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THE AUTHENTIC RHYTHM OF GREGORIAN CHANT - BETWEEN MENSURALISM AND SEMIOLOGY

According to my research conducted in the Netherlands, the authentic rhythm of Gregorian chant in the 10th century includes both proportional elements and elements that are in agreement with semiology (see Van Kampen, 1994, 2005).

Starting with the expectation that the rhythm of Gregorian chant (and thus the duration of the individual notes) anyway adds to the expressivity of the sacred Latin texts, several word-related variables were studied for their relationship with several neume-related variables, exploring these relationships in a sample of introit chants using such statistical methods as correlational analysis and multiple regression analysis.

Besides the length of the syllables (measured in tenths of seconds), each text syllable was evaluated in terms of its position within the word to which it belongs, defining such variables as ‘the syllable has (1) or hasn’t (0) the main accent’, ‘the syllable is (1) or isn’t (0) at the end of a word’, etc., and in terms of the particular sounds produced (for instance, the syllable does (1) or does not (0) contain the vowel ‘i’). The various neume elements were evaluated by attaching different duration values to them, both in terms of semiological propositions (nuanced durations according to the manner of neume writing in Chris Hakkennes’ Graduale Lagal, 1984), and in terms of fixed duration values that were based on mensuralistic notions, however with ratios between short and long notes ranging from 1 : 1, via 1 : 1.2, 1 : 1.4, etc. to 1 : 3. To distinguish short and long notes, tables were consulted that were established by me in an unpublished comparative study regarding the neume notations according to St Gallen and Laon codices. With some exceptions, these tables confirm the short vs. long distinctions in Cardine’s 'Semiologie Gregorienne'.

The lengths of the neumes were given values by adding up the duration values for the separate neume elements, each time following a particular hypothesis concerning the rhythm of Gregoriant chant. Both the syllable lengths and the neume lengths were also expressed in relation to the total duration of the syllables, resp. neumes for a word (contextual variables). Correlating the various word and neume variables, substantial correlations were found for the word variables 'accented syllable' and 'contextual syllable duration'. Moreover, it could be established that the multiple correlation (R) between the two types of variables reaches its maximum (R is about 0.80 !) if the neumatic elements are evaluated according to the following ‘rules of duration’:

(a) neume elements that represent short notes in neumes consisting of at least two notes have duration values of 1 time;

(b) neume elements that represent long notes in neumes consisting of at least two notes have duration values of 2 times;

(c) neumes consisting of only one note are characterized by flexible duration values (with an average value of 2 times), which take over the duration values of the syllables to match.

It is interesting that the distinction between the first two rules and the latter rule can also be found in early treatises on music, introducing the terms metrum and rhythmus (see, e.g., Wagner, 1916; Jeannin, 1930). As it could also be demonstrated by me (in fact confirming data published by Reese, 1940) that melodic peaks often coincide with the word accent, the conclusion seems warranted that the Gregorian melodies enhance the expressiveness of the Latin words by mimicking to some extent both the accentuation of the sacred words (pitch differences between neumes) and the relative duration of the word syllables (by paying attention to well-defined length differences between the individual notes of a neume).

Dr. Dirk van Kampen

- Dirk van Kampen (1994). Het oorspronkelijke ritme van het Gregoriaans: Een ‘semiologisch-mensuralistische’ studie. Landsmeer, the Netherlands.

- Dirk van Kampen (2005). Uitgangspunten voor de ritmiek van Gregoriaans. Tijdschrift voor Gregoriaans, 30, 89-94.

 

 

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Cher Professeur,

Je comprends votre point de vue. Si vous voulez voir celui du Père Cardine, il faut se reporter à son article publié dans les « Études Grégoriennes », 1962 (je cite de mémoire). Le titre de son article : « Le chant grégorien est-il mesuré ? ». Il s’agissait de répondre au mensuralisme du Père Vollaerts.

