A brief history of CHMTL

The Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature (CHMTL) was established in 1998, founded by Thomas J. Mathiesen as a joint venture of Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and the Vice President for Research and the University Graduate School. The initiative for the Center grew out of a desire to consolidate the activities of several electronic research databases developed at Indiana University.

The oldest resource maintained by the Center is a text archive of Latin music treatises (the TML - Thesaurus Musicarum Latinarum), which, created in 1990, significantly predated the Center itself. The creation of this major resource was supported by two major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The TML, together with the sister project Saggi musicali italiani (SMI, 1997) and the first online version of the American Musicological Society's bibliographic database Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology (a resource now hosted directly by the AMS), formed the initial nucleus of the Center. Musical Borrowing, an annotated bibliography of sources examining the creative recycling of existing music, directed by J. Peter Burkholder, went online on the CHMTL website in 1999. It was renamed as Musical Borrowing and Reworking in 2017. The work on historical texts of music theory initiated by TML was further extended to encompass additional languages and historical periods, with two new projects hosted on the CHMTL website: Texts on Music in English (TME, 2002, founded by Peter Lefferts), and Traités sur la Musique en Français (TFM, 2003, founded by Peter Slemon). 

During Professor Mathiesen's directorship, CHMTL sponsored two conferences at Indiana University and launched important editorial initiatives in the field of early music theory. Two series were published by University of Nebraska Press: "Greek and Latin Music Theory" and the "Publications of the Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature. A third series, "Studies in the History of Music Theory and Literature", was begun in 2006 with the University of Illinois Press. In 1998 a CD-ROM was also released incorporating current work on the full-text databases; updated versions of the CD-ROM were released in 2002 and 2008, also including early versions of CANTUS: A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant and a text-search utility developed by programmers under Professor Mathiesen's supervision.

Following Professor Mathiesen's retirement from the directorship of CHMTL in 2009, Peter Slemon, formerly the Center's Assistant Director, assumed the role of Interim Director. In 2011 CHMTL became an interdepartmental research center of the Jacobs School of Music, with Giuliano Di Bacco assuming its directorship later that year. Most recently, four grants awarded to projects hosted by the Center (received from the Indiana University Institute for Advanced Study, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Mellon Foundation) marked the beginning of a new expansion of CHMTL as a center of excellence in supporting research and publications in the field.

Illustration: close-up of Crespi's Due sportelli di libreria (by courtesy of the Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica, Bologna)