Digital Edition of Unpublished Seventeenth-Century French Harpsichord Music with an Online, Open-Access Catalogue

Project: Research project

Project Details


Recent studies by Bruce Gustafson (1990, 2018) and other scholars have greatly expanded the 17th-century French harpsichord repertory through newly-rediscovered manuscripts, adding not only new names of composers and musicians, but also new works and additional versions of known pieces. The scholarly discoveries have promptly led to the publication of facsimile and modern editions of music by Jacques Champion de Chambonnières, Jean Henry D’Anglebert, Jean-Baptiste Lully and other named composers. However, many works, including pieces composed and/or copied by Marc Roger Normand Couperin (1663–1734), more than 40 unmeasured preludes and many dances and non-dance pieces, remain largely inaccessible to modern musicians. Indeed, the repertory contained in sources rediscovered since 1990 remains a mystery to many modern harpsichordists, as the source information is currently scattered across numerous publications, including book chapters (Gustafson 2018, Chung 2019c), journal articles (Fuller 2000, Moroney 2005, Gustafson 2010, Chung 2020a) and websites (Gustafson 2007, Chung 2018b). The lack of modern editions and a single centralised source of reliable information has seriously impeded the performance and further study of this significant repertory.

The proposed research will make 300 significant and previously unpublished pieces from recently rediscovered manuscripts accessible to musicians in a clear, modern format. We aim to reach a wider audience by publishing these pieces online rather than in conventional printed editions. We will include an introduction addressing the historical background of the manuscripts and what they add to the lineage of 17th-century harpsichord music, in addition to practical performance issues such as the relationship between notation and performance. New editorial policies will be tailored to this repertory, as the prescriptive nature of Urtext (lit. original text) editions is ill suited to most pre-1800 music and to the expectations of today’s increasingly sophisticated musicians.

One innovative feature of this project is the provision of an online, open-access catalogue that will allow users to search pieces using a combination of criteria, such as names of composers and scribes, work titles, genres, keys, and other elements. This online resource will also provide access to up-to-date research by linking each piece to scholarly information, including the original source, concordances, facsimile editions and modern writings. The catalogue will include 3-5 sample facsimiles of each major scribe so that users can study the handwriting and other nuances of the original notation.
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …


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