Laon, how to read.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,282
    Does anyone here have a little guide to reading the neums of the Laon MS? (Whenever I try searching for this on the 'net I just get a lot of reviews of the Graduale Triplex) Jeffrey Morse handed out a very helpful little sheet at the Colloquium for St Gall that I reference constantly.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    http://www.saintmeinrad.org/media/56831/a_chant_manual.01.pdf

    Beginning on page 36. Hope this is helpful.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,282
    Very helpful, Thanks
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    If you have never done so, I strongly recommend Fr. Kelly's chant workshops given every summer at St. Meinrad Archabbey. Fr. Kelly is a brilliant and energetic teacher, has a deep love of the material and is infectious in his enthusiasm.

    The workshops are divided into two (beginner/intermediate and advanced), and given over two consecutive weeks beginning the first week in July.

    I met a wonderful group of people this last July, some of whom are also active in CMAA, and discovered that people have made this same retreat every year for the last seven!
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • I attended Fr. Columba's two-week chant course in 1998, I think. It was intensive and worthwhile. And the two weeks in the monastic environment (you could choose how much of the monastic schedule to follow...I wanted to follow it all) was life-changing. I became a Benedictine oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey...the two weeks led to a definite sense of being called to that affiliation.
  • The link has died. Is it possible to get a copy? gsharp88@gmail.com
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 779
    Cardine's "Gregorian Semiology" has a chart in the beginning. I don't know if that's the kind of chart you want.
  • Keep trying the link. It's slow, but it downloads, at least right now. Try right-clicking (I think it's click-and-hold on a Mac) and saving rather than left-clicking into the link.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    You can read many articles on performing chant from manuscript sources in the chant blog at euouae.com, including instructional videos like this performance of the Ave Maria from the Laon manuscript.

    Unfortunately, there is no one book available right now that can teach you to learn to sing from Messine notation. It takes a rather broad study and a familiarity with a substantial portion of the repertoire.

    I've put together a six week workshop called "Beyond Square Notes" with accompanying handouts that sets forth a method for teaching chant from the Laon and St Gall notation in the Graduale Novum. I'm working on making some of these materials available.
  • Heath
    Posts: 797
    Incantu, make this your top priority!

    : )
    Thanked by 1incantu
  • In Fr. Columba Kelly's two-week course, we concentrated mainly on certain markings that were clear indications to do something specific; the rest of the markings were reminders of pitch changes we didn't need so much because we had the four-line staff notation. He did point out a few spots where the Laon notation showed a variance in pitch from what the square notation had.

    Mainly I look for the c for celeriter, meaning move right through or even accelerate a bit; and the t for tenere, meaning hold or emphasize. I think the t looks like an e sometimes. There are also horizontal episemas attached to some virgas; these, too, indicate a bit of emphasis.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Spoiler alert: The St. Gall notation ScottK is referencing does not provide a reliable written notation for performance. For every place where there is a c(eleriter) or a virga-with-episema, there is another place where there should be one, but it is absent. However, if you are familiar with the notational practices and with the repertoire, you will be able to figure out the proper interpretation. Consulting the Laon manuscript can help a great deal in this regard, since it tends to be more reliable when it comes to rhythm. But this is definitely an area where a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • Good points, incantu. Well said.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    This past weekend on my way to direct a performance of music from 9th and 10th c. Laon and St. Gall manuscripts, I passed a street sign that said "Driving on sidewalk is prohibited." I just had to share the story with the audience. Imagine a thousand years from now, archeologists discover this sign and assume that since driving on the sidewalk is prohibited on this particular street, it must be allowed everywhere else. How wrong they would be!

    The episema in St. Gall doesn't mean "long note." It means "note you might have forgotten is long." I think sometimes it even means "a short note, but the note before this really should have been a liquescent." And those two short notes at the end of a phrase? They're long (or at least slow). The ritardando was not, as the Early Music movement would have you think, invented in the 19th century. It was so assumed as part of performance practice that it often did not need to be notated. Driving on sidewalks, indeed.
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    If you are familiar with the notational practices and with the repertoire, you will be able to figure out the proper interpretation.

