The Sound of St Mark’s. A Digital Catalogue of the Choirbooks with Polyphonic Music of the Venetian Ducal Chapel is an international research project promoted by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Swiss National Science Foundation in collaboration with the Basilica St Mark's, Venice and the Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia.
Project development was articulated in three phases.
In 2013, Dr Luigi Collarile obtained a Swiss National Science Foundation award (Advanced Post.Mobility) for research on the choirbooks with polyphonic music of the Venetian Ducal Chapel of St Mark’s (http://p3.snf.ch/Project-147795). This repertoire, performed ‘a cappella’ without instruments, represented the principal ‘soundscape’ of the most important church in Venice. The project aimed to understand the chronological context of this music, its role in the liturgical ceremonial of the Ducal Basilica, and its aesthetic implications with a view to defining the sound of a specific ritual space.
This project resulted in the creation of the present digital catalogue, a critical edition of the Marchio Angeli's inventory (1720), the oldest source describing the music collection of the Ducal Chapel, and preparatory research for the monographic volume Il suono dell’eterno. I libri corali marciani con musica polifonica della Cappella Ducale di Venezia (in preparation). During the research project, Dr Collarile was visiting researcher at the Ca’ Foscari University and research fellow at the Fondazione Cini, Venice.
In 2014, the choirbooks with polyphonic music of the Venetian ducal chapel were declared UNESCO World Heritage, and the Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia launched a restoration project in coordination with the Soprintendenza ai Beni Librari della Regione Veneto. Restoration was carried out by Lilia Gianotti (Salorno, province of Bozen/Bolzano, Italy), in two phases between 2014 and 2015. Work was financed by the Fondazione Svizzera Pro Venezia (Switzerland), the Save Venice Foundation (USA) and Venice in Peril (UK). The results were officially approved in 2015 by Dr Lorena dal Poz and Dr Flavio Marzo on behalf of the Soprintendenza ai Beni Librari della Regione Veneto.
In 2016, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice approved finance for a further project: The Sound of Eternity. A Digital Platform for the Polyphonic Choirbooks of the Ducal Chapel of St Mark’s, Venice, directed by Prof. David Bryant and Dr Luigi Collarile (Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage), in collaboration with Augusto Celentano and Renzo Orsini (Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics). This project had three objectives:
1. The preparation of a modern critical transcription of the surviving music (64 compositions and some fragments) – the first complete critical edition of this important musical collection which contains several hitherto unpublished unica.
2. The creation of a multimedia digital portal containing: i) digital reproductions of the entire collection of choirbooks, ii) historical and bibliographical metadata, and iii) a critical transcription of the music (open-access). This part of the project was coordinated by Renzo Orsini.The digital platform, which uses the open.source web publishing platform Omeka (https://omeka.org), was developed by Rafael Brundo Uriarte with the supervision of Augusto Celetano and Renzo Orsini. In the future, it is hoped to enhance the digital platform with audio-visual contents.
3. The organisation of the international conference The Soundscape of Early Modern Venice (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 24–27 May 2017).
The project also led to the development of a visual interface prototype for the synchronized digital reading of the choirbooks. Cf. Augusto Celentano, Luigi Collarile, ‘Visual Synchronization of Music Notation in Ancient Choir-Books’. In AVI 2016. Proceedings of the International Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces. New York: The Association for Computing Machinery, 2016, pp. 302–303.
The digital reproduction of the choirbooks with polyphonic music was realized by the photographer Raffaele Michelotti (Mezzocorona, Trento, Italy) in 2015 and 2016, after restoration of the manuscripts. Work was carried out in the laboratory of Lilia Gianotti and at the Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia, using a high-resolution camera and fixed tripod.
The present digital catalogue is the result of the constant discussion between the authors. Dr Luigi Collarile realized the historical introduction, the bibliographic descriptions and the critical transcription of the choirbooks, supervising the implementation of the digital platform. Prof. David Bryant edited the English version, verified the liturgical sources and carried out the scientific revision of all contents.
The first version of the present digital catalogue was presented on 24 May 2017 during the international conference The Soundscape of Early Modern Venice (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice). The final version was published online on 7 October 2019.
An Italian version of the present digital edition will be available in: Luigi Collarile, Il suono dell’eterno. I libri corali con musica polifonica della Cappella Ducale di Venezia (in preparation).
The authors sincere thank
Dr Laura Panozzo
Dr Elena Quaranta
Prof. Augusto Celentano (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
Prof. Renzo Orsini (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
Dr Rafael Brundo Uriarte (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Swiss National Science Foundation
Basilica Cattedrale di San Marco, Venice
Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia
Archivio di Stato, Venice
Mons. Antonio Meneguolo (Basilica Cattedrale di San Marco, Venice)
Mons. Antonio Senno (Basilica Cattedrale di San Marco, Venice)
Don Diego Sartorelli (Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia)
Dr Manuela Barausse (Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia)
Dr Laura Levantino (Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia)
Dr Davide Trivellato (Archivio Storico del Patriarcato di Venezia)
Lilia and Lorenzo Gianotti (Salorno, Bolzano)
Raffaele Michelotti (Mezzocorona, Trento)
Spazio Svizzero a Venezia
Jacqueline Wolf (Pro Helvetia, Spazio Svizzero a Venezia)
Fondazione Svizzera Pro Venezia
Giordano Zeli (Fondazione Svizzera Pro Venezia)
Save Venice Inc.
Melissa Conn (Save Venice Inc.)
Venice in Peril
John Millerchip (Venice in Peril)
Comitati Internazionali per la Salvaguardia di Venezia
Abbazia Benedettina di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice