French-American Bridge for Medieval Musical Iconography

December 16, 2018
by slb184

Announcing the Student Participants in FAB-Musiconis 2019

Fifteen graduate students from Columbia University and Sorbonne University will participate in two-week workshops in Paris in January 2019 and in New York in April 2019.

Elliot Adam is a third-year PhD student in Art History and Archeology at Sorbonne University. His dissertation, conducted under supervision of Philippe Lorentz, is funded by a three-years doctoral contract that includes teaching Medieval Art History to undergraduate students. His research is concerned with the practice of grisaille in panel paintings, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass produced in or imported into France between 1380 and 1530. Adam holds an MRes in Art History and Archeology from Sorbonne University and graduated from the Ecole du Louvre. He has worked with Les Enluminures and has held an internship at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Raffaella Bortolini is a third-year PhD student in musicology at Sorbonne University. She has a Master of Arts in medieval music performance (shawm) from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and a Master of Music in historically informed performance (with a specialization in baroque oboe) from the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg im Breisgau. Bortolini is the artistic director of Ensemble Seraphim, which specializes in medieval instrumental music.

Olivia Clemens is a fourth- year PhD student in Columbia University’s Art History department, where she focuses on Islamic and Western medieval luxury objects, and the history of their reception, collecting, and display. Prior to beginning her graduate studies, Olivia worked as a Research Assistant in the Art of the Middle East department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, contributing research to LACMA’s Damascus Room project and the international loan exhibition “Beauty and Identity.” She graduated from UCLA summa cum laude with a BA in Art History, and holds an MA and MPhil from Columbia University.

Mike Ford is a third-year PhD student in Historical Musicology at Columbia University, where he studies improvisation in non-musical settings. He has an MA in Musicology from Rutgers University, with a thesis on the digitally-enabled borrowing of Renaissance material in two contemporary compositions; and a BMus in Performing Arts (Orchestral Conducting) from the University of Pretoria. This is his second year participating in the Musiconis project.

Virginia Girard is a first-year PhD student in Columbia’s Art History department studying the intersections of art and science in early modern Europe and North America. Virginia completed her M.A. with distinction at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and her B.A. (summa cum laude) at Cornell University. At Cornell, she participated in the Watermarks in Rembrandt Etchings project, which seeks to develop and expand a computer-assisted decision tree for classifying watermarks based on the work of the Rijksmuseum’s Erik Hinterding.

Justin Gregg is a first-year PhD student in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. He holds degrees from Georgetown University (B.S., Phi Beta Kappa) and the University of Hartford (M.Mus). His research interests include musical borrowing, text setting, and intersections between music and the visual arts. Outside of his studies, he has participated in multiple groups that read and perform medieval and renaissance music from original notation.

Emma Hitchcock is a first-year PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her research focuses on the the interplay of poetics, technologies of communication, and cognitive theory in medieval England. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University.

Whitney Kite is a first-year PhD student in Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology, where she studies the architecture of medieval Armenia. Prior to attending Columbia, Whitney earned an MA in art history from Tufts University and was an intern in the department of European Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. From 2014-2016, she was a post-baccalaureate research fellow in malaria genetics at the National Institutes of Health. She holds a BA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, with minors in art history and music.

Lucía Martín-Maestro Verbo is a first-year MA student in Performance of Medieval Music at Sorbonne University. She is qualified in early music vocal performance and musicology by the Real Conservatorio Superior de Music de Madrid. Verbo has a Master in Arts, Literature and Culture, and a Master in Music Education, both from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and a Graduate Diploma in Ibero-American Musical Heritage from the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Madrid, Spain). Her research focuses on the performance of medieval music in the Iberian Peninsula, which led her to create her own medieval music project, Egeria.

Florentin Morel is a first-year PhD student in musicology and digital humanities at Sorbonne University. His research focuses on the evolution of practice and organology of percussion instruments. He holds a Bachelor and a MA in Music and Musicology from Sorbonne University. His interests include music history and world music. He is also involved in the indexing work of the Musiconis database. Morel is a percussionist and composer who has collaborated with several choreographers. including a dancer and choreographer from the Paris Opera. He participated in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 sessions of the FAB Musiconis project.

Valérie Nunes – Le Page is a second-year MA student in musicology at Sorbonne University specializing in the performance practice of medieval music in the professional studies program. She is a certified teacher in a conservatory, a singer, and a choirmaster. Her research focuses on rhythmic changes in the French treatises of the late 13th century and the early 14th century. She participated in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 sessions of the FAB Musiconis project.

Aline Poirier teaches flute and Baroque flute at the Regional Conservatory in Rouen and the Departmental Conservatoire in Dieppe. She holds qualifications from the University of Rouen in Musicology, English, and Economics, as well as various teaching diplomas. She regularly performs in diverse ensembles, including modern, baroque, Renaissance and medieval music ensembles. Her interests include the connections between Medieval and Asian flute practices, as well as their circulation across the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages. She is a doctoral student at Sorbonne University.

Jenna Schoen is a fifth- year PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her dissertation, “Romance Across Medieval Literature,” examines the effect of popular romance on vernacular religious texts in 14th century England. She holds a B.A. in English from Tufts University, as well as an M.A. and M.Phil. in English from Columbia University.

Audrey Taieb is a second-year MA student in the UFR of Music and Musicology at Sorbonne University. Last year, under the supervision of Katarina Livljanić, she carried out research on the dangers of the jubilus in Christian liturgy from the third to the thirteenth century.  At the same time, she worked at France Musique (Radio France). In addition, she was an intern at the press and communication department of the French Consulate in Shanghai. Currently, she is also pursuing an MA in Chinese and International Relations at Inalco (Paris).

Anya Wilkening is a first-year PhD student in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. She holds a Bachelor of Music (summa cum laude, violin performance and music history) and a Master of Music (violin performance) from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Her research interests include medieval vernacular and pious song, religious drama, and gender in music.

The senior project members in Paris and at Columbia remain the same as in 2016-18.

April 9, 2018
by slb184

Musiconis in Action

Come to the Music and Arts Library  at Columbia on Friday, April 20 to hear lightning presentations of new research and musical performances by the members of FAB-Musiconis, the Columbia-Sorbonne collaborative project on medieval images of music and the digital humanities. This reception will celebrate the second year of the project.

March 17, 2018
by slb184

Life of a Cathedral: Notre-Dame of Amiens

On June 24 at 2 pm at the Columbia Global Center | Paris (Reid Hall), Professor Stephen Murray (Department of Art History and Archaeology). will give a public presentation of his interactive website Life of a Cathedral: Notre-Dame of Amiens, developed in the Media Center for Art History at Columbia University. Among the developers of the site were FAB-Musiconis participants Emogene Cataldo and Tori Schmitt.



February 4, 2018
by slb184

Instrumentarium of Chartres

Aline Poirier, Paris-Sorbonne Universités

Le 12 janvier 2017, André Bonjour, chartrain, professseur, et Xavier Terasa, musicien professionnel, tous deux membres de lInstrumentarium de Chartres, nous ont accueillis au musée de beaux arts de Chartres devant la vitrine d’exposition des instruments reconstitués à partir de l’iconographie de la cathédrale.