* *

À notre époque, certaines personnes ont une tendance double qui est peu cohérente. D’une part ils veulent mettre les mille nuances du grégorien dans des moules rythmiques, et d’autre part ils estiment que les signes neumatiques – qui ont vocation à faire connaître ce chant – ne sont pas fiables, disant autre chose que leur signification manifeste. En réalité, les signes neumatiques donnent une référence assurée pour connaître le grégorien. Leurs limites ne viennent pas de leur imperfection, mais du fait que ce chant est d’une infinie souplesse, et qu’il est bien difficile mettre par écrit toutes les nuances.

Le rythme est l’ordonnance du mouvement – ordonnance belle ou non. Dans cette ordonnance, il y a une mesure s’il y a un système d’ordre quantitatif. Les mesures peuvent avoir des structures très différentes – être isochrones ou non – mais elles sont quantifiées.

Le Père Cardine a passé sa vie à chanter le chant grégorien et à l’étudier dans les manuscrits. Jamais il n’a vu une quelconque quantification dans ce répertoire. Ce fils méticuleux de pharmacien avait en horreur l’esprit de système dans le domaine grégorien.

Parmi les particularités non-mesurables du grégorien qui ont intéressé Dom Cardine, citons les neumes « initio debilis » où la première note est faible ; on sait aujourd’hui que, à travers le répertoire, les notes faibles sont nombreuses. Ensuite, citons les liquescences qui affectent les articulations ; certaines sont « neumaphages », autrement dit, certaines déplacent ou suppriment une note appartenant à un groupe formulaire. Dans les derniers temps de sa vie, Dom Cardine relevait les cas de succession de « sons flous » : une liquescence suivie d’un quilisma-pes.

Dans le domaine grégorien, la position constante du Père Cardine a été de laisser la liberté à chacun de penser et de faire ce qui lui plaisait, à la condition de ne jamais contredire les données les plus certaines de la neumatique transmise par les manuscrits anciens. C’est la sagesse. Voilà le critère de la qualité de nos recherches et de nos interprétation.

J’espère ainsi, cher Professeur, montrer quelle est notre manière de voir.



Dr. Dirk van Kampen a dit :

Dear Père Guilmard,

Your response seems far removed from the contents of my original discussion. In my investigations, there was no question of a comparison of the rhythm of Gregorian chant with the rhythm of other and later types of music. My research started with a sample of introit chants, studying the neums and neum parts for their length/duration using Codex 121 of the Stiftsbibliothek Einsiedeln (E-121), Codex 239 of the Library of Laon (L-239), and Codex lit. 6 of the State Library Bamberg (B-6). As my earlier research (in agreement with Dom Cardine) had indicated that the individual notes of St. Gall and Metz comprise two distinct subgroups of (relatively) long and (relatively) short notes, I evaluated the neum parts of the introit chants in very different ways, according to both mensuralistic (giving the 'short' and 'long' notes various duration values, ranging from 1 : 1 to 1 : 3) and semiological views (based on the graphical notations in the Graduale Lagal). Summary scores were also established for the neumes as such. Because the Latin words and syllables could also be evaluated/measured in several ways (the duration of the spoken syllable in milliseconds, the type of vowel involved, the position of the syllable in the total word, etc.), it was possible to trace the links between the various textual, neum part and neum characteristics, while varying the conditions representing the mensuralistic and semiological views. Text and neum characteristics proved to be maximally related if short and long notes were given a duration of 1 versus 2 times. Hence, the classical mensuralistic view of a ratio of 1 : 2, so much emphasized in musical treatises of the Middle Ages, appears clearly supported. However, this applies only in the case of neums consisting of more than one single note. In the case of one-note neumes, semiological notions are corroborated, for the neumes then take over the length/nuances of the spoken syllable.

