Ictus Example
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    (As he often tells me and demonstrates on his saxophone, accelerated and slightly syncopated chant is very similar to jazz.)

    I think I speak for all of us when I say:
    Please provide audio examples.
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438
    LOL! I'll have to ask him to make one. It's quite hilarious.
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  • Thanks for your viewpoints. I was really just having fun bantering above after Chonak (in jest, I'm sure) threw in the ventriloquist bit. It is interesting, though (and this relates to Liam's observation), that many adherents quite staunchly continue to call their method 'the Solesmes method' even though it isn't, but no one refers to the method described above in this conversation by Dom Saulnier, a scholar-monk of Solesmes, as 'the Solesmes method' even though it is. Odd, isn't it.

    About that 'not Solesmes method', which Fr Columba insists is the 'never was Solesmes method', I have heard performances based on it which were quite beautiful. They were sensitive performances carried out with true musicianship. Most, though, tend to be rather wooden and lifeless, a dreadful continuum resulting from slavishly following learnt rules. I have heard many that thought they were singing a la Solesmes that were uttering just literally one deliberated note-pulse after the other without any nuance, a proceedure which had all the musical interest of the steady pulse of hammering upholstery tacks. I have heard such performances even by the august 'schola' of Houston's co-cathedral. It is astonishing how this notion of chant lingers and has proponents in the highest places both in the church and academia. But, back to the 'good' performances of the not-Solesmes-method: as a musician, one appreciates fine musicianship whatever school of interpretation it issues from. My sentiments are precisely those of Salieri's just above. So, while the not-Solesmes-method is, by now, an historical phenomenon which has many modern adherents, one accepts it along with Medicean chant, pleinchant musicale, probable late mediaeval, even XIXth century German, or any other 'method' which we are blessed to be able to preserve. Salieri is quite pelucid about the 'historical' or 'authentic' performance practices of our time. One can appreciate (even admire) Rosalind Turek or Glenn Gould playing Bach (not even on a harpsichord!) while recognising that it isn't really Bach's Bach. It is convincing and artful music making, but Bach would have thought it rather curious. (Ditto Wanda Landowska playing 'Bach his way' on her Pleyel harpsichord.)

    The difficulty which we seem to run into with semiology, with The Real Solesmes Method as it is described by Dom Saulnier at the top of this conversation, is that it is rather more challenging to communicate than the never-was-Solesmes-method. It doesn't have convenient little groups of 2 and 3, it doesn't have an 'ictus' which one can entertain oneself in finding, though its adherents conveniently overlook that it does have its inconsistencies, its places where 2s and 3s don't actually add up and one has to invoke this or that (non-historic) rule or invent a rest, etc., to make it come out right. They conveniently discount the undeniable fact that their ictus is not real and is not found in any mediaeval manuscript. Further, the Romanian letters simply do not exist in their consciousness. Still, though, their system, in the hands of musically sensitive adherents, often produces beautiful, if eccentric, performances. Back to semiology: it is not nearly so codified as the not-Solesmes-method, and is not so easily communicated to neophytes who want a quickly learnt system that they can feel confident about. Semiology is totally derived, as Dom Saulnier points out above, from the Latin word rhythm. It is rhetoric. It's point of reference is the rhetorical (rhetoric-referenced) import of the Franco-Roman neumatic record, rich in the implication of quite colourful vocal inflections and nuance. Learning these early symbols presents more of a challenge than counting 2s and 3s, and is, admittedly, considerably a daunting hurdle for the chant amateur. It was Guido, I think, who said 'one needs the square notes to know the pitches, and the old neumes to know how to sing them'. One cannot appreciate this enough if one's object is to get anywhere near what chant sounded like in its nascent era. We should, I should think, really desire to develop, to evolve, our understanding of the near-likely sound of our chant in its very early times. This does not mean that we shouldn't enjoy keeping alive pleinchant musicale or not-Solesmes-method, or other efforts. It does mean, though, that as serious scholar-church musicians, we should put all these in historical perspective and not proceed as if chant scholarship ceased to advance and was totally, infallibly, beyond correction about seventy-five or so years ago. Even our 'semiology' will, in time, evolve - we will have learnt even a better understanding of the chant of the Franco-Roman epoch - even, maybe, earlier than that. But, in reaching that goal, the Franco-Roman notation, not Liber Usualis, is the ur-text.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    I have to add: I have heard 'semiological' performances that were dead and lifeless, too. They were too insistent on performing every single mark of the neumatic notation without regard to the meaning of said notation. (Sometimes an episema does not mean "lengthen this note", it means "make the note before this one short", and it's important to know the difference.)

