Ictus Example
  • Hello all,

    I've been singing in a chant schola for about a year and a half now. I've never had to direct a schola, but I'm trying to get a better grasp on finding the ictus on my own just because I think it will help me out in the long run. I've been trying to take some upcoming pieces and mark them up with the ictus just for my own practice, and I'm finding that sometimes the ictus doesn't fit neatly into the piece when I follow the four rules for finding the ictus. I'll use the Introit from the EF Assumption Mass coming up this Saturday as an example:

    Looking at the line right after the second full bar ("et in capite ejus")....following the first three rules for finding the ictus, I would have an ictus on the first note of the torculus on 'ca-', then another on the first note of the tristropha on '-te'. However, this then leaves a single punctum for the '-pi-' in between, but I know that all notes must be in groups of 2's or 3's. How would one count this section out? For that matter, the 'ejus' immediately following 'capite' also has a given ictus on the second punctum sung on the ejus, which also leaves a single note (immediately following the tristropha on capite) which could only receive a single beat.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
  • You're doing fine. The places you note are instances where the fourth rule, counting back by twos, kicks in. You've identified the ictus on the first note of the torculus, and the first note of the tristropha. So from tristropha, counting back by 2s, the third note of the torculus gets an ictus. Similarly, from eius, the second note is given a marked ictus. Counting back by twos, the last note of the tristropha gets an ictus.

    So for capite eius, I come up with counts as follows:

    do-mi-re do do-do-do sol-ti-do-la-la-fa dotted fa.
    1--2 1--2 1--2 1--2 1-2 1--2-3 1-2

    One thing to note is that both the torculus and the tristropha, although they are both neums with three notes, are not always counted as groups of three. Depending on the other notes around them, the third note is sometimes a count 1, as in this phrase. This is how the seemingly single notes get grouped into a rhythmic group.

    Hope this helps.
  • Ah, thank you very much.

    Yes, I was indeed assuming that three-note neums were always given three counts. That makes much more sense now.

    Thanks and God Bless!
  • When you have found an ictus, be sure to tell Fr Columba Kelly at St Meinrad's Archabbey. He is one of the world's leading scholars of Gregorian chant and says that he has never seen or heard one. (Fr Columba directs a two-week seminar on chant every summer at St Meinrad's. You might find it enlightening - eye-opening.)
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 747
    I wonder if it is possible to answer a specific chant performance related question on this forum without sniping from naysayers.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Haha, I have to admit I only clicked on this thread hoping it would be some sort of satire "in search of the elusive ictus."

    I have never heard an ictus, either (they're silent), but I have definitely seen them—in the Solesmes edition of the Graduale. If you're using a Solesmes edition, it's not a bad idea to know what the editorial rhythmic markings mean. Is this the way chant was sung in the 9th century? No, of course not. But unless you have at least three manuscripts to compare (including at least one diastematic reading), and extensive several years of semiology study under your belt, you will be well served spending an hour or two learning how to place the ictus.

  • Seemingly prudent advice, Incantu - but for one stumbling block on the way to truly current scholarship, namely, that while it may be profitable for some to learn the markings to which you refer, it is likely that they will remain in that, um, mode, and never venture into the world opened up by the scholarship that has revealed the markings to which you refer to be rather an eye-closer than an eye-opener. After all, 'the way I learned it' all to often becomes the only way to do it simply because 'I couldn't possibly have learned it wrong'. We have learned a lot, quite a lot, about chant in the last seventy-five and more years. This presents those who have dedicated their lives to yet another passing method of chant interpretation with difficult realities.

    Let me hasten to add that I am not 'panning' the so-called Solesmes method, which, so Fr Columba asserts, is not and never has been followed at Solesmes. I think that one of the wonders that we musicians have in our age is precisely that, because of the documents and manuscripts available to us, we can avail ourselves of all manner of fairly accurate performances of chant and other music from almost any historical period. And, yes, before someone pounces, I realise that we cannot have an objectively 'authentic' performance (even of today's music), only one greatly informed by the scholarship available to us. This means for me, that I really do appreciate the 'Solesmes method' as an historical recreation of early XXth century chant - not as anywhere near the final word in chant scholarship. With this in mind, it has all the validity of Medicean chant, of Pleinchant musicale, of early Renaissance chant, or any other chant brought to life by informed scholarship. And, who can say: it's quite possible (but, I don't think, likely) that future generations will consider our semiological conclusions to have been mere historical fads. What is more likely is that they will follow through with semiology and improve immensely on its fruits.

