The SONHIS Project

Los Cantorales de Cisneros

Cantorales de Cisneros [Cisneros' chant-books]

After its suppression at the end of the 11th century, there have been several attempts to restore the Hispanic liturgy by the ecclesiastical authorities. Among all these attempts, the most important was carried out by Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, Archbishop of Toledo between 1495 and 1517. Cisneros began a process of recovery of the Mozarabic rite on four fronts: the confirmation of his privileges to protect it (1497), the edition of the texts of the liturgy to organize it (1500, 1502), the creation of the Mozarabic Chapel to maintain it (1502) and the copy of Cantorales with music to perform it (1508) [1].

Cisneros promoted a «recreation» of a «neo-Mozarabic» repertoire that has been undisputed by the ecclesiastical hierarchy until today, despite the fact that several authors have pointed out its pronounced differences with medieval sources [2,3]. In any case, the elaboration of the so-called «Cantorales de Cisneros» constituted the last and most complex step in the neo-Mozarabic recovery of the beginning of the 16th century [1].

One of the objectives of SONHIS is to carry out an optical recognition process (OCR) of the music of the Cantorales, a recognition that on the one hand will lead us to the preparation of a critical edition of this music and, on the other, to the computational comparison of the melodic content of the Cantorales with other repertoires. With the latter we will try to elucidate both its possible relationship with medieval Hispanic Chant and the borrowings taken from the Franco-Roman (Gregorian) repertoire. Likewise, the definitive cataloging of the recurring melodic formulas that proliferate in the songs of the neo-Mozarabic repertoire will be accomplished.

As a preliminary step, an index of the musical and non-musical content of each of the four Cantorales has been prepared. These indices, which are based on a earlier version by José Manuel Martín-Delgado Sánchez [4], allow access to both the images of the folios and the resulting scores. The intermediate OCR step (for Cantorales A and B, see below) has been added as an overlay on the folio images. The status of the digital translation process for each book, from the initial stages of OCR to the resulting scores, appears in the following table.

Cantoral Size/mm
Num. fols
OCR status Engraved scores
I 580 x 340
(350 x 240)
190 (6) Proper of mass (date) Noteheads and
clefs (ie. pitches) completed
Officia and sacrificia completed
II 580 x 340
(350 x 240)
117 (7) Proper of mass (saints) Pitches completed Officia and sacrificia completed
III 280 x 210
(230 x 160)
39 (7) Ordinary of mass (Manual transcript.)
IV 410 x 280
(280 x 190)
52 (7) Defunct office,
Offices of patron saints
(Manual transcript.) Defunct office completed,
Officia and sacrificia of Saints completed

The Cantorales were commissioned in 1508, the same year that Cisneros increased the endowment of the Mozarabic Chapel, obtained his pontifical confirmation and published his Constitutions. They all use mensural black notation for the Neo-Mozarabic office and non-mensural square notation for Gregorian pieces [1].

Cantoral I was entrusted to Luis de Aguado, whose clear and careful handwriting (almost confusing with printed types) corresponds exactly to folios 1-80 of this cantoral. The initials are absent in the space left by Aguado for this purpose. From folio 81r the book is copied by another hand and it does have the initials, although there are gaps in the music (as a curiosity, the logo with the S for SONHIS is taken from folio 174v of this book).

Cantoral II is from a hand similar to the second part of I and has the same initials.

Cantoral III and Cantoral IV have been the most used and this s evidenced by their state of wear. Given that this circumstance makes optical recognition tasks difficult, manual transcription has prevailed for these two volumes, the achievement of which is facilitated by the fact that these two books are those that present a fewer number of folios, as shown in the table above. Cantoral IV is the one that is in a more advanced state of transcription.