Lexique Musical de la Renaissance / Léxico Musical del Renacimiento / Renaissance Music Lexicon
What is LMR?
For people working on Early Music (musicians, scholars, amateurs), one important question often arises: what is the real sense of terms associated with music? Since we do not have any exact definition of these terms, we usually use analogies, or our own intuition, or we just choose the easy option and use modern equivalents. But ambiguities are far too frequent to allow us to understand the subtle meaning of some concepts: what does “harmony”, “consonance”, “counterpoint” or “tiento” mean before 1650? LMR was created to answer these and other questions, with its main objective being to place every term within a clear context in which it makes sense.
How is it presented?
Our lexicon is presented with quotations from historical sources associated with each term.
Why the Renaissance?
There are two main reasons for this choice:
Firstly, it is during the Renaissance that considerations about music in the vernacular, detached from Latin, are clearly undertaken, with all the musical, social and cultural implications that are involved in this new reality.
Secondly, the Renaissance is the period during which musical thought concerning modality reaches a conclusion. This conception of music, established during the Middle Ages, is codified and clarified by Renaissance theorists before the advent of tonality. It is thus important to consider this particular vocabulary, which does not correspond anymore to our present way of understanding and studying music (mainly taught at Conservatoires of Music), in order to better understand it and to avoid any confusion with today's musical vocabulary.
Our chronology concerns a large period, from ca. 1400 to ca. 1650, that is to say, from the emergence of the first musical treatises in the vernacular to the overtaking of the modal language towards a resolutely tonal language.
What is the utility of LMR?
This lexicon can be useful to different categories of users for a number of reasons:
- For musicologists, it provides information about musical terms within their contexts (including the moment in which a term appears or disappears, the modifications of the meaning a word, etc.)
- For linguists, it provides a specialized lexicon in a field still underrepresented in historical and diachronic studies of languages.
- For Historians, Art Historians, Literary scholars... this lexicon offers information about musical terms (i.e. instruments, dances, etc.) that appear in a variety of sources, and whose real meaning is often unknown or overlooked.
- For musicians, this lexicon provides interesting suggestions and information about interpretation of Early Music.
Which languages are presented?
For both the creator of LMR (cf. infra) and its actual coordinator, the main research field is Spanish Early Music, so Spanish is by far the more represented language in the LMR so far. Other languages from the Iberian Peninsula (Portuguese and Catalan) will soon be more developed. French is also one of the languages represented, mostly thanks to the entries coming from Mersenne’s Harmonie Universelle. The next agenda item will consist of increasing the French content, and to enrich the lexicon with non-Roman languages.
What is our corpus?
Our corpus is relatively heterogeneous in order to understand the significance of a term in the best possible way and in different contexts:
- Theoretical treatises on music
- Prefaces and forewords to musical editions or music anthologies
- Normative texts (chapter acts, books from the fabric of a cathedral…)
- Learners handbooks, including plain-chant treatises
- Literary/historical texts which include numerous musical terms
- Dictionaries (monolinguals or bilinguals)
History of the LMR
The LMR project was created in 1997 by Louis Jambou, a Hispanist and Musicologist, specialist in Spanish Early Music, and Professor at the University of La Sorbonne, Paris. Until 2013, the LMR was associated to different research programs held by this University, but it migrated to the CESR (Tours, France) when Dr. Jambou retired and Cristina Diego Pacheco inherited the project. It was during this first period that most of the quotations and corpus of the LMR were analyzed and captured.
The starting point of the LMR was a simple question that Dr. Jambou asked himself when working on Spanish organ music from 16th and 17th centuries: What is a "tiento" and how could it be translated in other langages? Is it the equivalent of "ricercar", as it was often said and as it is still said? Many Early Music scholars have probably asked themselves this same type of question or have been confronted to these problems when working on specific repertoire.
Future perspectives for the LMR
LMR is an ambitious project and its aim is to integrate different languages in order to create an open and interactive multilingual lexicon. This could allow us to compare and develop research links between different countries in order to answer to some key questions: do musical terms mean the same in different countries/languages? Can we “translate” technical musical terms?
The creation of a dictionary of early (=modal) musical terms, first unilingual and afterwards multilingual are also being considered. This would be the culmination of the data collection. Definitions of terms would be provided from the quotations, so that there would be constant interaction between the lexicological level and the dictionary.
Who are we?
Cristina Diego Pacheco, LMR coordinator, musicology lecturer at University of Lorraine, France, and researcher at the CESR (CNRS Tours, France)
Louis Jambou, creator of the LMR, emeritus professor of music at the University of La Sorbonne, Paris (France)
Amaya García Pérez (University of Salamanca, Spain), Ascensión Mazuela-Anguita (CSIC-Barcelona, Spain), Giuseppe Fiorentino (University of Cantabria, Spain), Paulo Estudante (University of Coimbra, Portugal), José Abreu (University of Coimbra, Portugal), Ana López (University of Valladolid), Marie-Bénédicte Le Hir (University of Tours, CESR, France), Jonathan Auclair (ATILF), Sabina Sánchez de Enciso
Philippe Reynes (University of Amiens, France), Yan Greub (ATILF, CNRS, France)