The interdisciplinary collaborative research project Interpreting the Mensural Notation of Music ran from 1 October 2017 until 31 March 2022, and brought together experts in music history, music theory, and digital musicology to develop a twenty-first-century response to a challenge posed by the notation of late-medieval music and addressed by the fifteenth-century music theorist Johannes Tinctoris (c.1435–1511). The problem was to interpret the context-dependent mensural system of rhythmic notation, prevalent from the early fourteenth century to the early seventeenth, in terms of definite durations.
The principal aim of the project was to model Tinctoris’s fifteenth-century theory of musical notation, written in Latin prose, as a twenty-first-century formal system, capable of being encoded as a computer program that can perform such interpretation. This resulted in the publication of our prototype software MeRIT, the Mensural Rhythm Interpretation Tool.
We have also published Johannes Tinctoris: Complete Practical Works (JT:CPW), a new digital critical edition of Tinctoris’s complete practical compositions, in the original mensural notation. This material formed part of the training material for MeRIT, and is presented here for the benefit of historians, editors, and analysts of fourteenth- to sixteenth-century music, and for professional, semi-professional, and amateur singers and instrumentalists. JT:CPW complements our digital critical edition of Tinctoris’s theoretical works, The Complete Theoretical Works of Johannes Tinctoris (JT:CTW).
The project team is currently seeking additional funding to develop and extend our work to create a new interactive online learning resource for mensural music.