About SoundMe

Utrecht_University_Library_ms16H34fol4r

Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek ms. 16 H 34, fol. 4r (15th century, IJssel valley, Netherlands). This collection of small booklets is one of the most important song manuscripts from the Devotio moderna. On fol. 4r, the sequence O dulcissime Jesu opens the first booklet.

The SoundMe project runs from 1 July 2016 until 31 August 2019. It explores the mechanisms by which Europeans of a distant past (c. 1200-1600) used collective musical memory to shape cultural and political behaviour. In which ways are these mechanisms relevant to the societies of 21st-century Europe?

We investigate how a new notion of a musical past came about, and how it was applied by communities in:

  • France
  • the Low Countries
  • Germany
  • Bohemia
  • Poland
  • Italy

Meanings of the musical past

If the compilers of the ‘magnus liber organi’ (c. 1250) proudly collected their sonic past in lavish books as a record of achievement, followers of the Devotio moderna, Hussites and Lutheran communities often favoured ‘archaic’ musical styles because they symbolised a venerable tradition. Alternatively, returning to the simpler sounds of the uncorrupted past, to them as to many today, held promise of a better future.

International outlook, power and prestige

University communities in Central Europe in turn imported sophisticated music of a century or two ago from France and Italy; like ‘classical’ music today, cultivating the sounds of the past symbolised international outlook, education, power, and social prestige.

5 teams

5 research teams in the United Kingdom, Poland, The Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic implement this project through:

  • joint meetings
  • a workshop
  • an international conference
  • an array of scholarly publications (monographs, an essay volume and articles)

The Associate Partner: Experimental musicologists

The singers of the Ascoli Ensemble contribute as ‘experimental musicologists’ and help disseminate the sounding results to the European public through a series of concerts and recordings.

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