Renaissance music has recently entered the digital age, with new tools, standards, and practices that allow us to present, interrogate, and collaborate around musical texts in new and exciting ways. Citations: The Renaissance Imitation Mass, will take its place in this work, extending the idea of the quotable text for music in an innovative, open-source format. The focal point of our inquiry is the so-called “imitation” Mass, notable for the ways in which its composers derived new, largescale works from pre-existing ones. This complex weave of relationships seems particularly suited to the new XML standard that is the basis of our digital editions: The Music Encoding Initiative (MEI), which shares with other XML standards like the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) the possibility of addressing almost any point in any text with pinpoint accuracy. Such capacities will allow us to show multiple, interlocking relationships among models and the Masses they inform. Our analytic observations can be as contrapuntal as the music itself, tracing resemblances between combinations of patterns in different voice parts at once, both in models and the Masses that build upon them. We aim to uncover the contrapuntal patterns among works no less than within them, inaugurating the idea of a musical score (no less than a verbal text) as a massively addressable object. We will likewise extend addressability to various para-texts that give meaning to the musical citations themselves via a “participatory” multi-author publication system using various Linked Open Data technologies such as Open Annotation Collaboration.


Electronic image archives represent one facet of the new digital domain for musicological work.Open-source encoding standards like the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI), are another, offering musicologists what the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) has done for the study of literary and historical documents. Printed editions and PDF files represent musical works in symbolic or graphical form for practical use by performers and analysts. Logical encodings like those in MEI format, in contrast, open musical texts to an array of previously unmanageable research questions, thanks to their capacity for interrogation and transformation. The digital domain enables the creation of resources that are beyond even the most thorough variorum edition, with “rich” structured encodings that permit readers (no less than editors) to manipulate texts in all sorts of interesting ways. We can rearrange a critical edition to follow any base text. We can turn on and off layers of editorial intervention (like musica ficta, or text underlay). And we can imagine new possibilities of distant as well as close readings of texts, surveying stylistic patterns in hundreds of encoded compositions at once, or entertaining questions of style and authenticity. Richly encoded digital scores also open up new opportunities for collaboration, as scholars explore repertories in public forums, written argument, and classroom conversations that play out across time zones and international boundaries. Musicologists, like other humanists who have begun to explore the digital domain, can find themselves in a workplace that looks increasingly like “big data” science and social science, with extended rings of collaborators, coauthored publications, and standardized methodologies. Christa Williford, writing in a recent report for the US-based Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) in Washington, sees in some parts of the digital humanities a blurring of the lines that marked what C.P. Snow famously called (in 1959) “the two cultures” of academic life that have divided humanistic disciplines (with individual scholars at work in the library on monographs and articles) from those in the hard sciences (with projects defined by shared data sets, declared methodologies, and extended rings of specialist collaborators in different laboratory settings). Her report carries a telling title: One Culture. Computationally Intensive Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This spirit of bridging divides (among disciplines, and among an international array of scholars) is also 3 reflected in the work proposed here as part of our proposed Citations: The Renaissance Imitation Mass (CRIM), reflecting both the transformative power of the digital medium and the deeply collaborative spirit of musical creativity that prevailed during the Renaissance itself, as composers borrowed from and imitated each other through a shared language of types and possibilities.


