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Lexicon musicum Latinum medii aevi (LmL)

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Early advocate for contemporary Digital Humanities

The Lexicon musicum Latinum must be numbered among the first research projects supported by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences that applied digital technologies from its very inception. The LmL thus represents an early advocate for contemporary Digital Humanities.

The expression „moderne maschinelle Verfahren,“ which might be translated as „modern mechanised procedures,“ appeared in the Academy’s 1961 Year-Book, and the reference encouraged application of these procedures.  The expression seems to have somewhat ambiguously referred to the use of computers, a technique – apart from a few modest initial attempts -- that had not actually become evident within the humanities. In the early 60’s computers were mainly machines that alphabetically sorted texts that had been recorded on punch-cards.    

From Mechanical Sorting Machines to a Software Operated System

Several word indices produced with the aid of computer were published in the mid-1970’s for use at LmL; for the rapid developments in the field of digital technology could be be anticipated.  These indices were considered useful tools for the interpretation of more extensive, little researched texts.  As new texts were indexed, evaluation of their content advanced hand in hand.  With the development of systems based on software programs, the mechanical sorting of texts by word alone gave way to the composition of word-lists that included contexts. Nevertheless, the programming languages of the 1980’s were designed principally for the solution of mathematical-technical problems. Besides numbers and mathematical symbols, the character set was limited to uppercase letters and the punctuation marks of the period and the comma. Database software had not yet become a part of the picture. 

LmL Gets Tailored Software System

With the introduction of the PC in 1984 text processing systems became available that considerably simplified and accelerated text entry and correction of references. Moreover, a customized software program was developed specifically for LmL for the processing and evaluation of materials.

The LmL articles were developed using a conventional text processing software (Microsoft Word). In order to achieve a print ready offset master, they were converted into the TeX typesetting system by applying in-house developed macros. In the 1990s, TeX had been the most advanced layout program. Essential for the LmL, this program also offered the possibility to generate additional special characters to be accessed using TeX commands. This feature had made it possible to incorporate the enormous range of musical notation in medieval music theoretical writings directly into the layout. In turn, the TeX files could be easily converted into postscript and PDF files respectively.

In 1996, in order to provide easy access to the collected material for purposes of research, a internate-homepage of the collection was created, and this resource has been expanded little by little in the following decades. The online version of the printed edition has been prepared by the Trier Centre for Digital Humanities – Kompetenzzentrum für elektronische Erschließungs- und Publikationsverfahren in den Geisteswissenschaften – centred at the University of Trier.

Special Character Fonts

The LmL-Fontliste (PDF) presents an overview of all the special music characters used in the Lexicon musicum.

The fonts used for printing the LmL articles (TeX-Fonts) and the TrueType-Font used for online presentation in the Trierer Wörterbuchnetz (Dictionary Network at Trier University) can be downloaded here:

Online Access to the LmL

The complete dictionary will be presented in the Trierer Wörterbuchnetz for free use. At present, accessibility to LmL online is limited to words beginning with the letters A to M.  Copyright laws will not allow access to the complete database from A to Z until 2018.

The LmL databases representing the processed LmL material are now accessible in a new form under the menu item Databases.