Monday, October 5, 2015

Thinking about length of the recitation

If the scale as inferred by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura is correct, then the count of the number of syllables on a reciting note can be discovered.

Would this be an interpretive factor for a verse? Might measures of this nature indicate a mode for a section of the text? I won't know this until I have done lots of measurements or if it is even a decent question. But measurements are possible. If I just look at the impact of say, progressively rising recitations in a chapter, then Genesis 1 gives examples.

Verse 7 is the first long recitation, 13 syllables on B followed by 7 on C a semitone up followed by 12 on another B. In some ways this simply reflects a long thought - constructing the firmament and dividing the waters. There are several long recitations on verse 9 (12 beats on B - gathering the waters), verse 21  (19 beats on B - after the atnach, the waters bringing forth abundantly and celebrated with a flourish), and verse 25, 23 beats constructing the abundant life of the earth.

On the rule of humanity, verse 26 gives us a variation on the recitation of the prior verse including 8 beats on the A instead of the B. The shape of the two verses is otherwise very similar. What if the 8 beats on the rest note gives humanity the option to 'rest' in God while doing its work. In verse 27 the creation itself is on a low note. (Must be work to do!)

The longest recitation is 34 beats in verse 29 - I challenge you to get to the rest in one breath! (No need really). Here's a possible English underlay with somewhat random ASCII symbols for the Hebrew accents.

And [B] God said: "Be~hold, I have \given to /you every herb, seeding *seed that \is on the face of the whole :earth, and every [D] tree in which is the [F] fruit of a [G#] tree [B] seeding [A] seed. //
To [F] you [E] they [G#] will be for [E] food."

Of the phrases in Genesis, the note sequence of verse 1 is used 25 more times. This appears to be of no particular significance. Two other sequences are used 26 times. This is equally of no significance. The games that the Word of God plays are far more significant and dangerous.

While developing ways to look at this, I note that in the WLC, Numbers 26:1 is the completion of Numbers 25:19, the only verse (as far as I can see at present) to end with a dangling atnach and no return to the tonic. This like many other things is a job for textual criticism.

Similarly Psalm 1 gives us two interesting examples.

The longest recitation is on the high C in verse 3, which bears its fruit in its time. The second longest is on the F# of verse 2, in the instruction of Yahweh is his delight, and the third on the A of verse 5, nor sinners in the assembly of the-many righteous. Why would the sinner's recitation be on the rest note after the rest? Perhaps that is a positive note for redemption. I note that 'instruction' is a more positive word for us than law.  But that's another conversation.

While I think raw numbers are not interpretive, I think that the pitch of recitation may well be interpretive because music has such expressiveness. Most of the musical lines as noted in an earlier post (65%) are unique to a verse. (I have done a few things with the counting process since then but I have no reason to doubt that these are still accurate. A quick test shows that I get the same answer from my statistics database that I got from the raw data back then.)

I wondered also about changing the rules by which I generate the files. This would be quite easy to experiment with since the rules are in essence extracted to data tables in the program. But whatever one does, Psalm 114, In exitu Israel, must remain close to tonus peregrinus. This seems to fix the interpretation of the notes below the text quite securely.

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