The CMME Project: Computerized Mensural Music Editing


CMME version .90 (December 2008)

Using the website
Using the viewer software


CMME Software and Website design and programming:  Ted Dumitrescu
Meta-data input (composers, sources, compositions):  Marnix van Berchum, Ted Dumitrescu

Software and programming environments:

CMME Viewer and Editor:  Java 1.5
Web interface:  PHP 4.4.1
Database backend:  PostgreSQL 7.3.10
CMME music files:  CMME-XML

For an introduction to the goals and structure of the system, look here.


Using the website

The Database section of this website provides access not only to all music scores entered into the CMME corpus, but also to a network of contextual meta-data concerning music sources, compositions, and composers. Navigating this data collection is a straightforward matter of following links to view detailed information about individual items. The four links at the top of each database page (Editorial Projects, Composers, Sources, and Compositions) lead to complete indices, allowing quick entry into the data from multiple starting points.

Editorial Projects: All music editions currently in the CMME collection can be reached by browsing individual project pages. The main page for each project contains a listing of musical scores in the project, primary musical sources utilized, and further introductory materials (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Main project page for A Choirbook for Henry VIII and his Sisters
Project page

To find further information on any of the sources, composers, or pieces listed in the introductory tables, simply click on their names. Musical scores are located within the pages for individual Compositions.

Composers: The composers index pages display every composer currently listed in the database. Pages of individual composers offer an overview of all their compositions in the database and their sources (see Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Composer page for Benedictus de Opiciis
Composer page

Sources: The sources index pages display every manuscript or printed music book whose contents are listed in the database. Individual pages contain a complete listing of music pieces contained in each source, along with their locations and composer attributions (more information about multiple attributions of compositions can be found within the pages for individual Compositions). Where available, musical incipits of all voices of every composition in a source are given below the summary content list (see Fig. 3).

Figure 3: Source page for LonBLR 11 E.xi
Source page

Compositions: The compositions index pages display every musical work listed in the database. Information on attributions and sources, as well as the musical scores themselves, appear within the pages of individual compositions. Under the heading "Edition", if the piece has been edited and added to the CMME collection, there are two links (see Fig. 4a): "View score" opens a new window with the Java-based CMME score-viewing software, and "XML score data" provides a direct link to the raw music file in the CMME-XML format. If a piece has been edited, its full text(s), translation, and a commentary by the editor appear further down on the composition page (see Fig. 4b). The editor's commentary does not include the typical "critical apparatus" of the traditional printed edition, because this item has been absorbed into the dynamic functionality of the score-viewer itself, in which the user can choose to see apparatus elements applied directly to the score (e.g., ligature information, original text placement, exact positioning of accidentals).

Figure 4: Composition page for Beati omnes qui timent dominum (two views)
Composition page

Composition page


Using the viewer software

The Java software employed on the CMME website serves to present musical scores in a user-configurable manner. Whereas a printed music edition or computer-engraved score typically offers a single view of a composition - one style of cleffing, barring, or presentation of accidentals, for instance - the CMME viewer software allows the reader to control these aspects of the edition, to suit different needs (e.g., study of notational features or concert performance). Unlike other readily-available software systems, furthermore, the CMME is designed specifically to handle early polyphony and its dissemination in critical scholarly editions.

System requirements
Any computer with up-to-date Java capabilities (Java 1.5 or higher) will be able to use the CMME Viewer without the need to install any new software; this includes systems running Microsoft Windows, MacOS 10.4 or higher, and many Unix installations. To test whether Java is properly configured on your system and running the correct version (1.5 or higher), please visit Sun's Java test page.

Basic functionality
The Viewer program launches automatically when the "View Score" hyperlink is selected from an individual Composition page in the Database section of the CMME website. Depending upon the speed of your internet connection and processor speed/memory, the initialization of the score-viewer may take a little while, first while your computer starts the Java Runtime System and then while the program downloads the score file from the CMME server (new scores after this point will open more quickly). The "Score-viewer control panel" window in the web browser lists the names of all CMME score files currently being displayed. Closing this window will end the program and close all open score windows (to start the program again, simply click once more on "View Score" from any Composition page). Closing an individual score window (Ctrl-W, or "Close window" from the File Menu) will not affect the other open score files.

