New database at the Institute of Musicology contains 40,000 musical settings of the Mass

Online database lists settings from the 14th century to the present


A database with approximately 40,000 settings of the Mass dating from the 14th century to the present has been put together at the Institute of Musicology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The database has been made publicly accessible in early October 2012. In addition to general information about the works and key biographical data on composers, the database also provides information on the sources of each composition and on modern editions. The Mass liturgy has five integral components, i.e., the Kyrie eleison, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.

The JGU database, called "MassDataBase" (MDB), is the result of years of preparatory work by Peter and Verena Schellert, who published their index in 1999 as a three-volume encyclopedia Die Messe in der Musik (The Mass in Music). Professor Dr. Klaus Pietschmann of the Institute of Musicology at Mainz University originated the idea of making the information publicly available online and, with this in view, initiated a research project designed to shed more light on the musical genre of the Mass from a quantitative perspective through the use of digital techniques. "The aim is to emphasize the cultural practices reflected in the musical aspects of the rites of the Mass," explained Pietschmann, the Director of the Institute of Musicology.

With the help of the Music Informatics division of the Institute of Musicology, the Schellert archives – with many additions and updates since 1999 – were converted to a relational data model in fall 2010 and then, with research funding by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Research Unit Historical and Cultural Studies, were appropriately processed. The database is not only designed to be used by music researchers, but also by practicing musicians and anyone with an interest in music.