DIAMM and DIAMM Publications

A great resource for early music.

I’m currently Principal Investigator (PI) on an AHRC-funded project that runs until May 2011 and which is designed to enhance the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM). DIAMM has been running since the early days of digital humanities and started as a simple digital repository for a number of images associated with fragmentary sources of pre-Reformation polyphony in England. Now, however, it is much, much more than that.

Eton College Library, MS 178

The current DIAMM hold extensive information about a large number of medieval manuscripts and fragments containing music. Information is being added all the time, often emanating from our users and the members of the Directorial Board. DIAMM holds high quality digital images for many of these sources and the current grant will help us acquire some more images. Images are obviously useful and interesting (and often very beautiful), but the metadata about the contents of the parchment pages and the manuscripts of which the are (or were) part, is also of great value. In the new year, a new website will go live which allowed faceted browsing of the entire back-end database (currently not live) and should enable people to search, find, and manipulate the data in ways not currently possible.

Access to the images is FREE, requiring a short online registration to ensure that the user is aware of the rules of use (the copyright to the images is owned by the libraries holding the originals, not by DIAMM). Please register and support DIAMM!

DIAMM publications

Through negotiation with the owners of certain important manuscript sources of music, DIAMM has initiated a series of publications, making high-quality facsimiles of these sources available at the lowest possible prices. This is designed as a means of further increasing access, especially for performers who might want to play or sing from original notation. Any excess income generated will be used to help DIAMM continue during unfunded periods (DIAMM has existed on several short-term grants since its inception in 1998; our current grant ends on 1 May 2011).

The first two facsimile volumes are of the Eton Choirbook (image above)–a huge repository of early sixteenth-century polyphony–and the Dow Partbooks (image left), a set of five books for use by voices and/or viols from the later sixteenth century. Future plans include the Old Hall manuscript (early fifteenth-century English sacred music), and the Ferrell-Vg Machaut manuscript (fourteenth-century French poetry and music). These partly depend on available start-up funding, so please let us know if you know any potential sponsors!

Christ Church Oxford Library, MSS 984-988

All of these sources–and many others–are already available to view online using our image viewer provided you are logged in (if you’re not logged in, you’ll only get thumbnails). Click on ‘Image List’ from the following pages: Eton, Dow (first part book), Old Hall, Machaut Ferrell-Vg.

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