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.
Lead by Thomas Schmidt, PRoMS was an AHRC-funded collaboration between the University of Manchester, 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). The project 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, and investigates the ways in which meaning is constructed through interactions between the makers and users of these sources. Results from the project have included an international conference at the British Library and the Warburg Institute in 2013, with contributions appearing in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 6/2 (2014) and 7/1 (2015). Papers and a performance workshop at the International Conference Petrus Alamire - New Perspectives on Polyphony (2015) explored the impact of issues of mise-en-page on musical performance, and a major book publication is in preparation with the Epitome Musical series of the Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours.