Books on how to direct chant?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 264
    Are there any books on how to direct chant?
  • WGS
    Posts: 299
    If you're inclined towards the traditional Solesmes method with its flowing 2s and 3s of rhythm, I suggest "The Technique of Gregorian Chironomy" by Joseph Robert Carroll or the "Gregorian Chant Practicum" by Justine Ward (and Theodore Marier).
  • Interesting you mention that. I was chatting with someone before rehearsal today about chironomy and this person told me that "chironomy is no longer current with Solesmes" which makes me wonder what other types of direction there are.

    As far as what has helped me with the traditional chironomy, the first book mentioned by WGS seemed to be highly descriptive and effective, whereas I have yet to look at other books.
  • ...told me that 'chironomy is no longer current with Solesmes"...

    Small wonder!
    And chironomy's not all -
  • BGP
    Posts: 217

    I would recommend the book "Singing in God's Ear" by Dom Nicholson OSB.

    Long out of print but you should be able to find it if you go looking. Let me know if you can't find a copy.

    It is directed toward those leading chant choirs, pitfalls, good practices, basic conducting.

    If a highly developed method of conducting chant is what you want, since I don't care what the current practice is at Solesmes, I recommend classic chironomy. In which case one must fully understand that rhythmic system and how it is "synthesis".
  • Geremia
    Posts: 264
    "The Technique of Gregorian Chironomy" by Joseph Robert Carroll or the "Gregorian Chant Practicum" by Justine Ward (and Theodore Marier).
    "Singing in God's Ear" by Dom Nicholson OSB.
    Are any of these available online as PDF scans?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 264

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Carroll's Technique of Gregorian Chironomy can be found on the Internet Archive - read online only (no download); must sign up to access ("borrow") the books for free.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Cardine's Direction of Gregorian Chant is useful, but even more useful is study of the adiastematic neumes themselves. They are, after all, chironomic signs, not music notation in the modern sense.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Geremia
    Posts: 264
    The Rhythm of Plainsong: According to the Solesmes School by Doms. Gajard (cited in Parish Book of Chant 2nd ed. p. 310 on Plansong Rhythm)
  • Geremia
    Posts: 264
    Are there libers that have the chironomy notation, arsis/thesis marks, and/or "beat numberings" (1-2 or 1-2-3) for at least all Sundays and major feasts?
    Is this called adiastematic notation?
  • In reply to this most recent question, there are no such books. The placement of the ictus within the classic-Solesmes system is more or less fixed according to the rules developed by Dom Mocquereau. It is often useful for a beginning conductor wishing to follow the method to mark all the ictus on the music. This can be extremely useful, so that you're not constantly trying to count backwards by twos. If you look at older harmonized collections according to the Mocquereau school, you can often glean the ictus placement, since they only change bass notes on downbeats.

    The placement of the arsis and thesis for larger rhythmic structures is much more fluid. Mocquereau writes somewhere that one often has to adjust for the choir and the liturgical context, etc. Are the singers dragging and showing too little energy? Then give them more arsis gestures to fire them up. Are they rushing and going a little out of control? Then use more thesis gestures. Also the various classic-Solesmes authors don't always agree in their chironomy. You can compare Suñol, Ward, Mocquereau, Gajard, etc. and see that. Again, it's sort of an art form and dependent on context. It may be a good idea for aspiring conductors to draw the chironomy in, either using the swooping notation of Mocquereau or the handy abbreviations t. and a. used by Suñol.

    Adiastematic notation refers to any notation that is not specific with regard to pitch. This would refer to most of the early manuscripts of chant. Fully diastematic notation would be notation on a staff. In the early centuries, there were also partially diastematic notations, that give some hint of pitch based on the relative heights of the signs, without having a staff that gives total clarity on pitch.
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