Thursday, February 12, 2015

Exercises just beyond the comfort level

Well, I'm sure you knew that I had something to learn. And so I do. This cantillation is no slam-dunk. The language is not easy to apply to a text and it takes, just as Jacobson teaches, a considerable savvy at parsing, almost like punctuating a paragraph. Yes, I said it - the work of assigning te'amim is almost like punctuation.

Also it is quite possible to put them together in unsingable ways. Just what were those ancients doing? How did they reserve their special tropes for the right spot in the text, and how did they sustain interest for 1000s of verses?

Where is the mid-point of a long verse? Is there a point at which a rest is suitable? How do you use the differing shapes to form a singable and meaningful line? Do these indeed have fixed sequences and services to each other? (And this is not even considering the possible modes - i.e. the accidentals of the scale.)

So here is Matthew 5:13 - it's not an easy verse.

My version:
Oh - afterthought - and here's a translation after a fashion...
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste [Mar - becomes insipid] then how to make it salty? [Insipid S-G] , it is not prosperous for anything [Mar - any longer], but should be tossed outside where it will be trampled underfoot [Mar by mortals].

Margoliouth next - I must compare to learn what really to do: O, it's so obvious now what I did wrong! My atnah is too close to the front of the verse. No one should ever rest there! (But there are occasions where the atnah is very close to one or other end of the verse. See e.g. 2 Kings 2:2 and others. In these cases there is at least one if not more than one harmonic strategy for prolonging the first half of the verse.)

Besides giving the composer a very difficult problem of taking enough time to return to the tonic, there is also no adequate cadence for the major disjunction required after yam-lach. Also you can see I have the acCENT on the wrong syllable a few times.

As before, I have had to experiment and change a few words since the two translations are quite different as would be expected. The typing with Word from scratch with all diacriticals is really slow - just like chiseling a rock! (But it is predictable - good for them).

Margolouith is more terse and the resulting line much easier to sing.