Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae: Critical Editions of Ottoman Manuscripts

Monday, April 4, 2016

A new project has started that aims to prepare critical editions of important Ottoman music manuscripts from the nineteenth century. The project Corpus Musicae Ottomanicae (CMO) began in October 2015 and their website was launched this March. The project is based in Münster, Bonn, and Istanbul with partners at the University of Münster (Institute for Musicology), the Oriental Institute in Istanbul, and the publishing platform, and is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

In the nineteenth century, the development of Hamparsum notation (see image) enabled Ottoman music for court and municipal use to be written down with increasing frequency. Istanbul was the first center of this activity, followed by other cities in Turkey, Syria, and Egypt. The Western system of music notation came into use for this repertory particularly in the 1830s. Ottoman music has therefore been handed down in both notational systems, preserving a musical tradition that was alive up through the early twentieth century.

In the first phase of the CMO project, critical editions will be prepared based on manuscripts in Hamparsum notation and the second phase will focus on manuscripts in Western notation. The manuscripts include instrumental works as well as vocal pieces. Vocal texts will be prepared and edited with the assistance of the Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Münster. Editions will be open-source publications and also available as print-on-demand. So far, the CMO has published a list of standardized music terms to use when dealing with terminology that has been transliterated.

The CMO project involves working with scholars, libraries, and archives to locate music manuscripts. A catalog of sources is being developed by the Oriental Institute in Istanbul that will organize information about printed editions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as handwritten sources. This catalog will be linked with the CMO. The CMO will be an exciting project to keep our eyes on as they make these manuscripts widely accessible.

Image: “Ṣabā pīşrevi” [UsûlDevr-i kebîr, Tanburi Osman Bey (1816 - 1885)]. Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Münster (D-MÜu), Sammlung Jäger, Kapsel 1, Ms.or.3, S. 5. Published with kind permission from CMO.

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