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Even if digital technology is no longer considered a new medium, it increasingly pervades our daily and scholarly lives. Nevertheless, technology continues to have important new ramifacations, not least of which is in the realm of early printed books, and in particular in the first century of music publications. In recent years, these sources have been the focus of extensive digitalisation projects, such as VD16 Digital or the project Polyphonic Music Prints of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century, both hosted by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. These projects provide Internet users worldwide with freely available scans of all printed books and music from the period held by the library (1). Other national libraries also offer digital collections of early music editions for research purposes. Royal Holloway, University of London, for example, sponsors the Early Music Online project for holdings at the British Library (2); the Bibliotheque nationale de France hosts the digital library Gallica, and the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek maintains a digital reading room with a section on rare books--to name a few of the most important European collections.

Parallel to this, many significant local library catalogues have been put online, allowing them to be searched from any home office. Formerly printed bibliographies of specific repertoires were transferred into online databases and now provide an enormous amount of information with one click. This is the case with the Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachraum erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts (VD 16), as well as with the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (GW), a catalogue of all incunabula (3). In addition, RISM, the international inventory of musical sources, is now searchable online, although it remains a work in progress: not all of its references to printed volumes are yet available (4). Other databases that record early printed books and music are native to the Internet, without any printed antecedent. Examples include the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) by Andrew Pettegree and his team (5), the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC) of the British Library (6), and the database Renaissance Liturgical Imprints: A Census (RELICS), developed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (7).

The vdm Database

The rich supply of digitised sources, online library catalogues, and bibliographical databases that developed in the last decades made it possible to start a new project focused on early music printing in German-speaking lands (8). This ongoing project is primarily interested in the technical challenge of printing notes and staff lines together on the page. In contrast to studies focused on specific musical genres, we are examining all types of printed sources with any kind of music notation and recording them in our database, Verzeichnis deutscher Musikfruhdrucke (vdm) / Catalogue of Early German Printed Music (9).

The central tool of the database is a catalogue of sources that can be searched using specific parameters. In designing this tool, we took into consideration the complex relationship between books and their individual copies. Following Joseph A. Dane, we consider the term 'book' to refer to an abstract idea realised in one or more related book copies, whereas we consider the term 'copy' to refer to a material object that exists in time and space, carrying with it its own unique history (10).

While most library catalogues describe the individual copy held in their stacks, numerous bibliographies that are focused on a specific repertoire give a more general description of the book, including at a minimum its title, place, printer, and year. Surviving book copies are listed by library provenance at the end of such descriptions. In vdm we present books and book copies in a more balanced way using two levels of organisation, facilitated by multiple related databases in the background. This complex construction is made possible by recent developments in computer technology. We distinguish between two levels, one for the abstract idea of the book that we call the 'edition level' (11), and one for the individual exemplars of the same edition, the 'copy level' (12). In the example in Figure 1, five copies of two related editions survive, two copies of edition A and three copies of edition B. Each edition is linked to all of its copies as well as to any related editions, for example an earlier or later edition of the same work. Copies are linked to their edition as well as to any copies to which they are bound (here a2 and b1).

The central relationship is that between an edition and its copies. In principle, each copy can only be related to one edition, and copies of the same edition are essentially different only in the interventions that took place after they left the print shop. These interventions include the individual binding as well as colourful book illustrations, additional rubrics, handwritten corrections or additions, annotations or emendations by readers, and proof of ownership by private persons or institutions. In addition, a copy may be damaged or incomplete, for example, the title page is ripped out. The books to which a copy has been bound in a collected volume testify to the "destiny" of individual copies. As a result, a single printed edition often consists of numerous, quite unique, exemplars. Moreover, due to the historical prominence of these early editions and the small number of copies, each single exemplar has a specific significance. Taking this into account, detailed documentation of these sources and their relationships can be extremely rewarding.

This conception, however--that all copies of the same edition were at least originally identical--is not without its problems. Today we customarily refer to books simply by their title, envisaging a specific edition that exists in thousands of exemplars. This approach makes sense since all exemplars of modern books were produced in a standardised, fully mechanised process that assures that each product is virtually identical. The identity of the copy is usually irrelevant. Books from the first century of music printing were produced in different ways. In a print workshop during the so-called 'hand-press period', work was frequently interrupted. During the print run, the press would have been stopped at least briefly to make corrections, changes in the layout, additions of text passages, substitutions of illustrations, resetting of single pages or whole gatherings, etc. Corrections could be exceedingly small, for example the removal of a single letter (13). As a consequence, copies may have differed in several respects of greater or lesser relevance even before they left the print shop. This also happened to prints that contained music notation.

