PhD Scholarship Opportunity in Digital Musicology: The Art and Science of Ludovico Zacconi’s Collections of Canons

We are very pleased to announce that the University of New England is offering a targeted PhD in Digital Musicology for a project on Ludovico Zacconi’s collection of canons. This project will run parallel with our ARC Discovery Project “The Art and Science of Canon in the Music of Early 17th-century Rome,” sharing and contributing […]

via PhD Scholarship Opportunity in Digital Musicology — Art of Canon

I say data, you say data

John Stinson and Jason Stoessel, “Encoding Medieval Music Notation for Research,” Early Music 42, no. 4 (2014): 613–17. doi: 10.1093/em/cau093.

What do medieval music and computers have to do with each other, especially since the only “calculators” in the fourteenth century were clever sophists and theologians from Oxford? Well, it turns out quite a bit. The latest issue of Early Music, guest edited by Dan Tidhar, contains numerous articles on the theme of Early Music and modern technology. Several articles examine how computer-assisted research is revolutionising some of the ways music historians can approach medieval music.

Richard_of_Wallingford

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Digital Humanities and Medieval Music

Last week (19–21 March 2014) I attended the 2nd Digital Humanities Australasia Conference “Expanding Horizons” at the University of Western Australia, Perth (Australia). The content of the conference certainly expanded my horizons, demonstrating the current vibrancy of the digital humanities (DH) in Australia. Between the torrent of “show and tell” presentations about new and existing DH projects, fascinating but geeky information about metadata standards, data conservation and database design, there were interesting papers concerning including Anthony F. Beavers’s keynote on Computational Philosophy and digital humanities as an more efficient extension of existing research methodologies and tools, and Toby Burrows on what I would call the epistemic foundations of current approaches in digital humanities in earlier philosophy, mathematics and socio-economic history. Music research had a modest but healthy representation at the conference, with one entire session devoted to “Music” (in which we presented) and several other papers on music and closely related topics scattered through out the program. Continue reading “Digital Humanities and Medieval Music”

Scribes and Editors at Work and at Play

Last month I was very pleased to receive an offprint of a chapter of mine that develops and expands on a paper that I originally gave at the Early Music Editing: Principles, Techniques, and Future Directions conference held in Utrecht, 3-5 July, 2008. The abstract of the original paper read:

This paper seeks to establish a prima facie case for a new edition of the repertoire of music from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century which is today referred to as the music of the ars subtilior. Although most of this body of compositions has been published in monumental editions in the 1970s and 1980s, these editions leave much to be desired both as sources of further scholarly enquiry and also as editions to be used for performance. This paper will detail some of the existing problems of published editions (including misreadings, errors, incomplete realisations) and how they might be avoided in a future edition using new technologies. In particular it will focus on cases within the scribal record of the ars subtilior that embody significant variants, including erasures representing scribal revision and/or scribal alteration of notational process. The emerging paradigms embodied by new technologies offer significant opportunities to move beyond Lachmannian and Bédierian theories of text criticism to principles of editing which preserve multiple local variants and empowers readers with a choice of readings. 

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Armchair philology – Musical treasures from the Austrian National Library

Philology—the study of early texts, their meaning and how they have been passed down through the ages—has has traditionally consisted of researchers chasing after books and manuscripts scattered throughout libraries and archives. I use the adverb “traditionally” with some irony since for some time now researchers have done much of their work sitting at a desk (or occasionally in an armchair) pouring over facsimiles, photographic images on 35 millimetre microfilm, and increasingly digital images on a computer’s screen, of original sources. Researchers are spending less time with the original manuscripts. Although it is important that archivists maintain access to the original sources, it is also important that these sources are conserved for future generations. There are many music manuscripts that have been the subject of intense scrutiny over the last century, and between their handling by scholars and sometimes fraught attempts at conservation by their owners, the condition and legibility of these sources has noticeably declined. Though I am inclined to give examples, I won’t because that would give the impression that I am censuring particular individuals, libraries or archives. The reality is that time has simply taken its toll on these books.

Continue reading “Armchair philology – Musical treasures from the Austrian National Library”

A new composition by Denis Le Grant?

A new colour digitisation of a fascinating musical fragment from the last quarter of the 14th century has provided new evidence for assigning another composition to one of that century’s most famous, but today little known, composers. The fragment is found in the the western manuscripts collection in Bibliothèque Nationale de France (hereafter BNF), under the shelf number NAF 23190. Music historians often refer to this manuscript as the Trémoïlle manuscript—reflecting the fact that it was owned by the Duchess of Trémoïlle prior to its donation to the the BNF—or simply Trém. BNF staff uploaded Trém’s digitisation on the Gallica website on Monday, 9 January 2012. All that remains of what must have been a grand music manuscript is a bifolium, a two-page leaf that contains an index of the lost manuscript’s content and the notation of four motets (some incomplete). While the notated compositions are important, what has interested researchers most is the index that seems to name some motets, liturgical music and songs still known today and also contains several unknown works (see Droz & Thibault 1926; Bent 1990). One of the interesting things (there are several more discussed in Bent 1990) about the index is that two different names were added in front of two settings of the Credo from the Mass. For the second Credo the name “sortes” appears. It has been generally assumed that this is a reference to the same composer (whose name is sometimes given as “sortis”) and his popular Credo “de Rege” that was used in both the so-called Toulouse and Barcelona polyphonic settings of the Mass. It was previously thought that the name given for the first Credo was “decus”. However, the BNF’s splendid online colour reproduction has revealed that the name is in fact “denis”. Continue reading “A new composition by Denis Le Grant?”