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CUA Music Expert Launches Monks in Cyberspace

8 August 1994


p.gif (1026 bytes)opularity of the CD Chant, recorded by Benedictine monks at the Spanish monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, has increased traffic on the information highway, says Ruth P. Steiner, a Gregorian chant scholar at The Catholic University of America.

Since a recent newsmagazine article about religion-related documents available online, use over the Internet has nearly tripled to more than 170 weekly requests for CANTUS, a Catholic University database of indexes to medieval chant manuscripts. Users from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Finland, Hungary and other farflung areas have requested access to the files.

Steiner developed CANTUS and a microfilm library of hundreds of medieval music documents several years ago. The database and microfilms help scholars who can't travel to examine original illuminated manuscripts of liturgical music housed in obscure cathedral libraries or small town museums scattered across western Europe.

Thousands of the chants have never been transcribed, she says. But chant fans seeking the "complete lyrics" to the chart-topping CD may be disappointed. CANTUS is an inventory of works and contains only the first few words of chants, she explains.

Ismael Fernandez de la Cuesta, one of Chant's conductors, lectured at the university in 1991.

National Endowment for the Humanities funding helped support creation of CANTUS, and the New York-based Dom Mocquereau Foundation has provided grants for the library.

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