Until recently, only particularly famous books such as Shakespeare's First Folio, the Gutenberg Bible or the Schedelsche Weltchronik have merited an analytical study involving the comparison of all available copies (or at least a great number of them) (14). Since the copies were frequently located in different libraries, it was not always possible to conduct a close comparison, and much effort was required to detect and explain any differences. Now, digitised sources make it possible to do a page-by-page comparison of a physical print in a library with the electronic scan of another copy using the naked eye, making this type of investigation much more practical. In this way, less important editions can be studied in much closer detail without undue consumption of time and resources. Still, the scanned source is not the primary object of investigation. While the digital copy might be a useful starting point for recording basic bibliographic information, the digitalisation process can distort the images (intentionally or unintentionally, with or without scholarly transparency), and in any case the digital version lacks the original material characteristics. Standard practice of the vdm project involves inspecting at least one paper copy of any edition and comparing it to any available scanned copies.

When comparing such copies, the question of identity immediately comes to the surface. Can we say that we are dealing with the same edition if one of the extant exemplars contains a printed alteration (i.e., in-house correction)? If one assumes that a single edition can be inclusive of slight deviations between copies, then where should we draw the line between different copies of the same edition and copies of different editions? Scholars of book science developed terminology to address this problem, distinguishing between variant, state, and issue, in order of increasing difference. Based on the concept of the 'ideal copy' (15), 'variants' represent the slight differences found in individual copies. For example, if a type broke or dropped out of the form, it might be replaced by another letter. More significant differences can be indicated with the term 'states'. One speaks of a different state of an edition when a group of copies show several of the same variants caused by stop-press corrections. In its broadest sense, 'state' refers to copies with different line breaks in a paragraph or with a reset gathering. 'Issues' are the major subgroups of an edition. This term bundles together multiple copies of a single edition with certain characteristics that even more clearly distinguish them from the other copies. However, the term 'issue' has also been used to refer to editions consisting of old sheets combined with a new title and preliminary material. To avoid confusion, in the database we follow Joseph A. Dane who proposes the more neutral term 'variant edition' to refer to these groups of copies (16). Here, both terms are used synonymously.

While there are always ambiguities between these three terms, for the purposes of a database such as vdm, the relationship between copies and editions must be strictly defined. After having inspected multiple copies of hundreds of early music prints, we decided that information about different variants and states should be included in the description of individual exemplars, whereas copies of a 'variant edition' (i.e., those with more significant differences), would be grouped together under a separate 'edition'. Variant editions are then bibliographically distinguished by a letter in parentheses after its title. Thus, for example, the variant editions Etlich christliche Lieder (a) and Etlich christliche Lieder (b) have the same printer, the same place and year of publication, and share most of their content, but they display some basic differences in the print.

Indicators of Identity

To distinguish between copies of variant editions, we employ several indicators of identity:

1. The title page. A title page is by definition "a separate page setting forth in a conspicuous manner the title of the book which follows it, and not containing any part of the text of the book itself". (17) This is not only a means to identify and protect the book when it leaves the print shop, but it provides the reader with a first impression of the opened book. As such, the title page is the strongest and most important indicator of identity. In cases where there are different title pages of individual exemplars of the "same" edition, we are tempted to perceive these exemplars as different books. Due to the important function of the title page and its manifestation as the "face" of the book, we consider such copies to be of 'variant editions', even if the content of the books is identical. In cases where only small corrections occur as the result of in-house corrections, we include such copies as instances of the same edition.

2. The colophon. In printed books produced in the first decades of the sixteenth century, the colophon is a marker at the end of the book that usually indicates the name of the printer as well as place and date of publication. Sometimes the editor or other names are given, and some printers add their own ornamental device, the equivalent of a modern-day logo. If the title page is understood as the "face" of the book, the colophon is a kind of "birth certificate". Differences in the colophon between copies are usually significant for their identity. If the colophon is located elsewhere in the book, there may be something wrong or at least unusual with the exemplar in question. As with the title page, if the colophons in exemplars of the "same" edition have differences in layout, date, or other details, we distinguish these exemplars as copies of variant editions.

3. The collation. This is the third of the most significant indicator of identity for a book at this time. The signatures (or quire marks) reveal how the "body" of the book was shaped and constructed, how the paper was folded, and how many gatherings were combined. If two exemplars look identical from the outside but have different collations, there are two possibilities: either one (or both) of them are incomplete, lacking single pages or whole gatherings, or the exemplars belong to variant editions. Furthermore, a unique collation within a book can indicate that two different editions were combined in some fashion. Variants in collations are also particularly significant in large composite books such as missals, the collations of which are often fairly unpredictable and open-ended.