Ils nous ont présenté le projet historique et scientifique à l’origine de l‘Instrumentarium de Chartres. Celui-ci est un travail transversal entre luthiers ou facteurs, et interprètes professionnels, dans le but de restituer des instruments jouables à partir des représentations de la cathédrale. Un budget permet, lors de résidences annuelles de plusieurs jours, un travail approfondi et un véritable échange entre les différents acteurs. L’équipe organise des concerts pédagogiques, des visites cathédrale-musée, des conférences, des colloques, des stages de musique médiévale, réalise des projets avec les conservatoires et les établissements scolaires, participe à la formation des enseignants et des musiciens professionnels et propose des expositions. Son site internet permet la découverte des 312 instruments de la cathédrale. Actuellement, 42 instruments ont été reconstitués : c’est le laboratoire instrumental médiéval le plus complet d’Europe.

Des difficultés apparaissent cependant pour les luthiers et facteurs face aux modèles proposés par l’iconographie : même si les proportions des instruments sont assez précises (nombre de cordes, accord…), par exemple le rapport de taille avec l’instrumentiste varie d’une représentation à l’autre. Les raisons en sont parfois inconnues. La question du diapason est donc difficile à élucider. De plus, le travail des matériaux exige de faire  appel à des spécialiste rares : fondeurs de cloches, fabricants de cordes en boyaux… Par ailleurs, pour retrouver des gestes oubliés, il est utile de faire appel à l’expérience de musiciens issus des musiques traditionnelles : le crochetage nécessaire au jeu de la vièle en huit, ou la tenue du psaltérion et du plectre. La plupart des questions ne trouvent pas de réponse immédiate. Le croisement d’iconographies entre plusieurs sites constitue à ce titre une aide considérable. Par exemple, à Londres dans la Westminster Abbey, on retrouve des instruments du XIIIe siècle similaires à ceux de Chartres.

Les spécialistes se trouvent ainsi face à des défis techniques et artistiques à relever. Un projet de salle dédiée spécifiquement aux instruments, derrière la cathédrale, est en cours de réalisation. Cela permettra de faire deux copies de chaque instrument, afin qu’ils puissent être joués plus fréquemment : en effet, les instruments qui ne sont pas joués régulièrement s’abîment. Tandis que les musiciens doivent se remettre en question pour retrouver des gestes nouveaux, les luthiers et facteurs prennent un risque en créant des instruments dont la technique est à réinventer. C’est un dialogue entre la recherche et la musique autour de ce site exceptionnel.

January 25, 2018
by slb184

Ontologies vs. traditional database models and the Semantic Web

Eamonn Bell

In a previous post, Mark Saccomano described how ontologies can be used to enrich database entries with semantic information to help users find relevant records quickly with the help of a search interface. In this blog post, I describe how ontologies are represented to the computer, and how the use of an ontology differs from a traditional database model.

Ontologies intend to capture facts about the objects of a particular area of knowledge, called a domain. We might be used to recording facts about an object as a list of properties. For example, in a traditional, row-per-record database, every record would be associated with a number of fields:

recordId: 1
image: angel_playing_harp.png
instrument: harp
instrumentFamily: chordophone
instrumentNumberOfStrings: 6
performerType: angel
performerPosition: seated

recordId: 2
image: hybride.png
instrument: harp
instrumentFamily: chordophone
instrumentNumberOfStrings: 18
performerType: hybrid
performerPosition: standing

Each record captures facts about the instrument shown in the image: the name of the instrument, the family to which that instrument belongs, and the number of strings of the particular instrument shown in the image.

A human might recognize that these fields record information at two levels of abstraction: facts about instruments in general (their names, and their membership in the Hornbostel-Sachs classification) and facts about the specific instrument depicted in the image. Yet the “flat” structure of the database representation, which does not explicitly model this hierarchy, fails to capture such a distinction: from the perspective of a row-per-record database, each field assumed to be informative about only the record to which it is attached.

Ontologies correct this failure by making such hierarchies explicit in the domain. To achieve this goal, an ontology consists of the following components:

  • individuals
  • classes
  • properties

Individuals are basic objects of the domain: specific places, references to specific images in manuscripts, specific individuals (real and imaginary), musical instruments, etc. Classes are simply collections of individuals, with the additional rider that individuals may be members of several classes. Finally, properties are the component of an ontology that gives it its hierarchical richness: properties represent relations between individuals and/or classes. Often, the first step in designing an ontology is to figure out the individuals and the classes that best capture the structure of the domain. This process is closely related to the preparation of a controlled vocabulary.

By way of example, consider the first record in the table above. The underlying image, angel_playing_harp.png is an individual: only one such image exists in the domain. The fields in the table suggest that the image depicts a performance taking place; our ontology must model this explicitly. The aPerformance (hasPerformance) property captures “depicts a performance” as a relation between a specific image (an individual) and a specific, depicted performance (another individual). This relationship can be expressed in the following form

(subject, predicate, object)

where either individuals or classes may act as subject or object, and the predicate is taken from the properties defined by the ontology. This representation is called a triple, a three-place sequence. Concretely,

(angel_playing_harp, aPerformance, performance1)

might represent one of the many relations that are implicit in the first record of the traditional database example listed above. The object of this relation, the individual performance1 might subsequently be used in a number of other triples, now in the subject position. This characterizes the performance in more detail, describing, for example: the instruments used (if any), the function of the performance within the image, the genre of the performance. In turn, these objects may appear as the subject of further relations: capturing organlogical properties of the instrument, the basis for any iconographical or musicological interpretation, and so on.

The MUSICONIS ontology is designed in accordance with the principles of the Semantic Web, a cross-domain, international effort to define a set of best practices for the sharing of knowledge online. The online publication of freely available ontologies, sometimes also called Linked Data, allows libraries, researchers and web application designers to enrich their exhibits and research software with the expert domain knowledge represented by the ontology. Despite the diversity of syntaxes that are available to define and distribute ontologies online (among them OWL, OWL2, and Turtle), all express this key principle of knowledge modeling: relations between individuals, classes, and properties more accurately capture the hierarchical richness of domain knowledge than a traditional, record-per-line database.

January 25, 2018
by slb184

Nightingales in Literary Texts and Images: Diverse Modes of Subversion

Claire Dillon (Columbia University)

Morgan Dickson (Université de Picardie Jules Verne) gave a paper on “Nightingales in Literary Texts and Images” at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris as part of the lecture series “Arts et musique au Moyen Age.” Morgan Dickson’s research examines the subversive, and sometimes contradictory, nature of nightingale iconography in twelfth- and thirteenth-century English manuscripts. This common bird often occupies a liminal space, both in reality—as it is concealed by night while it sings—and on parchment, where its rather infrequent representations in the visual arts are usually limited to marginal spaces. By collecting sources with nightingales and identifying connections and themes, Dickson helps define the bird’s presence in medieval texts and images, and identifies directions for future research concerning the nightingale’s significance. In her paper, Dickson introduced two traditions of nightingales: the first is one of violence, loss, and lamentation, as represented in a fourteenth-century Ovide Moralisée:

For she causes them to suffer and
torments them so much
that when spring returns
when we have left the winter behind,
In her hatred for evildoers,
she sings as sweetly as she can
in the woods: ‘Kill! Kill!’

– Paris, BnF MS Arsenal 5069, f.91r (translation provided by Dickson)

The second tradition is one of spring, life, and erotic desire, as recorded in folk and oral traditions:

When the nightingale sings the woods become green
Leaf and grass and blossom springs in April, I know,
and love is come into my heart with such a sharp stab
it drinks my blood night and day; my heart causes me pain.