When a score window opens, the music of a single composition is presented in one viewing style. To navigate the score, use the horizontal scrollbar at the bottom of the score area. The left side of the scrolling score always displays the current clef and mensuration of each voice. Letters to the left of the staves are abbreviations for voice names (e.g., [S] for [Superius], T for Tenor). Measure numbers (appearing below the scroll bar and every five measures above the top staff) correspond to breves of the original notation.

Altering the view
The View Menu offers options for generating different types of music displays, i.e., different forms of translation from mensural notation into transcribed versions, as well as adjusting basic viewing parameters. The View->View Size submenu controls the size of the music display in the score area; the same functionality is offered on the toolbar under the menu bar with the magnifying glass icons and % field. The program initially displays the music at a size based on your screen's resolution.

The View->Barline style submenu offers a selection of barline styles for scoring: small ticks around each staff (default), no barlines, modern barlines (on the staff), or Mensurstrichen (barlines between staves).

View->Texting presents options for multiple forms of text display. Modern Text displays text by the standards of modern choral scores, with words broken into syllables and each syllable associated with a specific note. Original Text presents a version much closer to what stands in the sources, with the text divided mostly by phrases and often positioned loosely, requiring the performer to make decisions on the fly about which syllables should match which notes. Although CMME scores endeavour to divide original text into phrases and position them according to what stands in each source, there is always a considerable amount of ambiguity as particularities of spacing and text-/music-size relations are lost in the transcription.

To toggle between the original clef configuration, as given in the source of a work, and a modern clef configuration (using only G, F, and octave-G clefs), use the View->Modern clefs option.

When View->Display all newline clefs is selected, the end of every staff in the source is displayed as a dashed line on the score; in this configuration, all custodes at line endings are displayed, as well as clefs at the start of all staves (even when these do not contradict the previous clefs).

The display of brackets above the staves connecting notes which form ligatures in the original notation can be turned on and off with the option View->Display ligature brackets. The gray letter 'R' or 'O' above a ligated note indicates whether that note and the next one are connected in a recta or obliqua ligature form.

View->View parts window will open a new window in which each voice appears separately, unscored and in original notation.

Pitch system and accidentals
CMME scores can be displayed with modern or early pitch notation, systems which are closely related yet observe subtle and important distinctions. When View->Pitch system->Modern accidentals/signatures is selected, the score displays modern accidental signs (sharps, flats, naturals) with their modern meanings, representing a translation of the signs in the original sources. When this option is not selected, the "accidental" signs which appear on the score are the round b and square b (technically clefs, not accidentals) and dyesis, positioned as they are found in the sources and not necessarily with the same meaning as their modern descendents (e.g., a round b on the line representing G, by marking that position as the syllable "fa", could indicate in modern terms either G-flat or F-sharp). "Key signatures" also vary in force between early and modern versions: a round b placed in signature position at the start of a staff generally affects only those notes on the same pitch level, and not their equivalents in different octaves.

The option View->Pitch system->Display editorial accidentals toggles the display of modern accidentals (positioned above the staves) necessary for translating early pitch notation to a modern version, as suggested by the work's editor. Accidentals in parentheses represent the editor's optional suggestions.

Critical apparatus
Various CMME features offer a number of display configurations for visualizing the information traditionally contained in an edition's critical apparatus: musical passages which differ from one primary source to another, errors which the editor has corrected, different editorial interpretations of the same material, etc.

When a score first opens, the version which is shown is an editorial redaction bearing the name of the scholarly editor, representing a "good" version of the music based upon the available sources. To change the score display from one variant version to another, for instance to see a version of the score containing readings from only a single source, choose Versions->Display variant marking options, which will open the "Variant display options" panel:

Figure 5: Variant display options panel
Variant display options panel

The top section, "Display version", allows selection of a single version for display. The bottom section, "Mark on score", offers numerous options for indicating directly on the score where variant readings are to be found. In addition to marking either all or none of the variants noted by the editor, different combinations of variant types can be chosen, for example, only ligature and coloration variations. On the score, magenta marker lines indicate variations of pitch or rhythm (typically considered the most significant variants), whereas green lines show other types of variation.

