Texts on Music in English from the Medieval and Early Modern Eras (TME) is an evolving archive of texts, initiated and directed by Peter M. Lefferts. It is designed to extend the Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum (TML) and to continue the endeavor of capturing Western European texts on music theory and aesthetics in electronic form. The TME focuses on the major treatises written in English, but also incorporates other texts involving music, allowing them to be browsed and searched. TME will eventually comprise all relevant manuscript and printed materials from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. The development of the TME is being undertaken at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln, but it is affiliated with the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature (CHMTL) of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music that provides editorial and technical support, server space, and website hosting. The TME has an international Advisory Board whose members are Dr. Jessie Ann Owens (Professor of Music, University of California at Davis [USA]), Dr. Ronald Woodley (formerly Senior Lecturer and director of Postgraduate Studies in Music at Lancaster University [UK], now Honorary Senior Research Fellow there), and Dr. Penelope Gouk (Fellow, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Manchester [UK]).

The TME allows scholars to locate and display in a matter of seconds on their personal computers every occurrence of a particular term, a phrase or passage, or a group of terms in any text contained in the TME's electronic archive, and all text and graphics can be viewed online.

The TME website includes this introduction, the "Principles of Orthography," which explains the basic orthographic normalization and markup necessary for the TME; the TME Canon (see below); and century indices (e.g., Fifteenth-Century Sources, Sixteenth-Century Sources, and so on), listing the texts available for that century and their accompanying graphics.

The SMI Text and Graphic Files

Unlike other types of texts commonly studied by scholars in fields such as classics, literature, and philosophy, those on music theory include abundant figures and musical notation for which no ASCII equivalents exist. This material cannot simply be omitted. Musical notation included within sentences is entered as codes in the text file, while full musical examples or figures are scanned and saved in GIF format and keyed to locations within the text files themselves. If the example includes text, this is given in the ASCII file within brackets (e.g., [Anonymous, Discant, 260,2; text: Cum angelis et pueris]), thereby enabling the search engine to locate and display text strings that appear within figures as well as those within the treatise proper. The text, of course, will also appear in the graphics file that will store the figure, table, or musical example itself.

Symbols characteristic of mensural notation (relevant in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque treatises) are borrowed from the TML's "Table of Codes of Noteshapes, Rests, Ligatures...," a system of encoding developed by Thomas J. Mathiesen and published in "Transmitting Text and Graphics in Online Databases: The Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum Model," Computing in Musicology 9 (1993-94): 33-48.

The TME Canon

The TME Canon provides a full bibliographic index to the content: the name of the author of the treatise, as given in the source from which the data was taken; the author's first name; the title of the treatise; the incipit; the source of the data file; the names of the persons responsible for entering, checking, and approving the data; the filename; the filetype; the filelist; the size of the file in kilobytes; annotations; and the type of source (i.e., manuscript or print). The PDF version of the TME Canon may be retrieved from the TME Web by clicking here.


The Center for the History of Music theory and Literature at Indiana University maintains a mailing list through which announcements of interest to users of their full-text databases (TME, TFM, TML, and SMI). Further information is available on the CHMTL website.

If you have any problems with the TME or suggestions for its improvement, please contact the Project Director, Peter M. Lefferts.
Telephone: ([402] 472-2507)
Mail: Professor Peter M. Lefferts
School of Music
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100

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