    The key is musicianship. Neither method is a panacaea that will automatically cause the practitioner to render free-flowing and beautiful chant. Chant isn't just the squares or squiggles in the books, it's a living thing. Like fine wine, it needs to breathe; and just as understanding wine is a life-long task, so is understanding chant. You can't 'get chant' just from reading the preface to the Liber.---I've heard chant sung by people who try to do this, and it's deadly.
  • Dom Joseph Gajard (1885-1972), choirmaster at Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes from 1914 to 1971(!), wrote the book, The Solesmes Method (French title, La méthode de Solesmes). From the Forward: this book is a "summary, with explanatory notes, of the theoretical and practical principles which underlie a good and intelligent rendering of the Gregorian melodies." I think it's reasonable to assume Dom Gajard largely followed these principles when training and directing the choir at St. Peter's.

    Check out the discussion of "counting" on p. 44. "I attribute the great progress made in France during the last years to this practice of counting. Many choirmasters have realized its necessity and have made it the basis of their teaching."
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,329
    Complaints about any alleged presumption involved in the term "Solesmes method" should please be addressed to the soul of Dom Gajard, may he rest in peace.
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  • . It is interesting, though (and this relates to Liam's observation), that many adherents quite staunchly continue to call their method 'the Solesmes method' even though it isn't, but no one refers to the method described above in this conversation by Dom Saulnier, a scholar-monk of Solesmes, as 'the Solesmes method' even though it is. Odd, isn't it.

    Not odd at all in my case at least. This thread has led me to go back to the notes I typed up after attending the 2008 Solesmes chant week with Dom Saulnier. As I had recalled, he made a point then of saying that he was a teacher of chant at the Pontifical Institute and not representing the way of Solesmes. He also made a big distinction between a scholar and teacher of chant (as he considered himself) and a choir director, whose job is to direct and teach new members what the group does.

    I haven't had any contact with Saulnier since then, and certainly don't represent him, but I would be surprised if he considered there to be a Solesmes method of which he is the proponent. If things have changed since 2008, I would be interested to hear.

    There's also an old thread on this forum discussing the chant week at Solesmes.

    As others have noted, there were books and teaching in the early to mid 20th century that did use the term 'Solesmes method' and I don't see any difficulty using the term. Sometimes on this forum it has been called 'old Solesmes method' or 'classic Solesmes method.' I find it very useful for my mostly volunteer scholas. Our main focus is singing at Mass.
  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    'ictus is not real and is not found in any mediaeval manuscript'- I don't think anyone claims it is in the manuscripts, it does however exist unless you deny the existence of rhythmical impulse altogether.

  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    To me the restoration of chant is about it being actually used in the liturgy. Not creating performances reflecting what musicologists currently think is the closest to the 9th century.

    Given my view here is how I prioritize liturgical music.
    1. It is prayer, is being prayed.
    2. It is Liturgically appropriate.
    3. It is sung well and beautifully with good musical sense.
    4. Being practical: the things above need to happen, with average singers and often on short notice
    5. Incorporating musical research for historical authenticity.

    It is undeniable that the Old Solesmes method is an artificial method. It is also true that lots of people sing chant badly, if they are plodding through groups of 2 or 3 they are not using it fully or correctly. The Old method of Dom Mocquereau of Solesmes is about synthesis of the different elements in chant, not groups of 2 and three which are simply a way of breaking things down. This synthesis includes number 5, Mocquereau was certainly not ignorant of the paleography and it is included (although apparently not to a great enough extent for some people).

    To those who think Mocquereau's methods should be abandoned altogether, how do you define chant restoration? and how do you rank priority's?
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  • Good points, BGP -

    You are so very correct about Mocquereau. He most certainly was into paleography - and would likely have thought that freezing any 'method' of the early XXth century (or any other time) as though that were the last word in chant research and performance was eccentric in the extreme. It is likely that, were he with us still, he would be in the vanguard of chant performance influenced by what we currently call semiology. Actually, 'semiology', it seems to me, is quite the synonymn of 'paleopraphy', properly understood. (Fr Columba, by the way, eschews that word 'semiology'; not because it is somehow faulty, but because it sounds strange to some and may be off-putting to others who otherwise might be in sympathy with its basis and goals. Actually, we should be calling 'semiology chant' the Solesmes Method - because it is, if one reads Saulnier and Cardine, and is atuned to current Solesmes praxis.)

    Too, I agree with you about chant and the liturgy. The liturgy is not a proving ground for new chant performance no matter how objectively respectable it may be. I may (or may not) think that Marcel Perez is probably pretty close to Carolingian chant, but I would not recommend his manner being performed at any 'typical' mass - maybe an atypical one, but not a typical one. People should be brought along with patience and not have their worship be jarring - there should maybe be a challenging aspect to worship, but not a gratuitiously jarring one. This all depends, too, on the particular congregation. (And no - I most assuredly am not of the 'what's valid for this community' school of thought.)
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  • It is undeniable that the Old Solesmes method is an artificial method.

    I deny it. How about others?
  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    Noel- please define artificial.

    My definition- created... Mocquereau created the 4 rules for placing the ictus Gajard the 5th and 6th. The method uses things which exist but in a created system.
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  • In other words, it is entirely self-referential, which may imply a certain artificiality.

    The defining word in BGP's comment just above is 'created'. That's exactly how we got the 'ictus': it was 'created', 'made up', an artifice, and, therefore, artificial.
  • This is going beyond my comprehension...
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  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,382
    This all reminds me somewhat of species counterpoint, which was devised ... after the fact ... by examining and analyzing the works of Renaissance masters and then devising the rules for counterpoint.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 827
    Does it really matter a hill of beans one way or the other? We can never be certain what 9th century chant sounded like because there was no way to actually record what it sounded like. There were no dynamics, we don't know if each note was of the same length, what tempo(s) they were meant to be sung at, etc, etc, ect.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,118
    can never be certain

    I don't want to admit to believing in time machines, but aren't you forgetting about those shards of pots with spiral decorations?
  • 'Does it really matter...'

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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,353
    Does it really matter a hill of beans one way or the other? We can never be certain what 9th century chant sounded like because there was no way to actually record what it sounded like. There were no dynamics, we don't know if each note was of the same length, what tempo(s) they were meant to be sung at, etc, etc, ect.

    So I used to have a similar thought.

    I actually like the more Eastern-sounding renditions of groups like Ensemble Organum, but I kinda thought that it was more speculative than anything else.

    Then I spent ONE EVENING with @incantu (Sven Olbash at Star of the Sea in SF).

    Semiological readings make a big difference, and once you get into it — even a little bit — it starts to become clear that it is much, much closer to the "original" than the conventional manner of interpreting the music.

    Does it matter?

    Well, from my extremely limited experience, it feels like it does. Singing with the information provided by the older manuscripts turned the notes from a seemingly mysterious series of pitches into a melody that was actually sensible and easy to sing. Instead of feeling like I had to concentrate real hard to sing the proper intervals, one-after-another, I felt like OH - THIS IS A SONG AND IT GOES LIKE THIS.

  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Yes, it matters.

    At the workshop Adam is referencing, we did a GREAT THING. We read the text first. Found the emphasis of certain words. Then parts of phrases. Then whole phrases.

