Megarep: A comprehensive research tool in medieval and renaissance poetic and metrical repertoires

Interest of Megarep – comparative research possibilities

This article is published in the frame of the research project of the Ministry
of Science and Innovation of Spain (MICINN)  A Story of Medieval
Castilian Metrics, directed by Prof. Gómez Redondo (FFI2009-09300).

Western medieval literature was a relatively homogeneous group in which themes, topoi and sources flowed incessantly throughout the different countries and literatures. This continuous movement is mainly shown by manifestations of common poetic forms in different languages, as well as by the existence of similar literary genres or common melodies.

The study of phenomena -such as musical or formal contrafacta or the diffusion of courtly love tied to a determinate strophic pattern- has produced good results, which reveal the existence of a continuous interaction of forms, languages and poetic systems. Good examples of such studies are the works of Friedrich Gennrich, István Frank, Dominique Billy, Anton Touber, Paolo Canettieri and Carlo Pulsoni. This kind of investigation is, however, very complicated, as there are different poetic traditions to compare, a great variety of research orientations, a huge and heterogeneous bibliography and a considerable geographic and linguistic distance among the different countries involved.

For this reason, we believe it is necessary to build a tool that provides communication and interaction online in order to ease research comparative studies.

The progresses made by computer sciences and technology during the last years have made it possible to develop works that would have impossible to achieve 20 years ago. These powerful tools have also made available to gain access to a huge amount of bibliography at only one click. Research has changed and it also has broadened its limits considerably. A result of this process is the creation of multiple databases online. Among all these databases created in the field of humanities, metrical repertoires are a good example of innovation and comparative research.

Three significant periods can be distinguished in the creation of medieval and renaissance poetic repertoires. The first one matches up with Positivism (end of the 19th century), with the works of Gaston Raynaud,[1] Gotthold Naetebus,[2] and Pillet and Carstens,[3] among others. The second one starts after the Second World War with the classic work of Frank on Provencal troubadours’ poetry,[4] and continues during long time with the editions of printed metrical repertoires (in Old French lyrics Mölk and Wolfzettel, in Italian Solimena, Antonelli, Solimena again, Zenari, Pagnotta, and Gorni, in the Hispanic philology Tavani, Parramon i Blasco, and Gómez Bravo, in the German Touber and the Repertorium der Sangsprüche und Meisterlieder.[5]

Technological advances have made it possible to create a third generation of repertoires –made and searchable with a computer– in which time of research is considerably reduced. The first digital poetical repertoire was the RPHA (Répertoire de la Poésie hongroise ancienne jusqu'à 1600) published by Iván Horváth and his group in 1991. Galician researchers created Base de datos da Lírica profana galego-portuguesa (MedDB); Italian researchers digitalized BEdT (Bibliografia Elettronica dei Trovatori); later appeared the Nouveau Naetebus, the Oxford Cantigas de Santa María Database, the Analecta Hymnica Digitalia, etc.

The Megarep project wants to create a search tool that links all the repertoires in such a way that only one question will offer multiple responses in the different databases. Megarep does not want to substitute these valuable repertoires. On the contrary, it wants to make them more useful, by combining their description systemand enriching their potential.

[1] Gaston Raynaud, Bibliographie des chansonniers français des xiii. [treizieme] et xiv. [quatorzième] siècles : comprenant la description de tous les manuscrits, la table des chansons classées par ordre alphabétique de rimes et la liste des trouvères, (Paris: Vieweg, 1884 ).

[2] Gotthold Naetebus, Die nicht lyrischen Strophenformen des Altfranzösischen (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1891).

[3] Alfred Pillet and Henry Carstens, Bibliographie der Troubadours (Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1933).

[4] István Frank, Répertoire métrique de la poésie des troubadours (Paris: Champion, 1953-1957).

[5]  In order to save space and time we give the references to these repertoires at the end of the article.

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