During the last few years, scholars interested in Renaissance music have put the possibilities of the digital medium to the test in various ways. The Marenzio Project (Mauro Calcagno/University of Pennsylvania) takes aim at the problems of complex source traditions for one of the most prolific (and most widely published) composers of the late sixteenth century. Their innovative tools point the way towards computer assisted collation and display of variant readings. The Josquin Research Project (Jesse Rodin/Stanford University) explores questions of style and authenticity through a melodic-rhythmic search engine for music of the years around 1500. The ELVIS Project (Julie Cumming/McGill University) has developed algorithms that search for intervallic and contrapuntal patterns in a wide range of musical repertories. Our own Lost Voices Project: a Digital Workshop for the Restoration of Renaissance Polyphony (Freedman and Vendrix / Haverford College and CESR, Tours) also opens much new ground for the computerized exploration of old music. The focal point of this project is a set of sixteen chanson albums for four voices, a series originally published in Paris by Nicholas Du Chemin during the middle years of the sixteenth century. When first issued these chanson albums were meant to be used collectively, as singers gathered around a table to sing from separate ‘partbooks’. Our project shares in this spirit, both in its working methods, and in the results of its labors. Like the workshop of the Parisian printer Du Chemin, our atelier has involved the work of many hands, called upon many specialized skills, and coordinated the labor of scholars, musicians, and information technicians in the US, France, and beyond. Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, from the American Council of Learned Societies, Haverford College (USA) and from the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) in Tours, France, we have created an innovative interface that links facsimiles of original sources with dynamic digital editions, while also assembling a unique collaborative workspace where an international team of scholars, students, and musicians search, analyze, comment upon, and even try their hand at reconstructing hundreds of Renaissance compositions. Notable features of our work to date include:
• A searchable database of nearly 400 chansons for four voices from the Du Chemin set;
• Electronic facsimiles of the entire corpus of sixteen books, all available for study and download;
• Modern editions of the chansons, both expertly engraved in PDF format and in dynamic digital editions, with critical apparatus encoded in the opensource MEI standard;
• Typological analysis of the entire repertory, compiled by teams of advanced students according to a well-developed set contrapuntal types and situations (our database includes over 11,000 such observations, with faceted index for searching and sorting results);
• Reconstructions of missing voice parts of several dozen chansons from the Du Chemin set (which survives in an incomplete state), crafted according to the same stylistic typology that stands behind our database of analytic observations. This unique “virtual workshop” (part of the Atelier virtuel de restitution polyphonique (AVRP) supported by the CESR), 4 complements a series of “live” workshops convened during the last four years. The face-to-face and virtual gatherings sustain and complement each other, building on a collaborative spirit of inquiry, debate, and discussion.
• Commentaries and discussions, both in the form of scholarly essays by Freedman (totaling about 37,000 words) and also a system of personal accounts that allow any user to take notes or participate in public discussions about individual works.
• Dynamic software and encoding standards that allow users to search and sort pieces by any of a number of criteria (text, composer, contrapuntal feature) and to render any segment of any piece (complete with dynamic rendering of variant readings and alternative reconstructions) in an instant. The interface and score work in any web browser, and on any device, without special software. Ours is in fact the first project anywhere to deploy the MEI standard as the basis of this type of dynamic rendering. We now seek the support of the Mellon Foundation’s Programme transatlantique de collaboration en humanités numériques to extend this work over the course of the next three years in order to broaden the scope of our musical gaze to a corpus explicitly concerned with the citation and transformation of other musical texts, and to extend the circle of international collaboration in ways that will bring scholars and information scientists from France and North America together in a series of laboratory, workshop, and colloquium settings. All of this work, moreover, will be published in a digital environment that exposes our text and insights to still other scrutiny, comment, and re-use in future projects, using the latest standards for Linked Open Data and shared annotation.


The focal point of our inquiry will be the systematic exploration a vast corpus of Renaissance polyphony: the so-called “imitation” Mass, notable for the ways in which its composers derived new, large-scale works from pre-existing ones. A modest chanson, secular madrigal, or devotional motet would in this way serve as the scaffolding for a much larger cyclic setting of the Ordinary of the Mass. The relationship between model and Mass was often quite intimate: composers evoked the sound of the music they borrowed even as they transformed its contrapuntal structures. It might at first seem a bold step to move from the modest four-voice chansons of Du Chemin’s Chansons nouvelles series to the complexities of the cyclic imitation Mass. But in fact our extensive experience with the analysis and reconstruction of the Du Chemin chansons puts us in a good position to make this leap. Chansons like those found in Du Chemin’s publications were often used as the basis of the larger Masses. Du Chemin, moreover, was among the first printers to issue such “imitation” Masses in significant numbers. His important series of such pieces will be the starting point for our work (they are already available in high-quality digital facsimile via the French digital library portal, Gallica). The relationships among models and their adaptations can be complex and varied, and seems particularly suited to the digital domain and to MEI scores in particular, which share with other XML standards the possibility of addressing almost any point in any text with pinpoint accuracy (since each individual tone in a composition can be referenced via a unique xml:id tag that is generated automatically at the time the file is encoded). Our technical partner Raffaele Viglianti and his colleagues at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) will develop routines that can return valid and meaningful segments of MEI encodings. Such capacities will allow us to show multiple, interlocking relationships among models and the Masses they inform. Our analytic observations need not be limited by simple measure ranges, but can 5 instead be as contrapuntal as the music itself, tracing resemblances between combinations of patterns in different voice parts at once, both in models and the Masses that build upon them. And since the logical MEI encodings of these pieces will remain distinct from their graphical renderings as musical notation, we can array analytic observations about these pieces at arm’s length, assembling examples dynamically from different pieces, sorting them by shared musical features, models, or procedures. Our citations engine will permit us to uncover the contrapuntal patterns among works no less than within them, inaugurating the idea of a musical score (no less than a verbal text) as what Michael Witmore has called a “massively addressable object.” Finally, we will extend addressability to various para-texts that give meaning to the relationships noted through the musical citations themselves. Contributors will be able to cite (and display) passages from theoretical writings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, themselves encoded with a combination of TEI, MEI, and other XML standards. Perhaps more importantly, we will create a “participatory” multi-author publication system using various Linked Open Data technologies such as Open Annotation Collaboration. This portion of our work will be coordinated by Raffaele Viglianti and a team from MITH, who have been leaders in the formulation of tools for participatory scholarship, as in the case of the Shelly-Godwin Archive through the use of Shared Canvas, Open Annotation, and collaborative authoring environments for TEI.


