PRoMs - The Production and Reading of Music Sources

Mise-en-page in manuscripts and printed books containing polyphonic music, 1480—1530


Renaissance sources of polyphonic music not only convey a rich repertoire of some of the most impressive music ever written. From the point of view of their layout or mise-en-page, they are also amongst the most complex books of their time. They typically combine verbal text, musical notation and other graphic devices, and the different voice parts are arranged to be read separately by the performers, yet to be performed simultaneously. As an integral part of the production and use of these books, the mise-en-page thus provides crucial information for the understanding of the repertoire that is transmitted through them.

This website is the outcome of a project funded by the AHRC from 2010 to 2014, as a collaboration of the University of Manchester with Bangor University (School of Music), the University of York (Department of History of Art), the Warburg Institute (School of Advanced Studies, University of London), the Department of Digital Humanities (King’s College London) and the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM). It presents the first systematic resource exploring how mise-en-page functions on the pages of manuscripts and printed books produced between c. 1480 and 1530, when polyphonic music had spread across the whole of Europe and had achieved its fullest variety in terms of source and repertoire types. It investigates the ways in which meaning is constructed through interactions between the makers and users of these sources. The resource includes mise-en-page metadata on the extant manuscripts from this period with a long-term view to extend the remit chronologically in either direction, and also to printed editions.

Results of this project have been presented and discussed in a variety of contexts, most notably an international conference at the British Library and the Warburg Institute in 2013, with a number of contributions from this conference having appeared in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 6/2 (2014) and 7/1 (2015). A major book publication containing a selection of case studies with a series of chapters on overarching thematic issues was published in the Epitome Musical series of the Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018).

Together with the ensemble Cappella Pratensis (the pioneers – and still the leaders – in performing vocal polyphony from reproductions of original sources), the project explored how issues of mise-en-page informs musical performance. Findings from these explorations were presented in papers and a performance workshop at the International Conference Petrus Alamire - New Perspectives on Polyphony in August 2015.

It was originally intended to include a number of crucial sources in digitised form with this resource; this part of the project, however, was overtaken by events insofar as a far greater proportion of the books in question are now available online through their owning libraries or through repositories such as DIAMM or IDEM than anybody imagined back in 2008/9 when this project was designed. It was thus deemed sufficient to include links from the source descriptions to the online repositories where the images are held.

We welcome input from the scholarly community as regards missing information, errors, additional sources, or links to online images. Please feel free to send any queries or information to the project director.

The Project Team

Principal Investigator/Director: Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester)

Thomas Schmidt is Head of the School of Arts Languages and Cultures and Professor of Music at the University of Manchester. He studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Chapel Hill and received his doctorate in Heidelberg in 1995. After holding positions in Heidelberg, Urbana and Frankfurt, he was appointed as Chair in Music at Bangor University in 2005. In 2008, he was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and in 2012, he took up a professorship at the University of Manchester, before moving to Huddersfield as Dean of Music, Humanities and Media in 2017. He returned to Manchester in 2021. His main areas of research are music and musical sources of the 15th and 16th centuries and German music of the late 18th and 19th centuries (Mendelssohn and Mozart in particular). In 2022 he became co-Editor-in-Chief of the Leipzig Edition of the Works of Felix Mendelssohn.

Co-Investigator: Christian Leitmeir (University of Oxford)

Christian Leitmeir is Associate Professor in Music and Tutorial Fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He read Musicology, Comparative Literature, Philosophy and Theology at the University of Munich, then completed his MMus degree in Musicology at King’s College London (1999) and Dr. phil. at the Karl-Eberhards-Universität Tübingen (2003). He subsequently held a long-term Frances A. Yates Research Fellowship at the Warburg Institute (London, 2003–2006) and taught at Bangor University (2007-2015), before joining the University of Oxford. Within the field of medieval studies, his research focuses on medieval music theory, music palaeography, the intersection between music and theology/spirituality and Dominican studies. He is author of a monograph on the Flemish composer Jacobus de Kerle (Turnhout, 2009), co-editor of the yearbook Musik in Bayern, and the journal Plainsong & Medieval Music, and is preparing a complete edition of Jacobus de Kerle’s works.