    I hadn't thought to carry on so about this because it goes far beyond what CradleRevert was attempting to ascertain. I certainly mean no disparagement of his efforts or chant proclivities; but, perhaps this can be a useful conversation in which, respectful of one another, we can share what is known about a subject dear to all of us.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,372
    I second MJOs comments. The ictus was a modern invention which was created to as perhaps an aid to organizing the free rhythm of chant. It was a teaching aid... There are no icti that actually exist.
    incidentally I want to add that I usually sit up and listen to MJO regarding chant, since he is a disciple of Fr. Colomb. and has taught hundreds in the chant classes at St. Basil's.
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  • It seems that I've created a monster.

    M. Jackson Osborn, being a chant novice (at best), I've never been aware that there were opposing views regarding use of the ictus. If you can direct me to any online resources critiquing the modern method of chant rhythm, I'd certainly be interested in reading more about it, if nothing else than for my own curiosity.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    It seems that I've created a monster.

    Nope. Just woke one up.
  • You have neither created nor awakened a monster. It happens in our forum conversations that 'topics' will often take turns not envisioned by their originators. This is neither a negative judgement on the 'originators' nor the 'turners', but is a dynamic that may (or may not) result in enlightening (or enjoyable) conversational developments. It's just what sometimes happens in normal conversation, isn't it?

    As for your current interests - I think that if you are really moved by well done so-called Solesmes chant that you should follow through and learn what you can from it. As I intimated above, there are quite a number, historically, of ways of interpreting chant, and the 'Solesmes method' is just one of these. It is chant as it was understood by many (not by any means everyone) in the early XXth century. Modern scholarship has led us, particularly with the study of the earliest recorded notation, to some more probable performance practices which, at least, seem more closely to approximate those that were likely in chant's nascent times.

    As history unfolded, chant performance changed radically in the late middle ages, had its periods of 'degeneracy' in the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and had what was meant to be a restoration at the hands of XIXth century monks at Solesmes. Their conclusions led indirectly (with much goading by the American heiress-educator, Justine Ward) to what is now known as the 'Solesmes method'. This really is not The Solesmes Method, for it isn't and never was practiced at Solesmes, nor did it receive anything near universal approbation from elements in the Church, nor, certainly, from the scholarly community.

    But, if you have heard well done 'Solesmes method' chant that really speaks to you, by all means study it. Just don't make the mistake that many do in regarding it as graven in stone and dropped from a cloud. It is one of a number of respectable, but dated, ways of performing the chant which we all love. Someone else might be quite 'enchanted' by the likely performance of chant in the Renaissance or some other period. All these should be preserved, for we are blessed to keep our entire heritage alive. At the same time, we are blessed by the fruits of continuing scholarship into chant's origins.

    If you are interested in looking further afield, by all means think about attending Fr Columba Kelly's seminar at St Meinrad's archabbey next summer. Also, St Basil's School of Gregorian Chant, of which I am the choirmaster and lecturer in chant studies, will be having a week long Winter Chant Conference featuring Fr Columba in Santa Fe the first week of next February. Fr Columba is one of the world's pre-emminent scholars of Gregorian chant, and knows well all the scholar-monks of Solesmes who have evolved in their understanding of chant since the 'not-Solesmes-method' had its heyday.

    If some of my colleagues who are champions of the 'not-Solesmes-method' wish to weigh in here, please do so. I shant engage in further argumentation. (But I may offer further information.)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,601
    An itchy monster.
  • Neither created, awakened, nor itchy - not even a monster at all.
  • Monstre, then?
  • Ha! How about montre?
    (I guess a 'monstre' would be a very loud and poorly voiced montre???)
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,090
    I think in all of this it is very important to remember that Dom Cardine, the "Father of Gregorian Semiology" was actually a pupil of Dom Mocquereau; and, the current Graduale Triplex is an updated version of Cardine's Graduel Neume, which was a publication of Cardine's personal Gradual with the paleography written in above the square notes, which in turn, is simply Cardine copying his master. Yes, you read that right: Mocquereau copied in the paleography into his personal Gradual, too! Semiology didn't start with Cardine, it started with Mocquereau! The Cardine V. Mocquereau dichotomy is a false dichotomy.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,053
    There have been two or three requests for suggestions of where to look online for a beginners summary of these problems of interpretation. As no one has responded, can we take it there the is nowhere better to start than Wikipedia?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,367
    There are no icti that actually exist.

