This online edition is a work-in-progress. Current issues include:

About this edition

A key music theory text within the fourteenth-century Ars nova tradition that has received little attention is the so-called Omni desideranti treatise. The treatise is found in three manuscript sources of Italian provenance dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth-centuries: in a manuscript copied by G. Frater de Anglia in Pavia in 1391, and now preserved in the Newberry Library in Chicago (Ms. 54.1, ff. 52v-56v, hereafter Cn); in a manuscript of Italian and Catalan origin dating from the early fifteenth century, Seville, Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina, Ms. 5-2-25, ff. 63r-64v (hereafter Sc); and a late fifteenth-century paper manuscript of Italian origin, Siena, Biblioteca comunale, Ms. L.V.30, ff. 129r-129v (hereafter Su).

The text as preserved in Cn has no modern edition: it was edited in the nineteenth century by Coussemaker, apparently from a copy of this manuscript transcribed by Coussemaker's friend Ferdinandus Wolf. The text from Sc was transcribed by Higini Anglès in an article from 1929 (other than his expansion of scribal abbreviations, there are no editorial interventions in this transcription, with the exception of a few exclamation marks). Su was edited by Gilbert Reaney and included as one representative of the Vitrian tradition presented in volume 8 of Corpus scriptorum musicae (1964; there was no mention by Reaney in the introduction to the text of the parallel versions found in Cn and Sc).

This online edition of the Omni desideranti treatise is intended as a proof-of-concept model for a digital editing approach to medieval music theory. It follows TEI encoding standards (the most up-to-date guidelines may be found at Using the XML files based on the TEI schema, a traditional critical edition is offered, where variant readings are displayed in the footnotes. Diplomatic transcriptions of the text as found in the three different sources are presented in parallel with high-quality images of the manuscript sources. The free software tool ZoomifyTM allows the user to zoom in on these images, while also protecting the image files from illegal downloads. Using the same data files, PDF and ePub versions of the texts can be generated: these are provided as downloads on the website. An English translation is provided, and a collation of the the three witnesses generated by the JuxtaTM web service. The advantages of this edition include the higher level of transparency into any editorial interventions as the evidence of the transcriptions and the original source documents are displayed side-by-side. In addition, it allows for a greater degree of interactivity on the part of the user as one can examine paragraphs or sections of text more closely. This edition is intended to spark comment and debate about the future and potential of these types of approaches for musicology, and for any feedback to assist other individuals and institutions working on larger, more robust and scalable applications.

I presented a paper on this edition at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in New Orleans (Oct 31-Nov 4, 2012) and the online edition and web-based approach is the subject of my forthcoming article:

Karen Desmond, 'Texts in Play: The Ars nova and its Hypertexts', Musica disciplina (2012, forthcoming).

If you have any comments or feeback on the edition, please contact me directly at

Karen Desmond
Lecturer in Musicology
University College Cork

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UCC website


Anglès, Higini. "Dos tractats medievals de música figurada." In Musikwissenschaftliche Beiträge: Festschrift für Johannes Wolf zu seinem sechzigsten Geburtstag, edited by H. Osthoff W. Lott, and W. Wolffheim, 6-10. Berlin: Breslauer, 1929.

Coussemaker, Edmond de. Scriptorum de musica medii aevi. Novam seriem a Gerbertina alteram collegit nuncque primum edidit E. de Coussemaker. 4 vols. 1876, facsimile edition; G. Olms: Hildesheim, 1963.

Philippi de Vitriaco Ars nova. Edited by Gilbert Reaney, André Gilles and Jean Maillard. Vol. 8, Corpus scriptorum de musica. [Rome]: American Institute of Musicology, 1964.