Monday, April 28, 2014

Page width and recitation - singing the Hebrew Scriptures - Exodus 3

As the width of a car is roughly equal to the width of a pair of horses, so the page width of a letter allows a musical bar of 24 beats on one line.

How many beats can one sing for a single thought to be expressed? To date in my cursory review of musical form in the music of the te'amim, I have not seen a bar longer than 23 syllables. Exodus 3:15 has 21 as its longest bar. Here it is - (bar 146).
In contrast to these long bars, each one driving the singer forward to the next change in reciting note, the revelation of the divine name has very short bars.
I wonder how they would have sounded. Fortunately for you I have laryngitis and will not even attempt to sing today. (My wife had to sing a bit of the bass part at Compline last night! I could only sing notes below a G.)

I haven't got this section in my word analysis database yet, so I wonder how the rhetoric moves around these words. The affliction of Egypt and the list of nations (verses 7-8 and 17) seem to provide a significant bracket of repeating words. Within them, verses 9 and 16 fit as a second envelope. Verses 10-14 contain the core dialogue ending with the revelation of the Name. Verse 15 has the significant nature of the name as memorial. The phrase generation to generation is lacking a letter.

While translating, I noted a sudden shift to a singular third person object in verse 7 - his taskmaster, and his sorrow singular. Israel is one and Egypt is one in their person or the pronouns should be interpreted as plural as KJV does - but this smooths over the problem and no reading happens. If you are interested in the whole section, there are images at the shared location here.