Sunday, October 3, 2010

More on music - 2 Chronicles and chironomy

Chironomy - the hand gestures indicate the music
Suzanne Haik Vantoura writes in her book concerning the te-amim - Only the signs below the text had fixed meaning. The signs above the text being subordinate to those below.

John Wheeler, editor of Haik Vantoura's English translation, has an article on chironomy here. The mapping of sound, scale, harmony and cadence onto hand gestures holds the complexity of a language of musical notation in a transmittable form. Suzanne Haik Vantoura points out the meaning then of a verse like 1 Chronicles 25:6
כָּל־אֵלֶּה עַל־יְדֵי אֲבִיהֶם בַּשִּׁיר בֵּית יְהוָה
All these were under the musical direction (lit. under the hands - in the song) of their father [in] the house of יְהוָה (or possibly in the song of the house...?)
כל־א֣לה על־ידי֩ אביה֨ם בש֜יר ב֣ית יהו֗ה
(JPS 1917 All these were under the hands of their fathers for song in the house of the LORD assuming that אביהם is used distributively of each father of the sons named.)

(Aside: you can do almost anything in translation! What could one do to resolve ambiguity with music?) The subsequent mapping of hand gestures to the written text is also a credible language coding scheme and efficient - no longer requiring individual directors for each voice or instrument. Even the rubrics were meant to be sung.

Here is another example  [click on show cantillation if necessary] Psalm 19:6 (7 Hebrew)
מקצ֤ה השמ֨ים מֽוצא֗ו ותקֽופת֥ו על־קצות֑ם
and a hint in the image below of how the mapping is done to modern notation. Note that the metheg has been understood at this site as related to stress and pronunciation rather than music - (Lambdin #11). Haik-Vantoura considers that the metheg moves the singer back to the tonic. (Her default tonic is E. Pitches are relative. Absolute pitches not known.)

These markings could be seen as the equivalent of punctuation and phrasing. This section of psalm 19 can be compared with the performance - hopefully ear, hand, eye, and voice will agree.

There is a zip file at this link with a power point presentation.