Monday 28 October 2019

Program notes for a carol or two

What would one say to a whole group of people who may not have heard any of the music from the Bible. What! There is music in the Bible?


So Here is some more raw data - Isaiah 9:5 and 6. I have marked the signs in red so you can observe how they correspond exactly to the changes in the score. Take the time to look.
The tune for Isaiah 9:5-6 - An example of raw data from the Scriptures
Source: the Leningrad Codex online. Transcribed automatically without human intervention.
Compare that with the opening of the carol in triple rhythm. Note how close I am to the original. This proves that those ancients were a. consistent designers and users of their coding of notes, and b. very like us as designers and musicians. Take the time to listen. Admittedly, I have used a little imagination in instrumentation, but in this case nothing the ancients would not have had on hand.

For program notes I will have to make the example smaller.

Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura, daughter of a Rabbi, pupil of Marcel Dupré, was isolated for her faith during the war years in France. She asked her father, "What are these signs in the text of our Bible?" And he said, "They are music, but no one knows how to interpret them." So she set about to decode the signs. Her key uses all the information that can be gleaned from the placement of the signs. They occur both above (over 90% of the time) and below the text (always).

She discovered she could map those below the text consistently to a modal scale. She interprets those above the text as ornaments. Her interpretation gives sense to the signs over small and large amounts of text. Her deciphering key demonstrates again and again how these signs work together without contradiction. I have further shown that they never interfere with parallelism, they often highlight recurring words even distant from each other in the text, and they join whole sections of text in clearly structured music. In this way they interpret the text for pulse and meaning, and aid in its memorization through the melody.

There is no other interpretation of the signs that can accomplish these results.

This first carol illustrates the impossibility of translating for syllabic and rhythmic equivalence between languages. The Hebrew is remarkably compact in this instance. The English tends to far more syllables.

The second 'carol' is from selected verses of Proverbs 8. The text here is more of a story from the beginning, that wisdom was at play with intimations of sacrifice from before the foundation of the earth. Can a child be born with such perseverance as will result in wisdom when wisdom was already at play from the beginning? (Perseverance is more my choice than 'government'. The word in Isaiah 9:5-6 is not משׁל = govern, but שׂרה = persevere.)

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Christmas is coming

and the choirs are preparing programmes.

I was just asked for some 'Christmas' music from Tanakh. Guess what - there's lots to be applied to hope, to Advent and so on and there is real continuity (no matter how often verses get taken out of context) in the traditions, but to find a carol in Tanakh - that's a stretch.

Nevertheless, try this one - Isaiah 9:5 (English verse 6) without all the syllables. (I will get it on my You-tube channel eventually).

A judiciously placed repeat sign will lengthen this from 1 minute to two.

I have also extended the lullaby of Proverbs 8 with a prelude including some fun sections with percussion as above (never as easy as you think it might be). So there's 7 minutes of music for a 'Christmas' program. (I hope you don't need to ask what Proverbs 8 has to do with Christmas or with the heavy burden of hope placed on our children - government on shoulders indeed!.)

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Biblical Studies Carnival for September

This past month's Biblical Studies carnival from Phillip Long is here.

If you search at the second level, an older post of mine turns up under James McGrath's roundup combining music and Biblical Studies, Belshazzar and Other Scripture in Song. Bravo James and thank you.

Monday 14 October 2019

Videos of Diarmaid MacCulloch at UVIC

People may be interested in these lectures from Oxford history professor, Diarmaid MacCulloch from the last two weeks here in Victoria.

First, Christianity, Past, Present, and Future
Christianity - Past, Present, and Future. from CSRS on Vimeo.

and second, Christianity and Islam, Drawing the Right Lessons from History
Christianity and Islam Drawing the Right Lessons from History from CSRS on Vimeo.

Thursday 3 October 2019

The Lamentations of Jeremiah

I have explored the beginning of a slow song with SATB, strings, timpani, oboe and bassoon. Given that four verses takes 6 minutes, one can imagine a very long performance. Typical modern musical settings (like Tallis) do not include a whole chapter, let alone a whole book.