The Encoded Medieval Antiphoner: an Open Access Digital Source for Music and Liturgical Pedagogy and Scholarship

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Anna Ewelina Kijas

    Boston College

Work text
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This poster will provide an overview of the development of an open-access digital musicology project,
The Encoded Medieval Antiphoner: an Open Access Digital Source for Music and Liturgical Scholarship at Boston College. This is a collaborative project between the Digital Scholarship Group and library staff at the Boston College University Libraries, musicologist Dr. Michael Noone, research assistants, and several external partners, including CANTUS database staff. In the summer of 2015 we began encoding a
th century Franciscan Antiphoner
using the Music Encoding Initiative (MEI), as well as developing an open-access site to present the manuscript as an interactive object for research and scholarly use. The original Antiphoner is in manuscript form bound between leather-covered boards containing 119 parchment folios with text and notation for antiphons and responsories for the entire annual calendar of saints’ days (sanctorale). The main goals of this project will be presented in this poster. These include:

Making the Antiphoner interactive by building an open access and responsive website with a dynamic presentation layer that will include searchable content (metadata, notation, XML/MEI) and multimedia;
Using and developing open source technology to encourage and support further development in the open source community, as well as, sharing of documentation and data;
Contributing our data to the scholarly community through a collaboration with
CANTUS, a database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant; and

Developing software, workflows, and documentation that can inform future projects using similar technology

This poster will explain our process and workflows, which have involved transcribing and encoding over 1500 musical incipits, texts, and metadata, contributing the data to the
CANTUS database, a highly-respected digital archive and index of chants, as well as, implementing open-source software for a presentation layer and search/retrieval of the content. The digitized object will be presented using
Diva.js an open-source software that connects with the API of the CANTUS database to pull in metadata, transcribed music notation, and bibliographic data that we have contributed to this database. We will also present a variety of functionality options that will make this Antiphoner interactive. Basic functionality, which is enabled in Diva.js, includes the ability to:

view the manuscript side-by-side with metadata from the CANTUS database;
run search queries on both the text and notation in the manuscript;
select viewing options: pages (book), individual page, thumbnail/gallery view;
zoom in/out; full-page view 
access a permanent link/URL for each manuscript page

Beyond the basic functionality listed above, we may explore additional features, such as the ability to display manuscript pages in non-chronological order side by side for comparison and analysis, or allow users to annotate, add metadata, and manipulate content within the manuscript through a framework like the Shared Canvas Data Model.
Additionally, this poster will highlight the collaborative aspect of this project and several positive outcomes, such as an interest to investigate rendering neume notation using
Verovio rather than
Volpiano font. Verovio is a software that renders MEI directly in a modern browser as SVG (scalable vector graphics: XML-based vector image format), however at this time it can only render MEI files that use Common Western Music Notation (CMN) elements and attributes, not those associated with the Neume module. Our combined interest and needs will allow us to explore this option that can benefit not only our project, but could enable scholars to contribute MEI files with their data into CANTUS and have their notation rendered using Verovio. This could potentially expand the mission of CANTUS Database to also provide access to MEI/XML data.  

John J. Franciscan Antiphoner (sanctorale). Burns Library, Boston College, University Libraries.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2016
"Digital Identities: the Past and the Future"

Hosted at Jagiellonian University, Pedagogical University of Krakow

Kraków, Poland

July 11, 2016 - July 16, 2016

454 works by 1072 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (11)

Organizers: ADHO