Academic journal article Notes

Motet Online Database

Academic journal article Notes

Motet Online Database

Article excerpt

For information regarding the scope of this column, consult the head-note in the September 2009 issue (p. 129 of this volume). The dates of access for each review of an online source indicate the dates during which the reviewer was evaluating the resource. All Web sites were last accessed to verify availability on 17 February 2010.

Motet Online Database. Dr. Jennifer Thomas, project director. School of Music, University of Florida. .asp. (Accessed January 2010). [Requires a Web browser and an Internet connection.]

The Motet Online Database provides an index of motets that were produced between 1475 and 1600; this online resource indexes both manuscripts and motets that appear in printed anthologies. The site's "Contents of the Catalogue" page lists the total number of records contained in the database as 50,040 as of April 2002, and claims that the database contains an estimated 33,000 motet and Mass Proper appearances. There are indications that certain parts of the Web site where the database is located have not been updated recently, so it is possible that these estimates are inaccurate. Most of the site's pages indicate a copyright date of 2003, with a 10 May 2008 revision date.

Because the definition of "motet" can be both specific and general, the "Works Included" Web page provides a very detailed description of what is included and what is not included in this database. What is included are most Latin-texted, non-strophic, polyphonic compositions (apart from settings of the Ordinary of the Mass), and all works designated in original sources and in secondary literature as motets or as Mass Propers. Compositions displaying the usual characteristics of both the Ordinary and the Proper of the Mass are also indexed. What is not included in the database are pieces designated as magnificats, lamentations, canticles, strophic psalms, and strophic hymns. More detailed explanations of decisions regarding the scope of the database can be found on the "Works Included" page. The sources of information for the contents of the database were gathered from a variety of published sources and from the Musicological Archives for Renaissance Manuscript Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign. For a complete list, see the "Sources of Information" page. I am not sure how completely current this list of sources may be, but it is extensive.

The heart of any database is the data fields: what they are, what they contain, and how they can be searched and manipulated. The twenty data fields in this database are divided into four major areas: fields providing information about the original source, place or provenance information fields, fields providing information about individual motets, and fields standardized for uniform sorting and searching. There are three fields related to the original source topic. The "Source" field contains either the RISM siglum for prints or the library siglum for manuscripts. The "Date of Source" field is either the RISM assignment for prints or a range of years according to recent scholarship for manuscripts. The contents of the "Scribe or Publisher" field can be either from the original source or from recent scholarship and usually includes initials for a manuscript's scribe or scribes, name of a scriptorium or workshop, or the name of a publisher for printed materials.

Eight major regions of Europe have been assigned a number from one through eight and are indicated in a table on the "Data Fields" page. The table also contains the number of database records entered from each region. (Again, the number of database records in the table does not appear to have been updated anytime recently.) The seven different "Place Information" fields are fairly self-explanatory, except for the "Citation" field, which is given a paragraph explanation. There is a statement at the end of the paragraph which says "See the key to citation abbreviations below," but this key does not appear anywhere on this page. …

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