Tinctoris Project: New Funding

We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have been awarded major funding of almost £700K by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council for a new project extending our work on Tinctoris. The four-year project is entitled Interpreting the mensural notation of music: an expert system based on the theory of Johannes Tinctoris, to be based at Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University. The project team will consist of Dr Jeffrey Dean (Principal Investigator), Professor Ronald Woodley (Co-investigator), David Lewis, and Dr Christian Goursaud (Researchers). We expect the formal start of the project to be 1 October 2017, running until September 2021.

We shall shortly be posting further details of this exciting new venture in this blog. The research will continue to be hosted on our Early Music Theory website, and you can follow our Twitter feed @EarlyMusTheory.

Tinctoris edition: new texts added

We are pleased to announce that we have now added to our online Complete Theoretical Works the edited Latin texts, English translations, and manuscript source transcriptions (with facsimile images) of Tinctoris’s treatises De alteratione notarum (Tractatus alterationum) and De regulari valore notarum.

The project team are currently working hard to complete Books II and III of the extensive Liber de arte contrapuncti, which we expect to be available within the next few months.

We are also in the process of creating an innovative interface for displaying technical commentary material for the notation treatises, such as De imperfectione and De punctis, which will enable users to understand more clearly, on a note-by-note basis, the often complex mensural examples offered by Tinctoris in his work, and the relationship between his Latin text and the notational detail of the music itself. We expect the first fruits of this commentary material to be available on the site by around Easter 2016, and, as always, we very much welcome feedback from users on all aspects of our edition.

You may also like to know that the two research students attached to this project, Christian Goursaud and Adam Whittaker, have now submitted their PhD dissertations to Birmingham City University for examination. Christian’s thesis, ‘The Neapolitan Presentation Manuscripts of Tinctoris’s Music Theory: Valencia 835 and Bologna 2573’, is a detailed codicological and palaeographical examination of two of the principal sources of Tinctoris works; Adam’s thesis, ‘Musical Exemplarity in the Notational Treatises of Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435–1511)’, looks in wide-ranging detail at the relationships between the Latin texts and musical examples in Tinctoris’s treatises, and considers some of the larger historical issues of readership and modes of reading with material of this kind. We wish them all the best for their examination.

Finally, the project team would like to record their thanks to the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, Birmingham City University, of which Birmingham Conservatoire is a constituent School, for their continuing support and funding of this project, and for enabling the appointment of Christian Goursaud as Research Fellow for the academic year 2015–16.

Ronald Woodley, Jeffrey J. Dean, and David Lewis

Registration Open | Johannes Tinctoris and Music Theory in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance

9-10 October 2014

Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, University of London

Registration for this two-day conference is now open. The conference programme is available at music.sas.ac.uk/events/conferences, as is a link to the online booking facility. Full delegate fees are £90, while a reduced rate of £50 is available to students and the unwaged. The deadline for booking is Thursday 2 October 2014, but early registration would be welcomed in order for us to gauge numbers.

This conference brings together an international group of scholars to discuss a rich variety of topics relating to Johannes Tinctoris, including his modal and contrapuntal theories, the intellectual and literary background to his writing, and the materiality and political context of the manuscript sources of his works. The Keynote Speaker will be Dr Stefano Mengozzi (University of Michigan), who will speak on ‘Johannes Tinctoris, Rhetoric, and the Nature of Music-Theoretical Knowledge’. A special, extended session will explore issues surrounding super librum practice and instrumental duo performance, including live demonstrations. The conference also features a recital of Tinctoris’s vocal polyphony by the ensemble Il Suono (www.ilsuono.co.uk).

