Musicologie Médiévale

Resources for medieval musicology and liturgy

Everybody in this group knows that the melodies of the vast majority of over 5000 chants of the mozarabic rite preserved in unheightened neumatic notation of about 40 Iberian manuscripts and fragments from the ninth till thirteenth century are unknown and were probably never pitch-readable notated. Many scholars believe these melodies are irretrievably lost. Last year I published the book Calculemus et Cantemus, Towards a Reconstruction of Mozarabic Chant. In this book I have published 50 computational reconstructions for these lost melodies agreeing in all detail with our knowledge of the early notation. I do not claim I restored the lost melodies, but I do claim the melodies were produced in a (semi-)automatic way and are the best possible melodies given some simple conditions I described in the book.

For Cantus Planus in Dublin I have argued on August 6 that it is possible to make a meaningful system for the objective evaluation of the authenticity of computationally restored mozarabic chants, independent of any knowledge of the lost melodies and only based on our knowledge of the mozarabic notation and the method used for the reconstruction. In my book I used and explained such a method.

To illustrate this statement I have evaluated all 50 reconstructions of the book in two different ways in the distributed handout that you find attached below as well.

The order of the criteria in the handout is a little different from those presented in the book and now is more in line with their relative importance. Criterium 10 is new in comparison to the book and is the least important, it is the average of the (secret or blind) votes of six of my singers for the "musical quality". In column A all 10 criteria are considered equally important. Column B gives an example of a "weighted" rating; here cr. 1 counts three times, 2-4 twice, 5 once, and the rest don't count at all. All criteria were rated on a scale from 0 till 10. By definition a rating of 7 or higher is "good" (+), 4 or lower "bad" (-) and between 4 and 7 "doubtful" (0). Details to be published in the Dublin proceedings.

Apart from the general statement of my paper we can conclude several things about the 50 reconstructions in the book, e.g.:
1. Column A gives no "good" guesses (rated 7 or higher).
2. Column A gives 11 chants the benefit of doubt (rated between 4 and 7).
3. Among the 5 best melodies in column A (rated 5 or higher) 4 served as a model for my database, with their lyrics, genre and liturgical assignment.
4. Remarkable also is chant 26, Conclusit vias meas, whose melody even has some similarities with Manuel Pedro Ferreira's partial reconstruction in: Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta (et al.), El canto mozárabe y su entorno (Madrid 2013) pp 489-502 (one of the very few reconstructions I know outside mine).
5. My singers (by secret vote) concluded that the musical quality of 30 out of 50 chants must be rated 7 or higher and thus is "good", and only 5 chants must be rated 4 or lower, which means their musical quality is considered "bad".

I guess you can imagine for me this is all really exciting and a good reason to continue my investigations. Since the publication of my book I have simplified and improved the method considerably, which especially affected criteria 1, 2 and 5. Since June this year Gregoriana Amsterdam is performing new reconstructions each month produced by the improved method. In November I hope to publish the Office for St Martin in this group and by the end of next year I hope to finish my study on the lost mozarabic melodies with a detailed analysis of the method and a critical edition of restored mozarabic chants including better melodies for some of my earlier reconstructions.

Comments, suggestions (also concerning machine-readable collections of chants for my database), criticism, advice and other thoughts are always welcome.


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Replies to This Discussion

Since buying the book outside the Eurozone seems to be expensive and problematic I put a PayPal-button on my site: Calculemus et Cantemus

I'll send this information!

Geert Maessen said:

Since buying the book outside the Eurozone seems to be expensive and problematic I put a PayPal-button on my site: Calculemus et Cantemus



and your logo here...

We need other partners :

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