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Symposium – ‘Disiecta Membra Musicae’

‘Disiecta Membra Musicae’ Image
Monday, March 19, 2018 - 5:00pm to Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 4:30pm
Magdalen College
Summer Common Room

The aim of the Symposium ‘Disiecta Membra Musicae’ is to reflect on issues of methodology, historiography and materiality raised by surviving fragmentary music manuscript sources from the Latin Middle Ages (ca. 800-1500).

Although musicologists have dealt with fragments since the very early days of our discipline, a collective, up-to-date, and comprehensive discussion of the various techniques and approaches for their study is still lacking. On-line resources have recently become increasingly crucial for the identification, study, and textual/musical reconstruction of music manuscript fragments. However, the considerable number of different databases and digital platforms still calls for the first ever experts’ assessment of accessibility and potential for use in musicological research.

‘Disiecta Membra Musicae’ aims, on the one hand, at taking a ‘snapshot’ of the most up-to-date state of the art of the study of medieval music fragments in Europe, the variety of methodologies for the study of the repertory, transmission, musical palaeography, codicology, liturgy, historical and cultural context, etc. On the other hand, participants will take this opportunity to reflect also on broader issues, such as the role of fragments in last century’s musicology, how did fragmentary material shape our conception of the written transmission of music in the Middle Ages, what can fragments still tell us, is ‘fragmentology’ still useful, how are new fragments discovered in the ‘digital age’, etc.

The keynote address will be given by Dr Margaret Bent (All Souls College, Oxford).

For the full programme click here.


Susan Rankin, David Hiley, Jurij Snoj, Sean Dunnahoe, Daniele Sabaino, Helen Deeming, Paweł Gancarczyk, David Catalunya, Christian Leitmeir, Karl Kügle, Reinhard Strohm, Julia Craig-McFeely, Christoph Flüeler, Zsuzsa Czagány, Nicolas Bell.

Registration is now open, but spaces are limited.

Registration fees:

  • £25 for three days (this includes a reduction on the concert ticket price)
  • £20 for two days
  • £10 for one day

To reserve a place, please click here and send the payment confirmation email to

Details of Magdalen College accommodation (for registered delegates only) available here.

Symposium Concert

The symposium concert will be “Or su, gentili spiriti: Italian virtuoso music (ca. 1350-1420)” by the Ensemble ‘Tasto Solo’ and will be held in Magdalen College Chapel.

The Symposium is funded by Magdalen College and the ‘J.M.M. Hermans’ grant of the Association Paléographique Internationale.

Convener: Giovanni Varelli –

The Symposium will directly follow a workshop on fifteenth-century fragments of English music on March 19th and hosted in part at the Bodleian Library, in part at Magdalen College. The workshop, organised by Margaret Bent, Andrew Wathey and James Cook marks the forthcoming publication of a volume of facsimile fragments of English sacred music (ca. 1400-1480), with commentary, for the Early English Church Music series. Numbers for both sessions are limited, especially for the Bodleian. Attendance is free, but lunch is not included. To apply, contact Dr James Cook at:

‘Disiecta membra musicae’ will be part of a series of events connected to the Fragments of Note exhibition of medieval music manuscript fragments from Magdalen College Old Library. For the first time, a selection of unique music fragments from manuscripts dating from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, and ranging from plainchant to polyphony, will be shown to the public.

Contact name: 
Giovanni Varelli
Open to all