Co-Investigator: Hanna Vorholt (University of York)

Hanna Vorholt is Senior Lecturer at the Department of History of Art, University of York. She completed her MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and her PhD thesis at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Previously, she worked as Research Associate at the Fitzwilliam Museum on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, and as Project Officer at the British Library; she has held a Munby Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Warburg Institute, a full-time research consultancy for the ERC-funded project ‘Projections of Jerusalem’, and an affiliated lecturership at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on knowledge transfer in medieval manuscripts, and the image of Jerusalem in Western medieval maps and architecture; other interests include mise-en-page, the history of scholarship, and political iconography.

Research Assistant (Musicology): Ian Rumbold (University of Manchester)

Ian Rumbold is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Music at the University of Manchester. His previous research has focused on nineteenth-century French music and late-medieval music from Central Europe. He has edited three volumes of the New Berlioz Edition, published by Bärenreiter-Verlag, and is co-author, with Peter Wright, of Hermann Pötzlinger’s Music Book: The St Emmeram Codex and its Contexts (Boydell Press, 2009).

Research Assistant (History of Art): Mara Hofmann (Warburg Institute) [2010-2013]

Mara Hofmann studied at Erlangen and Berlin (Freie Universität), where she completed a PhD in Art History in 2002 (Jean Poyer: Das Gesamtwerk; Turnhout, 2004). She has previously held positions at the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes in Paris as a Feodor Lynen fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, at the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies of the University of London, working on the British Library Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, and at the National Gallery as a Mellon Fellow, where she created the Raphael Research Resource. Her research interests and publications focus on manuscript illumination in France and Flanders, and developments in mise-en-page from the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth century. In 2013, she took up a position as Senior Specialist in the Western Manuscripts Department at Sotheby’s.

Research Assistant (History of Art): Joanna Fronska (Warburg Institute) [2013-2014]

Joanna Frońska received her doctorate in 2007, jointly from the University of Poitiers (Centre d’Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale) and the University of Warsaw, with a dissertation on Fonctions et usages des images dans les manuscrits juridiques: Le Digestum Vetus de Justinien de la Bibliothèque de Kórnik, BK 824. As a doctoral candidate and post-doctoral researcher, she taught medieval art history at the University of Warsaw and worked on an iconographic database at the National Library in Warsaw. In 2008 she joined the British Library as a project researcher working on the exhibition ‘Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination’ (2008-2011), and subsequently contributed to several other cataloguing and digitisation projects (2011-2013). She specialises in medieval illuminated manuscripts with particular interests in political and legal iconography, the use of images as vehicles of knowledge and their impact on reading techniques and memory. In 2014, she took up a post at the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (Paris/Orléans) with the ‘Enluminures’ project.

Research Assistant (Musicology): Eleanor G (Warburg Institute) [2014]

Eleanor Giraud received her doctorate in music from the University of Cambridge in 2014, where she also completed her M.Phil. in Musicology in 2010. Her Ph.D. investigated the production of liturgical books in thirteenth-century Paris, focusing on the role and identity of music copyists, and their relation with other book-makers. After holding the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellowship at Lincoln College, Oxford, she is now a Lecturer at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.

Doctoral Student (Musicology: Printed Editions): Sanna Raninen (University of Manchester)

Sanna R completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2016, with a thesis on polyphonic printed editions of polyphonic music from the early sixteenth century. She studied for a BMus and MMus at the University of Glasgow, focusing on Central European manuscripts from the fifteenth century. Her research interests include music transmission, mise-en-page and text–music relations in sources from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. From 2015 to 2017, she was a research assistant at the Leverhulme-funded 'Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy' research project at the University of Sheffield, and is now a Research Fellow at Uppsala University; she is currently postdoctoral research assistant at the Finnish Literature Society.

Project Administrator: Marianne G (University of Manchester)

Marianne Gillion completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2015, having worked on chant reform in Italian printed sources of the 16th and early 17th century. She is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, funded by the European Commission, with a project on Resounding Worship: Networks of Musical Devotion in the European Reformations, 1520-1648. She previously held postdoctoral positions at the University of Salzburg and most recently at KU Leuven. Her research interests include book history, Reformation and Counter-Reformation liturgies, and the musical and devotional lives of beguines.

Advisory Board

  • Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute, University of London)
  • Nicolas Bell (Trinity College, Cambridge)
  • Stratton Bull (Capella Pratensis/Alamire Foundation, Leuven)
  • Helen Deeming (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • J. P. Gumbert † (Leiden University)
  • John Lowden (Courtauld Institute of Art)