FWF project no. P 28353-G26

FWF project no. P 24075-G23

FWF Austrian Science Fund

Universitt Salzburg


The two consecutive projects Early music printing in German speaking lands focused on the general phenomenon of printed music north of the Alps. The projects took the technical challenge of printing notes and staff-lines together as their starting point. Unlike other studies that focus on a specific musical genre or printing centre, we examined all kinds of printed sources containing musical notation: theoretical and pedagogical books containing musical examples, broadsheets with music, printed liturgical books, tablatures for all kinds of instruments, printed polyphonic music, hymn books, quantitative settings of Latin verse, humanistic and religious dramas with musical choruses, and so on. This broad perspective has provided a comprehensive insight into the varieties of musical production during the late fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth centuries, and a better understanding of the influence and role of music printing in cultural history.

The projects rested upon two principal pillars. The first was the database. The first version of this database, developed at the beginning of the first FWF project, covered the first four decades of the sixteenth century. Data already available from previous catalogues and secondary literature were enlarged considerably by checking each title in original, recording specific typographical data and providing detailed descriptions of individual copies over the full period of investigation. In the second project, the time span of investigation was enlarged to the current period (1470s–1550). Basic information on the incunabula editions was supplied by Mary Kay Duggan (Berkeley). In a later stage we added images of title pages and sample pages containing music printing for as many entries as possible, and developed a cartographic visualization tool in cooperation with the department of Geoinformatics at Salzburg University.

The second pillar of the project consisted in the ongoing evaluation of the data that built the backbone to our research work on early music printing. We investigated printing in the Reformation and the age of Confessionalisation, networks within the music publishing industry, the exchange of knowledge and techniques, and the development of new printing techniques, both within and beyond the German speaking territories. Special areas of interest included the interrelation between liturgical books, printed plainchant traditions, the political uses and implications of various sources, and printing privileges. For more details, see our list of publications.