What's new

07 Jan 2015
Cantus has moved!

Visit http://cantus.uwaterloo.ca/ for the newest version of the CANTUS Database!

About CANTUS

Quick Link: Go to "Field Contents" Description

CANTUS is a database that assembles inventories of the Latin ecclesiastical chants found in early sources for the liturgical Office, such as antiphoners and breviaries. This website serves both researchers and database contributors, and offers three types of tools:

1) Browsing tools

The interactive browsing system is based on the following types of linked data views:

  • List of Indexed Sources (Top Menu Toolbar "Sources")
  • 135+ manuscripts which have been indexed by CANTUS are listed with their full library identification and provenance. Click on any of the blue headings at the top of each column to sort the list. Click on any manuscript name or siglum to see the manuscript description. Click in the left panel to "View full index" or "Analyse this source" with the CANTUS Analysis Tool.

  • List of Feasts (Top Menu Toolbar "Feasts")
  • Click on 'Feasts' for a listing of the liturgical feast days which are included in CANTUS inventories. Over 1200 different liturgical occasions are listed with their Latin names (in a style and spelling following Hesbert in CAO). The feast names are given with their calendar date (where applicable) and explanation in English of the liturgical occasion. Click on any feast name to display the sources in CANTUS that include that particular occasion. NOTE: Through the linkages and comparison of the data in this and other fields, CANTUS can be used to distinguish individual Office traditions based on the material included in source inventories. (For more details, refer to the CANTUS Analysis Tool.)

  • List of Chants in the Database (Master Chant Table) (Top Menu Toolbar "Chants")
  • The 'Chants' section of the website offers a summary listing of all the chants included in the sources indexed by CANTUS. This list is updated as texts are discovered in new indices. To search for chant texts in the "Master" table, the user can modify the search criteria at the top of the page according to chant genre, words in the textual incipit, words in the full text, or typical feast. Clicking on any individual chant record displays information about the chant, including its incipit, full text (if known), CANTUS ID number, usual feast assignment, and links to the occurrences of the chant in the manuscripts indexed in CANTUS. In the listings, researchers can see at a glance if the chant had a common usage in many sources or if it was to be sung in multiple feasts or liturgical positions.

  • Search (Top Menu Toolbar "Search")
  • Those wishing to identify a chant by its text will make use of the CANTUS 'Search' section. By entering any word (or combination of words) into the 'Search string' box, a list of all chants containing those words (anywhere in the chant text) will be displayed. In fact, searching the full text of a chant can be accomplished even more quickly by simply entering the relevant words into the 'Search' box located at the top right of any CANTUS page. This 'Search' feature is particularly useful to the researcher interested in identifying chant fragments in which the first few words may not be present or legible. By clicking on the links provided in the individual chant records, it is possible to find the chant in a particular source indexed by CANTUS.

  • Fulltext search (Top Menu Toolbar "Fulltext search" box)

2) Analytical tools

The new Cantus site will be equipped with useful and easy-to-use analytical tools for research purposes.

  • CANTUS Analysis Tool
  • This tool allows the user to select any liturgical feast in one manuscript and compare the choice and order of chants to any other manuscript indexed by CANTUS. To facilitate comparison, a list of concordant manuscripts appears, listing the most similar sources at the top. Each concordance is linked to a list of that source's chants.

    The statistics concerning feast occurrence in manuscripts will be monitored in order to see how feasts are used in a particular source / tradition.

    A future analytical tool will be focused on variability of chants in specific liturgical positions (feasts and offices) showing liturgical occasions with high variability on one side (local traditions) and feasts with the most stable repertory across individual traditions on the other side (major feasts).

    For every liturgical occasion, it will be possible to analyze different office traditions in the synoptic table.

3) Data-entry tools:


  • CANTUS Input Tool
  • Although new contributions still can be submitted in the form of self-made tables, the new CANTUS site will offer an additional online data-entry tool for database contributors. All contributors will have their own user account which they can use to access the extended facilities. Each chant in the manuscript will be added using an online form containing all the necessary fields (incipit, fulltext, folio, office, genre, position, liturgical occasion, etc.). The incipit and feast fields will have an 'autocomplete' feature that makes entering new data faster and helps users to avoid spelling mistakes.
    For maximal efficiency, the suggestions for the next chant will be listed underneath the boxes. These suggestions are based on indices already in the CANTUS database. By clicking 'OK' beside any one suggestion, the 'Incipit', 'CantusID', 'Full text' and 'Feast' boxes will be automatically filled in, leaving the contributor to adjust the folio and sequence numbers, as well as Office, Genre and Position boxes to reflect the manuscript in question.