My review of the Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum (TML) for the “Digital and Multimedia Scholarship” reviews section of the Journal of the American Musicological Society is now out. Here’s a link to a PDF of my review, by kind courtesy of the University of California Press. The first paragraph follows:
The Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum (TML), subtitled an “Online Archive of Music Theory in Latin,” is among the handful of online resources that early music scholars consult with frequency—the other two being the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM, an image archive and catalog of manuscripts transmitting medieval polyphony) and the Cantus database (a searchable catalog of plainchant). All three were first developed in the earliest days of web-based scholarly resources, and all three have shed their HTML 2.0 look-and-feel courtesy of recent updates to their interface design. This review considers the newest version of the TML, released in 2017, focusing both on the improvements in usability and functionality of the 2017 version, and on the aims and scope of the TML project in general.
The website Measuring Polyphony uses the most recent technology in digital transcription to “animate” upward of sixty of these motets as found in the pages of several well-known thirteenth- and fourteenth-century manuscripts. This project is more than simply a digital update to the more traditional format of the printed edition; each piece is linked to a high-resolution image of its appearance in the original manuscript, and an audio playback (in MIDI) is available for listening while watching the notes in the various voice parts turn red as they sound. These visual and auditory features lift these motets out of their traditional identity as academic notation exercises and imbue them with life, appealing to the “musician” within the “musicologist.” As a medievalist, my view is that we badly need this kind of revitalization, especially in the current academic climate, in which our field flirts increasingly with extinction.
Kate Helsen, “Review: Measuring Polyphony: Digital Encodings of Late Medieval Music,” Journal of the American Musicological Society, 72/3 (2019), 912-920, at 913.