Welcome to the Motet Cycles Database


Welcome to the Motet Cycles Database, an online research tool for musicologists, musicians, and interdisciplinary scholars.

The database was developed within the SNF research project Motet Cycles (c.1470-c.1510): Compositional Design, Performance, and Cultural Context (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Academy of Music, Basel, Switzerland, 2014-2017; see www.motetcycles.com and http://p3.snf.ch/Project-149236; for the follow-up project Polifonia Sforzesca / Sforza Polyphony: The Motet Cycles in the Milanese Libroni between Liturgy, Devotion, and Ducal Patronage, 2018-2020, see http://www.polifoniasforzesca.ch/ and http://p3.snf.ch/project-172933).

The database aims at mapping the repertory of polyphonic motet cycles of the period c.1470-c.1510, based on the characteristics of the repertory itself and on the specific modalities of its transmission. The database has been conceived primarily as a working tool modelled on the needs of the project team, as a way to share and compare data and textual references.

In particular, the database gathers information regarding the cycles’ sources, their basic musical parameters (such as number of voices, mensuration, length, and tonal type), and the full texts (provided with all the available references for reconstructing the history of their musical reception). Furthermore, the inclusion of music incipits and of data regarding the presence of pre-existing melodic materials aims at facilitating the identification of possible new concordances or melodic borrowings. The emphasis on the texts reflects our persuasion that this aspect is crucial in order to widen the knowledge of this repertory and better situate it in the musical, liturgical, and cultural context of its time. (Detailed information regarding the content and structure of the database is available in the About and User guide sections).

Even though a clear-cut definition of this modular and somewhat protean repertory is not always possible (as, for instance, the border line between motet cycles and multi-section motets is sometimes blurred), we have tried to follow criteria based on the evidence of the sources (e.g. mise en page, rubrics), and on musical and textual markers (for more information on these delicate problems, see the Introduction to PAVANELLO-FILIPPI 2019). The obvious benchmarks for our selections are the so-called motetti missales included in the Gaffurius manuscripts of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, Milan, identified by previous scholarship as prototypic motet cycles. The selection of the repertory and the corpus of data remain in any case open to future enrichment, and the database is to be considered as a work in progress.


© 2018 Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Basel, Switzerland