– London, British Library, MS Harley 2253, f. 80v (translation provided by Dickson)

With this comparison, Dickson lays the groundwork for pursuing further connections between nightingales, courtly love, and music. The bird’s positive and negative connotations complement its presence in stories of forbidden love, such as Marie de France’s lai “Laüstic,” in which the nightingale provides an excuse for a wife to sneak out and speak with her lover, as she claims to go to the window each evening to hear the bird sing. The nightingale’s connections to courtly love may run deeper through its possible relationship to the harp. In images such as the B initial of the Alphonso Psalter (London, BL MS Add 24686 fol 11r), the bird in the lower left corner may be identified as a nightingale. 

The nightingale is not often represented visually—or if it is, it has not been frequently identified given its rather common appearance. In this example, its presence with King David suggests the possibility that the bird could be associated with nobility and harping. Furthermore, the presence of the harp in the story of Tristan and Iseult may strengthen the nightingale’s association with music, longing, and desire.

In its connections to the pains and joys of the forbidden, the nightingale can be interpreted as a subversive character. This is supported by the Middle English poem The Owl and the Nightingale, in which the nightingale provokes the owl into an argument by insulting her appearance. The ensuing debate is a mockery of didactic verse contests, in which the reader follows the two birds through a fantastical argument that is never resolved. It could thus be interpreted as a mischievous figure. To further support these analyses of the nightingale, additional examples of the bird’s presence in illuminations can likely be identified in sources where they were not noticed previously. Dickson also stressed that the issue of gender demands further research; the word nightingale is feminine in Latin (luscinia), which likely relates to the mistaken belief that female nightingales sang, and may also inform their strong connection to nesting and motherhood in bestiaries. In romance languages, however, the word is masculine, and this may affect representations of the bird. As it encapsulates the paradoxes of presence and absence, centers and margins, open song and silent secrecy, the nightingale deserves more careful examination as a less ordinary bird than previously thought.

January 24, 2018
by slb184

Music and Architecture: A Shared Aesthetic of the Flamboyant

Russell O’Rourke (Columbia University)

In his lecture “Music and Architecture: A Shared Aesthetic of the Flamboyant,” given on January 12th at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, as part of the series “Arts et musique au Moyen Âge,” Graeme Boone (The Ohio State University) invited his audience to perceive analogies between late medieval music and late medieval buildings. Professor Boone made a convincing case for a parallel historical development in the two media over the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in France, from a relative clarity and simplicity of organization to a relative obscurity and complexity of these factors—a complexity Boone, borrowing a term from architectural history, dubbed their “shared aesthetic of the flamboyant.”

Professor Boone first called up historical witnesses to the analogy upon which his talk was premised, noting that certain late-medieval music theorists used architectural metaphors in their treatises to describe aspects of musical composition. Jacques of Liege, writing in the 1330s, compares the tenor of a polyphonic piece to the “foundation” (fundamentum) of a building,while in his Ars contrapuncti of c. 1340, Johannes de Muris calls counterpoint (meaning roughly the norms regulating polyphonic composition) the fundamentum of discant (meaning roughly the sounding application of counterpoint). While some may read these as workaday metaphors, Boone asked us to take them literally: if the tenor (often the lowest voice in fourteenth-century music) is considered the fundamentum of a medieval Mass, then its other voices may be heard as columns and arches, the whole constituting a sonic structure analogous to a stone one. Boone took the analogy yet further by folding in the basic principles of counterpoint: harmonies built on perfect consonances such as fifths and octaves can be heard as the musical equivalent of columns because they have a “load-bearing function” within the musical structure (among other things, they usually mark the beginning and end of a fourteenth-century piece of music), while harmonies built on imperfect intervals such as thirds and sixths can be heard as the graceful interstices between the perfect ones—that is, as arches. Here is an example of the speaker’s creative visual representation:

Framework established, Boone then drew our attention to specific examples in order to draw a contrast between fourteenth and fifteenth-century music-architectural aesthetics. In the Kyrie from Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame, written in the mid-fourteenth century, perfect harmonies abound: they not only mark the outset and closing of any given movement of Machaut’s Mass, but also dominate the intervening music. The result is a music whose qualities are stability and balance—qualities to which Professor Boone posited an analogy in fourteenth-century Gothic cathedrals’ tendency to foreground the relationship between their architectural features and their load-bearing structure. (See, for example, the north transept rose window at Rouen Cathedral.) Fifteenth-century music, by contrast, obscures its reliance on perfect harmonies both by employing imperfect consonances with greater frequency and by drawing the listener’s attention away from harmony through complex, often syncopated rhythms and artful devices such as canons. Boone’s examples of the new fifteenth-century style included the Kyrie from Guillaume Dufay’s Missa Ave regina caelorum and Ockeghem’s Missa prolationum. (As a side note, in this aspect of Boone’s argument I noted an affinity with the thinking of Heinrich Schenker, the influential twentieth-century music theorist.) In architecture, meanwhile, the fifteenth century saw the rise of a “flamboyant” aesthetic that tended, in its fruits, to obscure the visibility of a building’s load-bearing structure through what Boone called a “refined polylinearity,” an interesting choice of words clearly intended to echo the musical concept of polyphony. (The comparison between music and architecture can go both ways, in other words.) Examples shown included the mellifluous rose window at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the twirling choir pillar at the Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris, both of which disguise their engineering behind beguiling architectural ornament.

In all, Professor Boone offered his audience a fascinating, enriching, and provocative tour through some of France’s greatest cultural monuments of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, all the while challenging us to hear as we see, and see as we hear.

January 23, 2018
by slb184

Seeing and Knowing through Music at Chartres Cathedral

John Glasenapp, OSB (Columbia University)

Chartres Cathedral boasts the largest number of musical representations within it of any Gothic cathedral. There are a total of 312 images of music performance, including 26 different instruments, concentrated especially on the Western frontispiece, around the monumental choir screen, and in the cathedral’s famous windows. It is fitting, then, that the Musée des Beaux-arts just next-door houses the Instrumentarium of Chartres. The Instrumentarium exhibits reconstructed medieval instruments and hosts performances of medieval instrumental music. We began our day there with an introduction to their impressive collection by André Bonjour and Xavier Terasa. They described how information was gleaned from musical iconography in their design process and what remained a best guess, such as the exact size of many of the instruments. When possible, the builders used materials available to medieval craftsmen like catgut strings and cow’s bladder for the air bag of a bagpipe. After their presentations, we were invited to play all of the instruments. It was fascinating to hear and play actual models of the instruments we had been seeing and describing in artworks. Trying them out was also great fun and made a total cacophony.

In the afternoon, André Bonjour led a tour around the cathedral to examine some of its musical imagery. Many images are quite small and easy to miss. Although several that he pointed to contained unique and important details, it was the sheer volume and ubiquity of musical representations that most struck me. Such density is difficult to appreciate without being physically present in a space, but quite inescapable and overwhelming when there.

The cathedral’s imagery places music at the heart of Christian cosmology and Christian worship. The marriage of the two depends on the evocation of several senses of music among the cathedral’s abundant representations. Humans, such as shepherds, playing instruments suggests the most common conception of music. But interspersed with these musicians are angels sounding their own celestial song. Although their performance is imperceptible, the endless rounds of liturgy in the cathedral are nevertheless a participation in their ceaseless praise. Finally, the personification of music among the seven liberal arts in the archivolt of the south portal evokes music as a purely intellectual science. She is surrounded by a carillon, vielle, psaltery, and monochord and simultaneously represents secular learning and the harmonic order of creation. In The Virgin of Chartres: Making History through Liturgy and the Arts (2010), Margot Fassler highlights that the two liberal arts personified as women in this section of the cathedral, grammar and music, are those most central to the celebration of the liturgy. She argues that the themes of seeing and knowing thread through both the art and the liturgy. Chartres’s musical imagery suggests to the viewer that playing, hearing, and studying music are privileged means to see and know the creative mind of God.

