About the Project

The background context for this project is grounded on two main factors:

On the one hand, early Iberian repertories are rarely acknowledged for either their technical or aesthetic value owing largely to the fact that they are not seen on the surface to comply with central-European models. At best they are viewed as peripheral emulations of cultural products transplanted from other European centres. Moreover, they are often misrepresented in or even absent from most historical discourses on Western Music. This is due to the tendency of music historiography—admittedly a construct of long-established scholarly traditions—to emphasise national trends and anachronistically to impose national frameworks.

On the other hand, early Iberian repertories are still inadequately known and under-contextualized beyond their geographical and cultural reach.

Current research has however shown that international dynamics of repertory circulation and stylistic exchange shaped into a pan-European musical identity, so that regional and local realities have to be seen in an integrative way.

Recent source and repertorial studies, and particularly the ongoing development of online resources like the Portuguese Early Music Database, have greatly enhanced our comprehension of the processes of acquisition and circulation of different repertories in the Iberian Peninsula, and how these processes may have affected local music composition. But despite all the work already achieved, a comprehensive study of existing Iberian repertories from the period under consideration has not yet been attempted.

Addressing this gap, the aims of the project are:

1) To establish recognizable style markers and structural and syntactic patterns for these repertories, looking also into processes of change, variation and permeation, and relating them to different genres and the contexts of production and use.

2) To investigate whether repertories preserved only in Portuguese sources reveal distinctive characteristics that distinguish them from repertories spread all over the Iberian Peninsula.

3) To establish the philology of works preserved in multiple sources.

4) To examine differences and similarities between sacred and secular repertories.

The project will develop according to the following main stages:

1) Reassessment of all relevant musical sources in order to solve pending issues of accurately establishing their origin and dates of production; completing the task of indexing these sources; spotting still untapped concordances; and better ascertaining the chronology of works within the repertories.

2) The preparation of critical editions of the repertories when there are none either reliable or available, taking into consideration the significant variants and versions of all the existing sources for each work.

3) The examination of these repertories by systematically addressing such matters as melodic, contrapuntal and polyphonic structure and syntax, with the aim of establishing distinctive patterns for the whole corpus and identifying style markers. In order to minimize inferences, we will be working on the basis of large samples and heuristic processes, also using software for computer-aided analysis. Specific stylistic markers for anonymous pieces surviving only in Portuguese sources will be investigated by comparing these pieces with pieces ascribed to both Portuguese and Spanish composers. Analytical queries will pay due attention to conditioning particulars such as the use of pre-existing materials in composition. Technical and stylistic dialogues between sacred and secular repertories will be probed. Variants and versions of pieces existing in multiple sources will be studied in order to establish possible routes of transmission and dissemination, and forms of reception.

4) The distribution of the results of the investigation to a contextualized cultural and historical discourse.

The project will also provide advanced training in such diverse areas as codicology, music palaeography, source and repertorial studies, critical editing, and computer-aided musical analysis for students and the wider academic community.

A significant number of usable scores of hitherto unknown music, including critical editions of the unica in Portuguese sources and the complete extant works of such noted composers as Juan de Urrede, Juan de Anchieta and Pedro de Escobar, will result as by-products of this investigation.