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IncipitSearch - Search engine for music incipits

IncipitSearch is a web platform and search engine for music incipits.

Incipits are an initial sequence of notes that represent the melodic characteristics of a composition.

Incipits are a pragmatic approach for the categorization of notated music, in which the first few bars of a score are transcribed. Furthermore, statements on melodic characteristics of the music can be made, based on these short fragments. First and foremost, the IncipitSearch can be seen as a counterpart to conventional thematic-bibliographic catalogues and catalogues of works, as they have been presented in printed form for a long time.

You can search the catalogues using the virtual keyboard. Plaine & Easie Code is used as standard syntax for the encoding of the music incipits. The Plaine & Easie Code can be also entered directly in the search field.

Screenshot of music incipit search engine and platform IncipitSearch

IncipitSearch website:

For an overview of functionalities and background see the presentation "IncipitSearch - A common interface for searching in music repositories" held at the Digital Humanities 2018 conference in Budapest.


All content that can be searched in IncipitSearch can be also accessed using the API, which is basically a elasticsearch endpoint. The API is available at For further information see the documentation.


You can integrate your repository in IncipitSearch and you can also use IncipitSearch as a search engine in your own repository. Learn here how to participate and how to reintegrate IncipitSearch.

License and Contribution

IncipitSearch is licensed under MIT License.

IncipitSearch is developed at the Digital Academy of the Academy of Sciences and Literatur | Mainz.


Anna Neovesky (Idea, Concept, Application Development, Data Processing)

Gabriel Reimers (Idea, Concept, Application Development)

Frederic von Vlahovits (Frontend Development, Design, Documentation)

Torsten Schrade (Metadata schema, LOD, DevOps)

Used Software and Standards

The Verovio JavaScript Toolkit is used for rendering the incipits. Verovio is developed by Swiss RISM Office with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation. The source code is available on GitHub under the LGPLv3 license.

Plaine & Easie Code is used for the incipit encoding and representation.

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