4. Page layout, register, and paratexts. These parameters are secondary indicators of identity. However, if they differ from copy to copy, they can play a crucial role when the other parameters cannot satisfactorily identify a specific exemplar.

Case Studies

To give a more accurate and hands-on idea of the problems we face and how they may differ from case to case, we have selected three examples from our database. Each present a specific challenge in the identification of variant editions. The problems in the first case surround the title page; in the second case, the book consists of three separate editions; and in the third case, the same book was produced in different ways, either as a compilation of independent booklets or as a single, complete edition.

Case Study 1. Johann Frosch, Rerum musicarum opusculum rarum ac insigne. Strasbourg: Schoffer & Apiarus, 1535 (vdm 564 and vdm 637).

This music theory treatise was printed in Strasbourg at the workshop of Peter Schoffer the Younger (ca. 1480-1547) and his collaborator Matthias Apiarius (1495 or 1500-1554). Schoffer was a member of a family of printers that took over the workshop of Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz and was a pioneer in music printing in German-speaking lands. His printing standards were high, especially when looking at the text fonts, layout, and the music notation. Schoffer's first polyphonic music edition was a modified reprint of a model by Petrucci, but he experimented with different layouts and formats and developed an elegant, individual aesthetic using multiple impression. Rerum musicarum opusculum rarum ac insigne ("a rare and distinguished little book on musical topics") is the only theory book in Schoffer's unusually broad output of music prints (18). Its title is printed in the shape of a funnel in the upper half of the title page (see illustration 1). The text passage presents a short description of the book and, at the very end, names Johannes Frosch as the author. Frosch was a composer and music theorist who lived in southern Germany and was associated with the court of Wurttemberg. (19) Although addressed to young musicians, the treatise is much more sophisticated than most other pedagogical books on music from the time and was printed in a larger format. It demonstrates an unusually broad scope of learning, with explorations into musica speculativa and a chapter on composition. The book also contains a table of contents; poems both by the author and by Melchior Cumanus, a priest and school teacher in Strasbourg; a letter of dedication; an index and a preface to the readers. The large number of extant copies--so far we have catalogued fifty exemplars--suggests that this book was of interest to a wide range of students and theorists and sold quite well.

On the title page of vdm 564 (left image), an elaborate upright square cut in wood has been printed below the title. In the centre of this square, there is a shield with Schoffer's printing mark, which is a variation of that of his family. Above we see a banderole with his motto: "Ingenium vires superat". The two shepherds on the left, playing a bagpipe, allude to his name, which sounds like "Schafer", the German word for shepherd. The fact that the hand of the man on the right is resting on the shield suggests that he is perhaps Schoffer himself, and the woman may be his second wife, the Strasbourgeoise Anna Printzer. This title page is well known as it appears in a facsimile edition published in the series "Monuments of Music and Music Literature in Facsimile" (20).

When we inspected the exemplar in the Vienna National Library (21), we were surprised to find ourselves looking at a different title page (vdm 637, illustration 1b [right image]). The text and layout of the title are exactly the same, but the illustration below was different, displaying the heraldic arms of the dedicatee, the protestant Duke Georg I. of Wurttemberg-Mompelgard (1498-1558). He was the half-brother of the more famous Ulrich of Wurttemberg, himself mentioned at the end of the dedicatory letter. Shortly before the year of dedication, Georg became a member of the Schmalkadic League, an alliance of Lutheran rulers resisting the power of the Holy Roman Empire (22). In addition to this use of a different woodcut on the title page, all other parameters of the theory book are identical, including the content. Could this have been an individual exemplar, specially produced for the donor?

Further research revealed that the copy in Vienna is one of at least seventeen copies with the alternative title page, out of the fifty total copies of Frosch's Opusculum (23). It is likely that both issues were produced in the same print run, with two alternative opening gatherings that differ only in the title page. This would have been easy to achieve, since the work is in folio format. The printer would only need to reprint one bifolium, changing a single form. However, since the face of a book is extremely important in determining its identity, we decided to assign the copies displaying the different woodcuts to two distinct variant editions. The presence of the dedicatee's arms on the title page suggests that these exemplars had a different purpose as presentation copies and may have been directly delivered to the duke. The other copies were probably intended to be sold on the free market. In our database, this book is associated with two entries, with a direct link to each other.

