Fully-funded three-year PhD studentship:
The Production and Reading of Polyphonic Music Sources, 1480–1530 (PRoMS)

Bangor University: College of Arts, Education and Humanities
Fully-funded three-year PhD studentship
The Production and Reading of Polyphonic Music Sources, 1480–1530 (PRoMS)

Applications are invited for a fully-funded research studentship (fees and stipend at AHRC level, currently at £13,590), as part of this major research project funded by the AHRC. The studentship will begin on 1 December 2010 or as soon as possible thereafter. The topic of the PhD will be, broadly conceived, 'Music, Words and Image in Printed Sources of Polyphony, 1500–1530'. The student will work as part of an interdisciplinary research team, led by Professor Thomas Schmidt-Beste. The research project is based in Bangor but involves a partnership with the Warburg Institute (University of London), the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities (King's College, London).
We are looking for a musicologist, but one with interdisciplinary interests in art history, codicology, and the history of the book. Candidates should have completed appropriate research training or have equivalent research experience.

Description of the project


Renaissance sources of polyphonic music not only convey a rich repertoire of some of the most impressive music ever written; they are also objects of striking physical appearance and often great artistic beauty. They are also among the most complex sources of their time, typically combining verbal text, musical notation and other graphic devices. This project presents the first systematic study of mise-en-page - the ways in which these three layers interact on the page - for the period c.1480-1530, when the transmission of polyphonic music had spread across the whole of Europe and had achieved its fullest variety in terms of source and repertoire types. We will investigate the ways in which meaning is constructed through these interactions by the makers and users of the sources.

The project will achieve its objectives by expanding approaches developed for text manuscripts, incorporating aspects specific to musical sources and combining them with digital technology; it will also transfer the results of the investigation to present-day performances.

Mise-en-page forms an integral part of music sources and therefore provides crucial information for the understanding of the repertoire that is transmitted through them. Its complexity is particularly great in sources containing polyphonic music notation, where the different voice parts are arranged to be read separately by the performers, yet to be performed simultaneously. Some sources have been examined in detail from this viewpoint, but a unified methodology and a consistent terminology are now required. We will analyse and present the material in two different ways. On the one hand, we will compile a database of mise-en-page information for all extant sources from this period (c.300 manuscripts and exemplars of c.80 editions) to facilitate comparisons and codification. As part of this work, we will develop a template for the description of page information and compile a terminological glossary which can become a standard resource for future research. On the other hand, we will analyse and compare a sample of 25 sources (20 manuscripts and 5 prints) in detail. The selected sources encompass the full geographical and chronological spread as well as the full breadth of formats, layouts, functions, repertories, languages and levels of decoration which can be found during this period. In the online presentation of these sources, we will map correlations between visual and textual elements through electronic markup, establish cross-references to the database and to other images with similar (or opposing) strategies of visualization, and provide a prose commentary for individual openings.

Finally, in collaboration with the vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, we will explore with performers how an understanding of the mise-en-page (which 'disappears' or is distorted in modern transcription) informs how the music is sung and heard. The performances and a combined CD/DVD release will include multimedia projections of marked-up sources to convey this to the audience.

PhD project

Printed books of polyphonic music emerged alongside manuscript codices around 1500. The relationship between the two media has been studied by Boorman, Cumming and others, demonstrating that music prints, like prints in general, initially imitated the format and layout of manuscripts. However, as for manuscripts, there has not yet been a systematic attempt to compare and contrast strategies of mise-en-page, taking into account that the factors of material, format, production and readership are all (in principle or at least in degree) different from those in manuscript sources.

On the basis of the c.80 editions of polyphonic music (excluding tablatures) extant from before 1530, the student will explore whether and how the mise-en-page strategies identified in the manuscript sources are applicable to printed music of the same period. The methodology will be similar to that of the overall project: compilation of a database (as part of the overall project database) with information on all editions, including the description of their sizes, shapes, layouts, repertoires and modes of production; selection of a smaller group of sources, and close analysis of aspects within these. The results will be presented both as a part of the overall database and online presence and as a self-contained dissertation which will present the case studies within a wider historical and codicological context.

The PhD covers an indispensable aspect of the overall project while representing a distinct sub-project in its own right. The candidate will work very closely with the research team and will thus profit from the common methodologies developed within it. In return, the student will provide substantial input into the project as a whole.

The student will be based in Bangor and will be supervised by Professor Thomas Schmidt-Beste. He/she will also be advised by Dr Christian Leitmeir (Bangor), Professor Charles Burnett, and Hanna Vorholt (both Warburg Institute), and will also be able to draw more generally on the resources and expertise of the Warburg Institute in cultural and intellectual history, art history, and the history of the book, as well as on the expertise of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in Bangor/Aberystwyth where the history of written and printed artefacts is one of the principal foci.

We are looking for a student with a background in musicology, but with a strong interest in art history and the history of the book. In order to meet the requirements of the project, the student will receive specific training in the visual and codicological analysis of the sources by the investigators and research assistants. The student will also acquire presentation skills by being mentored on giving academic papers in a team context; substantial skills in the digital humanities through training from the Centre for Computing in the Humanities and the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music; and experience in the implementation of research through our collaboration with Cappella Pratensis and the Alamire Foundation.

Terms of appointment

The studentship is open to UK and EU applicants. For the latter, the full stipend is only payable if the appropriate residency requirements are fulfilled – see the AHRC’s Guide to Student Eligibility Version 1.1, Dec 2009, available on the AHRC website.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the project director, Professor Thomas Schmidt-Beste, ( The closing date for applications is Friday 24 September, and interviews will be held in Bangor on Friday 8 October 2010.

How to Apply

There are three elements to this application:
(a) submission of CV, details of research training and background, and expression of interest in the project;
(b) the names and contact details of two people who know your recent work well; one of them should be the supervisor of your MA / MMus dissertation, if applicable.
(c) completion of the university’s standard application form for postgraduate study.

a. Your application

This should consist of a CV of no more than two pages, a one-page summary of your research training and background, and a one-page expression of interest describing what you think you could bring to the project (in lieu of the research proposal requested on the university postgradate application form).

b. Details of referees

Please identify two people who know your recent work well and would be willing to discuss or write in support of your application. Please ask each of them to provide a reference, and attach the two references to the electronic university postgraduate application form.

c. The university postgraduate application form

The application form should be completed and submitted online at:

This should be submitted to the university by Friday 24 September 2010.

We expect to invite shortlisted candidates to an interview in Bangor on Friday 8 October 2010 . We shall meet reasonable travel expenses and, where necessary, arrange overnight accommodation on Thursday for those travelling from a distance.

The research project begins on 1 December 2010 and ends on 30 November 2013. It would be desirable if the student could begin on that date or as soon as possible thereafter..






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