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Scribes of Musical Cultures. Decoding Early Technologies of Music Writing in Latin Europe c. 900–1100

Objective

From Bach to Beethoven, Verdi to The Beatles, whether elite or popular genres, our collective musical culture was shaped by complex technologies of music writing first invented c.1200 years ago in western Europe. SCRIBEMUS will elucidate the first spreading of musical notation in Latin Europe, one of the most debated topics in historical musicology since the 19th c. The project will address significant lacunae in our understanding of how music scripts were shaped and exchanged within transregional networks of singer-scribes. It will assess how scribes mediated contemporary writing practices and visual culture in the creation of musical notation, as well as the impact of politics and monastic institutions–especially convents–in the first adoption and diffusion of the musical staff. The project's international team will undertake the first large-scale and fully interdisciplinary analysis of hundreds of surviving musical sources across two centuries (c.900–1100); we will literally read beyond the surface of extant palimpsests manuscripts using multi-spectral imaging and digital processing to reveal a corpus of so-far 'hidden' melodies. SCRIBEMUS will go significantly beyond the state of the art in the field by exploring the scribes' intellectual approaches that guided their graphic representation of sound; this will be achieved through the development of software NeumSyntax. We will combine innovatively computational musicology and machine learning for the study of early musical notation with vocal performance practice through a collaboration with the music ensemble Dialogos. In three intersecting work packages, the project will cross the disciplinary boundaries between music, Latin palaeography, linguistics, the study of past musical cultures, and computational science. SCRIBEMUS will fundamentally advance our understanding of how early singers developed sophisticated ways to visualise, read, and perform musical sound, changing the course of music history to this day.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI PAVIA
Net EU contribution
€ 1 464 672,00
Address
Strada Nuova 65
27100 Pavia
Italy

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Region
Nord-Ovest Lombardia Pavia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (1)

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL
United Kingdom
Net EU contribution
€ 33 121,00
Address
Beacon House Queens Road
BS8 1QU Bristol

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Region
South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Bristol, City of
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00