January 22, 2018
by slb184

Representing the Music of Minnesang

By Mike Ford (Columbia University)

In his presentation at INHA’s seminar “Arts et musique au Moyen Age”  in January 2018, Henry Hope (Universität Bern) argued against the widely-held belief that music (as opposed to poetry) did not enjoy a position of privilege in the minds of the German aristocracy of the fourteenth century. Earlier scholars posited this view based on the small portion of images in the Codex Manesse that contain musical iconography and that only the text appears—not any musical notation.

However, Hope disputes this view in a variety of ways. Firstly, he notes that most of the images that depict musical instruments actively avoid depicting performance; indeed, only two images feature instruments being played. This kind of deliberate disuse of instruments leads Hope to believe that the instruments carry iconographic meaning instead of purely musical, highlighting the stature or class of the Minnesanger rather than portraying him as a musician, which is implied by his title and inclusion in the codex. In addition to alluding to the power of the Minnesanger himself, musical references also point to power relations between various figures in the images. For example, Hope discusses an image (found on 13r) in which Margrave Otto van Brandenburg plays chess against a lady; their agon is musically reflected by performers in a panel below their game: two trumpeters (with either military or courtly connotations) support the Margrave by blowing in the direction of the lady, while she is supported by a bagpiper (with pastoral connotations). The lady, holding one of his chess pieces, is unshaken by his show of authority.

Music often also takes on an allegorical function or harkens back to the ancient theories of musical harmonies (which Hope argues is an attempt at legitimation). While some of these allegories might be static in nature, many other images depict actions, rather than still-lives; Hope maintains: “Almost all the images in the codex can be sounded out,” by which he means that one can image the soundscape with ease.

January 22, 2018
by slb184

The Musiconis Ontology

By Mark Saccomano (Columbia University)

María Victoria Eyharabide is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Sorbonne -Université and a developer on the Musiconis database project. As part of the program of seminars on the digital humanities offered to FAB-Musiconis participants, Professor Eyharabide gave an overview of database design principles necessary for efficient execution of search queries. These principles relate to indexing records in the database so that relevant results can be easily retrieved by the end user.

A simple search for a string of text (for example, using Ctrl+F to locate a word or phrase in a document file) will often return far too many records than the user requires, including many irrelevant results due to the fact that the search will look for the requested string anywhere within the record. Synonyms, homonyms, periphrasis, and the ambiguity of natural language all present further problems that limit the functionality of a such a search. Therefore, it is desirable for a database to index records in such a way that that users can find what they need quickly and easily; creating an ontology is an integral step in this process.

In an ontology, database entities are defined according to a set of criteria that allow them to be linked with other entities in meaningful ways. For example, the word harp is defined in the ontology as an element in a taxonomic classification of musical instruments. It is assigned membership in the class chordophone, which is in turn a member of the class instrument. Logical relations among classes, such as equivalency, disjunction, range and domain, are also defined through the ontology, so that, for example, “angel playing harp” is a valid search request and “harp playing angel” is not. Professor Eyharabide demonstrated how these relationships are expressed in the software program Protege.

An innovative aspect of the Musiconis database schema is the notion of a “scene” as the highest order entity modeled by the database. As an instrument is often depicted as being played by someone, often in conjunction with other players, and often with characters nearby responding to the sounds they hear, musicians and listeners are part of a single musical event, an event that gives clues to the instrument’s use and iconographic significance. The designers of the database deemed these contextual details to be a valuable and necessary component of the information they wanted to capture. So rather than simply having database entries that correspond to each image of an instrument, Musiconis records are records of scenes, of tableaux containing information about instruments, their use, their players, the surrounding figures, as well as metadata that identifies the allegorical meanings of the scenes, such as their use as visual representations of church teachings, biblical stories, or theological beliefs. Ontologically speaking, then, a record contains an abstract entity called a scene that has a set of defined attributes. These are further categorized in terms of performance data, instrument data, sound characteristics, and graphic signifiers, such as the color and formal design of the depicted scene. Such a schema provides the user with a fuller picture of the overall depth and richness of the data.

November 26, 2017
by slb184

Announcing the Participants for 2017-18

We are delighted to announce the newly selected participants in FAB-Musiconis for this year’s working sessions in Paris (2-15 January 2018) and New York (13-27 April 2018).

Columbia Graduate Student Participants for 2017-18

Eamonn Bell is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Music Theory, writing a dissertation on the influence of the computer on music research since the 1960s, as digital computers became widely adopted by universities worldwide. He has worked on digital humanities projects involving medieval sources, including transcriptions of a corpus of troubadour and trouvère melodies; applying natural language processing techniques to discover instances of text reuse in Latin-language music theory treatises; and using the Python programming language to show how supervised machine learning can be used to automatically extract handwritten annotations from scanned images of musical scores.

Claire Dillon is a first-year PhD student in Art History and Archeology. Her research, under Avinoam Shalem, focuses on the exchange of art objects across the medieval Mediterranean, and the cultural intersections represented by these visual materials. She has an MPhil in Medieval Language, Literature, and Culture from Trinity College Dublin and graduated from Northwestern University in 2014 with a BA in Art History and Italian. She has transcribed Old English homilies for online publication, created digital photography exhibitions and curricula guides, and assisted with photogrammetry initiatives.

Mike Ford is a second-year Historical Musicology PhD student, studying the interaction among humans and computers during the creative process. He has an MA in Musicology from Rutgers University, with a thesis on the digitally-enabled borrowing of Renaissance material in two contemporary compositions; and a BMus in Performing Arts (Orchestral Conducting) from the University of Pretoria. His current research includes work on multi-instrumental improvisation as well as the improvisatory creation of digital instruments.

John Glasenapp is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Historical Musicology, writing his dissertation on the Beaupré antiphonary  in the Walters Art Gallery under Susan Boynton with a focus on Cistercian chant, liturgy, identity, as well as women’s spirituality. He has degrees in music from DePaul University, in Philosophical Studies from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and in Medieval Studies from Fordham University. He contributed the digital index of Columbia, RBML Plimpton MS 041 to the Cantus Index (a collaborative database) .

Russell O’Rourke is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Historical Musicology. He is working on a dissertation under the supervision of Giuseppe Gerbino on theories of representation and expression in late sixteenth-century Italian music, literature, and the visual arts. He taught Music Humanities in the Columbia Core Curriculum for two years, for which he received a Preceptor Teaching Award in 2017. Under the supervision of Susan Boynton, he has worked on multiple digital humanities projects, including a digitally encoded corpus of all the extant troubadour songs and a web exhibit about a chant manuscript held at Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. In his spare time, Russell plays viola with the Columbia University Orchestra and sings early music from its original notation with friends.

Mark Saccomano is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Music Theory, writing his dissertation on the musical structures that affect our sense of space. He has degrees from University of California, Berkeley (BA in Linguistics, magna cum laude), University of California, Los Angeles (MA in Applied Linguistics), and California State University (BA in Music). He has held an internship at the Columbia Digital Humanities Center, taken workshops at Columbia’s Center for Spatial Research on GIS software, worked with MySql to design a structure for archival information, and developed exhibits with Omeka and other visualization tools.