Cordially,

Dirk van Kampen, PhD

La nuance, qui est le propre de toute bonne exécution, n'exclut pas la mesure. Il suffit d'écouter tout bon chanteur d'opéra pour s'en rendre compte. Le rubato n'est qu'un aspect d'une musique mesurée. Les neumes initio debilis ne sont autre chose que ce qu'aujourd'hui on appelle portamento. Et si on veut se baser sur les documents anciens, les neumes ne sont pas les seuls, car il y a aussi les traités écrits par les mêmes personnes qui ont mis les neumes sur le parchemin, et ces traités sont catégoriques.

À Monsieur Ricossa : moi aussi je m'enflamme ! Nous sommes des passionnés et ce n'est pas plus mal. 

Le proverbe dit : « Les ennemis de mes ennemis sont mes amis ». Avons-nous un ennemi commun ?



Ricossa a dit :

La nuance, qui est le propre de toute bonne exécution, n'exclut pas la mesure. Il suffit d'écouter tout bon chanteur d'opéra pour s'en rendre compte. Le rubato n'est qu'un aspect d'une musique mesurée. Les neumes initio debilis ne sont autre chose que ce qu'aujourd'hui on appelle portamento. Et si on veut se baser sur les documents anciens, les neumes ne sont pas les seuls, car il y a aussi les traités écrits par les mêmes personnes qui ont mis les neumes sur le parchemin, et ces traités sont catégoriques.

Ma réponse : Je suis d'accord avec M. Ricossa. L'article de D. Cardine "Le chant grégorien est-il mesuré ?" est, à mon avis, excellent. Il y défend l'idée d'"élasticité" rythmique inhérente à la neumatique et va à l'encontre des théories mensuralistes telles qu'on les concevait depuis la fin du XIXe siècle. Mais il y a la manière de quantifier. La quantification rythmique est clairement affirmée, au XIe siècle, par Gui d'Arezzo et Aribon : certaines notes durent deux fois plus que d'autres, ce que D. Cardine ne voulait pas admettre. Il y a la quantification métrique ("tempo giusto", "chant métrique") et non métrique ("parlando rubato", "chant rythmique"). Cette dernière s'accorde avec l'élasticité démontrée par D. Cardine. La "numerositas" de saint Augustin et des Scolica enchiriadis ("numerose canere", IXe siècle) n'est pas un vain mot ; elle ne s'accorde pas avec la théorie cardinienne de la "valeur syllabique moyenne".

Je voudrais dire aussi qu'il ne faut pas ramener le problème du rythme grégorien à la lecture des neumes. Ils n'en sont qu'un élément. Sinon que faire quand il n'y a pas de neumes, comme par exemple dans les chants de l'ordinaire ? Le fondement du rythme grégorien réside dans la déclamation des paroles, comme Dom Guéranger l'avait bien compris. Mais cela a été oublié ensuite ; on s'en rend compte à travers la notation d'une exécution du choeur de Solesmes faite vers 1880. Si vous chantez en notes égales les "si" répétés du Sanctus XVIII, c'est mortellement ennuyeux !

Je me réjouis qu'on puisse, enfin, débattre franchement et ouvertement de ces questions.

Dear Father Guilmard, 

I’m familiar with Dom Cardine’s paper Le Chant Grégorien est-il mesuré?, published in the Etudes Gregoriennes, VI, 1963, 7-38, or better still, I have read the English translation of that paper, which appeared in 1964 (Abbaye St. Pierre, Solesmes). However, I must say, even more important to defend the semiological (and thus your) position regarding nuanced duration is Smits van Waesberge’s (1942) Muziekgeschiedenis der Middeleeuwen (which, unfortunately, was only published in Dutch). So I take the liberty to start with Father Smits van Waesberge’s objections to the mensuralistic position of Vollaerts and other mensuralists. I hope once more to demonstrate (see my original discussion paper) that the ‘true’ position regarding the rhythm of Gregorian chant is in-between mensuralism and semiology (so I am neither a mensuralist nor a semiologist).   

