(December 2007)

Texts on Music in English from the Medieval and Early Modern Eras (TME) is an evolving database, initiated and directed by Peter M. Lefferts. It is designed to extend the Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum (TML) and to continue the endeavor of capturing Western European texts on music theory and aesthetics in electronic form. The TME focuses on the major treatises written in English, but also incorporates other texts involving music, allowing them to be downloaded, browsed, and searched. The database will eventually comprise all relevant manuscript and printed materials from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. The development of the TME is being undertaken at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln, but it is affiliated with the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature at Indiana University, which provides technical support, web server space for the database, and a search engine. The TME has an international Advisory Board whose members are Dr. Jessie Ann Owens (Professor of Music, University of California at Davis [USA]), Dr. Ronald Woodley (formerly Senior Lecturer and director of Postgraduate Studies in Music at Lancaster University [UK], now Honorary Senior Research Fellow there), and Dr. Penelope Gouk (Fellow, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Manchester [UK]).

The TME has been designed for quick and easy access in many ways. In the short range, the TME allows scholars to locate and display in a matter of seconds on their personal computers every occurrence of a particular term, a phrase or passage, or a group of terms in close proximity in any text contained in the TME's database. The database can be tailored to each subscriber's interests; any part will run separately (text without graphics, graphics without text, or text and graphics), all or any part may be downloaded to an individual's machine, and all text and graphics can be viewed online.

The TME is indebted to the TML, which granted kind permission to adapt not only the TML's system of handling graphics but also the Hypercard script for the TME Canon of Datafiles (see below) and most of the following introduction.

The TME on the World Wide Web:

The text, graphics, and filelist files of the TME can be viewed online or retrieved by means of a WWW client. You should first connect to your "Web home page." Once you know how to do this, you should have no difficulty with the following instructions.

When you connect to your Web home page, you are running a Web client that can link to other types of servers, which are identified by means of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The URL indicates the type of server (e.g., http), the location, and the path to the data. The URL for the TME is:

A few moments after having entered this address, you will see the home page of the TME with a short introductory paragraph followed by a menu leading to this introduction and the various filelists (e.g., Fifteenth-Century Sources, Sixteenth-Century Sources, and so on). Selecting any of these will in turn show you the index of files for that century and their accompanying graphics, any of which can be viewed online simply by clicking on the item.

TME Text Files:

Unlike other types of texts commonly studied by scholars in fields such as classics, literature, and philosophy, those on music theory include abundant figures and musical notation for which no ASCII equivalents exist. This material cannot simply be omitted. Musical notation included within sentences is entered as codes in the text file, while full musical examples or figures are scanned and saved in GIF format and keyed to locations within the text files themselves. If the example includes text, this is given in the ASCII file within brackets (e.g., [Anonymous, Discant, 260,2; text: Cum angelis et pueris]), thereby enabling the search engine to locate and display text strings that appear within figures as well as those within the treatise proper. The text, of course, will also appear in the graphics file that will store the figure, table, or musical example itself.

Symbols characteristic of mensural notation (relevant in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque treatises) will be borrowed from the TML's "Table of Codes of Noteshapes, Rests, Ligatures...," a system of encoding developed by Thomas J. Mathiesen and published in "Transmitting Text and Graphics in Online Databases: The Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum Model," Computing in Musicology 9 (1993-94): 33-48.

TME Graphics Files:

The graphics files, by their nature, are somewhat more complex. The GIF format has been selected in preference to any other format for several reasons. First, GIF files are quite small, and thus they can be downloaded very quickly. Second, the format can be read on any of the major hardware configurations with simple conversion programs available as free- or shareware or viewed by a Web browser accessing files on an individual's personal machine. Third, the graphics files can be displayed directly on the WWW.

The TME Canon:

In addition to the data and graphics files for each treatise, you will find other sorts of documents on the TME: informational files, such as this Introduction, which provides a general introduction to the TME; the "Principles of Orthography," which explains the basic orthographic normalization and markup necessary for the TME; and the TME Canon, which provides a full bibliographic index for the database.

Some parts of the TME Canon are available as a HyperCard stack indexing all the treatises in the TME, which may be retrieved from the TME Web by clicking here. Each entry in the Canon includes the following fields (in this order): the name of the author of the treatise, as given in the source from which the data was taken; the author's first name; the title of the treatise; the incipit; the source of the data file; the names of the persons responsible for entering, checking, and approving the data; the filename; the filetype; the filelist; the size of the file in kilobytes; annotations; and the type of source (i.e., manuscript or print).