    It bears repeating that we cannot know the "proper interpretation" for any of the early chant schools, whether we're speaking about Chartres, Laon, St. Gall, or any of the others. I have read some articles wherein scholars try to guess at what some of those manuscripts might have sounded like in the 10c. and earlier, but all we can do is guess. One of the hardest problems is that descriptions by theorists of the time do not match what we actually see in the manuscripts.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I will admit that "proper" was a poor word choice as it implies a sort of imperative. Who is to say what is proper for performing any music: the composer? the director? the audience?

    But I disagree with JennyH that we cannot know the performance practice of early chant schools. That might have been true 30 years ago. It was certainly true in 1908. But today the performance of 9th century music does not require more guess work than performing Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, or even Brahms. We can't know for sure what their music sounded like, either. But we do have sufficient resources for performing their works today with a certain confidence that we are approaching the composer's intent. Performing music from Laon might require more effort on the part of the performer in order to get to that point, but I don't think the results are any less verifiable.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Gavin
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Cross-post from euouae.com:

    Here are two examples from the offertory Illumina as it appears in the St. Gall notation of Einsiedeln 121.

    Look at the words “dicat” and “inimicus” [third line of text, first and second words]. The last syllable of each has a bivirga followed by a climacus. These are both the same musical figure, although they are written differently. The first one cautions “l(evate),” i.e. “the second note is higher than you think.” For the second figure, the copyist adds an “e(galiter)” to remind the singer that the first note of the climacus is the same pitch as the bivirga. The fact that the second bivirga has episemata does not imply that it is to be treated as a double long or that the previous bivirga is short.

    If one encountered either of these figures in isolation, they would not be able to arrive at the “proper” interpretation because each case presents only some of the necessary information. But with an understanding of the notational practice (that not all signs are to be interpreted literally) and familiarity with the repertoire (being able to compare other notated examples of the same melodic figure) one can arrive at the “proper” interpretation: that is to say, the one intended by the copyist.

    For another example in the same chant, look at the cadence on “morte” [N.B. the neumes extend over the next word] and on “eum.” They each have a double climacus just before the final syllable. In the second instance, the first climacus shows the third note as long, while in the first instance all three are written as short. Was the first an oversight? Or was the second a slip of the pen?

    First of all, we know these figures are identical, even though differently notated. Comparison to the Laon manuscript of the same chant confirms this. It also confirms the “short-short-long, long-short-short” reading in both cases with its more explicit notation. Again, while the one manuscript did not provide the necessary information, comparison to another source reveals the explicit meaning of an implicit notational system.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Consulting the Laon manuscript can help a great deal in this regard, since it tends to be more reliable when it comes to rhythm. But this is definitely an area where a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.

    I might add to this that Metz was at that time esteemed higher than St Gall in terms of chant and more faithful in preserving the tradition.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989

    I might add to this that Metz was at that time esteemed higher than St Gall in terms of chant and more faithful in preserving the tradition.

    At what time and by whom? I'm interested to hear more about this.
  • In 762 Chrodegang of Metz on order of King Pippin (who had observed the difference between Frankish and Roman chant at the visit of Pope Stephen II) introduced the Roman chant, assisted by a Roman chanter sent by the Pope. After his death another chanter and an Antiphonale were sent to Metz, and already in Pippin's lifetime the School of Metz was held in as high an esteem as Rome itself (Vita Alcuini).

    Later in the Cistercian Reform (~1134) the monks took their chants from Metz, not from St Gall. Peter Wagner notes: "Es ist das sehr bemerkenswert. Jedenfalls galt noch damals Metz für die Stätte echtester römischer Überlieferung und nicht etwa St. Gallen, das erst unsere Zeit dazu gemacht hat." (This is very remarkable. Anyhow Metz was still held in that time as a place of most faithful Roman tradition and not St Gall, which was only made so by our times.)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Interesting. The Laon manuscript is certainly pristine compared to even the best of the St. Gall school. But that doesn't necessarily mean their singing was any better. It is because of the "sloppiness" of St. Gall scribes (pace Hartker) that we can really begin to understand more about the pre-notational oral tradition, the performance practice of the day, and the common pitfalls for contemporary singers.