Tori Schmitt is a second-year MA student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. She holds a BA in Art History with a Minor in Digital Humanities from the University of California, Los Angeles, with an undergraduate thesis on “3D Modeling as Gothic Reconstruction: An Investigation into the Parisian Church of the Jacobins.” She was an Undergraduate Research Assistant and 3D Modeler for the UCLA project Paris: Past and Present. She also worked on the UCLA Digital Humanities Capstone: Getty Provenance Metadata. At Columbia she is a graduate research assistant for Professor Stephen Murray’s Art Humanities website “Life of a Cathedral: Notre-Dame of Amiens.” In addition to participating in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project, she also was also the primary project lead for the digital resources and website for an exhibition of the prints of Robert Nanteuil.

Mariana-Cecilia Velázquez is a seventh-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and an MA in Latin American and Iberian Cultures from Columbia University. Her interests include Iberian, Caribbean, and Mediterranean cultural production, travel narratives, chronicles, and piracy from fifteenth to seventeenth centuries and she is writing a dissertation entitled “Travelers, Traders, and Traitors: Writing and Mapping Piracy in England, Spain, and the Caribbean (1570-1620).” She participated in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project. Her participation in this year’s session has been made possible in part by FORMINNOV, which is funding her translation of database terms into Spanish.

Sorbonne-Affiliated Graduate Student Participants for 2017-18

Oumayma Aoun is a master’s student in Music and Musicology at the Higher Institute of Music in Tunis, where she also obtained her bachelor’s degree. She has held an internship at the Center for Arabic and Mediterranean Music, where she digitized the archives of Baron d’Erlanger. Her participation in FAB-Musiconis has been made possible through FORMINNOV.

Miguel Baptista is a first-year MA student in Musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University. He is a harpsichordist (Conservatory of Nancy) and composer (for few short films) and he is an independent music medieval manuscripts expert for collectors and auction houses. His current research project indexes and analyzes his personal collection of manuscripts from the ninth to sixteenth centuries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Musicology from the University of Lorraine.

Raffaella Bortolini is a second-year PhD student in musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University. She has a Master of Arts in medieval music performance (shawm) from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and a Master of Music in historically informed performance (with a specialization in Baroque oboe) from the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg im Breisgau. Bortolini co-founded Ensemble Seraphim, which specializes in medieval instrumental music. She participated in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project.

Valérie Nunes – Le Page is a second-year MA student in musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University specializing in the performance practice of medieval music in the professional studies program. She is a certified teacher in a conservatory, a singer, and a choirmaster. Her research focuses on rhythmic changes in the French treatises of the late 13th century and the early 14th century. She participated in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project.

Florentin Morel is a second-year MA student in musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University. His research focuses on the marimba in Europe in the twentieth century. He holds a Bachelor in Music and Musicology from Paris-Sorbonne University. His interests include music history and world music, particularly that of Latin America. He is also involved in the indexing work of the Musiconis database. Morel is a percussionist and composer who has collaborated with several choreographers. including a dancer and choreographer from the Paris Opera. He participated in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project.

Aline Poirier teaches flute and Baroque flute at the Regional Conservatory in Rouen and the Departmental Conservatoire in Dieppe. She holds qualifications from the University of Rouen in Musicology, English, and Economics, as well as various teaching diplomas. Her interests include the connections between Medieval and Asian flute practices, as well as their circulation across the Mediterranean during the Middle Ages.

Georgios Theocharous read music in London, the United States and Germany, graduating with a BMus from City University, London; an MMus in Historical Musicology from Goldsmiths College, University of London; a DMA in Theory/Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Meisterklasse in Composition from the Hoschchule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Leipzig. His publications have appeared in Perspectives of New Music, Musik und Aesthetik and Lexikon des Orchesters. As of October 2017 he is pursuing a second doctorate at the Sorbonne under the tutelage of Professor Frédéric Billiet, focusing on Byzantine influences on the Torino Codex J.II.9.

Ershad Vaeztehrani is a second-year MA student in the UFR of Music and Musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University. He has a BA in Music Performance (Double Bass) from the Music Faculty of The Art University of Tehran. He is also studying the Historical Bass at the Conservatoire de Paris. Also a percussionist (Persian, Medieval and Baroque Percussions), he has collaborated with different ancient music ensembles and musicians such as Abya Yala, Les Voix Errantes, Seraphim ensemble, Robin Troman, Sebastien Marcq and Jean-Jacques Hérbin. He participated in the 2016-17 session of the FAB Musiconis project.

Edmundo Camacho is a Professor at the School of Music (Facultad de Música), as well as the School of Philosophy and Literature (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He holds a Master in Music Performance and bachelor’s degrees in Music and Communication Sciences from the UNAM. He is currently working on his doctoral thesis on the Harp in New Spain. Since 2015, he has been the associate editor of the Cuadernos de Iconografía Musical and since 2010, he has participated in research projects on musical iconography in New Spain.  At present, he is participating in the Musical Iconography Workshop at the UNAM. His participation in FAB-Musiconis has been made possible through FORMINNOV.

January 28, 2017
by slb184

Space, Sight, and Sound in the Renaissance Palace

by Sadegh Ansari

On 4 January 2017 at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, in the seminar Lieux et espaces en musique: la Renaissance italienne (part of the series L’iconographie musicale et l’art occidental), Tim Shephard (University of Sheffield) gave a talk titled “Space, Sight, and Sound in the Renaissance Palace,” following the talk by Laura Moretti on the place of music in the palaces and villas of the Italian Renaissance.

The focus of Shephard’s talk was a series of representations of music that did not necessarily correspond to music performance. They rather demonstrated supra-musical functions of musical imagery in Renaissance Italy. These images were widely disseminated and usually portable, printed in eclogues, pamphlets, books, etc. They connect specific aspects of the musical culture of the time to give a particular reading of music making as an activity.

The first set of images depict pastoral scenes with shepherds as their protagonists in eclogues. The images can be essentially grouped in two categories of “good” and “bad” space. Music is always present in the good space and brings about the happiness and joy there, while it is absent in the bad space and replaced with silence.

The second set of images represent the story of the judgement of Midas. In this story, Midas, a king in ancient Greece with a reputation for having poor judgement questions the superiority of Apollo in playing music by judging Pan’s music to be better than that of Apollo. This story shows the extent of Midas’ poor judgement. In the illustration chosen by Shephard, Midas is represented as unmanly, effeminate, inelegant, and obviously with poor musical judgement. But Shephard argues that the poor judgement does not just stop at music. Midas has poor moral judgment as well, which is why he is depicted as unmanly. This, Shephard argues, links music with moral judgement: if a person has a poor judgement in music they will have poor moral judgement too.

In the next image, an episode in the story of Orpheus is depicted. The episode is about Orpheus’ sadness after he loses Eurydice for the second time. The depiction shows him playing music so passionately that even beasts and trees are moved by it. The illustration was a part of a printed edition of Ovid’s stories translated in vernacular, printed around late 15th century. At that time Orpheus was not understood to be just a musician, but also a poet and orator. In fact, his musicianship was an accompaniment to his oratory abilities that enabled him to control beasts and trees which here represent uncontrollable stubborn men rather than actual beasts and trees. Orpheus is an ancient civic leader who uses powerful rhetoric to tame wild and stubborn men. Music and poetry nourish oratory skills that are necessary for being an effective leader. This is to emphasize the importance of poetry and musical education as opposed to swordsmanship and other purely physical activities.

