A page from a Latin manuscript, shelfmarked: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale,
MS latin 1118.
This is folio 111r (the "r" denotes recto, or the face side of page 111).
This page contains a Latin liturgical text of the Psalms for singing as part of the Divine Office
(i.e., the daily cycle of prayers by monks, nuns, and priests).
The whole book (or, codex) is called a "tonary," since it is a compilation of chants in
various Tones (that is, in different modes and with different melodic forumulas).
This folio is the beginning of the materials for Tone VII.
The musical notation above the Latin text is written in
Aquitanian neume notation, which is a style of music notation that developed in the
southwest of France in the centuries around a.d. 1000.
This notation uses the height (or, verticality) of neumes to show approximate, relative pitch.
(It does not have staff lines or a clef, nor does it have letters for indicating pitches
The illumination presumably shows the Hebrew King David,
who is associated with the Psalms.
in History of Music Notations
The goals of the Competition are to foster online collaborative learning by scholars,
young and old, across national boundaries;
and to sponsor excellence of scholarship in the study of early music notations.
Early notations are methods of writing music that predate the development of
common-practice notation, as it was developed during the Renaissance
and as is in use today.
This field of study is important in its own right, but it also has significance in various other
fields such as: the study of
culture and religion in the ancient and medieval worlds;
exploring the concepts underlying the invention of writing systems, and how these evolved;
gaining historical perspective on the music of later centuries; and so on.
The Competition brings together prominent experts in this field as Judges.
They submit questions for the Competition, they verify the correctness of answers,
and they review the fairness of rules and scoring methods.
Overview of the Rules:
Anyone is free to participate in training events, and does not need to register for
You can practice a training event as often as you like.
The events for the Competition will be selected at random
from the training events, and so the training events are an excellent preparation for the
You can read the correct answers to questions or exercises at the end of each training event.
This also is a way to learn new and interesting facts or skills.
Players enter the Competition as a team consisting of three teammates, at least one of whom
must be from a different country than the others.
Each player on the team competes in each of four events.
The scores of all three teammates are added to the team's score.
The best teams in the Competition are awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals for the top
Competition and training events are divided in four levels of difficulty:
- acolyte (beginner)
- noviciate (novice)
- chorister (intermediate)
- cantor (advanced)
You are free to train at any level. If you enter the Competition, your team will choose the level
at which it will compete.
Each event tests your knowledge of early music notations.
Furthermore, some events test fundamental skills of memory, pattern recognition, ear-training, and so forth.
Events are conducted in English.* Knowledge of Latin may be an
advantage in some events.**
A bulletinboard is available for posting messages of players who are looking for other players
to form a team. Messages of first contact will be forwarded without exposing the players' e-mail
Participation in any event (whether in training or in competition) has just one special
requirement for your Web browser. You must have the Java
™ 'virtual machine' installed on your computer, and
must be enabled in your browser. You can
on your computer by clicking this link
or the icon at left, and then following
instructions on the Sun Microsystems website.
Macintosh computers require OS X
or later operating system.
Security of your Computer with Java Applets:
Each event runs as a program on your computer ('on the client-side') in the form of a Java
Note these two implications.
- Such a program runs in what is called a 'virtual
computer' that runs in software within your computer, and that uses your Web browser as its output device.
This is the Java 'virtual machine' that runs the same on any computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.).
An Applet may use the Internet to communicate your competitor ID number and event score to a database on
the Competition server.
- Java Applets are safe for your computer,
because Applets always run in the so-called 'Applet security sandbox'. This means an Applet does not have
access to your computer's hard drive, nor to any personal information on your computer.
The only exception is if you specifically and deliberately give such permission to an Applet.
(An Applet can ask you to grant such permission, but
if you grant permission, it will be for that Applet and that session only.)
* A framework
of this software is available for others
to host this Competition in languages other than English, or to create Competitions
in other fields.
** An excellent, interactive tutorial in basic Latin
and intermediate Latin
is online at the free, U.K. National Archives website.