Errors in Solesmes rhythm?
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I started to read an interesting article, "One Hundred Years of the Graduale," by J.B.Goschl. in the recent issue of Sacred Music. He has mentioned that Dom Mocquereau 's system had some errors (in rhythm, I guess he is referring to the ictus that seemed to ignore the Tonic accent. Example on page13 in Sacred Music) ),and that the Solesmes did not sing according to his rule. I believe his system helped a lot for restoring the chants and people to learn to sing them more beautifully. But is this mean that we cannot completely trust his system? How should I solve the problem something like the musical example on Page 13 in Sacred Music?
    Mia
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    It's a very old debate, and his is one perspective. This is a brilliant article but I'm not sure that these remarks on Mocq were really necessary. It is really too much to go into, and I'm ever more convinced that too much focus on these debates wastes valuable time we need for singing and training.

    At the risk of opening a can of worms, however, the effort to unite music with Latin accents was the theory underlying the Medici edition, as I understand it, and it was this which Solesmes mercifully displaced.
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 312
    Speaking as one who is occasionally skeptical of the Solesmes method, I would say that the helpful thing to keep in mind is that there really isn't a "correct" or "incorrect" approach -- how can there be, when there are so many different manuscripts for the same chants, each with their own peculiarities? Mocquereau was a brilliant scholar and musician, and what Goschl refers to as an "error" is simply a legitimate scholarly theory with which he takes exception. You can't "completely trust" anything -- except the Holy Spirit, of course! -- but you could certainly follow Mocquereau's system and not worry about doing something "incorrect."
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Richard Crocker's "An Introduction to Gregorian Chant" has some good reading on this matter. It's clear that he prefers the "nuanced" school of Cardine and the semiologists, but he admits it's mostly because he likes it better, not because it can be proven to be more "correct." There is even an accompanying recording of "nuanced" readings of some of the more familiar chants, that you could compare (with your Graduale Triplex in hand) with an older Solesmes recording.

    I should warn you that this chapter comes about halfway through the book, and that the first half almost completely escaped me. It was like picking up a book on French cooking, and having the first chapter focusing on varying oven temperatures throughout France, complete with charts, and then a paragraph about how to make a cream sauce. Maybe I was just thrown by the word "Introduction" in the title (I had hoped to find some material to use with my choir) or maybe I've been reading too many of Jeffrey's analogies ;).
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I'll be keep using Solesmes for my choir. I think it's the best tool to use to sing chants beautifully. Since the Latin Tonic accents(Latin stress) are supposed to be light and not heavy as English accents, and the ictic notes are treated (suppose to feel a lift than down, I believe)differently from the down beat notes of the modern metrical music, I think there are more varieties you can do to sing artistically; for example, sing differently as to feel Tonic accents on ictic notes, Off-ictic Tonic accents, Tonic accents on reciting tones. I think Solesmes method is more artistic and beautiful than following just the word accents. Although I don't use organ accompaniment for singing chants, I have some organ accompaniment books that change chord on every Tonic accent, very boring and feel like wearing a straight jacket.
    The accompaniment books that follow the Solesmes method are much more artistic and do not interrupt the flow of the texts. However, when I saw the musical example which Mr. Goschl quoted in the Sacred Music, I was a bit puzzled. I just want to know how we(who use Solesmes method) should solve the problem when we encounter the similar problems. My initial posted message was not on whether it is an error or not, but it was more on how we should solve the musical problem. Can anyone look at the musical example in the Sacred music Page 13, and tell me how you would do about it? (Only thing I can think of is putting a horizontal Episema on the note of 'Tu,' the syllable that has a Tonic accent, to make it more expressive. Solesmes experts, please help me out on this, Can I do that?) I know this is a minor detail. But is''t paying attention to details what makes music more beautiful?
    Mia
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    This morning, in singing Gustate, I was ever more impressed by the way clean and clear rhythmic rules bring singers together, all doing the same thing at the same time, which is super important especially when the stress of liturgy tends to scramble the brain a bit and lead to errors. If rhythm is not an issue, you can focus on other issues like the text and the quality of sound. If there is rhythmic uncertainty, nothing else seems to go quite right. Let me also mention here that chironomy is very much underrated as a means of conveying the structure to singers. The new issue of Sacred Music contains an article that says this but I really saw a demonstration this morning.