How to interpret the newer chant books
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 736
    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: 239
    It looks like a quilisma that has been filled in, but its seems to have a downward shape, as opposed to upward.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 337
    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: 337
    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: 16
  • madorganist
    Posts: 286
    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: 83
    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: 736
    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: 286
    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.