The Virgapes System

Neel Smith edited this page Aug 8, 2018 · 30 revisions

The virgapes system assigns a unique identifier to every type of neume listed in Cardine's guide to neumes. With a four-part identifier, we can distinguish the number of pitches in the neume, the relative motion of the pitches, the presence and location of an episema, and the presence of a liquescent form. Each part is signified with a number and each part is separated by a period.

For example, a virga would be encoded as, to indicate that it has one pitch, is the first (of two) one-pitch neumes, and has no episema or liquescence. A liquescent virga would be encoded as A virga with an episema would be encoded as

Language of Neume encoding



number of pitches in neume

  • Punctum, for example, has one pitch, and is encoded as '1'
  • Roman characters are encoded with '0' for 0 pitches

Id Number

distinguisher between neumes with the same pitches

  • Beginning with '1'
  • Punctum ( vs. virga (, for example, are '1' and '2'


notes whether a neume has episema, and if so, on which pitch

  • '0' = no episema
  • '1' = episema marked on first pitch
  • '2' = episema marked on second pitch
  • etc.


notes whether a neume has liquescence or not

  • '0' = no liquescence
  • '1' = liquescence marked on first pitch
  • '2' = liquescence marked on second pitch
  • etc.

Standards for entering neumes


  • When encoding neumes, a space " " stands for separation between syllables and "-" connects neumes within a single syllable. A new line indicates a new word.
  • Work left to right one syllable at a time
  • If a significative letter is directly above a neume then work from top to bottom
  • Assume that neumes proceed in one continuous line, breaking when the scribe runs out of room

URN system


  • urn:cts:chant:(type-of-chant-book).(manuscript).(feast-day).(chant)



  • urn:cts:chant:(type-of-chant-book).(manuscript).(cantus_id).(text/neume)



Encoding Rules

  • "unclear" = mark unclear passages
  • "wip" = mark items to return to, should not appear in finished versions

Standard Alphabet

  • Set of letters: A B C D E F G H I L M N O P Q R S T U X
  • Uses "u" not "v"; "i" not "j"
  • Updated as needed

Header Text

<xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8">
<TEI xmlns="">
     <title>Insert Title of Feast</title>
     <p>Original diplomatic edition of MS XYZ</p>
     <p>Digitally published by HC MID</p>
     <p>Directly edited from images</p>
   <div n="AMS Number">

AMS Number


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