Session 49 (Showcase): The early music databases developed at the CESEM (Centre for the Study of the Sociology and Aesthetics of Music, Lisbon)

Friday, 9 July 2021, 10.00-11.00, Room 209 | Chair: Thomas Schmidt-Beste (University of Manchester)

This themed session aims to showcase four database projects on early music that are being developed at the Centre for the Study of the Sociology and Aesthetics of Music (CESEM, NOVA University of Lisbon, FCSH). While these projects focus on different kinds of musical repertories (plainchant, polyphony, instrumental music, etc.), they all share the same goals – to protect, digitize, catalogue, and make available this music to the wider society and the scholarly community as well. The vast majority of the early music scores here studied (both manuscripts and prints) are kept in Portugal but sometimes also abroad (Spain, France). These four database projects aim to protect the contents of both public and private libraries and archives and they all intend to contribute to a better understanding of the remnant traces of Iberian early music.

PEM – Portuguese Early Music database | Manuel Pedro Ferreira

The Portuguese Early Music Database ( allows free and universal access to a large number of manuscripts with musical notation written before c. 1650 preserved in many different libraries and archives in Portugal and surrounding Spanish locations. Every manuscript is given in full-colour reproduction and entered with a general description. Fragments are indexed in full. Selected codices with monophonic or polyphonic music are also fully indexed. Once a manuscript is selected, the researcher is presented with the contents of that source, along with its corresponding images. The visitor is able to search for manuscripts according to location, type and century (single or multiple choice), in addition to more detailed information such as shelf-mark, provenance, type of notation and other available criteria.

Acervo Histórico do Mosteiro de Arouca | Zuelma Chaves

The database allows a preliminary access to a selection of sources currently kept in the Monastery of Arouca (Portugal). This Monastery contains a collection of fifty liturgical manuscripts and three hundred fifty prints dated from the twelfth to the nineteenth century. The Arouca Database is one of the outcomes of a research project carried out between 2015-2016. In the context of this research, we reorganized and created a new catalogue of the sources according to the most recent bibliographical standards. Besides, several sources were digitized and a Visigothic fragment and two books were restored – a manuscript of polyphony dated ca 1610-20 and a Breviary from Braga dated 1494. In addition, we carried out some preliminary treatments dedicated to the preservation and protection of some of the items in the arquive of the Monastery.

Archive of Iberian Polyphony | João Pedro d’Alvarenga

The Archive of Iberian Polyphony ( is an open-access resource and research tool for musicologists, musicians, and interdisciplinary scholars working in the field of Iberian Studies. The Archive was developed under the FCT-funded research project The Anatomy of Late 15th- and Early 16th-Century Iberian Polyphonic Music, PTDC/CPC-MMU/0314/2014, conducted between 2016 and 2019. It gathers information regarding Iberian polyphonic repertories both sacred and secular, their basic musical parameters, texts, sources and composers, also providing downloadable editions of the individual works for study and performance purposes. Although it was designed for a specific project dealing with Spanish and Portuguese polyphony from between the 1470s and the late 1520s, it remains open to future enrichments and will also include later repertories.

Renaissance Canons | Pedro Sousa Silva

The Renaissance Canons website ( is part of a research project developed within the framework of the Early Music Department at the Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo (ESMAE, Porto, Portugal). Its goal is to provide an online resource to the students to assist their practise of didactic canons from the 16th and 17th centuries through the original sources. Beyond the walls of a classroom, this website was created with the aim to expand the reach of our efforts as a free resource. To this end, its contents (texts and recordings) are published under Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 licence. All scores and excerpts from original sources are public domain and are referenced with IMSLP pages accordingly.