Cantus Network

libri ordinarii of the Salzburg metropolitan province


The project

Cantus Network

The research project CANTUS NETWORK, which is funded by the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development and is based at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, aims to investigate the records of Christian medieval worship that have survived in manuscript form and describe the practice of liturgical and musical acts of worship. The key sources for this transmission are the liturgical “prompt books”, called liber ordinarius, which include a short form of more or less the entire rite of a diocese or a monastery. Here, prayers, readings and chants are given as in abbreviated form as text incipits.

A liber ordinarius usually includes all information necessary for the church services of an individual institution (church, monastery) or a group (diocese, group of monasteries). On the one hand, this includes the incipits of chants, readings and prayers for the liturgy of the hours, for mass and for processions. On the other hand, it also includes rubrics that provide instructions on how and when particular liturgical actions should be carried out. In a third column, libri ordinarii may contain commentaries on the liturgy taken from standard contemporary works, providing additional information for particular feast days or a particular liturgical activity. A fourth column may provide the unlined neume notation of the chant incipits. When dealing with parts of ordinals, the neumes are the only proof of which piece of music is actually concerned. “Local colour” is created by the combination of the three or four columns, that is, the chant and recital text tradition, the rubrics and the explanations of the liturgy.

The rubrics often contain notes on how the chant is to be performed and are thus able to provide important information on chant performance practice. However, the libri ordinarii may also include information on people, places, buildings and the furnishings of sacred spaces, making them of great interest to historians and art historians also. However, this information cannot be put to use without studying the libri ordinarii in depth. In scholarly studies of libri ordinarii, critical transcriptions of the Latin texts need to be followed by an in-depth analysis of the origins of the liturgy and the commentaries.

The data model

The aim of this digital edition is to enable the comparative analysis of the different libri ordinarii. This requires both a content-related and a textual approach to the original documents. Two different views are offered in order to facilitate access to the text. On the one hand, there is the “editorial view”, in which the depiction stays as close to the original as possible and textual phenomena are given without any colour markings. On the other hand, there is the option of a “structured view”, in which the different chronological layers are given separately and phenomena in the original, such as rasures, marginal notes and additions as well as persons, places and functions, are highlighted in colour.

Coding standards

The transcriptions of the libri ordinarii are written in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). This format constitutes the basis for any subsequent work on the documents as well as for their dissemination. Thus the TEI basis is used to generate both the documents’ online presentation (HTML5) and their printed versions. These transformations are implemented using XSLT stylesheets (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation). The TEI coding takes Microsoft Word documents as its starting point; in the documents, textual phenomena and structural units are marked using styles. This unambiguous annotation and a parsing-process at character level make it possible for the text of the Word documents to be translated into an intermediate code through a transformation process formulated in the object-oriented programming language Java. This code represents a preliminary stage of the final TEI document and is then translated into a fully TEI-compliant version using XSLT. Thus it is possible to translate all textual and content-related phenomena marked as such in Word directly into TEI. In addition, during the process of inputting the original data into the digital archive, RDF (Resource Description Framework) representations are created and saved in a Blazegraph triplestore (with a Sesame API), enabling complex search queries.

Basic technology

The data are hosted in the FEDORA-Commons-based repository GAMS (Geisteswissenschaftliches Asset Management System) of the Centre for Information Modelling at the University of Graz. Both TEI and RDF data are stored here, as well as the respective SPAQRL queries. In its presentation of the data, the GAMS integrates cocoon services into the FEDORA repository and uses project-specific content models for the TEI data and the RDF database queries. As a triple store, the system uses the open-source software Blazegraph, which integrates full text search into the graph database. The RDF representation of the entries makes it possible to search them as Linked Open Data using Semantic Web technologies.