According to Smits van Waesberge’s (1942) criticisms, it is certainly true that one may speak in Gregorian chant of “a substantial number of broadened notes and notes that are not broadened, but the fact remains that we still must conclude that the chant is not sung on the basis of only short or long notes referring to a proportional duration of 1: 2”. Smits van Waesberghe's (1942, p. 632) main argument is that the notation of St. Gallen (E-121) contains so many different neum figures, either with or without letters or letter combinations like c, t, m, cm, tm, cb or tb, that it is impossible to conclude that with these figures and letters only two length values, short or long, are intended. 

However, the different neum forms themselves tell us nothing here. Quite apart from added episemas or letters, these forms can only indicate short or long notes, even if the terms 'short' and 'long' have no fixed meaning: a pes rotundus (two short notes) has simply another form than a pes quadratus (two long notes). So, at least from this perspective, it is not surprising that mensuralists lay great emphasis on the fundamental distinction (also mentioned by Smits van Waesberge) between short and long notes, adhering to the 1 : 2 duration ratio so often described in early treatises. According to the Commemoratio Brevis de Tonis et Psalmis Modulandis (10th century), to take but one example, the singer is instructed as follows: “Therefore let no inequality of chanting mar the sacred melodies; not for moments let any neum or note be unduly prolonged or shortened (…) In fact all the longs must be equally long, all the shorts of equal brevity (…) And in accordance with the length durations let there be formed short beats, so that they be neither more nor less, but one always twice as long as the other (…) because assuredly every melody is to be carefully measured after the manner of metre” (the translation of the original Latin text is of Dom Murray, 1961). 

But what if the episema or the letters c, t, etc. are added? According to Smits van Waesberge in a paper published in Caecilia (1960, 87, 128-137), the answer is clear. In his criticisms levelled at Vollaert’s (1960) book Rhythmic Proportions in Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Chant, Smits van Waesberge writes that “The letter ‘t’ appears in Ms. Einsiedeln 1614 times; Ms. St. Gall 359, 446 times; Ms. St. Gall 390/391, 472 times, for a total of more than 2500 appearances. Can this mark of interpretation, which was added even to the long notes, be taken as always superfluous in a book of songs copied out especially for the director or soloist? More reasona­bly, these notes would seem to have many more duration nuances than are conceded in the 2 : 1 ratio theory. A consideration of the other rhythmic letters adds greater probability to this view. (...) Moreover, if short tones are always the same, what does the letter ‘c’ found so often with the short tone signify? This ‘unnecessary’ letter appears 5754 times in Ms. Eins.; 2254 times in Ms. St. Gall 359; and 5149 times in Ms. St. Gall 390/391, for a total of more than 13,000 times in the three manuscripts (...). May we call such care ‘unnecessary’, or assert that it was exercised only ‘to help ignorant singers’? And what of the other letter combinations appended to neums?”. 