The principal investigators David Fiala and Richard Freedman have collaborated closely during the last five years in developing all aspects of the Du Chemin Chansons nouvelles and Lost Voices projects, coordinating the work of an international team of graduate students, established scholars, and information technology specialists. For the CRIM project they have assembled a new international team of musicologists from leading North American universities, who will guide the analytic part of this new project. They have also built a complete chain of technical capabilities that will put old sources at the disposal of new digital tools.

Project Directors
David Fiala (Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours)
Richard Freedman (Haverford College, USA)

Technical Consultants
Raffaele Viglianti (MITH) Andrew Hankinson (McGill University) Zoltán Kömíves (University of Glasgow)

Participating Scholars
Jesse Rodin (Stanford University) David Crook (University of Wisconsin, Madison) Stephanie Schlagel (Cincinnati College-Conservatory) Peter Schubert (McGill University)


The Citations project will build on the work of many hands. Within the world of music, we expect to draw on the expertise of music theorists and historical musicologists as we put Renaissance ideas and modern-day analytic methodologies into dialogue with each other. Digital musicology, too, will be a meeting point of specialties, particularly as we explore ways of sharing large data sets and innovative tools across several current projects devoted to Renaissance 6 repertories. The prospect of integrating these early music projects via technologies such as Linked Open Data is particularly appealing, for it will allow interchange and collaboration of the sort recently made possible by initiatives like Integrating Digital Papyrology ( hub), itself funded with support from the Mellon Foundation. Through this and other ventures we hope to put musicology into deeper conversation with analytic methodologies from information science, particularly as we attempt to model multi-author publications in relation to a complex corpus of works. Above all, the Citations project will draw together scholars from France and North America, with lasting impact for teachers and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.


We envisage three large sets of outcomes from our work. Each combines perspectives drawn from 15th and 16th-century sources (music books, the works they contain, and writings about music) with those of the present day (from the standpoint of digital texts, modern scholars, and the multi-author publication), redeploying a long-standing interest of musicologists in the intertextual dimension of Renaissance polyphony in a new digital medium that makes it possible to expose those connections in ways previously unimaginable:
• Tools and Vocabularies, including music-theoretical language for description and analysis; systems of encoding; and addressable representation, from mensural notation to the digital text. The Open Annotation paradigm will be extended to MEI based encoding of Renaissance music texts;
• Instances and Citations of theoretical/contrapuntal types; of one musical work by another; all through the focal genre of the Renaissance imitation Mass and its models. We will extend this notion of citation to include our own observations or comments about some work or feature. Tracing the connections among these many small-scale observations will inaugurate a new type of multi-author work in musicology: the capacity for us to trace, collate, and cite any person, work, or musical pattern in relation to larger insights about changing compositional and analytic practice;
• Narratives and Projections of broader perspectives on changing musical style, textual traditions, and analytic paradigms. We will also reflect on the changing state of musical texts, both in Renaissance prints (the new medium of its day) and in digital form (the new medium of our own time), as manifest in public presentations, workshops, and written argument.