Please note that the HyperCard stack can only be used by Macintosh users, and it must first be decoded before it can run. This will normally be done automatically by web browsers, but if necessary, it can also be done by using the binhex decoding options in StuffIt, CompactPro, or any other binhex decoding program.

Some parts of the TME Canon are also available as a PDF file, which will display an on-screen print of the contents of the HyperCard stack. PDF files can be viewed on any computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader (available for free at and are also fully searchable. The PDF version of the TME Canon may be retrieved from the TME Web by clicking here.

Saving Files to Your Personal Computer:

If your personal computer is connected directly to the Internet, either through a hardwire, SLIP, or PPP connection, you will most probably have retrieved TME files directly to your individual machine and need not peruse this section, which applies only to users who make use of a modem to effect a dial-up connection to a mainframe (or some similar intervening machine).

After the data files of the TME have been transferred to your local system, they are ready to be read and searched. Although most mainframes do have some sort of searching capabilities within their text viewers or editors and these may be suitable for certain users, the TME assumes that most users will want to download the files to their personal computers in order to take advantage of the search engine described in the next section.

Every mainframe will have a different selection of error-correction protocols available, which help insure that data transferred over telephone lines through low-speed asynchronous connections is not corrupted in the process of transmission. Most mainframes should have at least Kermit and Xmodem. Each communications program and modem addresses these protocols in different ways, and this Introduction cannot substitute for your instruction manuals. There are, however, a few points to keep in mind when you prepare files for searching.

Searching the TME:

When you have transferred the data files of the TME to your personal computer, they may be searched or otherwise manipulated using any one of a number of programs. Although the files may be searched or otherwise manipulated using any one of a number of programs, at present the TME recommends UltraFind as the engine to be used for searching the database when it resides on a Macintosh (running any MacOS system, including Classic under OSX). UltraFind is available from for a free 30-day evaluation; registration (US $39.95) is required following the evaluation period.

UltraFind provides both simple and Boolean structures, as well as retrieving information even in unspecified variant spellings through a thesaurus--an important advantage when searching texts in early languages.

UltraFind provides an online help manual with instructions for its use and configuration, and these instructions need not be repeated here. A few recommendations, however, may be helpful.

After the desired material has been located, any number of further actions are possible: a detailed report may be printed, showing the number of "finds" and their location (in as large or small a context as may be specified); passages located may be readily imported into a word processing document; the entire text of the treatise containing the passage may be opened and printed; and so on.


As the engine to be used for searching the database on a Windows machine (runnning Windows98, NT, 2000, XP, or Vista), the TME at present recommends Eureka!, a program developed by the CHMTL. Persons interested in purchasing a copy of Eureka! should retrieve the order form from the CHMTL by clicking here.

Because Eureka! was developed specifically for use with the full-text databases of the CHMTL, the brief instruction manual included with the program will provide all the necessary information on its use. Like UltraFind, Eureka! allows for complex Boolean searches, including proximity searches; the production of detailed reports showing the number of "finds" and their location (in as large or small a context as may be specified); and nested searches.

Because the TME is composed of ASCII text and GIF graphics, it can be used by any machine with its own search program. This structure is intended to make it easy to adapt the files to other systems of delivery that may become popular in upcoming decades.


The Center for the History of Music theory and Literature at Indiana University maintains a LISTSERV site through which announcements of new additions to any of the full-text databases (TME, TFM, TML, and SMI) and other announcements of general interest to users of these databases will be circulated.

The address of the Indiana University LISTSERV site is:

To subscribe to the CHMTL-L, send the command:

For example, a subscription message might look like this: Your subscription will be processed by the list owner, who will in turn send a request for a short statement of interest in CHMTL (this has become necessary to exclude those who would use CHMTL for mass mailings or similar purposes: "spams," in the common Internet parlance). Once your statement has been received, the subscription is processed by the list owner (normally within a day), and LISTSERV will send two introductory mail messages: one providing general information on communications with LISTSERV, the other providing information specific to CHMTL.

To cancel your subscription and sign off the list, send the command:

If you have any problems with the TME or suggestions for its improvement, please contact the Project Director, Peter M. Lefferts.
Telephone: ([402] 472-2507)
Mail: Professor Peter M. Lefferts
School of Music
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0100

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