The Lost Voices Project: A Digital Domain for Renaissance Music

Richard Freedman, Haverford College Philippe Vendrix, Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR), Tours

The Lost Voices project explores a little-studied repertory of sixteen sets of French polyphonic songs published in Paris by Nicolas Du Chemin between 1549 and 1568. Digital technologies are put to work in the service of these books in ways that will engender a broader discussion about style and structure in the sixteenth-century chanson.

This project features digital facsimiles of the set, freely available for display and download; complete modern editions of all the chansons, engraved as high quality PDF files; essays about the books, the music, and their historical context; and a searchable database of analytic observations about the music.

The project also allows users to contribute reconstructions of incomplete chansons (over 100 of them, to date). These are also available for dynamic display and comparison. All of these materials are combined in an innovative browser-based interface that permits users to search through the repertory, viewing (and collecting) musical excerpts of interest.

The MEI standard is a central resource for the project, serving as a medium of exchange between our original transcriptions (in Sibelius) and our dynamic editions (in any browser, using VexFlow). In addition, MEI is used to keep track of variant readings, emendations, and reconstructed voice parts contributed by different authors and editors. Various workflows and software tools have been developed that allow one to move back and forth among the transcriptions, MEI files, and dynamic renderings using Django (CMS), SOLR, and related technologies. All work is open-source, and available for re-use.