Interpretation of neumes
  • I'd like to begin this thread with a question about liquescent neumes. What do you all do when they appear over vowels? I find these frequently over the penultimate syllable of "Alleluia".

    moconnor
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Is the question about relative fullness of sound?
  • No, diction. I understand that for consonants, you sing the consonant, but what about non-dipthong vowels?

    moconnor
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Place relative stress/fullness of sound on the larger neume.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 985
    Here's the way I've heard it described, which makes sense.

    Let's say you have a liquescent neum which is used with the syllable "san", which will be followed by the syllable "ctus". The square note(s) in the first neum are used to pronounce "sa", while the liquescent note is used to pronounce the "n". Which means you're closing up the air flow for a more extended period of time than you might otherwise do.

    It makes that final consonant ("n") more pronounced, and when the choir as a whole does it together, it brings clarity to the pronunciation of the word as a whole.

    So that's the way I've been trying to teach it to our schola. It's quite nice. Very nice with softer consonants like m, n, and l.

    What to do with the liquescent when there's no consonant to attach it to, I'm not sure.
  • For words like "laudes" where the liquescent neume is assigned to the first syllable "lau", I have my choir enunciate the first vowel of au on the first note, and the second on the liquescent, so it comes out as three syllables - "la-u-des". The liquescent will receive less stress, naturally.

    I find myself doing the same with "alleluia", pronouncing it as "al-le-lu-i-a" (underlined letters as liquescents where possible).
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    David & dierschow,

    Perhaps a liquescent neume in connection with a diphthong is a particular case, rather than the raison d'être?
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Correction,

    My previous posting should have been addressed to "moconnor & dierschow"
  • I had them doing the al-le-lu-i-a, but I wasn't sure that was right.

    moconnor
  • From the Liber Usualis' "Rules for Interpretation" (page xxiv, #10):

    Liquescent notes: these are printed in smaller type but this does not affect their duration nor their execution, except in that they must be sung lightly. They occur when two vowels form a diphthong (autem, euge), or at the junction of certain consonants (Hosanna, tollis, mundi, etc.) or to introduce the semi-consonants j or i (ejus, alleluia).


    So, "Hosanna" would be Ho-sa-n-na, "tollis" to-l-lis, "mundi" mu-n-di, "ejus" e-j-us and "alleluia" a-l-le-lu-i-a whenever the underlined letters fall under a liquescent neume, even though the liquescent neume may not be specified at all times, most notably in the first syllable of "alleluia"*.

    *The instruction above implies that the occurrence of the above cases calls for liquescence instead of the neumes dictating the liquescence. If there is a more authoritative source that contradicts that implication, please post it here.
  • This brings up a question I've had about this. If this is truly the role of liquescent neumes, why was the approach never carried over into polyphony. One never sees "eius" or "alleluia" divided in this way. Correct me please if you know of examples. Thanks for the reference. Guess I need to change this back now.

    moconnor
  • WGS
    Posts: 225
    Several Tudor motets that I have sung have clearly indicated an enunciation of Al-le-lu-"ee"-a for Alleluia. (No, it was not printed "ee". I'm emphasizing that pronunciation of the letter "i".) I recall something in particular by Thomas Weelkes (d. 1623), but I don't have it in my file.
  • WGS, that's very interesting. Was this a psalm verse text that received that treatment?

    moconnor
  • WGS
    Posts: 225
    Here's an example of a Weelkes Alleluia from CPDL. There's an example of what I'm referring to in the second instance of Alleluia. Really, for Tudor anthems, this just seems to be common practice to the point that it's not at all surprising.

    http://wso.williams.edu/cpdl/sheet/weel-all.pdf

    By the way, (Mike I think), I'm Bill your roommate from the Colloquium this past summer, and I did buy a baritone after talking with you. We have started a parish brass ensemble which is especially handy for outdoor processions.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Most of what we call polyphony does not follow speech rhythms in the way that chant does. Since in measured rhythm all notes are lengthened, there is no need for the liquescent, only good diction. Since it is unusual to set lengthy texts in polyphony without numerous repetitions, clarity of declamation is not of the same concern to the composer of polyphony as it would be in chant. Also, chewing on consonants and diphthongs is contrary to the type of vocal technique that will most beautifully render the polyphonic vocal line.
  • Hey Bill, great to hear from you! Hope all is well up your way. Hope to see you in Chicago.

    Thanks for the thoughts on polyphony and liquescents. I'm always looking for connections between chant and polyphony in my research.

    moconnor
  • mahrt
    Posts: 508
    The medieval theorists suggest that when a liquescent neume falls on a diphthong, the liquescent note should be sung on the second vowell, but in a closed way; so not al-le-lu-ee-ah, but more like al-le-lu-y-ah.

    I have never quite figured out how to sing liquescent notes that come on a t; it may well be like Italian opera singers do: et on a liquescent neume would be sung et-tah. I wouldn't ever be caught doing that in chant, somehow.
  • I've noticed that in some instances the liquescent falls on a "t" when there is a danger that it might get swallowed, like right before a word that starts with "d".

    moconnor
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Prof. Mahrt said: I have never quite figured out how to sing liquescent notes that come on a t;

    Thank you.

    In one half of a sentence you have done more to build my self confidence than anything else I've read here. The number of times I've felt clueless when confronted with the inevitable "how come?" from our schola (or on my own) is quite high. It's refreshing to know there's a lifetime of learning ahead for all of us!