Marnix van Berchum, DANS (KNAW)


October 3, 2013

Linked sources: a network approach to the repertory of sixteenth-century polyphony (an introduction)
Scattered over the many libraries and archives of Europe, lie the remnants of past musical cultures. Musical manuscripts and prints provide us with glimpses of the repertories that were circulated, collected and performed. From its beginnings in the 19th century musicology has been involved with the study of these musical repertories. Sources have been studied from codicological viewpoints, the compositions these sources contain from stylistic angles. My current PhD research approaches the repertory of sixteenth-century music from the perspective of network theory. Musical compositions are regarded as cultural artefacts, contextualised within the transmission of music and broader socio-economic conditions of a defined historical period. This approach exploits the characteristics of musical sources and their content as networked entities, providing a more formalised view of the term ‘repertory’.
In my presentation I will introduce the above described research project. I will talk about the problems of approaching a distinct period from the history of music from the viewpoint of network theory. How can the network be modelled? What are the characteristics of such a network?  What musicological questions can be answered.
The above will be illustrated by a first case study on one of the most famous sets of musical manuscripts from the early decades of the sixteenth century. These manuscripts were produced by the scriptorium of Petrus Alamire and were mainly created for the Habsburg-Burgundian court.

Marnix van Berchum studied Musicology at Utrecht University, and specialized in musical culture of the 15th and 16th century. He graduated with a thesis on the motets of Jachet Berchem (c.1505-1567). He is pursuing his PhD research at Utrecht University, in which he wants to apply the concepts and methods of network theory on the dissemination of music in the sixteenth century. Furthermore Marnix is Associate Director of the CMME Project (
Marnix is currently part time employed at DANS – the data archive of NWO and KNAW ( – where he works amongst others on the Europeana Cloud and CLARIN-NL projects. He has a wide range of experience in projects related to Open Access, innovations in scholarly communications and ‘digital musicology’.

(Presentation slides)