    Is that because the word is a fourth declension noun?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,090
    There have been two or three requests for suggestions of where to look online for a beginners summary of these problems of interpretation. As no one has responded, can we take it there the is nowhere better to start than Wikipedia?

    There is a quite good booklet from Fr. Columba on the Meinrad website (plus a bunch of other things worth looking at!). But the trick with all of this is to find a teacher - either go to Fr. Columba's workshop, or a Colloquium - there are a few Semiologists and people with Semiological influences, even while retaining the basics of "Solesmes" style, on the faculty: Notably Jeffrey Morse, Edward Schaeffer, Charles Cole and Wilko Brouwers. Also, pick up the recordings with Dr. Mary Berry and the Community of Jesus from Paraclete Press - definitely worth the investment!
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    Speaking of the Community of Jesus, we had the awesome good fortune to visit their stunningly beautiful church and attend Vespers on the Feast of the Transfiguration a few weeks ago. What lovely people, what an incredible experience, and how beautifully they sing chant---but how could one not love living next to the wind and the waves and singing the Office all day?
  • Fr Columba saw this conversation and sent me his translation of Dom Saulnier's explanation of why the ictus and mora vocis have been abandoned at Solesmes. I present this for what it is worth to any interested parties, and do so, as I promised above, without further argumentation. Some of you, no doubt, are familiar already with these revelations -

    Dom Saulnier writes:

    The Solesmes Method as Taught by the Monks of Solesmes

    Since the 2005 edition of the Antiphonale Monasticum, the Solesmes monks have abandoned the use of both the vertical episema used for the ictus, and the dot for the Mora Vocis, in their publications of Gregorian chant. They state in the Praenotanda, footnote 31, that: The expression 'rhythmic signs' as attributed to the episemas and the mora point, is gravely ambiguous: It seems to signify that these signs indicate the rhythm. However, these signs do not do so. The fundamental rhythm of Gregorian chant is given by the declamation of the text and the movement of the melody. the signs added to the mediaeval neumes do not indicate the rhythm but rather the tiny nuances, as well as the vocal ornaments, accessible only to well trained specialists.

    One has developed the habit of calling 'rhythmic signs' the three signs added to the Solesmes edition of the books of chant of the 20th century: the mora point, the vertical episema and the horizontal episema.

    These three signs have been abandoned in our editions for the following reasons.

    The mora point and the vertical episema do not correspond to anything given in the traditional Gregorian chants. They do not appear in any mediaeval manuscript. They were only introduced in the Solesmes editions for the purpose of promoting a particular rhythmic theory for Gregorian chant (that of the Nombre musical gregorien), which has been proved to be obsolete for some time now. Moreover, these signs reveal a contradiction with the basic principles for reading the mediaeval neumes. More precisely, this rhythmic theory, to the degree that it inflicts a rhythmic distortion on the words and the phrases that are sung, appears in contradiction to the basic principles of liturgical composition, which rest on a foundation that is at the service of the sacred text.

    The horizontal episema only appears in two or three mediaeval manuscripts of the Divine Office among the hundreds of documents that we have studied. It is not a rhythmic sign, a sign that would inform the singer about rhythmic elements. It only precisions - and that in a very ambiguous fashion for a singer of the 20th century - a tiny nuance of the rhythm, one which musicians today called an agogic.

    Most amateur choirs are incapable of producing these very subtle nuances, nuances that are reserved for expert soloists. The exaggerated interpretation that these amateur choirs give to these signs leads in the end to a deforming of the fundamental rhythm of these Gregorian pieces, even to the simple antiphons. It should be an interpretation that is based on the declamation of the text and the movement of the melody.

    It is for this reason that we have chosen to renounce their use in conformity to the principle laid out by Dom Cardine at the end of the Preface to the Liber hymnarius:

    'The priciples given here flow from the perfect correspondence of a sacred text to a Gregorian melody. It is for this reason that singers who show respect for the Latin diction, by that very fact already possess the greater part of what is required to execute well a Gregorian piece.'