Figure 2 depicts our "solution" in this case. On the left side, all exemplars are listed under a single edition. Using this schema, the reader cannot tell which title page belongs to which copies. On the right side, the edition is split into two entries (editions [a] and [b]), representing the different issues and relating them to each other. The respective copies are now separated according to their title pages. In this conception, it is clear that copies a2 and b are not "twins" but very close "siblings", sharing most physical characteristics but produced for a different function.

Case Study 2: Georg Forster (ed.), Selectissimarum mutetarum partim quinque partim quatuor vocum. Nuremberg: Petreius, 1540 (vdm 50 and vdm 914).

Our second case concerns a music book containing a comprehensive motet repertoire. It is a set of partbooks, transmitting compositions by Italian, French, and German composers including Adrian Willaert, Jacques Arcadelt, and Ludwig Senfl. The editor was Georg Forster (ca. 1510-1568), at the time a physician in his hometown of Amberg who was also educated in music and a proponent of humanism. Forster is known primarily for his five-part series of German songs, Frische teutsche Liedlein. These brought him in contact with Johannes Petreius, one of the most significant music printers in Nuremberg.

When Petreius started his business, the primary printing technique for music had already changed to single impression, a much more profitable and technically easier method for setting music (24).

Forster and Petreius started their collaboration with the first volume of the Liedlein (vdm 40) in 1539. In the following year, the second song volume (vdm 53) appeared alongside the motet collection in question. Forster seems to have planned this collection as the first book in a series of short, sacred compositions, parallel to the song volumes. However, whereas the motet book was announced as "tomus primus" on the title page, no trace of any further volumes in this series survives.

Forster's motet collection is listed in RISM B/I with the siglum 15406 and given the title "Selectissimarum mutetarum partim quinque partim quatuor vocum". While this at first appeared unproblematic, the question of identity surfaced when we checked historical catalogues of early music prints. One of these catalogues is by Conrad Gesner, an extremely versatile sixteenth-century Swiss scholar who published a bibliography of all books available at the time. In book VII of the Pandectae sive partitiorum universalium libri IX of 1548, devoted to music books, an item is mentioned with the description "Selectissimarum Mutetarum quatuor vocum tomus primus, Norimbergae apud Petreium excusus", dated 154025. It is not clear whether Gesner intended to quote the title verbatim or only to describe its content, but there was in any case no copy of an edition in our database matching Gesner's record. We first concluded that this edition of exclusively fourvoice motets was completely lost. However, under closer examination it became apparent that Gesner's book must be part of Forster's collection. The title page of the Tenor partbook divides the repertoire into motets for five and four voices: "[...] partim quinque partim quatuor vocum" (26). It opens with an index of the five-voice compositions and is followed by a preface by the editor. A colophon is not present, since the details about printer, location, and date were already given on the title page. The five-voice section nevertheless ends with the printed remark "Finis" after the last piece. After some blank pages (found in all partbooks), the four-voice section opens with its own title page. In this new section, there is again an index and the remark "Finis" at the end of all four partbooks. (illustration 2a-d shows the title pages and indices for both sections of the tenor partbook.)

The collation (see table 1) makes this division even clearer. The two sections have separate numbering systems, and the asterisk used in the first section suggests that the fourvoice motets were first prepared for printing as an individual book. Later, the five-voice motets were published, and the Contratenor partbook was renamed 'Altus'. The asterisk in the foliation thus prevented confusion in binding the various loose gatherings for each voice.

Printers (or editors) were indeed concerned about facilitating book binding, even if this did not usually happen in their workshop. This is documented by a remark in an earlier music book, the Geystliche Gsangbuchlin produced by Peter Schoffer the Younger (vdm 111), which states: "Item / sei gemanet der buchbinder/ inn ydem Quatern die signatur iij und iiij. abzuschneiden/ alfidann legt sichs recht zum einbinden." ("Moreover, the bookbinder should crop in each quarter gathering the signatures iij and iiij, then the binding will be correct") (27). This early collection of polyphonic sacred music by Johann Walter also presents motets in four and five voices, though in an unsystematic order. Other printed motet books, such as the Liberselectarum cantionum (Augsburg, 1520; vdm 18) or the two volumes of Petreius' rival Formschneider, Novum et insigne opus musicum (Nuremberg, 1537 and 1538; vdm 35 and 37), sorted their repertoire by the number of voices, independent of the structure of the print.

