The book originally belonged to Robert Edward's father, Alexander, a Dundee merchant, and a business account dated 1622 is on folio 1.
The volume chiefly consists of songs, psalms, notes, and instrumental items, several of which appear twice or with parts separated, scraps on the history of music, and poetical items alone. Many of the pieces are of Scottish origin but English and Continental composers appear, as well as both pre- and post-Reformation music.
The contents are as follows.
(i) Eighty-four pieces with nothing but title and melody, including psalm tunes, songs, and dances (items 1-84). Four of these songs (numbers 16, 17, 37, and 57), are initialled by Edward, and may be his own arrangements or compositions, and two, 'Alas that same sueit face' and 'Since that my siches' (numbers 7 and 32), are found only in this book. (Folio 1.)
(ii) Poems with accompanying settings chiefly in two parts (items 85-96). (Folio 11 verso.)
(iii) Tables of note values. (Folio 16 verso.)
(iv) Further song settings (items 97-124, with five unnumbered). (Folio 19.)
(v) Bass parts to psalm tunes, the common tunes as in the Psalter of 1615, but with 'Elgin' in place of 'Glasgow', and eleven proper tunes. (Folio 35.)
(vi) Twenty-two tunes (with one repeated), mostly Scottish, for cittern, in tablature, five of which have been published as an appendix to ‘Early Scottish keyboard music. (Folio 41.)
(vii) A list of song titles. (Folio 45.)
(viii) Songs and hymns arranged for keyboard. (Folio 45 verso.)
(ix) A treatise on music attributed to Conrad von Zabern, with the tables of Guy of Arezzo, incomplete. (Folio 51.)
(x) 'Certane Italian songs without any letter or name sounge in thrie pairts', thirteen three-part villanelle, of which numbers 6 and 7 have been identified respectively as 'Del crud'amor' from the anonymous ‘Canzon Napoletane a 3 voci’ (Venice, 1566) and 'Fuggit'amor' from Giovanni Domenico da Nola, Primo Libro delle Villanelle, Venice, 1570, copies of which are with the Panmure music in the Scottish Record Office (GD45/26/94). (Folio 55 verso.)
(xi) Common psalm tunes in three parts which appear together for the first time in the psaiter of 1625. (Folio 62 verso.)
(xii) Index to the numbered items. (Folio 69 verso.)
(xiii) Secular poetry without music interspersed with notes on musical theory. (Folio 72.)