Introduction and Instructions
In the autumn of 1848, someone at Lichfield Cathedral – presumably a member of the Corporation of Vicars Choral, which included the Priest Vicars and the Lay Vicars Choral (or gentlemen who sing in the choir) – decided it would be a good idea to save their copy of the Cathedral’s weekly tables.
The weekly tables record the music sung at the services which took place daily. During the week, there were choral Matins and Evensong daily, and on Wednesdays and Fridays a setting of the Litany was also sung. On Sundays there was an additional Communion service alongside Matins (with a Litany) and Evensong. Sundays also had a set psalm (rather than the psalm for the day), and on Saints’ days (festal days) which fell during the week, there was also a Litany and/or a special psalm.
170 years’ of weekly tables (only latterly were they called music lists) allows the premiere performances of music from the Victorian era and beyond to be pinpointed, and to chart the developing repertoire of a provincial – but socially significant – Cathedral to be traced.
The initial part of the project is the scanning of some 9,000 bound lists which is a monumental task in itself. And it would be possible, simply, for the scanned images to be made available online. However, as the real interest lies in the data which is contained within the scanned images, the information needs transcribing, and that is the crowd-sourced aspect of the project which you are reading about.
I have developed this website (https://www.cathedralmusic.org.uk) specifically for the transcription of Lichfield's music lists which is designed to make it as straightforward as possible to turn the copperplate script into bits and bytes.
Using the Site and Transcribing
When you first visit the website, you will need to register an account, so your score can be tracked, and I can contact you if there are any queries about your transcriptions, and to update you about your progress. Beyond this, your email address will be used for nothing else. Registering a new account will log you in.
If you have registered previously, simply log in using your email address and password. Once you have logged in, you will be presented with your personal account homepage. From here, you can see the number of days you have transcribed and your score, and you can select the days you would like to work on.
When you choose a day, you will be presented with a random music list with the approximate area of the selected day highlighted. The highlighted area is not always accurate because of the variation in the scanned images, but it should be a helpful guide.
The first question is whether the day you are working on is a ‘standard day’. If it is a standard day, simply click the green button (or press [Return]) ,if not, click the red button.
A standard (or ‘ferial’) Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday will look something like this:
There will be two lines of information for each day: the services for Matins and Evensong, and the anthems for both services. It may be the case that one line consists solely of the word ‘None’: liturgically, this is still counted as a standard day, but – for whatever reason – one of the services was not sung.
Standard (ferial) Wednesdays and Fridays follow the same format, but include a setting of the Litany, either detailed in the first or final column depending on the layout of the weekly table.
‘Standard’ Sundays vary, and these are not yet part of the transcription project, but they will be added in due course.
On a Saints’ Day (or festival days), the name of the saint is often appended to the first column, but there will also be a setting of the Litany and/or a psalm. These are not standard, ferial, days, and will need to be flagged up by clicking the red button.
If you click the red button, you will be presented with another day to confirm whether it is standard or not. If you click the green button, you will be taken to the transcription screen which is tailored to the particular ‘standard’ day.
The services need to be split into two parts for Matins and Evensong: the composer and the setting. The composer is someone’s surname (e.g. Clark, Dupuis, Creyghton, Childe, Corfe, Byrd), and the setting is frequently the key (e.g. in B, in E minor, in F), or a title (e.g. Short).
If there is only one entry in the box, but two anthems, the full service will have been sung in the course of the day, so the same information – e.g. Corfe in F – needs to be entered for both lines. Putting a tick in the tickbox once it has been entered in the first boxes will copy the name and title automatically to save you time.
If there is one entry, such as Clark & Croft in E minor, it means that Clark in E minor was sung at Matins, and Croft in E minor at Evensong. (The original scribe saved themselves a little time by combining the two services in the same key.) If you enter the information as written into the first boxes, and put a tick in the tickbox, the entry will be split into the relevant fields for you.
If the flat or sharp signs are used, please enter the words “flat” or “sharp” in full. Otherwise, please enter the information exactly as it is written. Do not try to modernise spellings (e.g. Byrd for Byrde).
The anthems are similarly split into title and composer, and should be entered as written. Sometimes, there is ‘None’ written as the anthem: if this is the case, please enter ‘None’ as both the title and composer. (As this happens quite frequently when there is a Litany, there is a tickbox to automatically fill the Matins’ anthem boxes with ‘None’.)
It is not possible to submit the form unless the service and anthem boxes contain some data. If it not possible read what is there, please try your best, as the data will be checked and corrected in a later stage. Please enter only the information that fits the pattern of the services: there is marginalia (including penciled numbers, comments, names) which does not need to be transcribed.
When there is a Litany, the name of the composer (e.g. King, Tallis, Wanless, Common) should be entered. There are some instances where there is no composer listed for the Litany, and in these cases the box should be left blank.
The information you enter will not be saved until you click the green ‘Submit’ button.
Sometimes it is possible that you will have said it is a standard service, only to realise that it is not standard. If this is the case, clicking on the link ‘Oops, it’s Non-Standard’ will correct the categorization and present you with a new image.
While you will doubtless take care with the reading and transcription, it is possible that errors will creep in. This is the reason why each day is transcribed more than once. If multiple different versions of the same service are entered, they will be held back for an administrator to look at and make the final judgement.
Each user has two scores recorded on their homepage. The first is the number of days which they have transcribed. While this is an interesting record, the score (of the verified services, anthems and litanies) is the more important number.
When you and two other people have submitted a day’s information, the information is checked and if it is correct, each person is awarded a point for each piece of music that has been accurately transcribed. There are therefore 4 points available for a ferial Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and 5 points available for a ferial Wednesday and Friday.
As the awarding of points for accuracy is only a semi-automated process, because discrepancies need to be checked manually, the score will not update immediately. Ultimately, a careless transcriber may have a high number of submissions, but a low score, and someone who is more careful may have fewer days recorded, but a higher score. Individuals' scores will always be available on the user's homepage, and they will also be published in the high score tables alongside the users' names. If you would like to remain anonymous and not appear in the published high scores, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and registered email address, and your name and score will be hidden from public view.
During a period of competitive transcription - such as the inaugural #TrinityProject 2020 - separate scores for the duration of the competition alongside the individual user's and team's scores will be displayed.
It is possible for players to combine into teams to work on the project. In this case, the user homepage will report your individual statistics and the team’s figures. If you want to set up a team, please email email@example.com with the team’s name and the email addresses of the members. There is no limit to the number of members in a team, and users can be added at any time as you recruit them.
In time, leaders’ boards for individuals who are not members of teams, individuals within teams, and teams will be published. If you have chosen to remain anonymous, your individual score will not be reported publicly, but will contribute towards a team's score.
At as today, there are two and a half years’ worth of weekly tables available to be transcribed. There are a further 49 years’ scanned, which are gradually being loaded into the system as days are completed.
At this stage, the project is only set up to transcribe the information, and the transcription side of the project will continue to develop to cope with the ways in which the Cathedral’s liturgy changed through the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The data that is transcribed will be held in a separate system which is still under development: the prototype looks good, but without data to put in it, the system is purposeless. Once there is data, we will work on making it accessible alongside the original images.
This is an enormous project, but one that has the potential to shed new light on English cathedral music over nearly two centuries. Your involvement is greatly appreciated, and I hope that you will find it an engaging and interesting project in which to be involved.
Thursday, 21 May, 2020