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From Ink to Sound: Decoding Musical Manuscripts

University of Basel via FutureLearn

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Broaden your understanding of musical notation in the past few centuries

Music is all around us: we listen to it while we are on our way to work, when preparing lunch or even while showering. Most people know that music has its own script – the notation. But seldom are they aware of the long tradition of this notation system.

In this course, we’ll travel back in time and explore musical notations from the Middle Ages. We will show you how to decode and transcribe early notational systems. And we will discuss the challenges and principles of music notation, referring to semiotic approaches and visual theory.

This course is intended for professional and nonprofessional musicians interested in musical paleography and its history, as well as undergraduate students of musicology, historians, philologists, theologians, art historians and semioticians. The only requirement is that you know how to read modern musical notation.

There are no software tools needed but we encourage you to use a feather quill to enjoy the original feeling of writing down music. If you have no quill at hand, you can try building your own or buy one at a stationery stop. A quill, however, is not necessary to follow the course.

Taught by

Angelika Moths and Professor Matteo Nanni


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