The purpose of CANTUS is to assemble and publish indices of the chants
found in manuscript and early printed sources for the liturgical
Office. Each record in the database represents one
chant from a particular source. Details of the data formatting
listed in various places on this website. Since the inception of
this project over a decade ago, it has been
understood that a CANTUS index of a particular source will normally be
used by a scholar who possesses a microfilm, a printed facsimile or
digital images of that source (or access to the actual document).
original intention of the database was to assist researchers in
particular chants within the pages or folios of certain manuscripts,
thereby saving valuable time, money and energy. It has been
recognized, however, that the project has
attracted a much wider audience of chant scholars and enthusiasts who
the many ways in which the indices can be used without reference to a
microfilm or facsimile. Searches for manuscript concordances and
comparisons of chants ordered in series are only two of many examples.
It must be emphasized that CANTUS indices are research tools for
working with medieval manuscripts; they are not intended to be editions
of those manuscripts. During the creation of CANTUS indices,
indexers and the CANTUS staff
strive to provide an accurate but unembellished representation of
the contents of each page
or folio side, as in a "table of contents," rather than create
authoritative documents of either
each book or the local liturgical traditions represented therein.
During data-entry there is some degree of interpretation required for
some sources, especially when the rubrics are few; missing feast names,
for example, can most often be surmised by observing the location in
the manuscript or by surveying the chants contained in a feast, but
other ambiguities such as placements or “position” for several “in
evangelio” antiphons after Lauds (some of which might be for the
Vespers Magnificat) are more difficult to solve. CANTUS practices
have often involved using informed judgments based on usages elsewhere
in the manuscript or in other sources to provide as much detail as
possible, since it is more helpful to users of the database to know the
likely data than merely have indications of “unknown” or
“miscellaneous.” We are guided to some extent by the nature of
the individual manuscripts which vary significantly in their dating and
geographical distribution, but we are aware that over-interpretation
may unintentionally misrepresent what is actually in the
manuscripts. Finding an appropriate balance between
interpretation and objectivity is itself a matter of interpretative
judgment, and for this reason, one can find small but inevitable
inconsistencies between individual CANTUS indexes. That said,
however, users should be aware that each submitted index receives a
thorough manual proofreading as well as extensive computerized checking
in over forty programmed “queries” within Microsoft's Access database programme.
About Links to Other Websites
Several sections on the CANTUS website contain links to other
websites. These links are intended to complement material on our
website. CANTUS reserves the right to set the criteria for and
to select the links we make available on our website. While we
try to ensure that these links are in working order, we cannot
be responsible for controlling the availability, accuracy, relevance,
timeliness, or completeness of the information on other websites.
Moreover, the decision to include a specific link is not intended to be
an endorsement of its content or of its owner. CANTUS also
assumes no responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of
or reliance on such information.
A Note about Modes
Modal assignments are based on twelfth-century methods of
classification which place importance on the final note of the chant
melody and involve a measuring of the ambitus or range of the pitches
used (i.e., "high" or "low") as well as a comparison with relatively
standard verse tones for responsories and differentiae for
antiphons. As might be expected, there are
old) chants which do not lend themselves particularly well to this type
of classification. Indexers and CANTUS staff have used
their best judgments in ambiguous cases, many of which have been left
in the mode field as a modal number (1-8) plus a question mark.
Researchers studying modal assignments are encouraged to consult the
original sources and make their own decisions based on whatever method
they deem appropriate.
The CANTUS database contains hundreds of thousands of entries (over 380,000 records
as of September 2009). We are aware that errors may exist, in spite of all
our precautions and rigorous proofreading procedures. However, the electronic
format lends itself easily to editing, and the CANTUS staff and project director
continually encourage shared aspects of this research based on dialogue and revision.
Please send us any information that could complete or correct our data!
Upon confirmation with the original source, we will integrate it into the database.
Please note, however, that given the relative complexity of the data, updates
may only be done several times a year. Please notify CANTUS
of any errors you encounter while using the database. (Please ensure that
the word "Cantus" is included in your email subject line.) Such improvements
will enhance the value of the project and its usefulness for everyone.