New Perspectives in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Music Notations


B-Br-ms-9126 f. 42r © KBR, Alamire Digital Lab

May 4 - 7, 2022

International Conference

Leuven, Park Abbey, 4-6 May 2022 / Brussels, KBR, 7 May 2022

Hosted by the Alamire Foundation, the KU Leuven Department of Musicology, and the KBR

2022 marks the eightieth anniversary of the publication of Willi Apel’s The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 900-1600, a landmark in early music research that even today remains the standard reference book for scholars interested in deciphering early polyphonic notations. This conference addresses music notations from a more limited time period—the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—aiming to address a wide range of different perspectives that go beyond simply how the music should be transcribed, from the history and theory of notation to performance practice and beyond. It will consider different types of notation and their interactions, from monophonic chant notation to polyphonic mensural notation. By engaging with these different perspectives, the conference seeks to advance scholarship and to set the groundwork for future research in a long-established and newly animated field.



For those attending the conference in person, the full conference fee is 80 EUR. If you only wish to attend part of the conference, the day fees are 30 EUR for Wednesday 4 May, Thursday 5 May, and Friday 6 May, and 10 EUR for Saturday 7 May. There is also a conference dinner on Thursday 5 May for a separate fee of 40 EUR. The conference fee (not including dinner) will be waived for KU Leuven students/staff.

A limited number of tickets have been reserved for the concerts Missa Maria Zart (featuring Cappella Pratensis, 8:30pm, Wednesday 4 May) and Buio e Splendore (featuring Ratas del viejo Mundo, 8:30pm, Friday 6 May), both at the Park Abbey Church. Attendees can reserve tickets for 22 EUR each.

You can also attend the conference virtually, free of charge. Papers will be live-streamed using Microsoft Teams.

Register for in-person attendance by 18 April, and you will be contacted thereafter about payment.

Register for virtual attendance (free) by 1 May.

Call for papers (closed)

This conference aims to bring together scholars working on music notations from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries from a wide range of perspectives and seeks to advance scholarship in a number of different areas relating to notation. We are interested in papers on topics including but not limited to:

  • the history and theory of notation;
  • the notational practice of composers, scribes, and music printers;
  • interactions between different types of notation (monophonic/polyphonic, chant/mensural);
  • the notation of canons;
  • optical music recognition (OMR) and music encoding;
  • notation and performance practice;
  • notation and editing techniques;
  • notation and rhetoric; and
  • notation and society.

Please send titles and abstracts for consideration to Paul Kolb by 15 February 2022. The conference language is English. For those unable to attend in person, it will be possible to present virtually.

Conference Committees

Convener: Paul Kolb (KU Leuven)

Scientific Committee: David Burn (KU Leuven), Marie-Alexis Colin (Université libre de Bruxelles), Barbara Haggh-Huglo (University of Maryland), Paul Kolb (KU Leuven), Katelijne Schiltz (Universität Regensburg), Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester)

Organizing Committee: David Burn (KU Leuven), Bart Demuyt (KU Leuven/Alamire Foundation), Ann Kelders (KBR), Paul Kolb (KU Leuven), Ryan O’Sullivan (KU Leuven), Miriam Wendling (KU Leuven)

Sponsors and Partners: Alamire Foundation, KU Leuven, FWO Research Foundation Flanders, KBR


For questions, please contact Paul Kolb.