An MEI-TEI framework for the description of musical prints

Authors: Siegert, Christine / Richts-Matthaei, Kristina

Date: Wednesday, 6 September 2023, 11:15am to 12:45pm

Location: Main Campus, L 1.202 <campus:note>


In traditional music editions, printed sources often are underrepresented. Especially few attention is drawn on single printed copies, which, however, seems to be crucial for the aim of transparency, namely because copies that at a first glance seem to be identical, in reality are not. In our ongoing project, Das Handwerk des Verlegers – Untersuchungen zu Entstehungsprozessen von Beethoven-Originalausgaben, financed by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung, we therefore focus on historical music prints. They were foremost presented in parts, and not in score format.

Our detailed study of up to now 15 authorized part editions of chamber music and symphonic works by Ludwig van Beethoven (201 copies altogether) has the following results: in 66 % (10 editions), the number of correction processes differ from part to part. To give two examples: In the Piano Trios op. 1, in the piano part we can trace three stages of the plates, whereas the violin and violoncello each have four. In the Sextet op. 81b, violin I has three stages of the plates, violin II five, the viola and horns only a single one, and the violoncello two. Moreover, in bibliographical entities, i.e., the single copy in a library, the combination of the parts is not always chronologically consistent; one part of it can be of a late stage of the plates whereas the other one can be of an early stage.

The paper will discuss the framework developed mainly by Till Reininghaus, Kristina Richts-Matthaei, and Daniel Röwenstrunk to describe these sources. On a first level, the framework combines MEI files for the printed editions themselves with TEI files for related data: biographical information on persons (composers and authors of texts, dedicatees etc.), institutions (e.g., publishing houses), places and bibliographical information. The files can easily be linked via automatically generated IDs. Every file can be, of course, and is enriched with new editions included in the dataset. With this information, we are able to build a growing network around the prints in consideration.

A special challenge was to construct an adequate file structure to encode heterogeneous sets of parts. For the work entries, we could use the structure which the MEI header provides as a standard, itself indebted to the FRBR model. As usual, every edition is considered a <manifestation> (encoded in a <manifestationList>) where we can provide detailed information of the genesis of the print, its manufactioring process etc. Each <manifestation> has (or can have) different <items> (single copies, encoded in an <itemList>) with their individual characteristics as handwritten additions, stamps etc. The different stages of the plates with a detailed description of the changes, have, however, to be documented separately for the reasons mentioned above. For this purpose, we use again the <manifestation> element, encoded in a <componentList>. The single copies and their separate parts are then linked with <relations> of a <relationList>. The user has therefore access to the different copies as well as to the different stages of the plates. With this structure, we hope to contribute to a more detailed consideration of music prints in digital as well as traditional music philology.

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