Unaccompanied singing 2

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Calum Cille
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:53 pm
Parish / Diocese: Earra-Ghaidheal s na h-Eileanan - Argyll and the Isles
Location: Ceann Locha, Alba / Campbeltown, Scotland
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Unaccompanied singing 2

Post by Calum Cille » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:10 pm

John Ainslie wrote:Thank you, CC.

Metrical song is an entirely different musical form to the form required by unmetrical liturgical text. The difference is illustrated by the distinction between metrical versions of the psalms - singable but inexact translations - and canonically exact translations (like the Grail psalter) where the text has primacy. It is what led Joseph Gelineau to propose his psalm melodies for the canonical psalter which depend on the accented syllables of psalm verses. Gregorian psalm tones and their English derivatives all depend on the last accented syllable (or two) of each hemistich.

For other examples of musical treatment of recitatives - for this is what these liturgical texts are - see Handel and Purcell passim.

You're referring an educated Gaelic-speaking musician to the musical treatment of recitatives? I don't have to go to your local lads Handel and Purcell for that.

The presupposition that 'unmetrical' Latin chant required a rhythmically accentualist approach not only cannot be proven from historical sources, the contrary very much can. Binary or ternary stressed metrical song to a regular beat may seem to you to be 'entirely different' musical forms to the form that you (with no proof) state is required by 'unmetrical' liturgical text but such metrical songs are certainly not entirely different forms to those which the historical record prescribes for 'unmetrical' liturgical text which is simply built out of combining binary and ternary stressed groupings.

From what you say, one could infer that you would regard the following musical form as being "not required by [its] unmetrical liturgical text", the sort of Latin chant Guido might have been describing when using the term 'prosaic song'. This example is from the Greek Orthodox church.

http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/musi ... ses%5D.pdf

The original Greek for this works much the same way in matching syllables to melodic stress. As with Latin chant, the melodic stress of Greek chant can metricise in duple or in triple divisions. Since the English language operates happily in certain ways under musical metres built for poetry of both binary and ternary stress, there is absolute no reason to assume any problem doing the same thing with the bino-ternary prosaic texts of Latin chant.

Besides, the mere fact that there is verse upon verse of poetry sung in very strict metres in English proves that the language does not possess "a complex and subtle rhythm of accentuation, which must be respected" and shows that it very much compares with numerous other modern Indo-European languages in this regard.

alan29 wrote:My take on the infelicities that CC quotes in carols in particular is that those of us of a certain age will have been well drilled at school not to land on those syllables with a bump, but to taper off. And unhappy precedents is not an excuse to create new examples.


What a pity that such features are perceived by certain people as 'infelicities'. I find them to give the songs concerned welcome character.

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