The theory of the ‘ignorant singers’ (see Vollaerts, 1960, p. 155) must indeed be rejected. Choir directors and soloists, the only ones - at least initially – that possessed song books, can simply not be regarded as such. However, against Smits van Waesberghe's (1960) suggestion that the letters ‘c’ and ‘t’ are 'necessary', because they apparently indicate an additional shortening (c) or extension (t) of an already short or long note (according to the neum form itself), objections may also be raised. Indeed, as Smits van Waesberghe (1942, p. 664) himself already recognized, the letter ‘c’ has very often a negative meaning; in such cases ‘c’ is not appended to indicate an additional reduction of a short note, but for instance to indicate a contrast with a longer note. This 'redundancy', which also applies to the letters ‘a’ (in L-239) and ‘t’ (and also to the episema) becomes even more strongly apparent from a mutual comparison of the various neum manuscripts, both from the same school and from different schools, and also from a comparison of corresponding passages in the same manuscript (see Vollaerts, 1960, p. 146-158). From the then demonstrated totally random and inconsistent use of these letters, no other conclusion can be derived than that the letters ‘c’ and ‘t’ (and ‘a’ and the episema) imply 'another way' to indicate short or long notes above or apart from the differences in the neum graph itself, and that this use of the letters ‘c’ and ‘t’, etc. is indeed superfluous (and often also not applied), because the shape of the neum already unveils the short or long character of the note. The equivalence of both manners of notation is also apparent from Aribo’s treatise De Musica (11th century). In this treatise, the distinction between short and long notes is not, as elsewhere indicated (e.g., in the Scholia Enchiriadis or the Anonymus Vaticanus, see Wagner, 1912, p. 355), associated with particular neum forms, but with the letters ‘c’ and ‘t’ (and also with ‘m’, see below). Aribo literally says: "And it is therefore [i.e., because of the distinction between short and long notes] that in old chant books often the letters ‘c’, ‘t’ and ‘m’ are found, which stand for celeritas, tarditas and mediocritas.” The reason why these 'unnecessary' letters are sometimes used in several manuscripts follows, perhaps, from their partly positive significance. For it has been established that the letter ‘t’ (as well as the episema and the letter ‘a’) prolongs a short note (the shortness here indicated by the graph) and that the letter ‘c’ shortens a long note (also indicated by the graph) (see, e.g., Vollaerts, 1960, p . 155). Specifically with respect to the letter ‘c’ in St Gall manuscripts, a further reason seems identifiable why this letter is often notated in ‘unnecessary’ situations. In most cases, namely, ‘c’ is appended to a short clivis or a short climacus (see Smits van Waesberghe, 1942, p. 664), i.e. appended to a neum figure that in its manner of writing shows less disparity with the long form than is, for instance, apparent in the case of a torculus. Finally, as already indicated above, the letters ‘c’ and ‘t’ (and the episema) may also be used as a kind of ‘warning’. 

Is also Murray (1961) convinced, that the letter ‘c’ denotes a note of 1 time, and the letters ‘t’ and ‘a’ and the episema a note of 2 times, 'The matter is perhaps not quite so simple when the letters 'm' (mediocriter ) and 'b' (bene) are combined with 't' or 'c', as sometimes happens in some of the St Gall manuscripts.’ I will not address here Murray’s (1961) or Jeannin’s (1925) solution of this problem, as these solutions – mediocriter translating with ‘precise, exact, without exaggeration’ (Murray) or ‘exactement’ (Jeannin) – are probably incorrect. More to the point, then, is the observation by Smits van Waesberge (1942, p. 653) that the letters ‘c’, ‘cm’, ‘tm’ and ‘t’ (and also ‘cb’ and ‘tb’ as the most extreme poles) determine a continuum of duration values, albeit that ‘cm’ and ‘tm’ are sometimes replaced by ‘m’, but without implicating that ‘cm’ equals ‘tm’. The letter combinations ‘cm’ and ‘tm’, therefore, which are positioned between ‘c’ and ‘t’, are more alike ‘m’ with respect to duration time and farther removed from ‘c’ or ‘t’. Obviously, the durations represented by ‘cm’, ‘m’, and ‘tm’ cannot be determined in a very precise way, but given the 1 : 2 ratio for ‘c’ versus ‘t’, we can approximately say that the duration values for ‘cm’, ‘m’ and ‘tm’ are 1,3, 1.4 and 1.6. The values 1,3 and 1,6 are then more in the neighborhood of 1,4 and farther removed from 1 and 2, what is in agreement with the above-mentioned confusion in the manuscripts between ‘cm’ and ‘tm’ with ‘m’. In my view, the impossibilities of making a clear distinction between duration values associated with ‘cm’, ‘m’ and ‘tm’ are also mentioned in chapter 15 of Guido of Arezzo’s Micrologus (11th century). The relevant text here reads as follows (I use my own translation): "And so is it necessary to arrange the notes of a melody as though by metric metrical feet, and that some notes compared with others have a duration twice as long or twice as short or have a tremula, that is a tone duration of varying length, which is sometimes long, namely when a horizontal dash is added to the neum.” It is without saying that the short and long notes, which refer to the ratio 1 : 2, are in the great majority in the manuscripts, whereas notes of varying length (e.g., neum elements with ‘cm’) are relatively seldom encountered. So it seems understandable that nearly all musical treatises of the Middle Ages only emphasize the distinction between short and long notes and the duration ratio 1 : 2. Nevertheless, with the presence of some notes that may deviate in duration from this ratio, we may defend a position that is in-between mensuralism and semiology. My own view regarding the duration of neums consisting of only one note (see my original discussion paper) adds further credence to this position. On the basis of the same ratio as the one between ‘c’ and ‘cm’, ‘cm’ and ‘tm’, and ‘tm’ and ‘t’, we may also estimate the values associated with ‘cb’ (0,8) and ‘tb’ (2,5). From these estimations, we may get some further information about neum figures with an initium debile, like for instance the torculus specialis (see, e.g., Cardine, 1970, p. 29). So, in this respect too, the above-mentioned in-between position is very likely.