    (Thusly speaketh the real Solesmes Method!)

  • The Ictus markings are of invaluable help when learning to conduct chant.
  • Dear Noel - (and with my genuine respect) -
    It is wonderful when you and I agree, isn't it.
    But we don't agree on this.
    I have directed and taught chant for decades and have done so without any reference to a non-existent ictus and 'rhythmic signs' of an interpretative method strictly peculiar to a period within the XXth century that are not to be found in any original chant manuscripts.
    I'm sure that you, likewise, have directed and taught chant for decades; and, if you find this method to be of 'invaluable help', then godspeed.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,053
    Can we expect singers to respect Latin diction? How many singers, trained or amateur have any familiarity with spoken Latin? Fortunately these days we have the internet, and unlike Charlemagne or Alcuin do not have to petition the pope to send us singers to train our cantors. What we do need is good examples of performance to download. And yes I do realise there are competing schools of interpretation.
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  • Many thanks, Adam - that is my very, very favourite Alleluya verse. It is such a profound utterance, ejaculation, really, of sadness/pain and ecstatic joy rolled into one. It is ingenious how these two pathoi are wedded in the treatment of immolatum. With chants such as this in the repertory it is indeed deeply puzzling that some only do chant during penitential seasons. Our people are being short-changed. There is an endless amount of joyful and celebratory chant to which our people should be familiarised.

    (Incidentally, I rather like that moniker 'semiology/-ist'. Fr Columba, however, tends to avoid it because he thinks it sounds too exotic and puts some people off. He may be right. Perhaps 'the rhetorical school' or something like that would be better - semiology is, after all, all about rhetoric and the rhetorical delivery of sacred texts. Such was 'semiology' in its origins, its development, and in its recent resurgence. Any other ideas???)
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,601
    Fr Columba is right on that point. Anything that smacks of arcana is something that chant proponents should eschew, as it will only ensure that chant remaind stuck in a back eddy.
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Please someone, remind me of Ostrowski's conclusions (if there were any) from his two sessions on Dom Pothier's hand in this cookie jar.
  • While MJO and I have enjoyed sparring, I's like to suggest that for the beginner, stuck in front of singers for whatever reason good or misguided, who has had the basic class in chironomy by Wilko...can make much progress by icti-ing to the the point that they can then leave all that behind, like the training wheels we all had on bicycles.

    I have no doubt the MJO did not have training wheels on a bicycle, but rather kick-started a Harley and hit the road with aplomb. I can not imagine otherwise.

  • .
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  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,678
    I'm convinced that everyone thinks the chant-system they learned first is the easiest to learn.

    I learned chant from a semiology guy using a text based system and didn't encounter icti until years later... the first time someone started counting twos and threes I looked at them like they had three heads and wondered why they were making things so difficult.

    I'm guessing that if someone learned "Old Solesmes" first, the thought of taking away their icti and making them look to the text to interpret the chant, they'd think "why are they making this so difficult?"

    I've heard "Old Solesmes" styled chant groups that sounded lovely. Many of them sing chant at a slow pace that makes me cringe.

    Most "New Solesmes" or semiological-based choirs sound lovely to me. I'm sure that to some who want to count twos and threes, the fast paced exciting chant of the semiologist sounds disturbing or scandalous.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    I'm convinced that everyone thinks the chant-system they learned first is the easiest to learn.


    I mean,
    I think matthewj is correct.
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  • BGP
    Posts: 215
    A beginner asks a simple technical question and this is the result.
    Can we stop being so d### dogmatic about out preferred chant interpretive school of thought?
    I have absolutely no problem with Semiology, either on its own or as a tool to bring nuance to a more systemized method . I use it myself. There are however some people within the newer schools of thought which seem rather dogmatic and un-necessarily negative toward the “old Solesmes” method.
    In the case of office antiphons and psalmody the “old Solesmes” is indeed overkill and un-necessary, but I have yet to meet someone who marks ictus in psalm tones.

    “The Ictus does not exist” – that is entirely debatable. (Adam beat me to this with his hilarious illustration) When there are 27 notes on a single vowel I suppose not a single one is more stressed, accented, restful or energetic than the others?

