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New Perspectives in 15th- and 16th-Century Music Notations

International Conference

Leuven, Park Abbey, 4-7 May 2022

Hosted by the Alamire Foundation and the KU Leuven Department of Musicology

2022 marks the eightieth anniversary of the publication of Willi Apel’s The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 900-1600, a landmark in early music research that even today remains the standard reference book for scholars interested in deciphering early polyphonic notations. This conference addresses music notations from a more limited time period—the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—aiming to address a wide range of different perspectives that go beyond simply how the music should be transcribed, from the history and theory of notation to performance practice and beyond. It will consider different types of notation and their interactions, from monophonic chant notation to polyphonic mensural notation. By engaging with these different perspectives, the conference seeks to advance scholarship and to set the groundwork for future research in a long-established and newly animated field.


This conference aims to bring together scholars working on music notations from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries from a wide range of perspectives and seeks to advance scholarship in a number of different areas relating to notation. We are interested in papers on topics including but not limited to:

  • the history and theory of notation;
  • the notational practice of composers, scribes, and music printers;
  • interactions between different types of notation (monophonic/polyphonic, chant/mensural);
  • the notation of canons;
  • optical music recognition (OMR) and music encoding;
  • notation and performance practice;
  • notation and editing techniques;
  • notation and rhetoric; and
  • notation and society.

Please send titles and abstracts for consideration to Paul Kolb by 15 February 2022. The conference language is English. For those unable to attend in person, it will be possible to present virtually.


Keynote addresses will be delivered by Margaret Bent (All Souls College Oxford) and Emily Zazulia (UC Berkeley).


4 May 2022, 8:30pm, Park Abbey Church: Cappella Pratensis, Jacob Obrecht, Missa Maria zart


Convener: Paul Kolb (KU Leuven)

Scientific Committee: David Burn (KU Leuven), Marie-Alexis Colin (Université libre de Bruxelles), Barbara Haggh-Huglo (University of Maryland), Paul Kolb (KU Leuven), Katelijne Schiltz (Universität Regensburg), Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester)

Organizing Committee: David Burn (KU Leuven), Bart Demuyt (KU Leuven/Alamire Foundation), Ann Kelders (KBR), Paul Kolb (KU Leuven), Ryan O’Sullivan (KU Leuven), Miriam Wendling (KU Leuven)

Sponsors and Partners: Alamire Foundation, KU Leuven, FWO Research Foundation Flanders, KBR


Further details about the program and registration will be available here at a later date.


For questions, please contact Paul Kolb