Union Académique Internationale

Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae

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Project nº12, adopted in 1933

The project Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae has as its aim to make generally accessible the musical traditions of the Byzantine Rite, which are important but which were, until the beginning of this project, almost inaccessible. The project has aimed at reconstructing as far as possible the origin of these musical traditions and interpreting them, and has tried to achieve this through the publication of manuscripts connected with the music of the Byzantine Church in the Middle Ages, together with transcriptions and studies of the notation, history and types of Byzantine music. The Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae consists of five series:

  1. Principal series (Byzantine manuscripts in facsimile)
  2. Series Subsidia (studies concerning Byzantine music)
  3. Series Transcripta (modem transcriptions of central types of Byzantine liturgical chants)
  4. Series Lectionaria (Prophetologium)
  5. Corpus Scriptorum de Re Musica (theoretical writings)

The project was adopted by The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab) in 1931 and shortly thereafter by UAI The editorial program of MMB began in 1935 under the direction of Carsten Høeg. Since then, the University of Copenhagen has housed continuous research activities in the field of Byzantine chant.

Collection of Microfilms and Photographs

The MMB microfilm collection contains more than 680 items. It is intended for use by scholars attached to MMB, the institute, visiting scholars and advanced graduate students who have chosen Byzantine chant as a subject for research. The access to so many sources in one place is extremely helpful when studying the different genres of Byzantine chant or the multiple readings of one specific chant. The inventory (which serves as a key to the collection) is placed here at the disposal of colleagues in accordance with the aims of the International Musicological Society Study Group Cantus Planus, which promotes cooperation in computer-assisted projects and the exchange of data in electronic form. The inventory is primarily intended as a tool for identification of sources containing specific repertoires of Byzantine Chant in the initial research phase. Therefore, a number of references to already existing descriptions are included whenever they present more detailed data on the sources than this inventory. Codicological matters such as materials, state of preservation, sizes, number of lines, rulings etc. are generally not considered. An old card file was the point of departure for the project. It needed updating, and systematic search on the collection was not easy. By conversion into a computerized inventory, invaluable pieces of information, stored through the years in this card index and in a number of notebooks by Carsten Høeg, Jørgen Raasted, Christian Thodberg and Sysse Engberg, have been made more accessible. The project was initiated in 1992 and made financially possible through a grant from Carlsbergfondet.