PMMS 2017 Study Day and AGM: Worcester Cathedral, Saturday 13 May 2017

Worcester cathedral offers a fascinating window into medieval religious practice and culture. We can still see elements of how monks lived and practised, in the cathedral itself, the cloister and the precincts more widely. Our keynote speaker will be Professor David Hiley, acclaimed author of Western Plainchant: A Handbook and Gregorian Chant. This will be his inaugural address as incoming President of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society. Professor Hiley will introduce us to some of the ways in which new liturgies were created for English saints during the middle ages, at Worcester and elsewhere.

Worcester cathedral was the original home of some precious witnesses to musical practice in the 13th-14th century. Broken up for use as flyleaves when the repertoire was no longer sung, these “Worcester fragments” were scattered in various archives and libraries. The songs were rediscovered, and their relationship with Worcester uncovered, in the 20th century. Julia Craig-McFeely will introduce us to some of the challenges of digitally restoring manuscript fragments of medieval music, such as the Worcester fragments. Giovanni Varelli will introduce us to some of the Worcester fragments that have ended up in Oxford.

This promises to be an informative and lively day, rounded off by a tour of the Cathedral library, with viewings of some of its medieval liturgical and musical holdings, and Evensong sung by the cathedral choir, including some of the Worcester fragment repertoire. The day is aimed at the general public, as well as at students, scholars and performers of medieval music.

There will be a brief AGM for PMMS members during the lunch break.


11.00–12.00  Medieval plainchant offices for the saints—a tour through the land (Professor David Hiley, Universität Regensburg)

12.10–12.55 The work of DIAMM, the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (Dr Julia Craig-McFeely, University of Oxford)

12.55–14.05 lunch/AGM

14.10-14.45 The Worcester polyphony fragments (Dr Giovanni Varelli, Magdalen College, Oxford)

15.00–16.00 Tour of the cathedral library

16.30 Tea in cloister (included in registration fee)

17.30 Evensong (will include some of the polyphony in the Worcester fragments)

If you would like to register for this event, please email There are very few places remaining for the library tour; please ask about availability. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide lunch for any bookings made after 5th May.
Non-members £15
Members of the society and student non-members £12
Student members of the society £7

‘Palaeography of Old Hispanic Manuscripts: Music, Text and Beyond’

The Workshop ‘Palaeography of Old Hispanic Manuscripts: Music, Text and Beyond’ will be held on 4th May 2017 in the ‘Centre for the Study of the Sociology and Aesthetic of Music’ (CESEM) in Lisbon, Portugal. The Workshop is envisioned as a skills training event designed for 20 participants. The event, which is open to members of the public, involves active participation of the attendees who will be stimulated to develop critical thinking around what they see and will be encouraged to ask questions and comment. Junior scholars as well as experienced Medievalists interested in the topic will be welcome to apply.

Invited speakers are Dr Ainoa Castro Correa (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History, King’s College London) as expert on Visigothic script, Prof. Carmen Julia Gutierrez (Professor of Musicology at the Universidade Complutense of Madrid), Dr Rose Walker (Indipendent scholar) as expert on Mozarabic illumination and Dr Elsa De Luca (CESEM) music palaeographer with expertise on Old Hispanic notation.

Within the wider context of Western sacred music, Old Hispanic Chant is the pre-Gregorian repertory which is preserved most completely and has few Gregorian contaminations. Surviving Old Hispanic musical manuscripts may unveil important information about the Western liturgical chant before the Carolingian reform. However, the complexity deriving from the non-pitched notation of OH manuscripts and the impossibility of transcribing their music into modern score have discouraged scholars from untangling their contents and unveiling their secrets.
Despite their importance, only in recent years have OH musical manuscripts become the object of systematic investigation. The research made in the context of the ‘Old Hispanic Office Project’ at the University of Bristol ( has demonstrated that these neglected manuscripts have the potential to lead to crucial discoveries about medieval music, liturgy, and palaeography.
With this Workshop we aim to build a bridge between Medieval Iberia and modern scholars. With the expertise offered by our four speakers, we aim to provide the participants with basic training to tackle Old Hispanic musical manuscripts and understand their contents. Our ultimate goal is to encourage attendees to keep studying these manuscripts after the Workshop and to establish an international network of scholars interested on Old Hispanic chant and script.

Funding from ‘Plainsong and Medieval Music Society’ will be used to offer some travel bursaries to enable qualified students to attend. For more information please contact elsa (AT)

Workshop_Palaeography of Old Hispanic Manuscripts Music, Text and Beyond

See information on previous events.

The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society
Faculty of Music, University of Oxford
United Kingdom, OX1 1DB
Registered charity 297147