Petreius, however, chose a more profitable means of production in splitting the collection into two individual books. The fact that Gesner had before him a copy that apparently contained only the second book with the four-voice motets makes it clear that the two parts were in some cases sold separately. The surviving exemplars also reflect this practice. The various partbooks held at the British Library, for example, exhibit different types of incompleteness. The three partbooks (Discantus, Altus, and Tenor), under the shelf-mark K.4.b.24 only contain the five voice compositions. The Quintus and Bassus partbooks of this set are apparently missing. Another Bassus partbook under the shelfmark K.11.e.2.(2) is a compilation of both motet books. In the online catalogue, the four partbooks are listed under a single entry. Because the books were sometimes sold separately and in order to avoid confusion, we divided the motet collection into two entries, with the identifying numbers vdm 50 and vdm 914, referring to the five-voice and four-voice sections, respectively. These numbers designate not variant editions but rather two separate editions that were often but not always bound together.

Figure 3 illustrates the two different ways of conceiving of these prints. While all previous bibliographies and library catalogues list the two books as one edition (AB), not indicating whether the individual exemplar contains both sections (copy ab) or only one of them (copy a or copy b), we distinguish between two related editions, edition A and edition B. Under "further details", we clarify that they generally belong together. In our model, the copies are assigned clearly to one or both of these editions. Copies that are bound together are linked on the copy level.

Case Study 3. Johann Spangenberg, Grammaticae latinae partes, Orthographia, Prosodia, Etymologica & Syntaxis. Wittenberg: Rhau, 1538 (vdm 143).

A grammar book by Johann Spangenberg (1484-1550) represents the most complicated of these cases in terms of print identity. Spangenberg was a priest, humanist, and musician who studied at the University of Erfurt and in 1524 settled in Nordhausen, a free imperial city near Gottingen. There he was priest at the new church of St Blasius. After the town school closed in the turmoil of the Reformation, Spangenberg helped to establish a public school following the ideals of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. In order to supply the appropriate teaching material to the students, he published school books, liturgical books, hymn books and theological writings, all of which were very successful. According to VD16 and vdm, before his death in 1550 he was involved in 157 publications in total, and he was the author of thirty-six, which contain printed music.

One of these books is the Grammaticae latinae partes, an introductory Latin grammar, dedicated to Michael Meyenburg, the mayor of Nordhausen. Spangenberg's pedagogical books specifically addressed the students of the city school on the title page ("... in usum scholae Nordhusianae") (28) and depicted the emblem of the city, a crowned single-headed eagle. They were nevertheless widely disseminated throughout German-speaking areas. The grammar book, for example, was printed in several cities: Wittenberg, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Cologne, Mainz, and Leipzig. The first edition dates from 1535, and the book (or at least sections of it) reprinted twelve times through 1552.

The title page of the 1538 edition lists the contents of the book: Grammaticae latinae partes, Orthographia, Prosodia, Etymologica & Syntaxis (see illustration 3a). However, the order of the subjects is not correct. The book starts with an overview of Latin grammar, including orthography and etymology. There follow distinct chapters on syntax and prosody, each given an individual title page (illustrations 3b and 3c). The chapter on prosody is the only portion of this edition that contains musical notation. At the very end of the chapter (which is indeed the very end of the book), four quantitative ode settings in four voices demonstrate to the students how the rules of meter were to be applied to Latin poetry. The odes are introduced by a half title on the verso of a folio where they are called Harmoniae ("Sequuntur harmoniae tetracenticae, super quatuor communiora carminum genera, [...]") (see illustration 3d). The layout of the music which follows is rather impractical, since the four voices of the same piece are not presented on opposing pages (a single opening), as would have been standard practice in 'choirbook format'. In order for it to have been sung, the students would have had to use multiple copies of the same book as if they were partbooks, copy their musical lines on a separate sheet of paper, or learn it by heart. Later editions have corrected this deficiency.

Whereas the title suggests a single work in several chapters, the collation suggests otherwise (see table 2). In the 1538 edition by Georg Rhau (column B), the chapters on orthography, syntax, and prosody were obviously produced as a separate item. This is indicated by the fact that each section has an independent collation and a separate full title on the first page of the first gathering, starting with A1, Aa1, and AA1, respectively. Moreover, each section opens with a poem by the author, and each has its own colophon on the last printed page. As in the case of Forster's motet collection, this arrangement made it possible to sell the individual parts as booklets, which may have reduced the financial risk of the production. Taking this into account, it seemed justified to consider the book as three separate editions and to record only the booklet that contains music--the Prosodia--in our database, leaving the other two booklets aside (29).

