Databases change the way we do research, both because of the quantity of information they make available, and because of the unexpected paths along which they guide and redirect our original intentions. I am not suggesting that serendipitous discoveries are not afforded by traditional methods of research—one might, for example, browse the shelves of a library—but simply that, in the computer-assisted humanities, such a process is implicit in every kind of query.

Up to now, scholars interested in assessing the considerable impact of the Italian poet Torquato Tasso (1544–95) on the madrigal repertoire have had to rely on the indices of the so-called “Nuovo Vogel,”1 on RISM (series A/I and...

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