Two questions about Gregorian melodies in English
  • On Sunday I'll be singing the Gregorian melody for the Offertory (Iubilate Deo universa), adapted for English. (Yes, I realize that adapting for English is a huge musical topic unto itself. Let's save that for another time.)

    I have two questions specific to this situation. I would love to hear how others would approach these two situations.

    1. A long melisma on the word 'earth'. My current practice (but I lack confidence, hence this post) is to give the 'r' ever so slight of a nod before pronouncing the 'th'. Would you simply ignore the 'r'? Give it its full due as one would in spoken English?

    2. Transition from 'entire' to 'earth' (not the same occurrence as #1 -- the word 'earth' appears twice in this chant). I have been torn between: (a) creating a slight separation between the 'ire' of 'entire' and the 'ea' of 'earth' with a glottal stop (nothing dramatic); (b) doing the same but with a slight 'lift' *much shorter than a breath); (c) don't separate them. If it matter, the 'ire' ends on the same note on which the 'ea' begins (which might be part of the problem).

    Thoughts? (I'm probably not explaining this well. If you want to hear it, I can see whether that's feasible.)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,068
    It seems to me that in spoken English the ‘r’ is given more emphasis than the ‘th,’ and gracefully singing ‘th’ is hard for me... Others will probably have better opinions.

    As to the second, I’m not sure.
    Thanked by 1MichaelDickson
  • I think that your instincts are good.
    Though, as Matthew points out, the r gets more attention than th in spoken English (at least over here), when singing (chant or otherwise) the r should nearly disappear, being given, as you say, the very slightest nod before pronouncing the th and giving the th more emphasis than would normally be the case in spoken English over here. The r should be barely formed with just the very very slightest r sound but avoiding any hint of rrrr-ness. Your solution to number 2a is the correct one.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    I wold approach it exactly as you explained
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    I'll agree with MJO: 2a works best; as to your first question, have you thought about 'flipping' the 'r'? You get the 'r' sound but not too much aftertaste.
  • Flipped or rolled r's are generally followed by vowels. With all respect due, I think that this would sound affected. I say this as one who generally promotes rolled r's.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    MJO: you're right. Won't work well before the 'th.' Woulda/shoulda had more coffee before responding.
  • Thanks all. Feedback from those in the parish whose opinion I respect (most especially the music director!) was positive.

    Oh, and to dad29: I do generally flip Rs, but yeah, not in front of 'th'. Thanks for taking the time to reply, though. I appreciate it.
  • Flipping an "r" in front of "th" gives the distinct sound of a Scottish Brogue
    Thanked by 1MichaelDickson