The decision to separate the book into three editions is further confirmed by the appearance of the first two editions of the Prosodia, printed in the same workshop by Rhau in 1535 and 1537. Consisting of only three gatherings, they were combined with an earlier version of Spangenberg's grammar book, the Grammatica latinae etymologica (VD16 S 8015). The 1535 edition of the Prosodia was given the signatures A1 to C8 (see table 2, column A), and the same music examples can be found at the end of the book. Due to the signature consisting of a single letter before the number, it appears to have been originally produced as an independent work. The other chapters of the grammar book had probably not yet been printed, and it was only later that the Prosodia was attached to it.

Due to the success of Rhau's publication of Spangenberg's revised Grammatica in 1538, one year later Steiner in Augsburg and Petreius in Nuremberg produced reprints. While Steiner followed Rhau's model closely in its internal structure as a combination of three separate books, Petreius structured the chapters into a single book (see table 2, column C). His edition contains no separate title pages for the chapters on syntax and prosody, though it does have a half title for the Harmoniae. As a consequence, the collation runs consecutively from A1 through to P4. All in all, the book contains 116 folios, and since it was produced in a single print-run, it is recorded in our database as a single entry.

Another structural variation of Spangenberg's grammar book can be found in an edition printed in Cologne in 1540 (column D). In this edition, the book is enlarged to 144 pages, with three and a half more gatherings than Petreius's earlier publication, but the chapters on syntax and prosody were once again given separate titles. Nevertheless, we also consider this book to be a single edition, since the collation sequence runs consecutively through the book and no colophon marks the end of the chapters.

The complex situation seen in this case study once again demonstrates that book production in the early sixteenth century rarely followed a specific routine. In publications such as Spangenberg's Grammatica, printers could choose whether to create individual booklets which could be sold separately or to integrate the parts into a single, coherent book. In addition, reprints of an edition could result in a completely new book structure, regardless of whether the content remains the same.


The more closely we look, the more complicated the world becomes. This may certainly be said of the bibliographical aspects of early music prints. The availability of digital sources and easy access to them online makes it possible to recognise how subtle the differences between related exemplars of the same book could be. The printing process was by no means straightforward, and the question of how modern scholars should interpret these processes--the question of identity--is equally complicated. For a database such as vdm, one needs guidelines, formed by experience, to decide upon the differences between variants, states, and variant editions. In our database, these guidelines are based on objective 'indicators of identity'--title page, colophon, and collation--which help us to understand the book's production process. The various motivations of the printer or editor in producing a specific edition are often less obvious or might have changed during the print run; insofar as we can understand what these were, they remain only secondary factors to help determine identity (30).

In our project, we continue to face the problem of how to interpret individual exemplars within the bipartite schema of copies and editions. The three cases examined demonstrate that this process requires close study of the individual books as well as a deep knowledge of both the printing process and the printing business. Even so, there remain several borderline cases. When the categories of copy and edition have been concretely defined, how does one classify a book that is structurally compiled in three parts but has a single index at the beginning and only half titles before each section (31)? What about books that were sold together as packages by the publisher (32)? There is not always a clear answer to these questions, but that is exactly why these cases are useful to consider the broader issue of book identity. Moreover, they demonstrate the importance of indicators of identity and detailed investigation of the physical exemplars.

Finally, do the new media facilitated by modern technology contain benefits which go beyond simply serving as the basis of a complex database? Certainly differences between copies of early music prints have always existed, but it is only now that we are able to recognise them as such on a massive scale. Because of this, the question of identity becomes crucial to the study of these important sources of music history. How we answer them now will have significant ramifications going forward.

Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl is professor of music history in the Department of Musicology and Dance Research at the University of Salzburg. This article is dedicated to my former collaborators, Elisabeth Giselbrecht and Grantley McDonald, who shared with me the adventure of starting the project from scratch. I also would like to thank Paul Kolb for his linguistic help.

(1.) For more details on these and related projects, see 'Actual Projects and Digital Collections / music sheets, music manuscripts', 8&l=en, accessed 30 June 2017.

(2.) Royal Holoway Digital Repository, containing more than 300 scans digitised from microfilms, https:// repository. royalholloway. do?topic=52facdbd-19ce-2b92-dbd5-434289d29e8b&sort= rank&page=1&q=, accessed 30 June 2017.

(3.) VD16 is hosted by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Munchen ( /TouchPoint_ touchpoint/ [accessed 30 June 2017]); GW is hosted by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin ( [accessed 30 June 2017]).

(4.) RISM online database,, accessed 30 June 2017.

(5.), accessed 30 June 2017.

(6.), accessed 30 June 2017.

