Challenging the MEI Neumes Module: Encoding Armenian Neumes

Elsa De Luca, Haig Utidjian

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Chant notations are found across a large geographical area encompassing Europe and part of the Middle East (including the Levant and the historical Armenian lands). The Neumes Module represents a collective endeavour on the part of the MEI Community to capture into a machine-readable format the meaning of chant notations. In recent years intensive efforts were devoted towards improving the applicability of the MEI Neumes Module, first applied almost exclusively to St Gall notation (aka ‘East Frankish notation’), and recently extended to include the encoding of Old Hispanic, Aquitanian and square notations (MEI Neumes Module, version 4.0). With this paper we aim to contribute towards expanding the interoperability of the MEI Neumes Module by testing it against the Armenian neumatic notation. From an encoding point of view, Armenian notation shows a higher degree of complexity compared to the neumatic notations so far tackled by MEI. Indeed, unlike all the neumatic notational systems hitherto dealt with by MEI, with the Armenian system we possess no information on either the melodic contour or the number of pitches associated with the neumes. Therefore, one of the fundamental elements of the current Neumes Module cannot be applied to the encoding of Armenian neumes: the ‘neume component’ <nc>, that is, a ‘sign representing a single pitched event, although the exact pitch may not be known’. Moreover, encoding Armenian neumes will serve to take even further the recent tendency to encode the visual appearance of the neumes rather than their semantics. In this paper we outline the challenges of encoding Armenian notations with MEI and propose a solution applicable to future projects aiming at the digital analysis of the Armenian chant repertory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic Encoding Conference Proceedings 2022
EditorsAi Lynn, Ang, Jennifer Bain, David M. Weigl
Place of PublicationNova Scotia
PublisherDalhousie University
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023
EventMusic Encoding Conference 2022 - Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Duration: 19 May 202222 May 2022


ConferenceMusic Encoding Conference 2022
Internet address


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