However, I want to add to this that both mensuralists and semiologists often exaggerate their positions. In the melody transcriptions presented by Murray (1963, Musical Supplement), for instance, one can encounter in the case of merely syllabic composed passages (consisting of only virgae or tractuli) whole series of equally long notes. I think, that is nonsense. But is seems to me also nonsense to provide a different rhythmical interpretation for a smaller-written uncinus compared with one of a greater size (see, e.g., Göschl, 1985). The long clivis in L-239 for instance consists usually of a larger one (the uncinus at the top) and a smaller one (the uncinus at the bottom), but is seems very odd to interpret this as a longer note followed by a shorter note. 

Claiming that short notes become not ‘extra short’ by the addition of ‘c’ and long notes not ‘extra long’ by the addition of ‘t’, ‘a’ (in L-239), or the episema is one thing, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. As I wrote in my original contribution to this site, I collected empirical evidence sustaining the ‘mensuralistic’ notion of a duration ratio for short versus long notes of 1 : 2. In my statistical investigations, I paid at first no attention to possible effects of ‘c’ appended to short notes and ‘t’ appended to long notes. In a later stage, however (thus already having corroborated the 1 : 2 ratio), these possible effects were investigated by introducing for short notes with ‘c’ (in a neum of at least two notes) not the value of 1 time, but a series of three diminished values, namely 0,90 (thus -10%), 0,75 (-25%), and 0,50 (-50%). Likewise, for long notes with ‘t’, ‘a’, or the episema (in a neum of at least two notes), not the value 2 was inserted, but subsequently three larger values, to wit, 2,22, 2,67 and 4,00. It was then possible to compare the originally obtained multiple correlation with respect to the relationship between musical and textual characteristics with later obtained multiple correlations. The results were clear. As the (presumed) shortening or extension by ‘c’ or ‘t’, etc. of the original values 1 and 2 becomes stronger, the multiple correlation becomes weaker. The conclusion, therefore, seems inevitable: the letters ‘c’, ‘t’, ‘a’ and the episema do not result in an additional shortening or lengthening of notes (within a neum of two or more notes) that are already short or long. 

Best wishes, 

Dr. Dirk van Kampen

 

Cher Professeur,

Pardonnez-moi de ne pas avoir  répondu à votre texte, mais  je ne maîtrise pas l'organisation du site "Musique médiévale", et je ne sais pas où retrouver les diverses parties du débat. Par exemple, j'ai envoyé hier un texte, et il semble n'être pas parvenu à destination !  En outre, une réponse demande beaucoup de temps et de réflexion. C'est pourquoi jusqu'à présent, j'ai préféré donner les éléments qui me paraissent les plus importants. 

Dr. Dirk van Kampen a dit :

Thanks Manuel. I will have a look at your paper.

