The Sound of Music


Tsgrooten Antiphonal © Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent

started January 2020

The Sound of Music (SoM): Innovative research and valorization of plainchant through digital technology

The project The Sound of Music (SoM) is centred on research and valorization of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century plainchant sources from the Low Countries.

The importance of this corpus is intensified by its relationship with Flemish polyphony and parallel developments in monophonic and polyphonic music. Innovations and revisions discovered in the plainchant sources themselves have also been insufficiently explored to date. The inaccessibility of the institutions that preserve them due to the coronavirus measures confirms the relevance of making digital sources accessible, an activity that is also put into practice in the SoM project with the use of the Alamire Digital Lab.

There are five main goals: 

  • making the sources accessible: Gregorian music from the Low Countries dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is to a large extent unknown and unstudied. After all, a first step towards full valorisation consists of making these sources accessible to the academic world, performers and the general public; 
  • connecting: making isolated sources accessible is not sufficient. The sources are unique testimonials to a rich cultural heritage that deserves a public platform. Today’s audiences must be enabled and encouraged to engage in dialogue with this Gregorian heritage; 
  • maximising: the Sound of Music consortium aims to exploit the social function and valorisation potential of these sources to the full by making the public aware of Flanders’ rich musical heritage in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when this region was the musical and artistic epicentre of Europe. Within this project, scientific communication is also an essential attention point. 
  • developing: Sound of Music is committed to the development of research tools and valorisation mechanisms that aim to increase our knowledge and appreciation of the roots of Western music to a significant extent (for example through digital imaging, virtual reconstruction of acoustic spaces and the mapping of melodic patterns by means of Optical Mark Recognition); 
  • creating impact: the ultimate aim of the project is to profoundly change the vision and experience of Gregorian as one of the basic mainstays of Western music. 

The uniqueness of The Sound of Music is determined by the way in which excellent research in the subject areas of musicology, sound technology and computer sciences are brought together.