Chants of the Church, Modern notes
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    First, the news on the Parish Book of Chant. We are moving into the 3rd printing of this book. I don't know at what point a liturgical book becomes a "best seller" but this is surely coming close. It is being used by seminaries, colleges, cathedrals, and parishes all over the English speaking world.

    Now, the next point I have some sense is going to really help people. It is Chants of the Church by Solesmes/Gregorian Institute of America, 1954. We preserved the color in scanning this, which makes the file bigger than it ought to be. But it is very helpful in this way for liturgical programs and guides.

    You will see that this contains a large Kyriale plus many chant hymns, in modern notes (don't use this as an excuse not to learn square notes!), with English translations in red (literal translations). This will not go into print because of the cost of color printing but it is a very helpful online tool.

    Here is a sample (and if you like this, thank the CMAA):

  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Excellent. I like this kind of beaming, though:

    Alma Redemptoris Mater, first line

  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    All the eighth notes for chant really bother me... they give an illusion of meter -- and not only meter, but with speed. For some reason I always think of fast songs when I see a whole bunch of eighth notes together.

    isn't there a better way to do it? With stemless notes?
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    isn't there a better way to do it? With stemless notes?

    Depends on your music setting/printing program. I have to invent meters such as 15/1, set everything as whole notes and then fill in some of the heads with a Sharpie. (I just can't afford a new program.)

    Hey, I don't have anything else to do....

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    First, note value is a function of the time signature. Or, if there is no time signature present, it depends on what note value gets the most basic beat. I have never, even from childhood and my first music lessons, equated note value with speed!

    Second, beams are easier for a quick, efficient visual guide to note groups and neumes. There are problems with the placement of modern slurs - note to note, stem to stem, note to stem, etc. - that beaming takes care of.

    Third, in Finale, I start with all measures (when I doing chant pieces) of about 20/8. Once I've placed all my notes, of all the values I want, I simply count the 1/8 notes, and adjust each measure's time signature. And I NEVER include time signatures, not even in metrical hymns!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Even with intelligent neume-based beaming, singing can sound disjointed. Stemless notes don't solve the problem and might even exacerbate it, since the individualized little "lily pads" suggest anything but cantilena. That said, any notational system is subject to deformation in performance.

    The main thing seems to be to sing a cohesive, bouyant line of a message, a text.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "First, note value is a function of the time signature."

    I know this, and I know that a song filled with sixteenth notes could be the slowest song in the book, but I guess I think eighth notes and shorter make the page look busy.

    Of course, that's just my own opinion. I can read chant notation so modern notes for chant are irrelevant to me anyway.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Working with an amateur choir, don't you think much depends on the conductor's sense of the chant? I have no problems with eighth notes with my choir. Even if the choir can't count worth diddly, if I sing it to them they can sing it back. What really throws them are anthems where a half-note is the unit of the beat!!!
  • Steve, have you tried stemless groupings ala Bruce's AG in conversion to modern noteheads? I've used them in Finale in a very similar way with ictus markings, quillismas, etc. and my singers seem to coalesce and keep the line bouyant without stems.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Charles, Bruce's compression of stemless noteheads into groups must be a great help. I can tell you, singing from stemless notes that are spaced out evenly across the page makes the music feel denatured and alien -- you have to fight against it to produce a good line. It's amusing how modern notation of chant seems to feel best the closer it approximates neumatic notation. Those crafty Franks were on to something.