Low B-flat

I'm working on a project of performance editions of Dominican chant using medieval manuscripts of Dominican chant sources to correct the versions in the mid-20th century Dominican Graduale. One issue I've come up with for a couple of chants (e.g. Offertorium 'Meditabor' and communio 'Domine dominus noster') is that the mid-20th century edition adds a flat on certain low B notes that is not present in the manuscript sources. I notice that in parallel chants in the Solesmes editions there is no low B-flat given. I understand that the low B-flat was not included in some medieval theoretical systems, but is there any consensus presently about whether a low B would have been sung flatted or not?

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  • Are these chants, or the passages that exhibit the low B-flat, ever written a fifth higher?  Guido talks about this in cap. 8 of the Micrologus, saying that a passage descending two whole tones after D E F (= B-flat C D E F) can be transposed up to a b-natural c when written, thus yielding the proper intervallic succession. A beautiful example of this very transposition is the beginning of the Sanctus prose Laudes deo ore pio.  I can send some references if you want.

    Charles Atkinson

  • Hello Fr. Innocent!

    The Sarum Sources do not have low B-flat on those pieces.  I'm sorry can't be of further help on this question.

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