This conference marks the culmination of the first phase of the research project ‘The Complete Theoretical Works of Johannes Tinctoris: A New Digital Edition’ (2011-14), which has been generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and hosted by Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University. The edition, as well as further information about the project, is ongoing at:


Project Team and Programme Committee:
Professor Ronald Woodley: Principal Investigator
Dr Jeffrey J. Dean: Senior Researcher
David Lewis: Researcher
Christian Goursaud: PhD Student

Tinctoris’s treatise De inventione et usu musice and updated Biographical Outline published


Today we have published on the Tinctoris project website an initial version of the complete surviving portions of the treatise De inventione et usu musice, together with draft English translation. This is the first time that the incunabulum text from the early 1480s has been united with the additional extracts found in Cambrai MS A 16 into a single text, though a large part of the original, large-scale treatise unfortunately still remains lost. We will be returning to the translation early in the new year to polish this further.

We are continuing the task of identifying as many as possible of the sources of the numerous citations and literary allusions embedded in this treatise. These are identified with an asterisk * in the text, which can be clicked to open a pop-up window containing the relevant information. We hope that this will prove a useful feature, and as usual we welcome comments, corrections and additions to the information provided.

We have also added to the site an updated Biographical Outline for Tinctoris, based on Ron Woodley’s earlier entry for New Grove but with new material taking account of the most recent biographical research. A parallel essay on ‘Tinctoris as Theorist’, exploring the writer’s intellectual contribution to fifteenth-century musical thought, will follow in the first half of 2014.

Ron Woodley

Essay on Tinctoris manuscript Valencia 835 published


Today on the Tinctoris project website we have published an essay by Ronald Woodley on ‘The Dating and Provenance of Valencia 835: A Suggested Revision’. This elegant fifteenth-century manuscript from the Neapolitan court is one of the central sources of Tinctoris’s treatises for our new edition, and the new essay is the first of what will become a series of short studies outlining various aspects of the research underpinning our ongoing editorial and historical work.

The essay can be accessed from the ‘Commentary’ drop-down menu from the project home page.

As always, we welcome comments on, and discussion of, any of the suggestions raised by this study.

Ron Woodley

The new digital edition of Tinctoris goes online


The project team (Ronald Woodley, Jeffrey J. Dean, David Lewis) are delighted to announce that the web site of the new edition of Tinctoris’s theoretical writings is now open for public use. You are invited to start exploring the edition and learning its capabilities.

At the time of opening, the edition comprises two of Tinctoris’s twelve treatises: De notis et pausis (On notes and rests) and De imperfectione notarum (On the imperfection of notes). For each, a critical edition of the Latin text and a careful English translation are available, together with meticulous transcriptions of each individual source. User-selected options allow a text-critical apparatus or different punctuation systems to be displayed as desired. The site will eventually include a good deal of interpretative material, beginning with an article by Ronald Woodley on “Syncopated imperfection and alteration in Tinctoris’s theoretical writings”. We intend in due course also to provide digital facsimiles of the sources.

We expect to be able to add a finished edition and translation (with source transcriptions) of De punctis (On dots) very soon; a draft edition and translation (and transcriptions) of De inventione et usu musice (On the invention and use of music) will appear before the end of 2013, although it will then take some time to polish these. (One of the advantages of electronic publication is that it is possible to update texts as needed.) In the new year we intend to address De arte contrapuncti (On the art of counterpoint) and other texts.

The team will use this blog to keep users informed of progress on the edition. We intend soon to provide also a user forum, where users can initiate conversations with the project team and with one another; in the short term, we hope users will comment on the blog to let us know their reactions. We want to respond to users’ experience to make the edition and the site as useful as they can possibly be. Tell us what you like and don’t like, features you want to see, which treatises you want to have available soonest, ways you want to use the site that we haven’t yet provided for, you name it. Please follow our Twitter account, @EarlyMusTheory, or subscribe to the RSS feed from the blog, http://earlymusictheory.org/blog/?feed=rss (or rss2, atom, rdf), to stay abreast of future developments.

The edition is funded at present by the Arts & Humanities Research Council UK, and the team is based at Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham City University). The project has grown out of the ongoing research of its Principal Investigator, Ronald Woodley, into the life and works of Tinctoris. We hope to secure funding for a follow-on project once the current project is complete.

Ronald Woodley