The motet cycles known as motetti missales are copied, with few exceptions, in the manuscripts prepared for the Duomo in Milan under the direction of chapel master Franchinus Gaffurius from c.1490. Presumably composed for the chapel of the Sforza dukes, the cycles attest to a use of polyphonic music during the liturgy of Mass which is fundamentally different from that of regular polyphonic settings of the ordinarium missae. The cycles’ relationship with the liturgy, their texts, their musical structure and style, the way they are copied in the manuscripts, their implication in terms of performance practice, all raise intriguing questions.

The present project (a follow-up of the Motet Cycles Project, 2014-2017) aims at marking a turning point in the research about the motetti missales, by investigating the texts, by analyzing and critically editing the music, and by further exploring their historical and liturgical-devotional context. Besides extensive archival work in Milanese archives and libraries, the project includes the first systematic and comparative study of the Gaffurius manuscripts (the so-called Libroni, held at the Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano). A codicological study of the Libroni will help re-define their chronology and explain how they were materially compiled and will shed new light on the transfer of musical compositions from the ducal chapel to the cathedral.

The project also includes the complete digitization of the Libroni: once made available online and enriched with metadata, it will give the scholarly community new and much awaited opportunities of investigation. Another aspect of this project will be the preparation of a critical edition of the cycles: based on the most up-to-date philological criteria, the edition will benefit from the rich amount of data about sources, texts, and concordances already stored in the Motet Cycles Database. The edition will comprise a critical apparatus and an analytical commentary, and will be interlinked with the Motet Cycles Database.

The resulting new research portal will, thus, include the database, the digital archive, the critical edition, and a set of short monographic essays. This innovative research tool, interlinked with other online resources will be open access and entirely searchable. It will interest not only musicologist, but students and scholars in various disciplines: codicologists, liturgists, scholars of Sforza studies, medievalists and scholars of the early modern era in general.