    AFTER the text emphases were established, we then looked at the melodies. LO AND BEHOLD, they accentuated the prayers we had just done a wild over-pronunciation of.

    Almost like they were written to do so.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Melismas are also SO much better with semiology. @incantu did a great job of demonstrating a lot of things.

    Once you hear this stuff done well (which I had before) and begin to understand more of what is "making it tick" (which I previously did not), it really is a whole new world, and you'll feel like it makes not only a hill of beans, but a MOUNTAIN OF BEANS of difference. Like rediscovering the beauty of chant for the first time, all over again.
  • '...like they were written to do so.'

    Indeed. With semiology-paleography one is singing speech, a text, and finds the rhythm therein. Liturgical chant is sprechgesang. Its very existence has for its raison d'etre the rhetorical delivery of sacred ritual text. One does not, as in that other method, locate an 'ictus' and bend the words around it and an almost kabukian performance of the various neumes.

    I may sound as though I'm being snide, but I'm not. This has been my impression of even very well done ictus method chant, which can be quite artfully beautiful. What say ye, ye defenders of it?

    And, a somewhat zany question: if an ictus did not exist would we have to invent it?
    (Or, having invented it, how do we get rid of it?)
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Also, YES on dynamics, length, tempo, etc etc etc.

    Perhaps not down to the metronome mark or decibel measurement, but - yes. We can (sort of) know and we can (definitely) sing more beautiful prayers with the wonderful knowledge of chant available today.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    My first forays into semiology echo Adam's.

    My first training in chant was the Liber Usualis Method, and to be honest it always seemed a little forced, to me; and yet, that training also left me apprehensive of Semiology, even though I had never even seen the paleography. I was told that it was useless, and slowed the chant down too much - this was because of my teacher's negative encounter with Semiology when a monk at St. Benoit du Lac.

    When I went to my first colloquium in 2012, I noticed that there were passages from the triplex in the colloquium book. I was relieved when the director of the Advanced Men's Schola (Jeffrey Morse) had us open to a page that only contained the Solesmes markings: "Thank God," I thought, "I've avoided semiology". Then we started singing: he wasn't following Solesmes: "Oh nooo.....".

    But I just sang and listened to what he said. I WAS AMAZED, everything made sense, and I was hooked. It was one of the most profound A-HA moments in my musical life. And I bought my first Triplex the next day at the Colloquium (I bought another one the next year). I have been using a Semiological approach ever since.
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  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    I’m now finding myself in the interesting position of running back and forth between defending both the ‘Old Solesmes method’ and certain criticisms of it.

    “That's exactly how we got the 'ictus': it was 'created', 'made up', an artifice,…” – well here’s where I disagree, or should I say am more nuanced. The ictus is a real thing, it is rhythmic impulse. For example the beginning of a neum has a distinction, a fresh impulse (an ictus). This is why we prefer people use neums over the flyspecks on lines to sing chant. If you aren’t using the old method you aren’t thinking about these impulses (and may therefore deny their existence). If someone sings several notes on a single vowel, they are there and can be heard (even if some claim to have never heard them). Now as to the artificial nature of the ‘Old Solesmes Method’ following the rules one decides where there will be these ictus, choosing is artificial. Some of them are natural reflecting the nature of the neums, or text etc. But some are unnatural and even non-existent. (Often these non-existent are found by the count back by 2 rule)
    in the attached example the ictus is unreal, unless you reprecuss the note going with it (ironic eh)
    94 x 42 - 5K
  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    “locate an 'ictus' and bend the words around it and an almost kabukian performance of the various neumes”

    What is supposed to be done is that the nature of the Ictus, or rhythmic group associated with it, is bent to correspond to the nature of the text, melody or paleography. Though yes sometimes the placement of the ictus does violence to the neumatic divisions.

    In the case of syllabic chant, yes, I really see no reason to not simply sing the words and let them shape the music.

