The Melodiarium Hungariae Medii Aevi Digitale website publishes a modern transcription of the chant melodies survived in notated liturgical manuscripts originating in the domain of Medieval Hungary. The plainchant (cantus planus), as the monodic high culture of the Middle Ages lived within the framework of the two main types of ceremony of the Western Latin liturgy, the mass and the divine office. Accordingly, our music database is primarily arranged in the framework of these liturgies: cantus missae contains the melodies of the proper chants (introit, gradual, alleluia, offertory, communion) within the mass, while the cantus officii contains antiphons, responsoria prolixa and hymns within the chants of the office broken down by the genres listed above. These two are joined by a third category of chants which do not strictly fit in any of the frames (cantus aliorum rituum). These form the repertory of the special occasions of the liturgical year, e. g. Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and the triduum sacrum, Eastern Sunday, Rogation Days, Ascension, Candlemas and certain votive ceremonies. From this set, the processional antiphons (antiphonae processionum) are published first.
The set of melodies displayed on the website makes the entire musical repertory of medieval chant sources of Hungary transparent and searchable. The multi-layered search system allows the user to browse chants in the entire repertory or in selected genres, select melodies belonging to a particular genre, mode, liturgical period, feast and hour, and it also can display the complete processed repertory of a single source, or its chants belonging to a specific genre. With the help of the enlargeable and downloadable synoptic tables the melodic variants of the sources are comparable and the musical traditions of the cantus planus in Hungarian manuscripts are traceable.
The name of the site refers to the publication series Melodiarium Hungariae Medii Aevi, started in the 1950s by Benjamin Rajeczky, an outstanding figure of the pioneering generation of plainchant studies in Hungary. Though the publication could not become a series, for only one volume was published in 1956 and 1982 containing the then known repertory of hymns and sequences of Hungary side by side with its supplementary volume with new data (Melodiarium Hungariae Medii Aevi. I. Hymni et sequentiae. Budapest: Editio Musica, 19561, 19822; Supplementband, 1982), its conception, well-developed methods and programme defined the domestic research field of musicology working with complete repertories for a long time. Since then, repertories of antiphons, responsories and sequences from medieval Hungarian sources have been published in new series and in separate volumes. The Melodiarium Hungariae Medii Aevi Digitale project aimes to continue the publication of the chant melodies of medieval Hungarian sources, organized by genres, using the possibilities of digital tools and the Internet. We expect that the material contained here will be useful to researchers working within or outside the field of music history, practicing musicians and church musicians, teachers and students, and anyone interested in medieval liturgical monody in any form or at any level. We hope that this information will be constructive for comparative historical melodic research internationally.