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IDEM - A Database for Music Sources
The Integrated Database for Early Music (IDEM) is an interdisciplinary, multifaceted database of manuscripts and printed books that are relevant to the Alamire Foundation's research and activities. It therefore especially focuses on the musical heritage of the Low Countries from the early Middle Ages until 1800.
IDEM is constructed around a central database, consisting of the digital images of primary sources, mainly digitized by means of the Alamire Digital Lab, the high-technology photography centre of the Alamire Foundation (KU Leuven - Research Group Musicology). Its state-of-the-art equipment allows musical sources to be photographed following the strictest standards and quality requirements.
The database core is surrounded by interrelated sub-databases that will eventually contain information about every aspect of the manuscripts and books concerned, including their physical characteristics, their content and illumination, as well as recordings, editions and so-called 'fake-similes' (adapted versions of the original images, facilitating performance from the original notation).
This overall approach is related to the database purpose. It aims indeed at providing material that enables the consultation of manuscript and printed sources from multiple perspectives and at different levels. To meet this objective, IDEM has been conceived as an online, freely accessible platform and tool for the preservation, study and valorisation of the music heritage of the Low Countries.
In the spotlight
Newly discovered polyphony - The Leuven Chansonnier
In 2015, a music manuscript in private possession was brought to the Alamire Foundation/KU Leuven Musicology Research Group for investigation.
This previously entirely unknown late fifteenth-century polyphonic songbook transmits forty-nine French secular songs along with one Latin sacred work. Presenting compositions by leading fifteenth-century Franco-Flemish masters ‒ including Gilles Binchois, Johannes Ockeghem, and Antoine Busnoys ‒ twelve pieces in the manuscript are unique to it, and completely unknown.
In July 2016, the manuscript was bought by the King Baudouin Foundation (Léon Courtin ‒ Marcelle Bouché Fund) and deposited on permanent loan to the Alamire Foundation in Leuven’s Park Abbey. Since April 2017, it is digitally available on IDEM for research and performance.