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Masses from the Renaissance:

Look and Listen

The Editions and Soundfiles


These are source specific. The editions are works in progress by which I mean that the application of musica ficta and text underlay is always under review. This is one of the magical elements of working with the sources - they offer wide ranging possibilities, certainly some more workable than others, but all nonetheless worthy of investigation. Thus, my editions are reflective of what I think at a particular point in time, rather than what I think period.

Spellings, punctuation, capitalization and "hyphenation" transmitted in the sources are maintained in the editions. Examples can be noted where the same scribe uses different spellings and "hyphenation" on the same folio: these have been retained. Scribal abbreviations are written in full. From time to time what appears to be textual misalignment can be witnessed. Close examination suggests that in many cases this is a matter of textual juxtaposition for the purposes of inter textual symbolism. This has also be retained. In some transmissions words that can be hyphenated differently (e.g. Sanctus) are always written in full. In these cases present day common-practice hyphenation is used.

Important is that in many cases a given mass or mass segment is transmitted in a number of sources. Oftentimes elements contributing to textual transmission (and also the music itself) are different; and sometimes the differences between the various transmissions of the "same" setting are significant. They are reflective of broad-level aesthetic variance, what might be termed local performance practice and in varying degrees factional affiliation. With the advent of printing, coming into play with publications is the "infancy" of printing technology and entrepreneurial enterprise. Thus when we investigate the transmission history of a particular work and the tradition as a whole what we witness is a thinking outside of the ideology that espouses the present-day practice of authorial sanction. The files on this site should be considered as versions and with the added input of modern editorship as versions of versions.

Transmitted text is in plain type; editorial text in italics; and repeated text indicated by the sign ://: in the Blackmoor LET font. In cases where more than one text scribe has contributed to a source (in its present state of preservation) distinguishable fonts are also included. Chancery initials indicate either painted or inked calligraphic letters. Ut supra sections (e.g. Osanna II) are not written out a second time.

Musica ficta and its application is one area in particular that gives rise to much debate. The so called pervasive imitation characteristic of much of the repertoire included on this site lends itself to ficta treatment. Often this is included in the present editions as well as what might be termed the more standard ficta at cadential progressions and that necessary for both harmonic and melodic reasons. The ficta included here should not be considered prescriptive.


These pdf files provide folio by folio information on the source from which the edition has been taken. In table format, the files lists staves and those indented per folio and include information such as art work, voice designations, clefs, manuscript accidentals, the inclusion of puncti divisionis (pd), puncti perfectionis (pp), signa congruentiae (sc), erasures, other alterations and variants between the source and the edition. Some are now complete with the remainder gradually been added to the Site.


The soundfiles are electronically generated. Each file has a short lead in time of silence. The files are provided essentially as raw data. Care has been taken to put stereo to work, however. On the basis that performance from a choirbook is conditioned by standing around a large lectern and singing from a single manuscript, as a general guide folio content is allotted to each channel: verso folios right, recto folios left. Imitative and antiphonal interplay between the voices is thrown into sharp relief; and in cases for transmissions of the same work with different voice distributions on the folios, the generated soundscapes can be remarkably altered.

Nothing can surpass a live performance by the best singers in the best acoustic. But having said that, the files here provide an idea of the soundscapes composed by some of the most gifted musicians in the history of music.