Best, Dirk van Kampen

Le cher Oliver Gerlach me reproche de n’être pas un vrai ennemi du Prof. Dirk van Kampen. il en voit la preuve dans le fait que je n’ai pas pris le temps d’étudier et de répondre à son étude. J’obéis donc, non pour être un vrai ennemi, mais par respect et amitié pour le Prof. Dirk van Kampen.

Votre conception, cher Professeur, n’est certes pas un mensuralisme au sens d’un système quantifié. En outre, elle tient compte de la sémiologie. Cependant – si je la comprends bien – elle ne concerne que la durée, et elle aboutit à mettre dans un cadre étroit ce qui est souplesse infinie. Comment pondérer l’impondérable : une petite longueur, un léger retard ? En outre, rien n’est dit de l’intensité : une petite pression, un lâcher. Rien n’est dit de la hauteur : une mélodie chantée au grave ne ressemble pas à une même mélodie chantée à l’aigu. D’ailleurs, qui est le juge de la durée ? On plaisantait jadis Dom Gajard qui décidait souverainement de la place des ictus.

Mais supposons la partition imprimée, qui pourra chanter des notes dont la durée est d’une variété si subtile ?

J’espère, cher Professeur, que vous me pardonnerez ma franchise. La conception que vous présentez, si je la comprends bien, est quantifiée, alors que le chant grégorien et son rythme sont libres.



Père Jacques-Marie Guilmard a dit :

Cher Professeur,

Pardonnez-moi de ne pas avoir  répondu à votre texte, mais  je ne maîtrise pas l'organisation du site "Musique médiévale", et je ne sais pas où retrouver les diverses parties du débat. Par exemple, j'ai envoyé hier un texte, et il semble n'être pas parvenu à destination !  En outre, une réponse demande beaucoup de temps et de réflexion. C'est pourquoi jusqu'à présent, j'ai préféré donner les éléments qui me paraissent les plus importants. 

My response:

Cher Père,

I apologize for being so impatient. I will return to the discussion after a few weeks, for I’m going on holidays.

Dr. Dirk van Kampen

Dear Father Guilmard,

Oeps, I now see that you have replied to my extensive account which describes my views regarding the rhythm of Gregorian chant. Once more, your reply is disappointing.

To begin with, your reply is not very clear. First you asserted that my conception « n’est certes pas un mensuralisme au sens d’un système quantifié », but later on you writes that the conception which I present « est quantifiée, alors que le chant grégorien et son rythme sont libres ». Such a contradiction is difficult to understand. However, I’m glad that you recognize that my system « tient compte de la sémiologie ». Indeed, the research-based view that I defend is positioned between semiology and mensuralism.    

Furthermore, I think, your conclusions are obviously premature. Indeed, in what I wrote thus far the emphasis is on duration values, but that doesn’t imply that I have no open eye for « l’impondérable: une petite longueur, un léger retard ». In that respect, I agree with a comment made by M. Ricossa, stating that « La nuance, qui est le propre de toute bonne exécution, n’exclut pas la mesure ». It is also obvious that my views include the whole gamut of varying note lengths for neums consisting of only one note, and the same applies for liquescent endings. I refuse to say anything about the ictus, for the simple reason that there is nothing in the manuscripts supporting this vertical episema.

But the most disturbing feature in your reply is that you completely pass the results of my research, namely that the relationship between musical and textual elements was found to be maximized when the ratio between short and long notes equals 1 : 2. As I examined several proportional ratios, representing mensuralism, and also entered ‘nuanced values’ representing the semiological view, I wasn’t biased with respect to a particular position about the rhythm of Gregorian chant. Hence, I would like to ask you the following question: What’s your opinion regarding the situation that the 1 : 2 ratio was empirically corroborated in my research?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

Best wishes,

Dr. Dirk van Kampen


Père Jacques-Marie Guilmard a dit :

Le cher Oliver Gerlach me reproche de n’être pas un vrai ennemi du Prof. Dirk van Kampen. il en voit la preuve dans le fait que je n’ai pas pris le temps d’étudier et de répondre à son étude. J’obéis donc, non pour être un vrai ennemi, mais par respect et amitié pour le Prof. Dirk van Kampen.

