Gregorian Rhythm Wars contains all previous installments of our series.
Please refer to our Chant Glossary for definitions of unfamiliar terms.
HE RECENT EXCHANGE WITH MATTHEW FREDERES proved to be a bit of a diversion from the Rhythm Wars topic. Instead of expending more time and energy debating the merits of melodic variants or hundred-year-old letters from cardinals, I would like to return to the subject of rhythm. In last month’s article, I deliberately chose an exceptional chant. Today I would like to examine a short introit with no melodic changes in the Graduale Novum.
1908 Graduale Romanum
2011 Graduale Novum
In the Graduale Novum, besides the addition of the adiastematic neumes, there are only three differences from the Vatican edition: the removal of the star marking the end of the intonation, the substitution of a quarter bar line for the half bar line, and the connected form of the penultimate neume. Here is a transcription in modern notation, followed by commentary:
- unlike in previous examples in this series, I have used staccato dots to emphasize that the repeated notes should be rearticulated and not tied together
- long + grace + long (pes initio debilis) corresponds to the combined evidence of L (the neumes of Laon 239, written above the staff) and E (Einsiedeln 121, written below the staff); L could be sung literally as long + two shorts, and E as two shorts + long; three shorts here is out of the question
- the porrectus here terminates with a cephalicus, which indicates augmentative liquescence; the voiced consonant is given half the note value
- the oriscus in E warns that the following note is not in unison
- L notates a weak beginning note (torculus initio debilis) here; the first note is absent in a number of early sources, which supports the ornamental interpretation as a grace note
- the Beneventan manuscripts write the last three notes as a torculus
- half bar line in the Vatican edition
- the combination of t and st in E is odd; Stingl thinks the t applies to the last note of the tristropha and the st to the following note
- the oriscus here (and elsewhere) might indicate an ornament
- pes + torculus in the Vatican edition; the connected (cursive) form used in the Novum agrees with the adiastematic neumes
Here is an attempt at an Urtext edition:
and a performing edition in Gregorian notation:
I’m Waiting… • With nearly all of my previous questions remaining unanswered almost three months later, I challenge contributors and readers alike to demonstrate how either the nuanced Solesmes rhythm or the equalist pure Vatican edition rhythm for this chant could possibly agree with the Messine neumes of L (Laon 239) or the St. Gall neumes of E (Einsiedeln 121). Do we have an older source for this chant than L? (And if so, what does it show?) Do the late medieval manuscripts faithfully reproduce the rhythm of L? If not, then regarding rhythm, how can they be considered reliable, let alone authoritative? With these questions unanswered by those objecting to the inclusion and observance of rhythmic markings based on the oldest extant sources, it is difficult to take their arguments seriously.