    “obsolete” – when the Semiological approach does not involve learning 3 ancient systems of notation and being fairly experienced (and somewhat knowledgeable) with reading the Latin language and understanding modal theory. Then the “old Solesmes” and other practical approaches will be obsolete.

    Sorry if I’m ranty but I’m irritated because the person who started this is an ordinary singer who just asked a simple question.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,687
    BGP: marking the ictus for the Office might be necessary when one is preparing a Vespers choir for the first time. David Hughes knows the Psalm tones well, but he conducted us at the Colloquium, and how does one conduct in the “old Solesmes” style sans the ictus? So he must have had an idea of their placement.
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  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,066
    Are some in this group failing to distinguish "ictus" meaning the sign, from "ictus" meaning the impulse or thesis within a series? The first does not exist in the ancient MSS, but the second cannot fail to exist unless the series is mechanically produced.

    (The mind wants to introduce it when it isn't there... which is why I hear a clock saying tick-tock instead of tock-tick-tick or tick-tick.)

    (Similarly, "umlaut" in Germanic languages is a vowel change that happens, whether it's marked with a diaeresis as in modern German, or a letter -e- as in mediaeval German, or by changing the spelling as in English. However the diaeresis gets called "umlaut" as well, by metonomy.)
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,090
    The problem that I have with the ictus as used in the 'old Solesmes' method, is that it invariably gets treated like a 'downbeat', and therefore gets some kind of an accent: ONE-two, ONE-two, ONE-two-three, etc., which can play havoc with the actual rhythm, and is pure hell in syllabic chant: DIxit DOmiNUS doMIno MEo; and can often put the emphasis on the wrong note in melismatic chant. And, I find, that it irons out the rhythms, and makes everything sooo equal that the rhythm is not free but actually very regular and metrical

    It's hard to explain without being able to sing it, but, there are some figures that are ornamental, that in the old method get the ictus (i.e. "down-beat" to most people) that should avoid being giving any kind of accent at all. E.g. in the solemn intonation of the Mode VII psalm-tone, the initial SOL is given the ictus, and you get the rhythm of SOL(1)-DO(2)-TI(3) DO(1)-RE(2) RE(1)..., when, to my ear the SOL is actually initio debilis, a grace-note leading up to the DO. (It's hard to type the resulting rhythm in words, but here goes:) SOL(?)-DO(1)-TI(2) DO(1)-RE(2) RE(1)... . The SOL doesn't get even a full beat, it's just an ornament.

    Also, taking the example from Alleluia: Pascha nostrum of Adam's meme. the torculus resupinus on 'NO'(-strum) is ornamental (btw, don't have the Triplex in front of me, just going off of his image). While the ictus would fall on the first RE, the next ictus would not occur until -'strum'; therefore, 'NO-' would be a group of four: RE being given some emphasis as the first note of the torculus resupinus, and the final MI-RE-MI, functioning as an ornament to the principal note.

    I would also interpret the series of climacuses (climaci?) at immo-'LA'-tus, with a slight emphasis on the virga, with the puncti inclinata falling away quickly. The nearest I can render this is LA(1)-SOL(2)-FA(&) LA(1)-SOL(2)-FA(&).

    And so on. Again, hard to explain in text over the internets.

    I don't deny that there is something like the ictus that exists, there is most certainly in impulse in the music, I just doubt it's existence according to the 'Liber Usualis' method, and a mechanical counting back of twos and threes to find 'it'.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity.
    - G. B. Shaw (I believe)
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  • Good points, Salieri.
    Arsis and thesis there are.
    Even sturm und drang.
    But no ictus with all its baggage.
  • and therefore gets some kind of an accent: ONE-two, ONE-two, ONE-two-three, etc.

    That's why, when teaching chant conducting and singing, I talk about the word stress in French which turns one two three into one two three and they learn to think (and say) three two one, two one. Chant can bog down miserably when people think and sing | | | when they move forward thinking ==>. Orbis Factor 212121213213213213212121...

    Singing in this manner gets a choir out of the Hard soft and Hard soft soft rut of modern music, which we are assailed with where ever we go.

    This, like counting down from 100 when receiving anesthesia, throws the analytical thinking switch off and turns on the creative side of the brain.

    Music which is moving forward leaves the end of lines with a ?. Is there more? Have we arrived? Modern music telegraphs from the first measure where you are and where you will be at the end...

