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A report on the encoding of melodic incipits in the CANTUS database with the music font ‘Volpiano’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2011

Abstract

The cantus project, begun more than twenty years ago, provides observations about medieval musical sources for the Office and the melodies they contain in a web-based, freely available format. The record for a single chant has always contained information about the feast to which it belongs, its placement within that feast, its text, its mode and its appearance. Owing to the recent introduction of the music font Volpiano into cantus records, information regarding pitch is now also available. Wherever feasible, records now include melodic incipits encoded as strings of letters and dashes which appear as note-heads on a five-line staff in Volpiano font. Melodic incipits increase the appeal of cantus as a research tool.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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References

1 The Volpiano font was developed between 2003 and 2006 by Fabian Weber under the direction of David Hiley at the Universität Regensburg's department of musicology. Version 2.02 is the most recent. It is available on Weber's website, ‘fawe online’, accessible at www.fawe.de/gruen/notensatz01.html. There is also a link from the cantus website http://publish.uwo.ca/∼cantus.

2 Ian Bent et al., “Notation, §III, 1: History of Western Notation: Plainchant, (v) Pitch-specific notations, 11th–12th centuries, (a) Alphabetic notations and dasia signs,” in Grove Music Online; Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline.com.remote.libproxy.wlu.ca/subscriber/article/grove/music/20114pg4 (consulted 3 July 2009).

3 Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine H. 159.

4 Email correspondence with cantus staff supports this notion; within the past year (2008–2009), these issues have been discussed with no fewer than seven scholars (Ann Buckley, Jiri Zurek, Christoph Dohrmann, Jan Koláček, David Hiley, Robert Klugseder and Louis Barton).

5 The font known as ‘Meinrad’ (in its several versions) displays characters as square notation regardless of the appearance of the original neumes.

6 Guido Music Font is a plain-text font which can be adapted to fit the requirements for many different kinds of musical scores. Several links to information about Guido Font may be found at www.salieri.org/guido.

7 Volpiano works on current Mac and Windows operating systems, including Windows Vista and Windows 7.

8 Jan Koláček's Global Chant Database is an example of how Volpiano may be used to query a large, online database for information about chant: www.gregorian-chant.org/.

9 The NEUMES Project, formerly based at the University of Oxford, comes to mind (www.scribeserver.com/NEUMES/).

10 Another aspect that is not recordable is the melodic motion prior and subsequent to particular pitches; this could demonstrate context within a melody, but is not a feature of this method of melodic representation.

11 For printed examples, use 24 pt Volpiano font with the text font of your choice at a size of 10–14 points.

12 It must be remembered, too, that although transcriptions in the Volpiano font do not depict neume shapes as found in the original sources, this is not considered a deficiency; this aspect corresponds to the general principles of the cantus database, where the indices have never been intended as critical editions of medieval sources nor as an alternative to consulting the original manuscripts.

13 This method demonstrates the underlying structure or framework of a melody; it has been employed in a number of research projects involving melodic comparison, and the results have been remarkable. For example, see Lacoste, Debra, ‘Responsory Tones at Klosterneuburg’, De musica disserenda IV/1 (2008), 722CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

14 Because this information exceeds the format of the typical cantus file, it is not available in the downloadable versions of the indices.

15 København (Copenhagen), Det kongelige Bibliotek Slotsholmen, Gl. Kgl. Samling, 3449, in seventeen volumes identified as ‘I–XVII’.

16 Wherever possible, cantus has compounded the melodic incipit information in Volpiano with a link to digital images of the manuscript so that the researcher has access to the entire melody as it appears in the source; the last item listed in Figure 14, ‘Link’, is included here since images of this manuscript are available freely.

17 The research conducted by Ike de Loos several years ago, for example, would have been aided immensely by Volpiano melodic incipits. She was interested in chants with multiple melodies, or melodies which could be interpreted and reinterpreted in different modes and engaged in a comparison of modal (i.e., numerical) assignments. Ike de Loos, ‘Modes and Melodies: An Investigation into the Great Responsories of the Gregorian and Old Roman Chant Repertoires’, presented at the 18th Congress of the International Musicological Society, Zurich, 2007, publication forthcoming.

18 Janka Szendrei, A Verbum Caro Responzóriumtípus (Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem Egyházzenei Intézete és a Magyar Egyházzenei Társaság, 2003).

19 Typical melodies for every mode in the Great Responsory repertory are explored in Katherine Helsen's doctoral dissertation, ‘The Great Responsories: Aspects of Structure and Transmission’ Ph.D. diss., Uni-Regensburg (2008) which is published and freely available on the web at www.opus-bayern.de/uni-regensburg/frontdoor.php?source_opus=1031&la=de.

20 It should be noted that these supplementary fields have not undergone the vigorous proofreading which is exercised by the cantus staff on the textual portions of the database; please notify cantus of any errors.

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A report on the encoding of melodic incipits in the CANTUS database with the music font ‘Volpiano’
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