  • I sent this off today to one of our Forumites who had requested it.
    It is attached hereto for any others who may rejoice in it.
    (It is guaranteed ictus free.)
    2105 x 2532 - 1M
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,438

    This is how I would mark the rhythmic beats in the sample above, resulting in a nicely flowing and balanced phrase: 2-3-3-3-2
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  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    Yes Julie that's how I would mark it as well. My point was that the premarked ictus is in the mind only "it doesn't exist" unless you reprecuss it.
    In an attempt to demonstrate both that the ictus is a real thing and that the old Solesmes method is artificial. (Paradoxically siding with and opposing both perspectives in this discussion)
  • Although we cannot find delineation of binary and ternary rhythmic groups in the manuscripts, It is impossible to utter more than three syllables (at least in English or Latin) or to sing more than two notes without placing some degree of stress on more than one of them. Natural and unavoidable stresses create binary and ternary rhythmic groups, [Nat-u-ral and un-a-void-a-ble stress-es cre-ate bi-na-ry and ter-na-ry rhyth-mic groups.] The intensity of the stresses and the duration of the stressed syllables/notes may differ, of course, but delineating the groups helps can help to keep choir singers together. To acknowledge the inevitability of binary and ternary groups in both speech and song it not, however, to accept André Mocquereau's theory of a rhythmic ictus unrelated to stress. This theory appears to be grounded in impressionist sensibility and nothing more.

    I use ictus marks in my English chant adaptations, but in syllabic passages I place them on accented syllables and in compound neumes I place them on the notes shown in the manuscripts to be most important. Where the mss. identification of important notes creates groups of more than four beats, I add ictus marks according to my own lights to forestall situations in which a choir is singing, for example, and some singers place a secondary stress on the third syllable while others place it on the fourth (12 + 123 versus 123 +12).

    Cardine tells us that most of the notes that are identified in the mss. as important are to be lengthened; but Jean Claire, his close associate thus explained ("Dom Eugene Cardine (1905-1988)" Revue gregorienne XXIII, 23) what Cardine: "The differentiation of values, introduced without precautions, can lead to a fixation catastrophic for the quality of performance...It will be advantageous to take the time to calculate coldly the difference between the value of a normal syllabic beat and that of a melismatic beat--which corresponds exactly to the difference between the time it requires to pronounce at the same tempo a syllable that contains both a consonant and a vowel and a syllable that contains a vowel only. If there is an electronic technician in the group, ask him to measure this difference and then try to listen without smiling to any number of recordings with semiological pretensions "According to the works of D. Cardine."

    I have never heard a chant recording purportedly based on semiological study in which the singers did not lengthen the long notes much more than Cardine recommended. In the ninth century choirs learned the chant by rote. I cannot imagine how a group of singers could incorporate into its performance the minute differences in note values Cardine prescribed without learning the chant by rote. Robert Fowells, in Chant Made Simple urged them to do just that, but church choirs do not have the time to do so. Many professional choirs that sing the propers every Sunday consider themselves fortunate if they have time to sing through them twice before performing them. Without rote learning but with the help of scores containing ictus marks, they can, however, emphasize the important notes in compound neumes by placing a (not bombastic) downbeat on them. When they do, they may, in fact, be approximating what Cardine recommended more closely than do those who virtually double these notes.

  • From Cardine's Gregorian Semiology: "[T]he enlargement suggested by the episema is only a slight nuance." p. 27, see also footnote 6.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,382
    I'm often

    inestimably struck by the insistence

    that only 2 & 3 syllable combinations occur in ordinary English speech. Perhaps someone in the deep south or from another part of the country than that of my own background regularly says something different from what I have indicated above. Perhaps they say something like (with weaker stresses in italics):

    inestimably struck by the insistence

    (which, by the way, seems to force the inclusion of a 1 in the 2 & 3 rule)

    But I don't hear it that way at all. There are generally exceptions to every rule, including the 2 & 3 rule. In this case, there seems to be an exception when word such as

    continually" or "inestimably"

    which, in isolation or followed by an unstressed syllable has a final weak stress, loses the final weak stress if the word is followed by a stressed syllable, as in:

