The SONHIS Project

Towards the recovery of the lost SOuNds of HISpanic chant

A comparative study of medieval chant through
computational recognition of neume and melodic patterns


The transfer to the field of medievalist musicology of techniques and tools of artificial intelligence and genomics is generating unsuspected opportunities to address questions in which traditional methodological approaches encounter difficult, if not insurmountable, barriers.

In particular, such is the case of the study of the chants of the Hispanic (or Visigothic-Mozarabic) liturgy, where the adiastematic character (without apparent codification of the interval quantities) of its musical signs, the Hispanic neumes, has prevented the sonic restitution of the chants -indeed, a task considered impossible by the current musicological consensus.

The SONHIS Project aims to review the current state of these questions, approaching them from the medium and large-scale perspectives that the aforementioned computational techniques allow, techniques that, although previously proposed theoretically for their implementation in the musicological field, only now have the opportunity for an effective practical application thanks to the methods and data recently generated by The Totmundo Project as well as by the complete indexing of the main hispanic sources by the SEMM team.

While traditional semiological studies have focused on the small scale of the neumes taken individually, the search for recurrent neumatic sequences will allow us to approach the identification of semantic levels of higher hierarchy; and from the global confrontation of the data with the melodic material of contemporary and later repertoires, we hope to reliably estimate to what extent there is shared musical content between these and Hispanic chant.

All of the above could finally lead us to achieve our most ambitious goal: the sound recovery of the Hispanic repertoire.