Using the musical notation concordance

Neumat quick reference
  b r n d x
  o a e   x
Step: Join:
  y w s   j
Enter left stems before the body, right stems after, strikes (x) after the struck element, joiners (j) just before the second body.

As the name suggests, the musical notation concordance is to the music of the Cantigas what the text concordance is to the lyrics. In this case, it is note and ligature shapes that are indexed, rather than word forms.

This tool is primarily intended for researchers or performers who are working on the mensural interpretation of the music of the cantigas, and who need to be able to cross-check the use of note and ligature shapes in different contexts in order to establish the greatest possibly consistency. But for everybody else, it's informative and fun! The following guidelines should help you to make the best use of it.

Entering note and ligature shapes

  • To search for a shape, you need to enter a ‘Neumat’ note shape code. You can read more about Neumat on the code samples page, but for search purposes all of the shape code letters that you need to know are summarized in the Neumat quick reference box on the right, which is also included on the musical notation concordance page itself.
  • The most important thing to remember when entering the code for a shape is to work strictly from left to right. So left stems b, r must be entered before the body o, a, e, and right stems n, d after it. Pitch steps down y and up w, s are entered between bodies, and any joiner j comes just between the steps and the second body. The strike x should immediately follow the letter for the stem or body to which it applies.
  • Do not attempt to use the left and right stems b, r, n, d to connect two bodies a, o, e inside a ligature; these stems should always have one end free. Use the joiner j instead.
  • The rarely-used u body is not listed in the quick reference box, but is accepted (try searching for ud).
  • The wildcard ? matches any single letter, e.g. b?d retrieves both bod .bod and bad .bad, and ?? any shape with a two-letter code (ba, bo, od, etc.)
  • The wildcard * matches zero or more letters, e.g. *baron retrieves baron .baron, onwbaron .onwbaron and owbaron .owbaron, and *x* retrieves all shapes that contain a struck-out stem or body.
  • Searches are case sensitive, so make sure you use lower case letters.
  • You can only enter a single search term into the box. Although it would indeed be useful to be able to search for cantigas that contain all of particular set of notes and ligatures, or a specific sequence of them, this is not yet possible.

General considerations

Keep the following points in mind when doing searches:

  • The searchable database contains all 403 cantigas from the [E] manuscript that have musical notation (excluding the 9 repeats), plus the 11 cantigas which only have music in [To]. The rest of [To], and the musical versions in [T], have not yet been transcribed, so the search engine will not find them. See under Sources on the Using the musical transcriptions page for more details of coverage.
  • If you are chiefly concerned with consistency of the mensural interpretation of shapes in the [E] manuscript, then you may find it useful to leave the [To] source unchecked for your searches.
  • Likewise, whenever the mensural value of notes and ligatures is your main concern, you'll probably find it useful to change the default options so as to ignore pitch step variants and joiners, which have no effect on duration, and to apply strikes so as to get the corrected value that the scribe intended (e.g. .onx → .o). On the other hand, if your interest is more paleographical in nature, the defaults may serve you better. The best way to find out is to try all the options for yourself, of course.
  • All notes and ligatures that you can see on the Music tabs of individual cantiga pages are indexed, including those which are deleted or inserted as a result of my own editorial changes. However, it is always clear which is which when you follow the reference link to the cantiga in question, and my changes are infrequent enough that they are very unlikely to cause misleading results.
  • Although Neumat also encodes other stave elements (clefs, accidentals, divisions, etc.) these cannot be searched for at present.

Lastly, as with the other research tools on this website, if you find a serious academic use for the musical notation concordance, a citation would be very much appreciated.