Digital Humanities Motet

Measuring Polyphony

I’m very excited to announce the launch of the Measuring Polyphony website, a project I’ve been working on since my time as a postdoctoral Banting Fellow at McGill University.

The ‘Measuring Polyphony’ project presents, for the first time, digitisations of polyphonic compositions written during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in mensural notation, and linked directly, in most cases, to high-resolution images of the original manuscript sources, and live playback of the mensural scores as MIDI. I began this project at McGill, and I’m now continuing it at Brandeis University, with the support of a Provost’s Innovation Grant. The project leverages the potential of the rich digital image repositories of music manuscripts and the community-based standards for encoding music notation of the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) and newly tools available libraries and tools for rendering MEI on the web, such as Verovio.

‘Measuring Polyphony’ has three goals:

  • makes scored-up transcriptions in the original notation and audio (MIDI) freely available online to performers, scholars, and the general public, presented alongside images of the original music manuscripts;
  • encodes the medieval notation in a standardised machine-readable format so that the music data can potentially be be searched or analysed using current tools, and through this interoperability make the data available to other websites and applications; and
  • makes the processes and tools for digitally encoding mensural polyphony in mensural notation freely available so that other stakeholders can easily and rapidly enlarge the dataset.

For more information on the encoding process, and to view and listen to the repertoire already encoded, bookmark Be sure to check out the acknowledgments to the entire project team and the project advisory board. Please be in touch if you have a repertoire of mensural compositions that you would like to encode and make available online.

For technical information on various aspects of the project, visit the Measuring Polyphony Github page.

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