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28.8.03

Gregorian Chant Paleography

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud. Misc. 385Starting today, I am guest lecturing for a couple weeks on the subject of Gregorian chant notation to a seminar on music paleography at Catholic University. This is one of those subjects that is so specialized that it's quite rare outside the context of graduate school and conferences of medievalists, so it's a treat to be invited to speak about it. What is so exciting about working with Gregorian chant is that it is a broad body of music that has yet to have a true critical edition. Scholars of literature and art might find this incredible, that there is endless work to be done in studying Gregorian chant. You really don't have to tread over the same works that have been edited before; there are still real discoveries to be made. This became clear to me as a graduate student in the 1990s, when I worked as a research assistant for Project CANTUS, going through a single chant manuscript folio by folio and making an indexed record for every piece of music in it. You just never know what is in each of those thousands of manuscripts, and it's likely that no one else knows either.

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