Professor of Music Richard Freedman has been awarded a Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Freedman’s project, titled Recovering Lost Voices: A Digital Workshop for the Restoration of Renaissance Polyphony, will enlist an international team of scholars and information technologists to reconstruct missing voice parts for an important but neglected repertory of sixteenth-century French polyphonic songs.
The fellowship from the ACLS, a federation of 70 national scholarly organizations, will allow Freedman to combine reconstructions with facsimiles and scholarly commentaries via the Music Encoding Initiative. (That initiative is working to create a commonly-accepted, digital, symbolic representation of music notation documents that will allow the field of musicology to make full use of digital technologies.) The result of the Recovering Lost Voices project, says Freedman, will be a collaborative tool for use by all scholars, students, and performers of early music.
The digital project will remain a permanent part of Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance (Center for Higher Renaissance Studies, CESR) in Tours, France, where Freedman has been a visiting professor. No stranger to digital innovation, Freedman used a “Digital Humanities” grant he received from the National Endowment for the Humanities to collaborate with CESR to create a website (Les Chansonniers de Nicolas Du Chemin) that provides access to music books published in the 1500s by Parisian printer Nicolas Du Chemin. The site, which went live in 2010, allows visitors to read and play the songs, search a database and image archive, read commentaries and modern transcriptions, and reconstruct pieces with missing voice parts.