The last image is an illustration of Mount Parnassus. The image was printed on porcelain plates used on dinner tables. It depicts Apollo playing the lyre as the organizer of the harmony of the spheres and the universe by extension. This depiction of Apollo very clearly puts him in line with Pythagorean music theory. But, in Renaissance Italy, Apollo was associated with the personification of poetry rather than music. Once again, music is seen as an accompaniment to poetry. especially since the instrument used by Apollo, Lyra, was very similar in name to the instrument that was used in 15th century Italian poetry recitation as an accompaniment instrument: Lira da Braccio. This instrument in return was linked to Pythagorean music theory by Johannes Tinctoris. Through Lyra, Apollo linked the Pythagorean mathematical quadrivium to poetic grammatical trivium, tying poetry to music. In fact in Renaissance Italian cosmology it was poetry and not music that could give you access to the secrets of the universe. This image shows the close connection that music and poetry had to one another, depicting personification of poetry as a lady holding a lyre sitting on top of Mount Parnassus. The essential idea behind Shephard’s argument is that music and poetry in renaissance Italy were the same or at least could be understood as the same.

The images studied here connect specific aspects of the musical culture of the time to give a particular reading of music making as an activity. These activities could be the production of a happy space as in the case of the pastoral eclogues, the instillment of good moral judgement through good musical education, the promotion of oratory skills, or the refusal to make a distinction between music and poetry. These images can produce these meanings as a kind of space for performance of musical activities of all kinds in any location.

January 28, 2017
by slb184

Medieval Musical Iconography Research and Indexing

by Valérie Nunes-Le Page

How is music, in all its dimensions, represented and understood according to various notions and views? Musiconis is a database for musical iconography. However, it is still a work in progress. For the FAB-Musiconis project, we had to index 200 images that included paintings, sculptures, books, and manuscripts pertaining to the Medieval Ages. In order to achieve this goal, we had to address the following main questions. First, what is a musical scene? what kind of sound can we find in the images? and how can we imagine to index such images? One of the main objectives of the Musiconis project is to define more precisely all the signs that the artists wanted to include in their works to deliver a message to the public. To do so requires background knowledge in medieval history, art history, and religion. One should also be familiar with ancient cultures, as the images contain Latin mythological and classical references.

During Sébastien Biay’s seminar at the Columbia Global Center on January 3, 2017, we learned that there are several types of sounds that are non-musical, natural sounds (birds) or shouts, calls, war sounds, and musical ones, with or without instruments. The instruments can be real or broken (implying parody). Furthermore, the instruments can be non-played and in such cases, they simply represent music. Regarding the sonic actions of the images, the musical functions must be described using a large array of categories and words, because there are many kinds of actions in the pictures. For instance, sometimes one could find only accompaniment of a performance or a scene. We can also see unreal scenes, like a man dancing with a lion or a strange flute inserted in his nose which can designate disorder.

The intention of the sound is important. It can be accompaniment to a performance or combat, entertainment, and glorification. The effects of the music can be agitation, seduction, disorder, soothing, or engendering a letter. Images frequently refer to music theory and the idea of musical perfection. Music is performed in the presence of God. We can interpret representations of David playing or with a tuning key as precision, or the notion of consonance, which often means harmony. The depictions of music on a book indicate measure, modality, and they are often linked with numbers and mathematical laws (Pythagoras). We used all these categories in the process of indexation.

The signs of sound can be a graphic representation of breath, or notations and texts included in the pictures. The classification of instruments involves two kinds of indexation terms: the Isidorean tri-partition, and organological categories (chordophones, aerophones, and percussions). It may seem very simple, but we had to employ these classifications only if there was a clear visual depiction.. Low and high instruments are two families with strong symbolic functions: softer or noisy instruments. The organ is in the same family as stringed instruments. The source of musical inspiration is frequently the Holy Ghost or Virgin Mary. The referential context of the sound can be classified as angelic context (music played by angels) or liturgical music (a cleric singing). The prophets are often the link between the Old and New testament. They represent perfect, celestial music. Rural or urban soundscapes, aristocratic music, and courtly music, connected with seduction in courtly manner (not erotic music) are other referential contexts.

The music of the Law (the Ten Commandments) is often represented by David at the beginning of the first psalm. King David signifies intellectual music in contradistinction to liturgical music. Carnal music, music of the flesh, can be depicted by the devil holding a rote or by mythological characters and scenes which submit the spirit to the flesh. Church music is not music performed in a church, but music which represents the church. For example, an organ can represent the church. Parodic music is a particular situation with instruments that have been “hijacked” (removed from their context) or animals with an instrument that they could never actually play.






January 27, 2017
by slb184

Digital humanities projects at IReMus: the EUTERPE Project

by Ershad Vaeztehrani

This seminar at the IReMus (Institut de recherche en Musicologie) on January 4 was organized by Fabien Guilloux, who is working on the Euterpe Project.

He started with a presentation of the IReMus and its history. IReMus was born in 2014 from three other musicology institutes: OMF (Observatoire Musical Français) and PLM (Patrimoine et Langage Musicale), which were two societies of musicology at Paris-Sorbonne University and the IRPMF (Institut de recherche sur le patrimoine musical en France). IreMus is a mixed research unit based on cooperation between different organisations such as: Paris-Sorbonne University, the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the National Library of France (BnF) and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. This institute has 64 permanent members alongside 50 associate members and 120 PhD students who work on different projects of the institute. IreMus has five principal research axes:

  1. Editing, Restoring and Enhancing Musical Heritage
    • Musical publishing reviews
    • Corpus and Collections
    • Performance, Musical Practice, and Recordings
  2. Writings about Music
    • Writings and letters of musicians
    • Press, journals and musical critics
    • Historiography and epistemology
  3. Music analysis
    • Analytical tools and methods
    • Analytical practice
    • Theory and History of musical theories
    • Notation
  4. Studying Historical, Cultural and Social Concepts
    • Musicians
    • Music Genre, repertoire and stylistic currents
    • Social and Institutional frameworks
    • Music and Religion
  5. Representation and Reception of the Music
    • Visual representation, Iconography and Organology
    • Pedagogy, Didactic, Cognition
    • Aesthetics and links with other Arts

Orazio Gentileschi and Giovanni Lanfranco, Saint Cecilia and an Angel, Italian, 1582 – 1647, c. 1617/1618 and c. 1621/1627, oil on canvas, Samuel H. Kress Collection









The Euterpe Project started in 1996 and currently its database encompasses 13000 images from 16th century to 1900. Right now it is being directed by Florence Gétreau (Director Emeritus of research at CNRS) and Fabien Guilloux (Ingenieur de recherche at CNRS). It is one of many other database projects supported by the IReMus such as Musiconis (Database for Medieval Images representing Music), TGM (database dedicated to writings about music theory from 1490 to 1650 in the Germanic sphere), and Borée (Database about Rameau, music writings, books and articles about him).

