Project examines 13th century music

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The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney is part of a team that has been awarded the equivalent of over one million Australian dollars to help re-catalogue, research and produce sound recordings of an important but largely neglected genre of 13th-century vocal music.

Funded by the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the primary recipient of the grant is the University of Southampton’s Music Department, but the University of Sydney, through its Centre for Medieval Studies and Fisher Library e-Scholarship, and the University of New England, are also collaborators in this ambitious research project.

Titled Cantum pulcriorem invenire: Thirteenth-century Latin Poetry and Music, the three-year project will examine manuscripts kept in archives across Europe and will collate all the information on these manuscripts, the music and the poetry, to create a digitally searchable database which will enable a far more wide-ranging study of the conductus than has previously been possible.

Leading the project is Professor Mark Everist, Head of Music Research at the University Southhampton and one of the world’s leading authorities on thirteenth-century music.

“These performances will bring to life this all but forgotten, yet highly significant genre of music, making it accessible to a 21st century audience,” says Professor Everist.

Directing the Australian side of the project is Dr Robert Curry, Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Medieval Studies. Dr Curry secured the rights to develop and incorporate unpublished research of the distinguished Australian medievalist, musicologist Gordon Athol Anderson (University of New England).

“It is a privilege to have been granted access to Gordon Anderson’s unpublished research and I hope that our project, Cantum pulcriorem invenire, will serve to reinvigorate interest among younger generation Australian scholars in the area of historical musicology to which Anderson made such a great contribution,” says Dr Curry.

“With Professor Everist as Chief Investigator, Anderson’s old university and his family can be assured there is no scholar better equipped to build on the legacy of Anderson’s conductus research.”

The Fisher Library’s Ross Coleman, Director of Sydney e-Scholarship, and his team will be digitising Anderson’s material, working with Dr Curry to produce an electronic reference tool using Anderson’s conductus Catalogue Raisonné as its basis.

“When completed this database will be made accessible to scholars and musicians interested in exploring the riches of 13th-century Latin song,” Dr Curry says.

The published outcomes of Cantum pulcriorem invenire will also take the form of a monograph published by Cambridge University Press and commercial recordings on Hyperion record label of selected works performed by world-class musicians in association with the National Centre for Early Music at York, UK. Other recordings of this music which are not commercially released will be made available online as research material.

Source: University of Sydney

Sharan Newman

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