Dufay's L'Homme Arme
  • SirIggle
    Posts: 9
    Last summer I had the opportunity to lead a small group in performing this masterpiece, to celebrate our patronal feast in St. Louis (August 25th).

    There are a small handful of editions that can be found on the interwebs, but all of them had their issues, so I took the trouble to create my own for when we reprise it this year, which is attached. The text underlay is primarily drawn from this recording. I made significant changes in two places:

    1. The Sanctus. The primary difficulty in using this work in a Mass setting is that the Sanctus is way too long, which leads to the priest needing to wait for several minutes to begin the consecration. My solution was to remove the "Pleni sunt caeli" movement entirely, and work the text into the "Sanctus" movement. Not ideal, but I couldn't find a better solution.

    2. In the Gloria, there is exactly one point (measure 55) at which all 4 voices enter together on a downbeat. Dufay clearly sets up this moment, by having the Tenor sing a little flourish high in their register (the first point of the Gloria where the Tenor sings something other than the theme). The flourish is echoed by the CT, then the texture clears and a lone G in the bassus carries through to the big entrance on the downbeat.

    For some incomprehensible reason, every score or recording available has the choir singing 2 or even 3 different words on this downbeat. I refuse to believe this is what Dufay actually intended, so I shuffled the text around a bit so that the whole choir is singing "Deus (pater omnipotens)" on the downbeat.

    This latter change is 90% of the reason I undertook this effort in the first place. The remaining 10% is that my sopranos threatened to revolt if they had to sing from a score with Mensurstrich notation again.

    If anyone has suggestions on how to improve the score, or notices mistakes, feedback would be greatly appreciated. I am a novice in Musescore, so I'm sure it could be made to look prettier. I'll be uploading this to CPDL eventually, probably after the feast, so I can fix any issues we catch while singing from it.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,763
    Gloria: m.53-54 De us (missing hyphen) and “Rex” should have an extender line and not a hyphen. Might be worth rescanning the whole thing for this type of mistake.

    Edit: I’ve done a quick scan of the rest of the Gloria at least, and there are lots of errors in this department. You either need to use lyric extenders everywhere or nowhere. Personally, I’m not sure I would use hyphens across measures of rest either (Gloria, tenor, top of page 2). And, tbh, I question whether or not a word would have been split up that way at the time. But even if it were, you might consider ending the word with a hyphen to indicate it’s open and then adding a hyphen immediately antecedent to the re-entry, (possibly with the preceding syllable in parentheses if the gap is sufficiently large).
    Thanked by 1SirIggle
  • SirIggle
    Posts: 9
    And, tbh, I question whether or not a word would have been split up that way at the time.


    I wondered that myself. That kind of thing is consistent in the sources I've seen, but from what I've been able to gather the actual manuscripts wouldn't have much (or any) text underlay for the tenor, so who knows. I'll try to fiddle with it at some point and see if it can be improved. Thanks.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    I'm glad to see somebody doing Dufay in the liturgy. it's hard to make work in the typical volunteer group. What kind of vocal forces are you using, and what performing pitch?

    This edition could be very useful, but I think it needs some work to be cpdl-ready. Most of the 15th c. editions on cpdl are not useful. I won't mention names (those who know, know), but they're mostly done by a guy who thinks that editing this music is to put modern clefs on the original text and then superimpose it in score. Anyone capable of reading it could also read the original manuscript.

    This goes to the opposite extreme, the "trust me" edition. There's a place for that, but then you have to show yourself trustworthy by being upfront and in effect saying "I'm making all the decisions so you don't have to." At the very least, you'll have to explain what you're doing with the Sanctus. I don't think you're obligated to provide an Urtext alternative; if people don't like what you've done, they can use another edition. But they need to know what's Dufay and what's SirIggle. If you aren't going to show proportions between sections, maybe you'll want to indicate them via the "back door" through metronome markings. And not showing ligatures kind of locks the user into your text underlay.If you think it's better to perform this at another pitch. edit it at that pitch (U'd think about taking it down a 4th or so, but even a step seems indicated).

    Note that none of this is strictly speaking necessary for an edition you've made for your own performance, since you know what you want to do. Though even there, anything you can show notationally is a thing you don't have to explain during rehearsal. If you want dynamic or tempo variations, write them in! But that might not apply to your cpdl verion, where others might want to make different decisions.

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    a guy who thinks that editing this music is to put modern clefs on the original text and then superimpose it in score. Anyone capable of reading it could also read the original manuscript.

    The mss are of course not in score format. This spring I started a trio to read through some of the Trent & Modena B repertoire in Renato's editions and while I understand the eye rolling, in rehearsing they are useable as 'stepping stones' to reading the originals (as beautiful as the Mod. B is, there are lots of stem direction mistakes to puzzle out), the stumbling block being the lack of underlay.

    I usually assume underlay is going to evolve in rehearsal and try to leave things as uncluttered as possible with room to pencil, so my edition uses no word extenders and minimal hyphens. It's nice that Musescore allows the partial key signature, though I notice ficta are tacitly included in the staff. I also prefer that pages be numbered consecutively rather than starting each movement from page one.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,864
    they are useable as 'stepping stones' to reading the originals

    You've made my point for me, Richard: they aren't useful to working church musicians.
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  • SirIggle
    Posts: 9
    I'm glad to see somebody doing Dufay in the liturgy. it's hard to make work in the typical volunteer group. What kind of vocal forces are you using, and what performing pitch?


    I'm fortunate to have a group that was willing to put in a lot of time to make it happen. We practiced ~90-120 mins a week for the entire summer last year to get it ready. Fortunately it's much easier the 2nd time around!

    The ranges are pretty awkward for a SATB voices, but we're singing it as written. I have altos that can actually do the CT line, so it works out. If I had more tenors and fewer female voices, taking it down a step or so would probably work well though.


    This goes to the opposite extreme, the "trust me" edition.


    You make a good point here about being clear about what I've added changed. As you've noted, the primary goal was really to make something useable for our performance, but it will help anyone else that wants to use it later decide what to keep and what to change.


    The rest of this is useful feedback as well, so thank you. I'll incorporate some of it when I get around to updating and fixing things.


    @Richard Mix, agreed on the page numbers. Will fix.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick