Fellowship and Charting (Coding) New Territory

When I was offered the opportunity to participate in the Greggiati project this summer, I jumped at the chance without hesitation, sensing that this was going to be a special experience. My intuition was correct, because the past two weeks have been an exciting whirlwind filled with delicious food, hard work, and breathtaking views of the Italian countryside. To be honest, the aforementioned perks of traveling to small town Italy were somewhat expected. It should not have surprised me, though, that scholarship and fellowship would go so hand-in-hand during this project.

Our days begin with breakfast and cafe around 8:30. We walk to the Greggiati archive to start work at 9, at which point we all peer- review records that have already been completed. This has been an invaluable experience, demonstrating that the best musicology is done with the help of peers. We catch coding problems, ponder bigger questions about searchability, and discuss theories about what Greggiati was really doing with all of these manuscripts. Dr. Ossi indulges even our wildest speculations, calmly reasoning through them with us. He has the patience of a saint. Elisa’s never-ending supply of chocolate and magic USB drive (which we affectionately call “the magic coffee stick”) that purchases espresso from the coffee machine upstairs certainly help our productivity, too.


The first few days of work were difficult as we struggled to understand the capabilities of our XML schema. Through much trial and error and a lot of hard work on Christine’s part (plus a few panicked Facebook chats with Devon, and a Skype session with Bill), we managed to pull together a system for tackling the Greggiati collection. Since those harried first few days, we have been cataloguing manuscripts by one identified copyist, Mortellari. We share the wonderful, the silly, and the bizarre we find within each book. A particular subject of interest has been the discovery of watermarks and charting their diversity across manuscripts.


As we near the end of the identified Mortellari manuscripts, we plan to conduct a group comparison of scripts and handwriting to attempt formulating answers to some of the bigger questions Dr. Ossi mentioned in his previous post, and to test some theories that Elisa has formed over the years. It seems only fitting that we wrap up our work with a group endeavor, since that’s just the way we began.