As Fabien Gouilloux mentioned, the history of humanities research projects on Musical Iconography in postwar France goes back to 1967 when the Laboratory of Organology and Musical Iconography (Laboratoire d’organologie et d’iconographie musicale) was founded by Geneviève Thibaut. In this laboratory researchers (most of them art historians) were using index cards to collect images to construct their database. The reason for the importance of such a laboratory is that the Euterpe and similar projects are working in the same research field of musical iconography. These projects aim to create a Database of images in which one can find different kinds of visual artworks that represent Music orrelated subjects from various historical periods. Obviously in the digital age, methods and equipment are different, but the old index cards have been digitalized for use in Euterpe. There are two different kinds of access for the site (free and private access) as there is always the problem of copyright for some images that are from private collections and museums. As the project is being sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of France, users of the site have free access to collections of different public museums in France such as the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. The principles of indexation in Euterpe follow the Ridim (Repertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale) guidelines. Four aspects of musical iconography are described in Euterpe: 1. Musical Instruments (on a Hornbostel-Sachs system which is adapted by the MIMO Project) 2. Musical Iconography themes 3. Music Notation 4. Musical Gesture. There are some future projects for this database, including increasing it with collections (such as the inner and outer decorations of Versaillese), Music Notation (NEUMA project), adding musical gestures of Harp and Bag-Pipe and integration into the Ridim database.

January 25, 2017
by slb184

Seminar on musical notation

Séminaire sur « La notation musicale », de Professeur Nicolas MEEUS
Jeudi 5 janvier 2017, Université Paris-Sorbonne
Post: Florentin MOREL

Ayant eu lieu à l’Université Paris-Sorbonne (Centre Clignancourt) le 5 janvier 2017, le séminaire sur la notation musicale fut organisé par le professeur Nicolas Meeus. Rendez-vous de quatre heures en présence de nombreux musicologues, ce séminaire fut associé exceptionnellement aux séminaires des professeurs Frédéric Billiet et Katarina Livljanic. Cette séance s’est articulée en quatre grandes parties traitant chacune d’une facette historique de la notation musicale : tout d’abord, la notation musicale dans le monde de la Grèce antique, puis la notation musicale au Moyen-Age et à la Renaissance. Pour terminer, il y eut une présentation de la notation moderne du Plain-Chant.

I. La notation dans le monde antique

Dans un premier temps, nous avons assisté à la présentation des recherches de la chercheuse française Denise Jourdan-Hemmerdinger sur les notations d’un fragment de manuscrit grec. Nous pouvons remarquer la présence de notation à points, notée entre les lignes de texte. Nous pouvons également mettre en évidence des signes prosodiques d’accentuation. Grâce à cela, nous pouvons en déduire qu’il y avait une définition rythmique et nous pouvons également faire l’hypothèse d’une pratique musicale.
Durant l’examen de ce fragment de manuscrit, Denise Jourdan-Hemmerdinger s’est rendue compte de la présence de trous de vers s’apparentant à la notation musicale. Il fallut donc déterminer ce qui était de la notation musicale et ce qui relevait de l’usure du manuscrit.
Nous pouvons observer ici une transcription de la notation à points du papyrus Lefort, nous montrant de façon précise les différentes positions des points. Nous pouvons supposer que la position du point définirait la hauteur de la note. Durant cette présentation, Denise Jourdan-Hemmerdinger exposera le fait que la notation étudiée fonctionne par formule, par enchainements déterminés. Grâce au papyrus Lefort, des chercheurs ont pu déterminer 324 types de formules qu’il faut ensuite mettre en relation.
Une discussion s’est ensuite mise en place autour de la détermination de ces différentes formules, sur l’interprétation de cette notation à point et sur l’évaluation de sa précision quant à la détermination de la hauteur de la note chantée et de la détermination du rythme.

II. La notation dans le monde médiéval

Deuxième temps de ce séminaire, la présentation de la notation musicale au Moyen Age fut assurée par la professeure Katarina Livljanic (Université Paris-Sorbonne). Cet exposé s’articula en deux temps : le premier étant une présentation de la notation neumatique et le second étant l’exposition des travaux de recherches de deux étudiants.
Toute la présentation de K. Livljanic s’articula autour de la question suivante : Qu’est-ce que la notation apporte au chanteur ?
Au Xe siècle, nous pouvons remarquer, au fil des exemples donnés tels que le Viderunt Omnes du Graduel de Noël (Manuscrit de Saint Gall), que la notation musicale n’apporte pas toutes les informations nécessaires à l’interprétation vocale. Nous pouvons avoir à faire à une grande diversité d’interprétations de la même oeuvre, en particulier du point de vue de l’interprétation rythmique de la partition. Il faut encore un nombre important de clés d’interprétation afin de lire ses oeuvres. A cette époque, nous sommes encore dans la tradition de la transmission orale.

Le manuscrit Ms. 159 de Montpellier, datant du XIe siècle, est l’une des premières sources connues actuellement constituées d’une notation neumatique et d’une notation alphabétique principalement destinée à l’enseignement du chant.
Suite à cela, l’utilisation d’une ligne invisible fera son apparition afin de noter plus précisément la position des notes et de définir des intervalles. C’est le passage de la notation adiastématique (absence d’indication des hauteurs) à la notation diastématique (présence d’indication des hauteurs). Cette évolution de la notation musicale aboutira au XIIe siècle à l’apparition de cette ligne, de façon visible, permettant de définir plus précisément les intervalles et permettant de donner plus d’informations au chanteur. Nous pouvons également remarquer l’évolution des notations avec la précision grandissante des ornements et de la précision des intervalles dans l’exemple du Viderunt Omnes du manuscrit 74 de Cologne, présenté lors de cette conférence.
Katarina Livljanic attira notre attention sur l’absence de la partie de Plain-Chant utilisée dans la version du Viderunt Omnes à trois voix conservé à Fleury sur Loire. Nous pouvons seulement remarquer la présence de la seconde voix et de la voix organale.
Pour finir, dans le Viderunt omnes de Pérotin (Ecole de Notre-Dame), œuvre exécutée à quatre voix, nous pouvons remarquer la présence de modes rythmiques afin d’organiser la polyphonie.

Suite à cette présentation, deux élèves de recherche en musicologie nous ont exposé leur travail de recherche.
Tout d’abord, Gérard Vidal nous présenta ses recherches sur un conduit de l’Ecole de Notre Dame de Paris. Le conduit est l’une des premières formes musicales où l’on compose l’intégralité de l’oeuvre, à la fois le texte et la musique. Son travail porte donc sur les références à la psalmodie dans cette pièce.
Dans un second temps, Boris Courrège nous présenta ses recherches sur un Missel de Paris conservé à la Bibliothèque nationale de France constitué des textes en écriture noire et possédant des passages en écriture rouge. Décrivant une procession pour la bénédiction des rameaux à l’église Sainte Geneviève, ce manuscrit décrit l’itinéraire emprunté par le cortège dans les rues du quartier latin à Paris. La question qui se pose ici est la suivante : Pourquoi utiliser un missel pour une procession ? Suite à cette présentation, une discussion s’engagea sur le travail futur de l’étudiant autour de la comparaison de cet ouvrage à d’autres écrits semblables de l’époque.

