UR SOCIETY has many excellent qualities, but there’s one thing people today seem incapable of appreciating: subtlety. That causes problems when we discuss musical phrasing, due to its delicacy. Grouping notes (or “phrasing”) is something teachers spend hours examining with students during lessons; and great musicians often disagree vociferously. Consider the way E. Power Biggs plays this section from a Bach Fugue. His phrasing (score) is not the “normal” way most organists group those patterns. Frankly, this subject is so delicate, I prefer not speak of it on the internet. Unfortunately, plainsong harmonizers have no choice—because the chords must be placed according to the note groupings. Dom André Mocquereau (d. 1930) formulated a very sophisticated method of grouping, which we now call the “classic Solesmes method.” Some people love it; others hate it. Regardless, Mocquereau never backed down, and we must admire his tenacity!
Needless to say, the Easter Sequence (Victimae Paschali Laudes) has neither dots nor episemata in the official edition:
Dom Mocquereau placed his “ictus” as follows:
Dom Mocquereau carefully avoids the tonic accent, which is how his method tries to “lighten” the accent, and keep the chant from becoming heavy:
Dom Mocquereau did this for the entire piece, as you can see:
* PDF Download • Dom Mocquereau Rhythm
—Taken from 1957 Mass & Vespers (Solesmes Abbey).
This is quite different from “German Rhythm.” Consider this example by Dr. Peter Wagner:
Here’s another example of “German Rhythm,” this time from Max Springer of Beuron Abbey:
Here’s a third example of “German Rhythm,” from Father Franz Xaver Mathias:
To accompany the “German Rhythm” (a.k.a. Accentualist), use the NOH version:
* PDF Download • Nova Organi Harmonia (1944)
—Monsignor Jules Van Nuffel was choirmaster at the Cathedral of Saint Rumbold (Belgium).
For some reason, the “German Rhythm” never caught on. Even to this day, the vast majority of Gregorian accompaniments follow “Mocquereau Rhythm.” Here are six (6) examples:
* PDF Download • Giulio Bas (1874-1929)
—Giulio Bas was the editor of the “Rassegna Gregoriana” (Rome).
* PDF Download • Henri Potiron (1882-1972)
—Potiron was Choirmaster of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Paris).
* PDF Download • Achille P. Bragers (1887-1955)
—Bragers taught at the Pope Pius X School of Liturgical Music (Manhattanville College, New York).
* PDF Download • Achille P. Bragers (TRANSPOSED)
—This has been transposed very high.
* PDF Download • Father Andrew Green (1865-1950)
—Father Green headed the music department at St. Benedict’s College (Atchison, KS).
* PDF Download • Dom Gregory A. Murray (1905-1992)
—Dom Murray was a Downside Abbey monk who eventually came to hate Mocquereau’s method.
* PDF Download • Dr. Eugene Lapierre (1957)
—Lapierre (University of Montreal) granted Roger Wagner his doctorate “in absentia” (from California).
Jeff Ostrowski’s Attempt
Here is my attempt:
* PDF Download • Harmonization by Jeff Ostrowski
—Jeff has harmonized this strictly according to the rhythmic method of Dom André Mocquereau.
(Notice how the Mocquereau method creates funny “rhythmic alighting points”—which make singers pronounce peccatóres as “pec-CA-tores.”)
Would our ears be bothered by the “Mocquereau Rhythm” if it were applied to English, in the exact same way? You be the judge:
* PDF Download • English Version Matching the Latin
—This allows an “Apples-To-Apples” comparison.
That translation—quite brilliant—was created by a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.