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The University of Southampton
Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture

AHRC Grant to Cantum pulcriorem invenire: Thirteenth-Century Latin Poetry and Music

Published: 24 September 2010
Medieval Music

Music at the University of Southampton has been awarded almost £600,000 to research, catalogue and create sound recordings of a genre of medieval music that hasn't been performed since the middle of the 13th century. The project - called Cantum pulcriorem invenire or ‘to find a more beautiful melody'- aims to study, recover and revive the conductus, a form of vocal composition merging Latin poetry and music.

The project, directed by Southampton's Professor Mark Everist, is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Partners include the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney, the eScholarship group in the University of Sydney Library, the Dixson Library at the University of New England in Australia, and the National Centre for Early Music in York. Results will take the form of a monograph published by Cambridge University Press; an online catalogue of the manuscripts - hosted by the eScholarship group in the University of Sydney Library; two PhD theses written by University of Southampton postgraduate students; and selected works performed by world-class musicians, recorded for commercial release on the Hyperion label. Other recordings will be released online as research material.

Conductus were performed widely in the 13th century across Europe, but eventually fell out of fashion and haven't been heard for around 700 years," says Professor Everist. He continues, "Our performances will bring to life this all but forgotten, yet highly significant genre of music, making it accessible to a 21st century audience."

As part of the project, researchers at the University of Sydney re-cataloguing the repertory of conductus will draw heavily from the unpublished work of the late Australian musicologist Gordon Anderson - a scholar of 12th and 13th century Latin poetry and music. Anderson was a Professor at the University of New England, and on his death papers and an extensive library was left to the institution, to which the project team have been granted access for the first time.

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