Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interpreting the chironomy of Psalm 13

I found a font that displays the te'amim.  This is a long-winded exercise.  There are probably some slips of the finger...

Without using a staff, here's my first interpretation of the signs. I assumed E minor (always start on the tonic, in this case the second note). SHV has an occasional A# in her interpretation and also additional 'ornaments' based on signs that are not in my Tanakh. 


The absolute scale is D#, E, F#, G, A(#), B, c - seven notes only. In my transcription, x=ch, c=ts. Try the English words to the Hebrew notes. Stay on the note indicated by the sign under the word (see prior post) until the note changes. 

The signs over the words, interpreted in my adhoc notation below as smaller letters, are relative to the current note. I likely should not think of them as 'ornaments' but more like a flexus relative to the current note. Consider the whole in a plainsong pulse (not swallowing any syllables) - but as David Mitchell notes, there is no reason not to impose a rhythm. 

Psalm 13
לַמְנַצֵּ֗חַ מִזְמֹ֥ור לְדָוִֽד׃
For the leader A psalm of David 
lamna-ce-ax mizmor leDavid
E........D#.E.........F#..........E

עַד־אָ֣נָה יְ֭הוָה תִּשְׁכָּחֵ֣נִי נֶ֑צַח
How long please יהוה will you forget me? Perpetually?
ad-anah Adonai tishkaxeni ? necax?
E...B......G..................B........A(#)

עַד־אָ֓נָה תַּסְתִּ֖יר אֶת־פָּנֶ֣יךָ מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
How long please will you hide your face from me?
ad-anah tastyr et-paneyka mimeni?
A(b)F#-GA..G...........B............E
SHV interprets the ornament as a rising semitone scale to A natural


עַד־אָ֨נָה אָשִׁ֪ית עֵצֹ֡ות בְּנַפְשִׁ֗י
How long please must I impose advice on myself
ad-anah a-shyt e-cot bnaf-shi
E...F#.....E..D#....F#-E.D#..C

יָגֹ֣ון בִּלְבָבִ֣י יֹומָ֑ם
sadness in my heart by day?
ya-gun bilvavi yomam
A...B..................A(#) 
I asked John Wheeler about the second munach. Here is his explanation: "It's very common for munach to repeat itself, everywhere in Hebrew Scripture (in some few verses of prosodia, quite a few times in one verse), just as silluq can repeat itself up to three times on a word (cf. the end of Psalms 96 for one example). It's important not to confuse the presence of munach with a focus on munach. Remember, there's a hierarchy of functions in these signs: 
1) Indicates the melodic line 
2) Indicates the syntax (the same sign accordingly, like munach, can take on a disjunctive or conjunctive role in some cases) 
3) Indicates the verbal rhythm (directly or indirectly) 

So first the sustained note is indicated by the first munach. But that one is conjunctive (it joins words syntactically). The second is disjunctive (it divides words) and also marks the accented syllable. This notation is highly abbreviated - unlike the Greek alphabetical notation, not every syllable has to be marked. And unlike some other notations, there is no need for special rhythmic or stress signs either. Its basis in chironomy (hand-gestures) explains these features and others very well."

עַד־אָ֓נָה יָר֖וּם אֹיְבִ֣י עָלָֽי׃
How long please will my enemy be exalted over me?
ad-anah yarum oi-vi a-lai?
A.F#-GA.....G.........B.....E

הַבִּ֣יטָֽה עֲ֭נֵנִי יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֑י
Take note - answer me יהוה my God
habitah anneni Adonai elohi
E.B.E....G...............B.......A(#)

הָאִ֥ירָה עֵ֝ינַ֗י פֶּן־אִישַׁ֥ן הַמָּֽוֶת׃
Light my eyes lest I be dead asleep
ha-ir-ah einai pen ishan hamavet
A...F#...A-F#.F#.................E
SHV has two additional zarqa (turns) on the opening ha and on ishan (asleep).  


פֶּן־יֹאמַ֣ר אֹיְבִ֣י יְכָלְתִּ֑יו
lest my enemy say, I have overpowered him
pen-yo-mar oi-vi yekal-tiv
E..........B.....................A(#)

צָרַ֥י יָ֝גִ֗ילוּ כִּ֣י אֶמֹּֽוט׃
My foes will re-joice for I will be moved
A...F#...A-F#....F#.........B...........E


וַאֲנִ֤י בְּחַסְדְּךָ֣ בָטַחְתִּי֮ 
But I in your kindness I have trusted
E....c........B.............................A-C-B
There is a vertical bar (legarmeh) after ve-ani in my Tanakh, and a disjunction right at the turn of the zarqa.

יָ֤גֵ֥ל לִבִּ֗י בִּֽישׁוּעָ֫תֶ֥ךָ
My heart will rejoice in your salvation
C...F#......................E.........A-E.F#
missing the ole from my earlier chart


אָשִׁ֥ירָה לַיהוָ֑ה כִּ֖י גָמַ֣ל עָלָֽי׃
I will sing to יהוה for he has matured me
F#...............A....G...B.....................E