Liquescent Notes in Introit Psalm Tones
  • Dear Colleagues, I have an important editorial decision to make and would sincerely appreciate as much feedback on this as possible. If you regularly sing from the Liber Usualis, Graduale Romanum, or Gregorian Missal, have you wondered why the Gloria Patri has liquescent notes at Sancto and semper in modes 1, 3, and 7, but not 2, 4, and 8? There is a convention observed in the manuscripts as well as the Vatican edition, with rare exceptions, of not using an epiphonus when the following note is in unison with the lower (first) note. In the introit psalm tones, the epiphonus is not used in this context in the manuscripts, but rather the liquescent form of the pes or torculus sometimes called a pinnosa, e.g., the Easter introit psalm verse at the end of resurrectionem, and Pentecost at the first ejus, before the star. The Vatican edition uses a plain pes/podatus (no. 1 below) in these instances, which is consistent with the general principles for the use of diminutive liquescent notes. Comparative analysis makes it apparent that the correct interpretation of these figures is in fact the same as an epiphonus (2), namely two short notes, the liquid consonant or semivowel voiced on the upper note. Stingl (Gregor & Taube) and Hakkennes (Graduale Lagal) both use the form combining square punctum and cephalicus (3), as does Nickel (Graduale Renovatum). The cephalicus printed as a single note normally represents augmentative liquescence (4 & 5), hence my reluctance to use it in my editions, although it corresponds to the manuscripts. In your opinion, what is the best choice in these instances?
    1. pes (podatus)
    2. epiphonus
    3. pinnosa
    4. short-long pinnosa
    5. pinnosa initio debilis/cephalicus urgens
    6. other; please explain in comments

    This has been cross-posted to three Facebook groups, where you can answer in the form of a poll:
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  • I am not an expert but I would say number 2 makes the most sense because of the way it normally falls on certain accents. Americans tend to hit hard on the syllables but if there is an epiphonus that mistake sometimes become easier to avoid. I would say in summa that if you are trying to be faithful to manuscripts, do what the manuscripts say, but if you are going for the best way to chant it, I think the epiphonus would be best.

    Sister Marie
  • Coemgen
    Posts: 45
    Way 5 is the correct way. In modes 2, 4, 5, and 8 the motion depicted by the pes is a grace note + long note in the original form of the tone given to the Caroingians, whereas in 1, 3, and 7 it is an ordinary short + short. That's why you don't see the liquescing in 2, 4, 5, 8.

    The evidence for Modes 1, 3, 7 is a little complicated (it's in the territory of unpublished research), but the evidence for 2, 4, (5,) and 8 is reasonably straightforward. Here is a summary.

    The C CB CD D CD C in mode 8 is a "solemn" form of what is reconstructible as an archaic "simple" form C B C D D_ C_. The simple and solemn tones in the days of the 9th and 10th centuries were convertible, one into the other, by what is called protraction, where the tempo of the simple was cut in half and stylized with conjunctive motions, resulting in the extra notes. (Traces of this archaic cadence are also seen in the solemn mediation of Tone 5 which in our modern books is simply C C C D D_ C_.)

    Basically, that penultimate syllable has D as its structural note, and so the grace + long interpretation of CD is clear when you slow that simple tone down to 50% and apply the Early Medieval Roman vocal style. The short + short interpretation, on the other hand, is not the case, because it shifts the structural note to C and adds an appended neighbor note for seemingly no reason, something that protraction at least cannot explain without suggesting the cantor deliberately deviated from the norm described in the early 10th-century Commemoratio brevis.

    So your sample number 5 is the most 'accurate'.
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 23
    Thank you, @Coemgen. The lack of responses was disappointing, but I appreciate your well thought-out comments. In total, there were two votes for for the pes, one for the epiphonus, two for the pinnosa, and one for the pinnosa initio debilis/cephalicus urgens. I decided to use no. 3, the plain pinnosa, a number of weeks ago.

    I will eventually look further into your claims. I know that Kainzbauer (omnigreg & graduale/antiphonale synopticum) also advocates an initio debilis interpretation of the cursive pes, but I'm not yet convinced. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the term virga urgens comes from him as a proposed replacement for pes initio debilis.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,349
    The lack of responses was disappointing,
    The number of people who have studied this are vanishingly small... Also most of the experts I know, are not members of this or any forum.

    My choir sings from various sources, Roman, Dominican, Sarum, Ambrosian etc. It is interesting to hear them sing music that is obviously from the same source, but written to the conventions of the various usages / Rites. While how the music is notated is important and does have an influence on how people sing. With some examples such as those above it is very difficult to hear a difference when a choir sings them.

    A good test of the effect of editions can be shown when a choir that has sung the Propers from the Solesmes editions for many years, are given music of the Propers without the Solesmes markings.
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  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 23
    The trend toward editions without rhythmic markings, be it "pure Vatican," modern stemless plain noteheads as in the vernacular Missal, or other, will not preserve the Solesmes rhythm for more than a couple of generations. The same thing happened to the authentic traditional rhythm in the transition from adiastematic to diastematic neumes, with the resulting loss of rhythmic indications. Already toward the end of the 11th century, Aribo complained that, "In olden times great care was observed not only by the composers of the chant but also by the singers themselves to compose and sing proportionally. But this idea has already been dead for a long time, even buried."
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,349
    So looking at this having sung chant for over 20 years under many different directors including those trained at Solesmes...
    Looking at the options
    1. Implies two equal notes so do you sing Sa-an ?
    2. SAn
    3. ? I have never sung from such editions and have no idea what the second note means.
    4. Sa- ANNNN ?
    5. sa-ANNNN ?

    With option one and two many choirs would sing it in the same way, and you would not notice a difference. 3,4,5 are using neumes that I don't ever remember singing editions containing them. Also such differences will vary depending on who is singing...
    Have you ever sung with a French schola?
    Have you sung with a German (Swiss) schola?
    Let alone those from the far east...
    Just because we Anglo-saxons may sing chant in a particular style, does not tell us anything about the French and the German speaker. I have sung with chant schola in France, Switzerland and with choirs run by those that have oriental heritage... It is not the same sound even if the music is the same!
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,030
    It's almost like chant is a living musical language and not a museum piece.

    While we're at it, what is the authentic interpretation for neo-Gregorian compositions (i.e. Proper of Christ the King) or adaptations (i.e. Memorial Acclamation chants) Would it be most authentic to sing these in a strict Solesmes interpretation while choosing the flavour of the week for the remainder of the repertoire, since that was the practice when they were composed?
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  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 23
    Perhaps modern notation will be helpful for clarification.image

    what is the authentic interpretation for neo-Gregorian compositions (i.e. Proper of Christ the King) or adaptations
    The Proper of Christ the King is also an adaptation, not a new composition. Refer to Johner for the sources. Many of the rhythmic indications of the ancient manuscripts were misinterpreted by the monks that edited the Solesmes editions. This is old news, now well known, and should no longer be a controversial statement in 2022, but here we are! Considering that they crafted these chants from other chants found in those manuscripts, it seems reasonable to interpret the rhythm according to those sources, not the 20th-century misinterpretation of them. Compare my edition (which is a work in progress) and Royce Nickel's and draw your own conclusions.
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