    "continually cry" or "inestimably harsh"
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  • The strength of accents can differ dramatically. In the phrase "inestimably struck by the insistence" there is, of necessity, a "footfall" on the fifth syllable of "inestimably" (-a-) and on "the." (In most other contexts the secondary stress in "inestimably" falls on "bly" rather than on "a." Similarly, in "continually cry" a secondary stress falls on the penultimate syllable of "continually" (-al), but in "continually do cry" it shifts to the final syllable of the word.) Only in the most tiresome sing-song speech would many secondary stresses be noticeable to someone who was not actively listening for them, but they are, I think, nonetheless present. I believe equipment that measures volume would detect them.

    A chant conductor in the real world must either conduct every beat (encouraging a plodding performance) or conduct groups of beats that are readily identifiable to the singers. Ictus marks identify such groups. (Gestures in the shape of adiastematic neumes are not intelligible to any but students of semiology and would, in any case, leave large groups without subdivision.)

    Subdividing some groups of four or five into groups of two and three can produce infelicitous results. Conductors must remind singers that ictus marks do not indicate downbeats of uniform intensity and point out those that are mere "footfalls."
  • Well, if you consider a square note to be equivalent to an eight note (as per Liber Usualis), then isn't the ictus actually an upbeat?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    square note to be equivalent to an eight note

  • A chant conductor in the real world must either conduct every beat (encouraging a plodding performance) or conduct groups of beats that are readily identifiable to the singers. Ictus marks identify such groups.

    Thank you. Plodding must be eliminated.

  • '...the real world must conduct every beat...'

    Eh?! What's this??? Beat????
    Um, back to the 'drawing board'... there are no beats in chant.
    We all know this, don't we.
    No one in his right mind would ever beat out neumes unless he deliberately wanted comedy, which is what he would get (and what he himself would be).

    I don't think that there is, really, a standard, uniform, manner of directing chant. Roughly, one directs or indicates rhythm and contour by minimal motions that indicate stress and dynamic-melodic shape. This is a very subjective area. The more exagerrated and excited the 'directing', the more in-experienced and/or inept is the maestro. Nuance is everthing in chant, and it is communicated only by precise-but-flowing and minimal gestures.
  • Jackson,

    The introduction to the new Antiphonale: that you quoted earlier says: "The fundamental rhythm of Gregorian chant is given by the declamation of the text and the movement of the melody."

    The rhythm of a text (at least in Medieval Latin and in English) consists in the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables.

    There ARE beats in all speech and in all song, although our consciousness of them may vary.

    (2) There
    (12 ) ARE
    (1-2) beats in
    (12) all
    (1-2-3) speech and in
    (12) all
    (12-3 ) song, al-
    (1-2) though our
    (1-2-3) con-scious-ness
    (1-2-3) of them may
    (1-23) va-ry.

    The notes of a melisma cannot all be sung with equal intensity. The rhythm of a melisma consists in the alternation of stressed and unstressed notes.

    We do not speak metronomically, nor should we sing chant metronomically. The duration of the beats is slightly variable. In syllabic passages we make the distinctions unconsciously. ("Speech" takes us a bit longer to pronounce than "in.")

    It is very difficult, however, for a group of singers to make subtle variations in note values within compound neumes--even if they can read the signs that show which notes are to be slightly lengthened. The Solesmes editors admit this: "The signs added to the mediaeval neumes do not indicate the rhythm but rather the tiny nuances, as well as the vocal ornaments, accessible only to well trained specialists. ... Most amateur choirs are incapable of producing these very subtle nuances, nuances that are reserved for expert soloists. The exaggerated interpretation that these amateur choirs give to these signs leads in the end to a deforming of the fundamental rhythm of these Gregorian pieces, even to the simple antiphons. It should be an interpretation that is based on the declamation of the text and the movement of the melody."

    Ictus marks supplied by an editor--not according to Mocquereau and Ward's rules, but with reference to the text and with a knowledge of which notes within a melisma are most important--help to ensure that all the members of a choir will stress the same notes, even if they are incapable of making very subtle distinctions in the duration of melismatic notes that are desirable.

