Sunday, August 9, 2020

Considering the maqaf

The maqaf is in English a hyphen. So Here is an example: Amos 8:10
Amos 8
וְהָפַכְתִּ֨י חַגֵּיכֶ֜ם לְאֵ֗בֶל וְכָל־שִֽׁירֵיכֶם֙ לְקִינָ֔ה וְהַעֲלֵיתִ֤י עַל־כָּל־מָתְנַ֙יִם֙ שָׂ֔ק וְעַל־כָּל־רֹ֖אשׁ־קָרְחָ֑ה
וְשַׂמְתִּ֙יהָ֙ כְּאֵ֣בֶל יָחִ֔יד וְאַחֲרִיתָ֖הּ כְּי֥וֹם מָֽר
i vhpcti kgicm labl vcl-wiricm lqinh vhyliti yl-cl-motniim wq vyl-cl-raw-qrkh
vwmtih cabl ikid vakrith ciom mr
י והפכתי חגיכם לאבל וכל־שיריכם לקינה והעליתי על־כל־מותניים שק ועל־כל־ראש־קרחה
ושמתיה כאבל יחיד ואחריתה כיום מר
10 And I will change your festivities to lament and all your songs to a dirge and I will bring up over all endowments, sackcloth, and over every head, baldness.
And I will set it as a unique lament and following it, as a day of bitterness.

Lambdin writes that the maqaf (maqqep in his spelling), indicates that a preposition is proclitic, i.e. has no stress of its own. 

Does it affect the music? The music determines stress much more than the maqaf. And it is clear from bars 2 to 4 that an avoidance of inner-word stress is not necessarily justified. I made some early assumptions in the music transcription program to ignore the maqaf entirely. It caused no problems, because the music acts in its place. Note that in music, the hyphen joins syllables of the libretto separated by note changes, whereas in Hebrew the maqaf joins separate words.

Nonetheless, my attitude towards this jot may have been a little too dismissive. For the maqaf show the words where the music is going. A maqaf joins a word without stress to the next word. The word joined will have no accent on it. Typically (but not always) it will be joined to a word following that has an accent. It is redundant, because you can reconstruct the need for it from observing the words that are missing an accent. Its role is as an aid to finding the direction of the musical line.



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