(7.), accessed 30 June 2017.

(8.) This project is financed completely by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The first stage, "Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands: Studies in Technical and Repertoire Development" (P 24075), concentrated on music prints from 1501 to 1540. It began in 2012 with the project team consisting of Grantley McDonald, Elisabeth Giselbrecht, and myself. The second stage, "Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands: From the Beginning to Mid-16th Century" (P 28353), extends the time period in both directions, from the beginning of music printing until 1550, so that the first seventy-five years are covered. This stage began in spring 2016 with collaborators Marianne Gillion and Moritz Kelber. For more information on our project, see, accessed 30 June 2017.

(9.) In order to be included in vdm, the print must, at the minimum, have staff lines or a single musical note. The name of the database derives from VD16, discussed above. The catalogue can be accessed from our homepage,; accessed 30 June 2017. All entries are assigned an individual ID number, e.g., vdm 434.

(10.) Joseph A. Dane, What Is a Book? The Study of Early Printed Books (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012), 7-8.

(11.) Since we include not only books but also pamphlets and broadsheets, the more inclusive term 'edition' is used. In The Oxford Companion to the Book, ed. Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 'edition' is defined as "the total number of copies of a book printed, at any time, from substantially the same setting of type" (pp. 688-89).

(12.) Cf. David Pearson, The Importance of the Copy Census as a Methodology in Book History", in Early Printed Books as Material Objects, ed. Bettina Wagner and Marcia Reed (Berlin; New York: De Gruyter Saur, 2010), 321-28.

(13.) Fredson Bowers, Principles of Bibliographical Descriptions (New York: Russel & Russel, 1962) gives a detailed description of all possible cases. See also Ronald B. McKerrow, An Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students. Introduction by David McKitterick (Winchester; New Castle, Delaware: St Paul's Bibliographies; Oak Knoll Press, 1994); and Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972).

(14.) See, for example, Charlton Hinman, Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare. 2 v. (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1963); Leonhard Hoffmann, 'Gutenberg, Fust und der erste Bibeldruck. Teil 1 bis 4', Zentralblatt fur Bibliothekswesen Teil 1 (1983/11): 473-81; Teil 2 (1984/12): 529-36; Teil 3 (1986/12): 533-47; Teil 4 (1987/1): 53-63; and Christoph Reske, Die Produktion der Schedelschen Weltchronik zu Nurnberg (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000).

(15.) Following the definition in The Oxford Companion to the Book (p. 644), an ideal copy is "the most perfect state of the book as the printer or publisher finally intended to issue it (Bowers) [...]. Descriptive bibliographers generalize from the evidence present in surviving copies to reconstruct the intended form of that specific issue, impression, or edition at the moment of publication. Because such evidence may be inconclusive or incomplete, the ideal copy is often conjectural, and it is possible, especially when few copies survive, that no one copy matches the projected ideal copy".

(16.) Dane, "What is a Book?", p. 195. The Oxford Companion to the Book uses the term 'variant issue' to refer to the same concept (p. 1237). For somewhat different terminological schemata, see McKerrow, "Introduction, Part II. Chapter Three: On the meaning of 'edition', 'impression', and 'issue', and on determining whether two books are of the same edition or not', pp. 175-183; Bowers, ..Principles, Chapter 2. Hand-printed books. edition, issue, and state; ideal copy", pp. 37-123.

(17.) McKerrow, "Introduction", p. 88. See also Margaret M. Smith. The Title-Page. Its Early Development 1460-1510 (London; New Castle: The British Library, 2000).

(18.) For more on Peter Schoffer the Younger, see Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl, 'Peter Schoffer der Jungere, das Erbe Gutenbergs und <die wahre Art des Druckens>', in NiveauNischeNimbus. Die Anfange des Musikdrucks nordlich der Alpen, ed. Birgit Lodes. Wiener Forum fur Altere Musikgeschichte, 3 (Tutzing: Schneider, 2010), 283-312. On the treatise, see Thomas Darren Koch, "The Rerum musicarum opusculum of Johann Frosch: An Edition, Translation, and Commentary, together with a Discussion of his Musical Works" (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1999).

(19.) In addition, the research on Johannes Frosch deals with problems of identity; see Franz Gunther, 'Johannes Frosch--Theologe und Musiker in einer Person?', Die Musikforschung 28 (1975): 71-5.

