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Dear colleagues,

as you perfectly know, there are lots of dotted puncta, virgae etc. in Solesmes editions of plainchant repertoire which are conventionally explained (as e.g. in the Foreword to Liber usualis) as (1) doble prolongation of rhythmic value of the neuma to which a dot is attached or (2) marks signifying disctintions (periodi) in the form (I omit interpretation details, they are easily accessible).

However, I don't see any dotted neumes in any of well known 'square' mss. of the 13th c., as Worcester aniphonary or a gradual from Rouen (F-Pn lat.904). Neither I could find any notion of the dots' origin in the books of Stäblein (MGB, 'Schriftbild der einstimmigen Musik'), Hiley, Apel and in the Grove dictionary.

I would be grateful to anyone who knows, when exactly dotted 'square' notation appeared and on which exactly ground they were introduced (hints to early mss. with square notation with dots would be highly appreciated).

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Those dots are modern. I have found them in XIXth Century printed graduals (Solesmes didn't invent them)

Dear colleague,


theese dots are modern additions in the Solesmes books like Liber usualis (editio iuxta typicam = private fitting to official books), they do not appear in the official editio Vaticana (editio typica = official). Theese dots were added according to the old "method of Solesmes" (Mocquereau) to show details of a performances practices invented in the 20th century, called the "method of Solesmes". The monks of Solesmes denied this method of interpretation officially in the preface of the Liber Hymnarius 1983, where they proposed to sing chant according to the indication for interpretation in the early medieval neumes. (What they are doing in their practice is another story...)  Some dots may fit with the neumes, many of them do not. Therfore: study the neumes and forget the dots of Liber usualis.

The system of interpretation of Dom Pothier (the editor of the Gradual 1908) was closer to medieval practice: he proposed to sing the chant according to the rythm of a natural pronunciation of the latin language. The Liber Hymnarius of 1983 proposes nothing else than the same: sing in the same way as you are speaking (last sentences of the preface: quomodo neumae legantur).

I am sure, one may find dots also in some earlier prints of 18th (e.g. Franciscan manuscripts or prints) or 19th c. But in every case: theese are signs for interpretation of a certain "author" or "school" with a special itnerest.

Kind regards

Franz KArl Prassl

Thank you. I perfectly understand that dots consistently appeared according to some Solesmes editorial principle. May question was, on what exactly ground they were introduced. There has to be some explanation of this notational practice (by Mocquereau?) which I don't see it any of disseminated Solesmes editions. And hoped that someone gives me a hint.

As for Liber hymnarius, the dots are still there, along with 'rhythmic' explanations (valor syllabicus auctus, valor syllabicus deminutus; see p.XVI).

They are based on the -- not always correct -- neume interpretation of Dom Mocquereau (Le nombre musical gréglrien). St Gall "episemes" are represented either by horizontal strokes or by dots (often by... nothing). At the end you get an edition with a "late" musical line and "ancient" rhythmicl signs, the whole not very carefully realised (e.g. "episemes" are omitted when they generate a too regular rhythmical pattern, as in Alleluia Omnes gentes).

The system is, I think, copyrighted.

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