  • Many thanks, Bruce -
    Gracious! As I read what you wrote just above it was as if I were reading something that I myself might have written. If anything I ever ever said implied any degree of metronomicity was ever appropriate in chant I should be very embarrassed, and certain that I had been misunderstood. The only thing that you mention that doesn't sound to me like something that I would have said is at the very end, where you mention editorial 'ictus' marks. I can certainly see what you are saying and am happy that you disavow any Wardite implication. My objections to the 'ictus' as it is customarily interpreted is precisely that in following this 'method' one skirts dangerously the danger of a metronomic or rhythmically kabukian performance. (And I have heard many such performances under the direction of notable persons whom I shant name.) Whatever did I say that made you address your comment above specifically to me? Most of what you wrote I myself might well have written.
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  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    @bhcordova - An individual square note is equivalent to a syllable of speech, there is no whole to divide eights from. Saying "the value is that of a typical eighth note" is an attempt to use the knowledge a musician already has to shortcut the learning process, I think it's best to abandon that way of thinking.
    The nature of the ictus according to Mocquereau is hard to grasp and somewhat contradictory. It is that point between where rhythmic movement comes to a rest and begins again. Not an accent, exactly ..... It took me a long time to grasp the concept and I used to think he was crazy.
  • So, we should just ignore the instruction for interpretation outlined in the Liber?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,608
    So, we should just ignore the instruction for interpretation outlined in the Liber?

    Generally speaking, yes. (For the debate that this statement will cause: see above.)
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 873
    A chant conductor in the real world must either conduct every beat (encouraging a plodding performance) or conduct groups of beats that are readily identifiable to the singers. Ictus marks identify such groups.

    I disagree with this statement. At least insofar as the suggested ictus marks are correctly identifying groups of notes.
    The most obvious example I can think of at the moment is this:
    Kyrie VIII (de Angelis): the word "eleison." When I direct this word, the "beats" I show end up like this 4 (doh-la-sol-fa) - 2 (te-la) - 2 (sol-sol) -1(fa).
    Putting the ictus on the third note (sol) of this musical phrase makes no sense, but rather makes it disjointed and, as you said, "encourag[es] a plodding performance."
  • BGP
    Posts: 213
    "So, we should just ignore the instruction for interpretation outlined in the Liber? "

    Not necessarily, but I would pay more attention to where it says (in section V) "a single note has exactly the same value, intensity, and duration as the syllable to which it is united" because I have experienced that what is says next "the approximate value of a syllable is like that of a quaver" while intended to shortcut the learning process, tends to encourage those trained in music to translate chant notation into modern. When they would be better off abandoning what they know and approaching chant as if it is it's own thing.

    You must unlearn what you have learned.
    Thanked by 1bhcordova
  • A brief qualification about Bruce's and my exchange -
    The example he offers to illustrate accents and 2-3 patterns must not be 'performed' in such manner that the listeners hear patterns of 2-3, etc. In fact if one is actually counting 1-2, 1-2-3 as he performs Bruce's example he is not performing genuine chant. It is quite possible, and often happens, for one to place even a great accent on an appropriate syllable without lengthening it a specific and obvious number of 'beats'. And, while a philosophical division of 2s and 3s may have some basis in reality, very often we actually need to think in terms of 4s, 7s, or whatever. Free linguistic elasticity is the soul of chant. The chant must always be delivered as speech without any tinge at all of metrical delivery. It is this latter that makes for very poor performances of the not-Solesmes method. It is impossible to stress enough that chant is sprechgesang. It is neither mensural nor metrical in concept or performance. (More later - I have to get to my students.)
    Thanked by 2Salieri CHGiffen
  • CCooze - The ictus on sol in the fragment doh-la-sol-fa makes sense, indeed is really necessary, if one is following the method of chironomy indicated for the old Solesmes method. On the other hand, if one is directing every ictus with a downward hand motion, a method very conducive to plodding, then the ictus on sol could be a little clunky.