Thursday 26 September 2019

The Song of Solomon

My posts in March 2010 present the Song of Solomon in 5 parts. Most recently (March 2017) I reverted to the traditional chapters. They don't seem to have much to do with the structure as measured by the repeated adjuration (2:7, 3:5, 5:8, 8:4). Now I am at the beginning of working on music for the Song. I have done the first section 1:1 to 2:7 for singers and woodwind trio, flute, oboe, and bassoon.

It remains to be heard what the music says about the poetry, the conclusion and the appendix. But here is the introduction and the first poem using the usual deciphering key for cantus firmus. I note that several times a lone g (accent tifcha ב֖) appears in the music. This was unusual enough for me to want to highlight it.

Esther Lemandier sings the song in the Phrygian mode. Haïk-Vantoura sets it mostly in her default chromatic Dorian. I have gone mostly with the Phrygian but an occasional accidental does appear. In this, as in the Elegy of 1 Samuel, I have left the Hebrew rhythms in place and not changed them to fit the English, but I have written an English libretto for reference.

I have now set this down a semitone.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

God in the Dock

This phrase, God in the Dock, a book title used by C. S. Lewis, is the title of the last of the 6 part BBC series with Diarmaid MacCulloch, A history of Christianity. You can watch the videos here.

While this is a thickly painted and informative series, he has a careless error in his text in the last film. He associates the doubt expressed in the Old Testament with anger from God. This is a false association. God is never angry at doubt. Particularly not with the doubt MacCulloch says is expressed by the human about 'eating the apple'. Anger is certainly used to describe a human, but never of God in Genesis. And though in that epitome of religious dialogue, Job, anger is used by the friends and by Job to describe God, this is evidence only of their own sense of God. It is not part of God's self-description in that book.

It is of course obvious that anger is attributed to God and even prayed for in the Psalms (56:8). But generally, though the anger of Yahweh/God burns in (or against) the people, God / Yahweh is described as slow to anger. And what is such anger in response to? This is a bigger question not answered in an early morning post, but I suspect we would find it is a failure of the people to hear, a failure to listen, a failure to care. Doubt is not the issue.

(I note that I never used the word wrath in my translation. That surprises even me. Another one of my avoided words, though I did use it as a sub-domain name within the domain of trouble.)

Monday 16 September 2019

Comments from eminent personalities

I have been introducing this musical key of Haïk-Vantoura for 9 years now, and some of you may consider me slightly deranged. I know that several musicologists doubt her work, but they haven't lived with it for nearly 10 years. And no other system I have seen comes close to coherence.

Just have a look at these eminent personalities who commented on her work: I haven't listed all the comments in the sources I have but I, if I saw these before I knew of the music, would certainly have paid attention to Marcel Dupré and Olivier Messiaen.

Sunday 15 September 2019

Names, names, names

We humans are supposed to be good at naming things. But we end up with thinking we know something by being able to name it. I just had a look at naming the musical modes. And the names are totally conflicting.

I learned them first from the white notes on the piano - and indeed they are such.

CIonianT_T_S_T_T_T_SMajor scale
DDorianT_S_T_T_T_S_THarmonic minor without the leading tone
FLydianT_T_T_S_T_T_SThink Fauré Lydia, sur tes roses joues. Characteristic augmented fourth

The first 7 in the image below are all agreed - they are the white notes as listed above but all transposed to begin on an e. Then I looked at the Greek modes on wiki and they have some names reversed. Haik-Vantoura introduces the characteristic augmented second in several of her modes. Her names and notes do not correspond to the simple 'white note' derivation.

E.g. Chromatic Hypodorian T_S_T_T_S_A
Chromatic Phrygian S_T_T_S_A_S_T
Lydian with minor sixth S_T_T_S_T_S_A
Chromatic Dorian T_T_S_A_S_T_S

My old image based on her book is here. Ionian she calls Lydian = major, and the default mode of the three books, Psalms, Proverbs and the speeches of Job, essentially Aeolian, she calls Chromatic Dorian.

So there's the resolution - call them what you like. And choose what you like for developing the music. (Article here on wiki seems helpful also, particularly distinguishing the hypo prefix.)

Reconciling the names of traditional modes, Greek modes, and Haïk-Vantoura's modes

Friday 13 September 2019

Next experiment in making music within constraints

I wonder if I will free myself from the constraints of the Biblical cantus firmus some day. But here is the latest - a setting of Qohelet 3:1-15. It has a different lilt in English than it would in Hebrew, but that is to be expected. (I wonder if I always think in 12 8 or the like!)

Monday 2 September 2019

Biblical Studies carnival 163

The BS carnival is here. Well formed and succinct - clear pathways between the tents.