Formatting and Erasing Polyphonic Music In Italian Manuscripts from 1350 to 1425
Within the corpus of Western European manuscripts containing polyphonic music, a specific Italian tradition can be distinguished in the 14th and early 15th centuries. These manuscripts contain a musical repertory that takes its name from its era, the Trecento, and consists of secular song genres in Italian (madrigals, ballatas, and caccias), as well as Latin motets and other compositions for liturgical use. The production of manuscripts with Italian-texted polyphonic songs seems to begin around 1350 without antecedents and ends abruptly around 1425. Many of these manuscripts incorporate other repertories, especially French secular song genres (ballades, virelais, and rondeaux) and different types of notation.
This project’s goal is the first comprehensive analysis of how Trecento music manuscripts were formatted before and during scribal activity (mise-en-page, notation, text underlay, and paratexts). I will focus on the multilingual artefacts that include both Italian and French polyphonic song and will discuss, in detail, the later addition of repertories as well as processes of erasure (updating, deletion) in these manuscripts. Therefore, a key component of the project is the application of multispectral imaging to recover lost music, as well as material analysis for ink and colour identification. Combining the various artefact biographies, the project will advance our understanding of Trecento music manuscript culture—including insights into transformational processes—and its relationship to other manuscript cultures.