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M401 History and Literature of Music I

This guide will assist M401 students with locating resources for their research assignment in History and Literature of Music I.
  •  Evidence sources in music usually consist of scores, manuscripts, treatises, and peer or audience criticism (for example: a review of a music performance).

  • Often, resources like these are "primary sources."

Find Evidence Sources

  • Search for scores in IUCAT, IMSLP, or in online digital archives!
  • You can refer to particular measures or excerpts within a score to use as a musical example in your  research paper--this is a great way to use evidence to bolster your argument/thesis.
  • Search for a critical edition or urtext score in IUCAT if you can, because those scores are very scholarly. 
  • If you find a score with a call number that begins with M2 or M3, you have found a high-quality, scholarly score.
  •  a manuscript or early copy of a score or treatise can be very interesting to look at and study. Primary resources are wonderful!
  • A facsimile is a photographic representation of the composer's manuscript, or an early copy, or a first published edition. Facsimiles can be a great alternative if you cannot visit the manuscript where it resides in a vault or archive far away.
    • The library owns many print copies of facsimiles. But, you can also view digitized manuscripts online in digital archives of libraries, museums, and other organizations devoted to music preservation.
    • One way to find them: go to the IUCAT advanced search, add "facsimile" as a keyword, limit to scores. If you want, you can also add M2 as a search criteria--but if you do, change the drop-down menu to "call number" instead of leaving it as the default "all fields"
    • Contact Misti Shaw if you need assistance trying to find digital manuscripts! mistshaw @

Manuscripts and facsimile portals

Remember, many scores that are within collected editions of the library-- Call numbers beginning with M2--contain early music, some in facsimile. 

To locate such scores, use the advanced search in IUCAT, and enter "M2", selecting "call number" from the dropdown menu, and entering "facsimile" in a keyword box.

DIAMM (Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music)

A portal and for the study of medieval manuscripts. Lists collections and individual sources of medieval polyphonic music dating up to 1550 (plus copious information and research about them). 

Répertoire des manuscrits médiévaux notés

Includes actively maintained lists of digitized medieval music manuscripts grouped by repertoire and location (starts mid-page). Part of the network Musicologie médiéval: Resources for medieval musicology and liturgy. Production of Grégofacsimil, created and administered by Dominique Gatté

Codices Electronici Sangallenses (CESG) = Digital Abbey Library of St. Gallen

Creates a digital, virtual library of the medieval codices (currently numbering 600 and growing) in the Abbey Library (Stiftsbibliothek) of St. Gallen, Switzerland, 19 of which contain musical notation.

e-codices: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland

A continuously updated and expanding virtual library accessing all medieval and a selection of modern manuscripts held by 70 Swiss libraries. As of 30 May 2017, there are 1,749 manuscripts online, 78 of which contain musical notation.

Early Music Online

Digitized collection from holdings at the British Library of over 320 volumes of 16th-century anthologies of printed music (mainly partbooks of vocal polyphony), representing ca. 10,000 musical compositions, published in Italy, Germany, France, and England. Maintained by Royal Holloway, University of London and the British Library.

RISM: online (coverage is 1600-1800) and in print in the library (music library reference section, ML113)

Search RISM to see the music manuscripts that survive all around the world. Series B volumes are particularly useful. 

RISM Series B

RISM series B documents sources by topic. The volumes in series B are published by G. Henle of Munich. Series B includes (an English translation of the title appears in parentheses where necessary):

  • B/I and B/II: Recueils imprimés XVIe–XVIIIe siècles (2 Volumes). (Printed Anthologies from the 16th to the 18th Centuries; the portion of B/I covering the years 1500-1550 and 1600-1610 is available in the online catalog.)[7]
  • B/III: The Theory of Music from the Carolingian Era up to c. 1500. Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts (6 volumes)
  • B/IV: Handschriften mit mehrstimmiger Musik des 11. bis 16. Jahrhunderts (5 volumes, 1 supplementary volume). (Manuscripts with Polyphonic Music from the 11th to 16th Century)
  • B/V: Tropen- und Sequenzenhandschriften. (Manuscripts of Tropes and Sequences)
  • B/VI: Écrits imprimés concernant la musique (2 volumes). (Printed Writings about Music)
  • B/VII: Handschriftlich überlieferte Lauten- und Gitarrentabulaturen des 15. bis 18. Jahrhunderts. (Manuscripts of Lute and Guitar Tablature from 15th to 18th Century)
  • B/VIII: Das Deutsche Kirchenlied (2 volumes, Kassel: Bärenreiter). (German Hymns)
  • B/IX: Hebrew Sources (2 volumes)
  • B/X: The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings c. 900–1900 (2 volumes)
  • B/XI: Ancient Greek Music Theory. A Catalogue Raisonné of Manuscripts.
  • B/XII: Manuscrits persans concernant la musique. (Persian Manuscripts about Music)
  • B/XIII: Hymnologica Slavica. Hymnologica Bohemica, Slavica (HBS), Polonica (HP), Sorabica (HS). Notendrucke des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts (Printed music of the 16th to the 18th centuries in Bohemia, Slovakia, Poland, and Sorbia)
  • B/XIV: Les manuscrits du processionnal (2 volumes). (Manuscripts about the Processional)
  • B/XV: Mehrstimmige Messen in Quellen aus Spanien, Portugal und Lateinamerika, ca. 1490–1630. (Polyphonic Masses in Sources from SpainPortugal and Latin America, from around 1490–1630)
  • B/XVI: Catalogue raisonné of the Balinese Palm-Leaf Manuscripts with Music Notation
  • B/XVII: Die Triosonate: Catalogue Raisonné der gedruckten Quellen ("The Trio Sonata: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Printed Sources")