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Medieval and Early Modern Music Manuscripts

One of the main areas of expertise within Bangor’s Centre for Research in Early Music (CREaM) is the study of music manuscripts. Scholars including Thomas Schmidt-Beste, Christian  Leitmeir, Sally Harper and Bruce Wood cover a range of historical periods and source types unequalled in the UK, from medieval chant to late 16th-century luxury codices. Profiting from this unique combination of expertise, CREaM and IMEMS have won a major project grant from the AHRC with the title "Medieval and Early Modern Music Manuscripts as Multi-Media Objects". The project examines the interaction between the content and the visual and physical appearance of those written sources of polyphonic between 1300 and 1600 which combine musical notation and picture. It brings together aspects that have mostly been considered separately: in terms of content by textual scholars; in terms of physical makeup by palaeographers; in terms of visual appearance by art historians; and in terms of performability by practical musicians. However, precisely the combination of different modes of representation renders every aspect more 'meaningful' in a number of different ways – something that has often been remarked upon, but never examined in a systematic fashion for musical sources. On the basis of selected sources or groups of sources (e.g., the 'Machaut' manuscripts of the mid-14th century, the northern Italian miscellanies of the 1430s and 1440s, the 'Alamire' codices' of the early 16th century and the luxury codices of the Bavarian Court in Munich from the l560s), the project will look at modes of production (format, materials, handwriting, type), of spatial representation (rastra, spacing, proportions), the effects and implications of multi-stage production, questions of proportion and aesthetics, and aspects of performance and readership. The project is led by Professor Thomas Schmidt-Beste and Dr Christian Leitmeir of Bangor’s School of Music, in co-operation with Dr Elisabeth Salter (English, Aberystwyth) and Prof. Raluca Radulescu (English, Bangor). For more information, see the CREaM website (



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