Right-clicking with the mouse on any passage with variant readings will bring up a small pop-up window showing all of the readings at that location, and which versions they appear in.

A configurable list of variants can be opened in a separate window with Versions->New critical notes list. The bottom section contains a table of variants organized by measure/voice and represented graphically with music notation. Controls at the top of this window allow the user to select and de-select variant types for listing, as well as versions and voices. Multiple notes windows can be opened simultaneously to allow different organizations of the critical apparatus.

Editorial commentary
The "Commentary" text area underneath the score displays discursive commentary on individual items within a score (notes, rests, clefs, etc.), e.g., the reasoning behind specific editorial decisions (whereas raw information on variant readings/errors can be viewed using the Critical apparatus system). When View->Mark editorial commentary is selected, any score item with associated commentary is marked with a nearby blue asterisk (*). To view the commentary for an item, simply click on the item with the mouse cursor.

Reference: menus

File menu

About this edition... Opens window with basic information about the edition
Close window Closes current score window

View menu

View size Adjusts the size at which music is displayed in the score window
Barline style Offers options for display of barlines in score: None, Mensurstrich, Tick, Modern
Texting Offers options for display of text in score: Original texting, Modern texting, or both simultaneously
Pitch system Display editorial accidentals: toggles display of accidentals translating early staff notation to modern (intervallically exact) notation
Modern accidentals/signatures: toggles translation of original marked "accidentals" (round and square b clefs, dyesis) to modern accidental/key signature system
Modern clefs Switches between original clefs and standard modern clefs (F, G, octave-G)
Display all newline clefs Toggles display of original line-endings, with custodes and clefs
Display ligature brackets Toggles display of brackets to mark ligated notes
Mark editorial commentary Toggles display of blue asterisks (*) above items with editorial commentary
View parts window Opens "parts layout" window displaying unscored music in separate voice-parts

Versions menu

New critical notes list... Creates new window with user-configurable critical apparatus
Display variant marking options Toggles display of Variant display options panel

Reference: toolbar and score area


Clef buttons
Clef buttons
Choose modern or original cleffing
Editorial accidentals button
Editorial accidentals button
Toggles display of editorial accidentals
Accidental/key system buttons
Accidental system buttons
Choose modern or early pitch notation system for "accidentals"
Texting buttons
Texting buttons
Display/hide modern and original texting
Audio playback button
Play button
Start/stop audio playback (beginning at leftmost measure)
View size tool
Viewsize tool
Zooms in and out (-, +), or switches to arbitrary view size (enter value in text field)

Score area

Horizontal scroll bar Change position in score (currently displayed measures)
Vertical scroll bar Move score view up and down when window is too small to contain all voices
Blue asterisks (*) in score Click item to view associated editorial commentary
Horizontal green/magenta lines above staff Indicators of variant readings (when turned on); right-click to show all readings at this location

Reference: keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl-W  File -> Close window
Ctrl-equals (^=)  View -> Zoom in
Ctrl-minus (^-)  View -> Zoom out

* When I click on "View Score" from the Database, nothing happens.
The CMME Viewer is launched from a window separate from the main browser window, which normally opens when you click on "View Score". Your browser security settings may prevent the CMME website from opening a new window, in which case you need to tell your browser to consider CMME a trusted site (Tools/Options, add "" to the list of trusted sites/exceptions for pop-up blockers/adblockers).

* When I click on "View Score" from the Database, a new window opens with a message saying my browser doesn't have Java installed.
Please check the Sun website or the Apple website and install the latest version of Java on your computer.

* When I click on "View Score" from the Database, a new window opens and the Java system loads, but instead of the CMME Viewer it only displays a gray box or an error message.
If you have Java installed but the CMME Viewer applet does not load properly, you probably have a version of Java which is too old to run the CMME software (requires Java 1.5 or higher). To test which version of Java is installed on your system, please visit Sun's Java test page.

* Other problems:
Please contact us directly.



A reference sheet for reading mensural notation (Ted Dumitrescu, current version: May 2004). This is a brief guide listing most of the basic notational features encountered in 15th-16th century mensural notation and their interpretation. It is not a complete beginner's manual, and is intended chiefly as a reference aid for those who have had some exposure to the basic concepts of the notation.