    Either that or I am at fault, trying to think and type BC. (Before Coffee)

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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,601
    Yes to understanding that it's the energy/motion from the "pickup" INTO the erstwhile downbeat that is the key,
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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    A very fascinating discussion, and I'm poring over this and trying to get what I can from all the posts. All I know is that when I heard our chant instructor (a former Benedictine chant master) sing chant, it was so beautiful and graceful, with such movement and life, I begged him to teach me how to sing just like he did, and I remember him saying, "But, my dear, I'm just following the ictus marks." He showed me how to mark them, and our chanting took off from there. I don't think we could have made such rapid progress in chant without learning the so-called "Solesmes method", and from what I can see, our adults and children's schola pick it up easily and naturally.

    My husband and I also took some lessons from a former monk who uses the Graduale Triplex, and, while I appreciate the increased sensitivity and artistic nature of it, from our perspective, it was not workable at the time since it appeared to require a great deal of preparation each week. When your schola is made up of volunteers and amateurs who live at long distances from each other and your practice time is limited, it seems to me that knowing the "Solesmes method" well is the most practical way to sing the G.R. propers every Sunday.
  • Supporters of the Solesmes approach, THANK JulieColl's post, please. Stand up for something that you also feel is useful regardless of the protests of our learned colleagues.
  • 8 Supporters of the "Solesmes method" have come forward and bared it all to the public. Will you be the next to join in?
  • Um, by 'the Solesmes approach' you of course mean Dom Cardine, yes? And Dom Saulnier?
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    And I thought only ventriloquists put words in other people's mouths.
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  • Ha! Presumptuously nabbing a monopoly on a word such as 'Solesmes' to make it mean something that is actually contrary to its true meaning, making out that this usurped word is the property of a certain school of thought which, verily, has been disavowed by the word's 'owners' is, it seems to me, quite the clever act of intellectual ventriloquism. Further, proceeding merrily through time as though the Solesmes people themselves had not actually evolved significantly away from a this certain school of thought which was, to begin with, erroneously attributed to them is also a down right fascinating bit of academic ventriloquism. Of course, I really do (yes, quite genuinely) say all this with the utmost respect for my ventriloquist colleagues.

  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,090
    OK, here goes: I prefer the semiological school - there really is no single semiological method; but I also appreciate the 19th Cent./early 20th Cent. 'Liber Usualis' method, as well as the earlier Medicean method (to me they are both mensuralist).

    That being said, I prefer historically informed Bach on period instruments; but I also (hang on tight) appreciate Stokowski's big orchestrations he played with Philadelphia.

    I prefer Semiology, and I think it is 'better' in the same way that I feel historically informed performance of Baroque music is better; but I don't think that it's the only way. Sometimes a Cavaille-Coll is just as good as a Schnitger. YMMV
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,601

    By dint of historical developments in the field, Solesmes has taken on meaning(s) independent of whether it's currently embraced or eschewed by Solesmes, which has become irrelevant in this respect.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    I learned the details of ictus marking in The Square Notes Workbook and from Dr. Marier's Gregorian Chant Master Class, so perhaps this method is more properly known as the "Ward Method." Whatever the proper name is for this method of singing chant, all I can tell you is that it has given us a tremendous boost and given us a way to make rhythmic sense of the chant.

    My husband is a professional musician, a middle school band and jazz instructor, and could not make rhythmic sense of the propers until our priest friend, the former Benedictine chant master, showed us this method. That moment was truly revolutionary, and my husband was so relieved that it gave him a way to find a recognizable downbeat and use groups of "2's" and "3's", a concept he assimilated immediately. (As he often tells me and demonstrates on his saxophone, accelerated and slightly syncopated chant is very similar to jazz.)

    Learning this method gave us almost instant facility and enthusiasm for what had been close to being drudgery before. To use an analogy: ante-Ward Method was like having to use a shovel to dig a path through 2 feet of snow. Post-Ward Method made clearing that path as effortless as having a commercial snowblower.

    That's not to say we don't concede that using the markings in the Graduale Triplex is more complete and perhaps artistically superior from a musical perspective, but the practical aspects remain, namely, how much time and effort would it take to master it, and how much time and effort to teach it to everyone in your adult and children's scholas who currently use the Ward Method? For our Latin Mass music team, that would be the straw that broke the camel's back.