Monday, August 6, 2012

Next project

If one can write a book on Seeing the Psalter, would it not be necessary then to write one on Hearing the Psalter? Perhaps I will be able to. I have begun reading about the te'amim, those symbols in the text of the Bible that have been taken as ultra punctuation and as chironomic signs indicating the music to be performed. I won't try and say much in my first notes except to point to some confirmation of Suzanne Haik-Vantoura's method of deciphering the music in the signs. Here is David Mitchell's brief confirming article - a quick read and to my mind answering many of my early questions.

My initial impression is that the regular signs such as are in Genesis, define an 8-note harmonic minor scale designated by the cantillation marks below the words, with additional ornamentation around the current note of the scale indicated by the cantillation marks above the words. The signs that are in the speeches of Job, the Psalms and the Proverbs indicate a 7-note modal scale (below the words) with variations, possibly indicated by the inscriptions, and also ornamentation for the marks above the words.

This month I will review the psalms to check my own subjective assessments of phrasing against these markings.

You will find pointers to performances here on John Wheeler's new blog.

Earlier posts on this will be found from my Oxford conference page.