosely, the science of harmony in general.'

Administrative / Biographical History

Domenico Quadri Vicentino wrote on the theory of music in the mid-nineteenth century, publishing in Italian Principj elementari di musica esposti con nuovo ordine. An English translation entitled Lessons in Harmony was published in the 1840s.

The Lord Gifford who created this manuscript is probably George Hay (1822-1862), styled Earl of Gifford. He was the son of George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale (1787-1876). He served as M.P. for Totnes from 1855 to 1862 and, according to his obituary in The Times (quoted in G.E.C.'s Complete Peerage), he was an 'erudite musician'.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, and Elizabeth Gow, Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 46). Also described in Barry Cooper, 'Catalogue of Pre-1900 Music Manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 79 (1997), pp. 96-7.

Custodial History

Formerly part of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, the Library of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, from Haigh Hall, Wigan, Lancashire.

Related Material

Papers of George Hay, Earl of Gifford, are held in the following repositories:  

  • British Library, Manuscript Collections: correspondence, accounts, bank passbooks and memorandum book, 1852-62 (ref.: GB 058 Add MSS 42768-71);
  • National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections: personal, family and legal correspondence, 1840-62 (ref.: GB 233 MSS 14442, 14455-6);
  • National Meteorological Library: meteorological observations kept aboard his yacht, 1856-7;
  • Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: correspondence and papers, 1832-62 (ref.: GB 255 D 1071G).