III. La notation musicale à la Renaissance

Dans un troisième temps, la professeure Alice Tacaille (Université Paris-Sorbonne) nous présenta les évolutions de la notation musicale dans la polyphonie entre le XIIIe et le XVe siècle.
Au XIIIe siècle, l’apparition de la notation rythmique permet de rendre indépendante chaque partie d’une polyphonie. A cette époque, nous pouvons remarquer l’absence de signe de mesure. Cette indépendance donnée à chaque partie influera sur la copie des œuvres par l’écriture en parties séparées des polyphonies. On reviendra plus tard à l’écriture sous forme de conducteur, c’est-à-dire en superposition de toutes les parties pour une meilleure vue d’ensemble. Le rythme sera ensuite déterminé par la valeur faciale de la note, précisant également sa durée.
Cette notation rythmique permit aux compositeurs de combiner les voix en polyphonie de façon de plus en plus complexe. Nous pouvons citer la mise en polyphonie de chansons préexistantes (Manuscrit de Montpellier), le rythme permettant à chaque chanson de suivre sa propre structure (couplet et refrain) indépendamment des autres. Ce système aura pour résultat un flot continu n’ayant pour cadence que la cadence finale.
La notation musicale est également très importante pour la compréhension de la forme. Pour certaines formes, la structure peut être déterminée visuellement par la mise en page et la notation. Nous pouvons voir cela dans le manuscrit Fr. 1104 (Colbert 2502) avec des rondeaux dont les vers sont soigneusement disposés. Nous pouvons également constater cela avec le rondeau d’Oxford où l’on distingue bien le refrain du couplet.
De plus, la notation permet également aux compositeurs quelques fantaisies telles que les canons de Guillaume Dufay dont l’interprétation n’est possible que par la résolution d’une énigme donnée. Nous pouvons voir cela dans le Manuscrit de Naples, recueil de six messes basées sur la chanson de l’Homme Armé mais ne mettant en évidence que des extraits de cette dernière au tenor dans les cinq premières messes. On ne trouvera la citation de l’intégralité de la chanson que dans la sixième et dernière messe.
Nous pouvons également citer l’œuvre d’Ockeghem : Ut Heremita solus. Cette pièce est basée sur des rébus permettant de mettre en place la partie de tenor. Imprimée en 1504 par Petrucci, cette pièce est commercialisée avec la résolution, cette dernière étant l’initiative de l’éditeur et ayant un intérêt purement commercial. En effet, sans cette résolution, la vente de cette œuvre aurait été beaucoup plus compliquée. Dans le Manuscrit Bourdonné, de provenance italienne, où figure une messe de l’Homme Armé (à 4 voix) de Josquin, nous pouvons mettre en évidence le soin avec lequel le copiste a écrit la partie de tenor avec et sans la résolution. Ce système nous donne l’illusion d’une partition à cinq voix. Nous pouvons donc nous poser la question suivante : A quelle utilisation était destiné ce genre de manuscrit ? Serait-ce pour la préservation du partimoine, la pratique du chant ou de la lecture ?
Pour conclure, Alice Tacaille soulèvera le fait que cette recherche d’énigme et de rébus ne facilitera pas l’évolution du langage musical vers la tonalité.

IV. La notation moderne du Plain-Chant

Durant la dernière partie de ce séminaire sur la notation musicale, Cécile Davy-Rigaux (Directrice de l’IReMus, CNRS) fit une présentation de l’évolution de la notation moderne du Plain-Chant, le but de cette notation étant d’éviter les portées à quatre lignes et les clefs inusitées dans ce répertoire. Nous pouvons remarquer que dans le Grove Dictionary, l’article sur le Plain-Chant mentionne la notation musicale mais il y a un manque significatif de connaissances, comme un blocage historiographique, face à la notation moderne. De plus, cette notation n’est pas plébiscitée par tous les spécialistes. Les spécialistes médiévistes préfèreront les versions d’origines alors que les spécialistes modernistes préfèreront les versions en notation moderne.
Comme l’indique Cécile Davy-Rigaux, la notation moderne a pour but de faire progresser l’interprétation de ce répertoire mais également de consolider les transcriptions et faciliter le catalogage de fonds spécifiques. Nous pouvons citer comme exemple Les chants de l’Abbaye Royale de Nostre Dame du Val de Grâce de 1660.
La « sémiologie grégorienne » s’articule autour de notions de philologie, étude des neumes, de notions de paléographie, étude des signes, et se distingue par l’étude de l’expression vocale signifiée par les neumes simples ou composés. Nous pouvons citer comme exemple d’analyse sémiologique l’ouvrage Correptio Cantus ayant pour but de réduire la complexité mélodique tout en restant sous le contrôle de l’Eglise et subissant les restrictions qu’elle impose. Ces réformes seront largement diffusées à travers l’Europe. Cécile Davy-Rigaux citera quelques exemples d’application dans les récitatifs des missels : le Missale romanum de Pie V et le Pontificale romanum de Clément VIII.
Nous pouvons également remarquer l’émergence de traités comme le traité Derictorium Chori de Guidetti écrit en 1582 et ayant pour but de fixer des conventions face à cette sémiologie grégorienne telles que l’introduction des valeurs de durées relatives. Nous avons ici une variété inédite de notations musicales.

Nous pouvons donc conclure que grâce à l’intervention de ces quatre chercheuses, nous avons pu apprécier l’évolution de la notation musicale de la Grèce antique à la notation musicale moderne en passant par les notations à points, adiastématique, diastématique et rythmique. Nous avons pu également remarquer que chaque notation a été mise en place pour des raisons pratiques et dans le but de faciliter la pratique et la lecture de la musique à travers les siècles et selon le profil du lecteur.

January 20, 2017
by slb184

Introductory Course 2: Ontology Reasoning

By Tori Schmitt

The purpose of creating and using an ontology within the context of a database is to discover new knowledge. As we learned in the first Musiconis session on ontologies and linked data, a well-constructed ontology allows for the information contained to be found quickly and with ease through systematic through systematic processes, one of which can be defined as ontological reasoning. In Musiconis’ second session on ontologies (January 12, 2017), Dr. Victoria Eyharabide further explained the processes behind this concept and provided hands-on instruction (in the program Protége) bridging theoretical planning and praxis.

Ontological reasoning is a process which improves database search ability by linking individual entries within the database to equivalencies and inferences through the function of the database reasoner. When making an inference, one is making a logical conclusion based on a logical premise. Within the database it is the same process and inferences are made both manually, by the person using the database, and by the built-in database reasoner (in the case of the program Protégé, the reasoner is called HermiT.) In doing so, individual entries are improved through “inference” and become linked to more than just the specific metadata attributed in their record file. Subsequently, expanded metadata improves search functions. An example of this would be an image that is indexed as “David plays the harp.” Without database inference, the entry would only be found using the search terms “David” and “plays” and “harp.” However, using the database reasoner the entry would also be linked with the broader categories of its classes and object properties. In this example, the reasoner, on the most basic level, would link the entry with “person” and “chordophone,” the two broader classes which contain “David” and “harp,” allowing the entry to be found under a broader umbrella of search terms. This type of inference is referred to as subsumption checking. Other types of inference made by the reasoner are equivalence checking (if class A is equivalent to class B and class B is equivalent to C then A is equivalent to C), and consistency checking (looking for errors). Overall, the use of the reasoner helps to establish that the ontology is working logically and following all established rules.

Another key aspect of ontological reasoning is the world assumption. A closed-world assumption is how most databases and computer systems are coded. It operates on a strict binary and excludes all instances that are not explicitly given. In contrast, an open-world assumption, which the Musiconis database uses, operates on the notion that the data is always accurate but incomplete. This manifests in an indexing of information as yes or we don’t know, rather than a simple yes or no. Through this, open-world assumptions allow for indexing of uncertainty- a function crucial for accurately indexing the present knowledge state of medieval musical iconography. While it is easy to assume that working with database ontologies is technical and separate from the field of humanities study, it was clear in Dr. Eyharabide’s session that here, in the Musiconis database, technical praxis is intended to express our understanding as medievalists and that in order to create a successful ontology of any discipline, one cannot separate the project’s parent methodology from its ontological reasoning.

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