Votre conception, cher Professeur, n’est certes pas un mensuralisme au sens d’un système quantifié. En outre, elle tient compte de la sémiologie. Cependant – si je la comprends bien – elle ne concerne que la durée, et elle aboutit à mettre dans un cadre étroit ce qui est souplesse infinie. Comment pondérer l’impondérable : une petite longueur, un léger retard ? En outre, rien n’est dit de l’intensité : une petite pression, un lâcher. Rien n’est dit de la hauteur : une mélodie chantée au grave ne ressemble pas à une même mélodie chantée à l’aigu. D’ailleurs, qui est le juge de la durée ? On plaisantait jadis Dom Gajard qui décidait souverainement de la place des ictus.

Mais supposons la partition imprimée, qui pourra chanter des notes dont la durée est d’une variété si subtile ?

J’espère, cher Professeur, que vous me pardonnerez ma franchise. La conception que vous présentez, si je la comprends bien, est quantifiée, alors que le chant grégorien et son rythme sont libres.

If one whishes to discard the Theorists (I disagree), and only consider the manuscripts, you will find that there also there is a clear corresponding ratio 2:1. It is a well established fact that the St Gall square pes (two notes) equals two single notes on single syllables. Hence a syllable with a square pes = 2 and a syllable with a virga = 1.

It is also a well established fact that a rounded pes equals a single note. Hence a syllable with a rounded pes = 1 (but each note = 1/2) exactly like a syllable with a virga. It is also a well establisched fact that a virga with liniola = two syllables with normal virga, hence again a syllable = 2 or 1+1.

The same can be said for the clinis with episem (=1+1) or with celeriter (=1/2+1/2=one single syllable).

I can agree with the idea of "temps syllabique moyen" insofar as the syllables are considered metrically (I don't speak here of classical metric, but of a system of normal and lenghtened syllables 1:2) in the repertoire of the simple office-antiphons.

The prosaici cantus have mostly stretched syllables "ultra mensuram", but the neumes must necessarily keep their value. Hence they are also organised INDEPENDENTLY from the text, in freely associated long and short values.

Dr. Dirk van Kampen a dit :

Dear Father Guilmard,

Oeps, I now see that you have replied to my extensive account which describes my views regarding the rhythm of Gregorian chant. Once more, your reply is disappointing....

Voici ma réponse

Cher Professeur,

Pardonnez-moi, mais je n'avais vu votre message de dimanche. sur le Site.  

Je ne comprends pas bien votre position sur 2:1, c'est pourquoi je m'abstiens de répondre. .

Sur le premier point que vous relevez: la quatification. J'ai noté d'abord que vous n'avez pas un "système quantifié", mais  que dans ce que je saisis de votre conception, le chant grégorien est quantifié. La nuance est importante.

Ce qui me manque un petit peu dans cette discussion, comme musicien intéressé pas principalement au débuts du Grégorien mais aux répertoires plus tardifs, est une réflexion sur les développements du chant a partir du haut moyen-âge. Le problème avec cette idée du "plainchant authentique", pour moi est vraiment qu'il obscure un peu l'énorme variété musicale des plainchants historiques.

Ce qui me semble toujours un peu ridicule c'est que  dans les conservatoires on étudie le plainchant "authentique", dans les meilleurs cas informé par des sources et traités, mais dans le pires cas on enseigne juste un plainchant "néogothique." Et après on dit aux élèves que c'est ça le base pour l'écriture  polyphonique! (Avec tous les idiosyncrasies de la "modalité pure" etc.)

Je sais que ceci est plutôt une question de pédagogie et de pratique, mais je le crois néanmoins important. Pourquoi les chanteurs en générale veulent ils chanter une messe de Josquin avec un proprium en plainchant du huitième siècle? Lá il y a vraiment encore un énorme travail a faire... 

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