How to interpret the newer chant books
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 749
    Where can I find information about how to interpret the new neumes or fonts used by solesmes in the most recently published books such as the Antiphonale Romanum II?

    In particular I'm curious about this nume of three ascending notes:
    65 x 69 - 2K
  • rollingrj
    Posts: 242
    It looks like a quilisma that has been filled in, but its seems to have a downward shape, as opposed to upward.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 338
    The introduction to Liber Hymnarius is where you want to look.

    That particular neume is how a salicus is represented in the new books. Analyzing this form, we see that the middle note is identical in form to an oriscus; the last two notes (oriscus+virga) are identical to a pes quassus.

    How to interpret the salicus and oriscus in performance is not so clear cut. I think the most practical interpretation is to avoid giving any importance to the oriscus in terms of stress or duration. Treat it as a passing note on the way to a more important note. So a salicus is a three note neume where the top note is the most important, and the middle note is of no importance.

    Admittedly with this approach the difference between a scandicus, salicus and the three note figure with a quilisma will be very subtle. The second note of the scandicus would be a normal note, less of a passing note. In the case of the three note figure with quilisma, the note preceding the quilisma is lengthened slightly according to Solesmes convention (which finds some support in the manuscripts much of the time).
  • ...note preceding...
    Fr Columba and Gregorian Semiology would have it that the note after the quilisma is lengthened slightly, after being glided more or less rapidly up to, rather like a French baroque coulee. There has been virulent discussion of these conflicting interpretations on the Forum.

    It is difficult to imagine that the followers of Fr Columba, Dom Cardine, and semiologists on the one hand, and followers of the so-called Solesmes Method on the other, will ever be reconciled. To whichever 'school of thought' one subscribes the most important matter is careful musicianship and bon gout - chant that has spirit and is alive.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 338
    I agree M. Jackson Osborn - battles of interpretation are so tedious and pointless. Live and let live, pick the interpretation you like and make it sound good, and don't turn it into dogma.

    I would note that interpreting the quilisma the way you describe makes it difficult to distinguish between the three forms of ascending three-note neumes (scandicus, salicus and the quilisma form). Whatever else we can say about the classical Solesmes interpretation, it did have the advantage of very clearly differentiating between these forms, adding interesting variety. On the other hand, followers of the other school may be focusing more on bringing out the text, and the result will have plenty of natural variations.
  • ...bringing out...
    That is precisely the object of semiology, which is a text-driven art. All is subject to the conveyance of the text and its meaning and syntax. I have observed that followers of the so-called Solesmes Method (which according to Fr Columba no longer is - if it ever was - in force at Solesmes) lay great stress on how correctly (and sometimes 'preciously') to perform a salicus or whatever with never so much as taking notice of the text and its innate rhythm.

    One might say that with the so-called Solesmes Method the music defines how the text is sung, whereas in semiology the text defines how the music is sung. Chant is all about the communication of the sacred verba, and this is the defining characteristic of semiology.
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  • Gamba
    Posts: 44
  • madorganist
    Posts: 332
    The OP's example is a salicus in the new graphics; the wavy note is the oriscus. More information here and the Latin original here. Anton Stingl uses this style of notation on the Gregor und Taube website. I believe Dom Cardine himself had called for a revision of the square notation. Why nobody has yet used a triplex notation but with modern stemless round notation is beyond me. If the square notation is inadequate, why are we so attached to it?

    Since the quilisma interpretation just came up again, I'll use this opportunity to repost my question from yesterday on an older thread:

    According to Gregorian Semiology, "the virga after the quilisma . . . is always followed by an intentional neumatic break" (p. 202). Why is the neumatic break here presumed to be intentional? How would one notate two or more ascending notes after a quilisma using the St. Gall neumes without a neumatic break? Is it possible?
  • rarty
    Posts: 86
    This article by Peter Jeffery (towards the end) explains the new Solesmes notation as described/detailed in the preface to the Liber Hymnarius.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 749
    Thanks @rarty. That is what I was looking for. There is still so much to learn about Chant. I'm looking forward to the full program to be released from Clear Creek later this year:
  • madorganist
    Posts: 332
    Interesting, Earl_Grey, but a course from Fontgombault/Triors/Clear Creek is likely to be strictly the "old Solesmes" method and not cover anything at all about semiology or the new graphics.
  • madorganist
    Posts: 332
    I've read and re-read the linked article by Peter Jeffery. I'm not totally clear on the application of the principle of lengthening the last note of a neume. Obviously, this is a matter of interpretation, but there must be some sort of consistency from one context to another.
    III. A. The last note of a neume tends to regain the regular syllabic value [valorem syllabicum recuperandum], especially if it ascends again [after a downward movement].

    The last part, "especially if it ascends again," isn't especially helpful. The illustration in section V shows a recovered syllabic beat at 6, the final, lowest note of a porrectus flexus. Does the tendency to lengthen the last note of a neume apply to three-note neumes such as the torculus and porrectus? To two-note neumes such as the clivis and podatus (pes rotundus)? I have listened to recordings from scholas that apply the most up-to-date semiological approach and don't hear evidence of the final note of each two- or three-note neume consistently being lengthened. Obviously, the last note of a neume with diminutive liquescence is not lengthened, as at note 26.

    It is a very informative article and I wish to thank @rarty again for posting it in this thread.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 338
    madorganist - I think it is supposed to apply to those neumes yes. The effect may be very subtle (I believe Dom Jean Claire said that the difference in value is similar to the difference between a syllable that is a vowel only and a syllable that is a vowel plus a consonant in normal speech). The important thing is not to sacrifice the value of the last note, which we will naturally tend to do if we're thinking of the first not of the neume as most important as in modern music.

    Listen to this recording by the Nova Schola Gregoriana that I think nicely illustrates the intended effect:

    and contrast with the classical Solesmes approach, which tends to clip the last notes of the neumes a bit:
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  • madorganist
    Posts: 332
    I've spent the first part of my work day comparing recordings of the Easter introit, and here are my observations:

    Claire: indistinguishable from "Old Solesmes," tonally and rhythmically, except breathing at quarter bars

    Göschl: definite distinction between normal syllablic, diminished (i.e. melismatic), and augmented note values, but no noticeable tendency for the last note of a neume toward the so-called recovered syllabic value unless marked with an episema in the manuscripts; on the other hand, the practice of augmenting the value of the final syllable of a word when set to a single note (equivalent to a dotted note in the rhythmic editions) is clearly discernible

    Joppich: somewhat similar to Göschl, but slower, and much more obvious repercussions on all repeated notes

    Turco: interpretation almost exactly agrees with the principles in the LH preface

    Gloria Dei Cantores: fastest tempo of all the recordings; no apparent tendency to lengthen the last note of a neume; at "tecum," the first (stressed) syllable is longer than the last

    I don't recall anything in Gregorian Semiology suggesting either that the last note of a neume should return to the normal syllabic value, or that the last note of a word should be augmented if a single note. Rather, Cardine writes of the porrectus as three light notes, the torculus resupinus as four light notes, etc. I do remember reading in Agustoni-Göschl that the last note of a neume in the most important, but I don't have a copy of those volumes at my disposal. Is it possible that these are modern theories imposed on the chant, not entirely unlike Mocquereau's two- and three-note groupings? At least the latter do have some value for conducting/chironomy. After all, there has to be an ictus somewhere unless one beats every single note with a downward gesture.

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  • madorganist
    Posts: 332
    Turco even gives an acciaccatura-like rendition of the quilismata and "initio debilis" torculi - the valor syllabicus deminutior of the LH.