Differentiae in the Cantus Manuscript Database: A Cross-Manuscript Analysis
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The differentia standardization project for the Cantus Manuscript Database enables previously unfeasible comparisons of 159 manuscripts from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries containing a total of 129,526 antiphons and differentiae. The resulting multi-manuscript differentia analysis has two significant outcomes: a clearer understanding of differentia function; and the ability to use differentiae in assessments of manuscript similarity and provenance. In my thesis, I interrogate and quantify the two underlying assumptions that have persisted in theoretical definitions of differentiae since the medieval era: that differentiae belong to, and are indicative of, mode; and that their primary melodic function was to provide an appropriate connection between the end of the psalm tone and the beginning of the antiphon. By quantifying how each differentia is consistently indicative of both mode and antiphon opening, one can better understand how and why differentiae were effective tools for the memorization of antiphons.