Chant layout question
  • Claire H
    Posts: 344
    I was recently asked why there tend to be multiple capital letters at the beginning of a chant (usually two, so just part of the word). I observed this same trait in the Gregorian Missal, but did not have an answer...to be honest, I had never fully noticed it myself before being questioned by a curious parishioner. Does anyone know the reason for this custom?
  • madorganist
    Posts: 615
    By convention the first syllable is capitalized, i.e. the part of the word sung to the first neume. Generally not observed in modern notation editions.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    In older books/manuscripts, you would have found those first letters to be illuminated.
    It isn't exactly necessary, now, but it would feel odd to see it without!
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 448
    Having big initial letters helps you find the beginning of the next chant in old manuscripts, too.
  • rarty
    Posts: 96
    When the first letter is large (drop-cap or illuminated/historiated), sometimes the style is to 'ease-in' to the smaller type of the main text.

    Most newspapers capitalize the first word of a column with a drop-cap, but the Solesmes (French?) style is to capitalize the first syllable after a drop-cap (prayers, readings), so they do the same when a chant opens with a large initial.

    Out of context there isn't much obvious justification...but since the most popular books use this style, chant scores that don't do it look a bit off/odd to me.
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • Claire H
    Posts: 344
    madorganist and rarty, it would make more sense to me if it were the first syllable, but in both the Gregorian Missal and Lumen Christi Gradual, it is usually just one letter (after the first extra-large letter). Sometimes that is a syllable, but sometimes not. For example, GM pg 245 Communio starts with "SCapulis".
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  • madorganist
    Posts: 615
    Good observation, Claire. I stand corrected! It appears that the initial as well as the second letter are capitalized unless 1. the first word is A or O, or 2. the first word is only one syllable, in which case the whole word is capitalized. Let us know if you find other exceptions.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,914
    Looking at the Graduale Triplex I guess the rules are convention is
    1. Illuminated initial : capitalise the first word eg GR p.15 or p.56 EC-CE
    2. Inital drop cap :
    2a. second letter is capitalised eg GR p.21 GAu-de-te
    unless, 2b. the first syllable is only one letter eg GR p.16 U-ni-ver-si
    or, 2c. the first word is only one syllable eg GR p.44 LUX
    The common case is 2a.
    I leave others to discern the rules for the prayers in the Gregorian Missal, particlarly the English translations.
    Afterthought - not to be confused with the capitals for names and titles, eg GR p.95 TU Domine
    Thanked by 1madorganist