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The Cataloging of Chant Manuscripts as an Aid to Critical Editions and Chant History: Theodore Karp

Two of the major stumbling blocks to a fIrmer knowledge of chant and chant history are the inordinately large number of sources involved and the lack of sufficient bibliographic control over these. We have relatively few detailed catalogs of individual manuscripts and even lack comprehensive lists of the relevant sources.2 Thus it is scarcely surprising that, apart from occasional unica, we do not possess a critical edition of even a single chant. By critical edition I mean one that for an early chant of international diffusion would make available to the reader the results of a study based on 150 or more sources} In the instance of a later regional or local chant, such an edition should include all known readings. We do, of course, have available photographic reproductions for the Justus ut palma melody assembled in Volumes II and III of Paleographie Musicale.4 And a few scholars have published multiple readings for individual melodies.5 Nevertheless, I regard these as sadly insufficient to our needs. As a preparatory step towards remedying this condition, I have recently embarked on a project to catalog manuscripts created before 1350 that are devoted primarily to chants for the Mass Proper. I am beginning with the indexing of sources in Aquitanian notation and will proceed to other notational families when this group has been completed. Each citation will include the first words of the chant and those of any verses, the folio, the genre, the identity of the Feast, and the mode of the melody where deducible. The project is being undertaken by means of a database program so that when any group is complete it will be possible to merge the infonnation and to sort it according to any desired category. I doubt that there is anything new or unusual about the procedures being followed, and therefore feel no need to comment further on these. Since, however, there is so little impetus among chant scholars to pursue such an endeavor, it may be useful to outline why I feel this project to be urgent and to invite the participation of others with like interests.