(20.) Johann Frosch, Rerum musicarum opusculum ac insigne (Strafiburg, 1535), reprint (Monuments of Music and Music Literature in Facsimile, II/39 [New York: Broude Brothers, 1967]). This is not Schoffer's only printing device, although it is the most elaborate that appears exclusively in this print. Depictions of five other printing devices that related to him and his workshop can be found in Lindmayr-Brandl, Schoffer, 306.

(21.) It carries the shelfmark A-Wn 395.861-C.

(22.) The dedicatory letter dated 1532 suggests that there may have been an earlier edition which is lost. However, the phrase "iam recens publicatum" on the title page indicates that the book was only recently published.

(23.) A questionnaire concerning the illustration on the title page was sent to all libraries and archives that we could not visit in person. I would like to thank all colleagues who answered our enquiries so diligently.

(24.) Cf. Mariko Teramoto and Armin Brinzing, Katalog der Musikdrucke des Johannes Petreius in Nurnberg. Catalogus musicus, 14 (Kassel: Barenreiter, 1993).

(25.) Lawrence F Bernstein, 'The Bibliography of Music in Conrad Gesner's Pandectae (1548)', Acta Musicologica, 45 (1973): 119-63 at 155 [entry 235]. Grantley McDonald identified this edition. The following entry, [236] reads "Selectissimarum Mutetarum partim quinque, partim quatuor vocum Tomus primus, ibidem". It is the title of the known motet collection (RISM B/I 15406).

(26.) It is worth mentioning that the other partbooks have a more specific title in giving the name of the voice and the content of the first part, e.g., "DISCANTVS [parallel] MODVLATIONVM [parallel] QVINQVE VOCVM. [parallel]".

(27.) Johann Walter, Geystliche Gsangbuchlein ([Worms]: Schoffer 1525 [vdm 111]), Vagant fol. aa1v (my translation).

(28.) The quote is cited from his music theory treatise Quaestiones musicae (Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1536 [vdm 569]).

(29.) The relation to the other booklets is mentioned in the database under "further details".

(30.) Cf. Dane, "Editions and Printer's Intentions" in What is a Book?, 192-93.

(31.) This is the case with Hundert und funfftzehen guter newer Liedlein (Nuremberg: [Hans Ott], 1544 [vdm 1027]).

(32.) Cf. Royston Gustavson, The Music Editions of Christian Egenolff: A New Catalogue and its Implications', in Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands, ed. Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl, Elisabeth Giselbrecht, and Grantley McDonald (forthcoming), 9. Spangenberg, Hymni (1550).

Caption: Fig. 1. Structure of the vdm Database: Edition level, Copy level, and their Relationships.

Caption: Fig. 2. Doubling Editions (copies from variant editions).

Caption: Fig. 3. Splitting Editions (Forster's Motet Collection in Two Parts).

Caption: Illustration 1a-b. Different title pages of Johannes Frosch, Rerum musicarum opusculum (Strasbourg, 1535). 1a: vdm 564 (copy A-Su), 1b: vdm 637 (copy I-PAc).

Caption: Illustration 2a-d. Title Pages and Indices in the Tenor partbook(s) of Forster's Motet Collection of 1540 (copy D-Mu).

Caption: Illustration 3a-d. Title pages of Spangenberg's Grammatica, Wittenberg 1538, vdm 143 (copy D-HA).
Table 1. Collation of the Partbooks of Forster's 1540 Motet

Name of the     22 Motets in 5   27 Motets in 4
Partbook         v. (Vdm 50)      v. (Vdm 914)

Tenor               *a-*e4            a-f4
Discantus          *AA-*EE4          AA-FF4
Altus/             *aa-*ee4          aa-ff4
Bassus              *A-*E4            A-F4
Quintus           *aaa-*ddd4           --

Table 2. Structure and Collation of Selected Editions of
Spangenberg's Grammatica.

Sections            A          B             C         D

1. Orthographia   --      A1-M8          A1-O8, P4   A1-S8
2. Syntax         --      Aa1-Ee8                    *
3. Prosodia       A1-C8   AA1-CC8, DD4               *
3 a. Harmoniae    *          *           *           *

A Wittenberg: Rhau 1535 (VD16 S 8015; vdm 92)
B Wittenberg: Rhau 1538 (VD16 ZV 23089; Prosodia: vdm 143)
  Augsburg: Steiner 1539 (VD16 S 7823, S 8017, S 8043; Prosodia:
  vdm 566)
C Nuremberg: Petreius 1539 (VD16 S 7824, S 8018, S 8044; vdm 145)
D Cologne: Gymnich 1540 (VD16 S 7825, S 8019, S 8045; vdm 567)
* = half title
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Author:Brandl, Andrea Lindmayr
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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