Wednesday 16 November 2022

Isaiah 12 - third usage in 6 years

 Here's the snippet of Isaiah 12 as sung by the choir and congregation of St John the Divine Victoria. Thanks to Karen Coverett for extracting it from the sevice stream.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Crowther on two systems of te'amim

 I have come across a new downloadable book on the Masoretic texts. I jumped immediately to Crowther: Why are there Two Systems of Tiberian Ṭeʿamim?

(Daniel J. Crowther (PhD, University of Bristol, 2015) is an Assistant Director for Langham Scholars’ Ministry and a Research Associate of the Centre for Muslim and Christian Studies, Oxford. )

He, like Wickes, (and he appears to understand Wickes - a feat in itself) describes the music using rules about the te'amim (marks of taste). After a clear but incomplete description, he comes to no conclusion other than this:

"It seems to me intuitively sensible to take the testimony of the Masoretes more seriously when they claim to be attempting to capture an established tradition of recitation with their ṭeʿamim, not creating one through the application of an established grammar of the ṭeʿamim."

I certainly agree with him. My own posts on Wickes are not as polite or knowledgeable but I repeat a statement by Wickes who (1881 :35) complains that "these poets are not using the dichotomy consistently". And so they aren’t. They likely had not heard of it. Not one of the corrections that Wickes proposes is required for the music. The idea of continuous dichotomy should be removed from discussion. Music is subject to more nuanced shape than a hierarchy, a concept that is overused in most professions. Crowther (following Wickes) uses the word "law" as if the accents were a law unto themselves. 

But he did point out to me that in the 21 books, tifha (g or g#) always precedes the atnah (A) and the silluk (e). In contrast, in the 3 books, this restriction is not used. I admit that I hadn't noticed, though the observation is evident in the appendix to my own book, The Song in the Night. To explain it musically, the leading tone, g#, is always present in the phrase leading to the rest, and in the phrase returning to the silluq. This is not a law, but a convention. The leading tone gives the character to the phrases of the 21 books. It is a traditional augmented second in the default tone that Haïk-Vantoura uses. She is right in her mapping of the accents below the text to a modal scale. 

Scholars of the Masoretic text should start to listen to her treatise.

Scholars do not have a better explanation.

See also this later post

Wednesday 9 November 2022

It's time for Isaiah 12 again

 The liturgy calls for Isaiah 12 as a psalm. This setting here is available. Music is linked here.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Carnival #200 almost

Jim West, longtime carnival master, has done a thorough job of carnival #200 - counting his prior month carnival as 199 - a rerun.  Well, Jim, there was another carnival 199 - but it had a ? in it. It was very limited in any case. But between the two of us, there was sort of a carnival 199 even if missed.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Sense and Sensible

 Meaning? You know how mean I think that word is. We use it to exercise control over others. We use it to reduce complexity, to narrow a reading, and to delude ourselves that we think we understand.

But what if I'm wrong and there are sensual sensible senses that speak to us in the body, that derive joy and pleasure from words - without loosing ourselves too much to - what is that word - enthusiasm.

We do become enthused - and this is good. Should we keep our heads clear and scholarly? Objective? What does that psalm say - 

תּֽוֹדִיעֵנִי֮ אֹ֤רַח חַ֫יִּ֥ים
שֹׂ֣בַע שְׂ֭מָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶ֑יךָ
נְעִמ֖וֹת בִּימִינְךָ֣ נֶֽצַח
11 You will make known to me a path of life,
satisfaction of gladness in your presence,
pleasures at your right hand always.
ia todiyni aork kiim
woby wmkot at-pniç
nyimot biminç nxk
tv/diy\ni ark ki\im
wby wmk\vt at pn\ic
nym\vt b/imn\c nxk

I am immediately distracted! What do I want to do with the list of roots that have similar sounding second and third letters? Several things:

  1. Explore possible sounds-like puns and word games.
  2. Determine if there is a function to the first letter as was suggested by a recent post - which I have somehow forgotten the source of.
  3. See if there are vowel similarities within a group of similar roots.

Consider the roots of this tri-colon:

  • idy - dominant gloss know - is in a group of only three roots that end in dy - The link will take you right to the spot in my post on deriving sense from the second two letters of a three letter root. You can see at the link that the three are gdy - chop, truncate, idy, and pdy retrieve. Note that /i/ being a weak letter, moves around or disappears in the various word forms that the root takes on.
  • ark - there are many roots that have rk as their second and third letters. As I study the 13 variations at the link, no particular sense springs to mind (yet) as to how the first letter of the roots might alter the significance within a usable human framework.
  • kih - interesting that we see two consecutive chets (k) in this stich. Roots ending in ih show some similarity to each other. hih is similar to kih as to be is to live. aih and dih are both raptors, birds of prey fiercely alive. xih is arid, and wih is unmindful, both the opposite of being and life.
Playing with the similar sounds from the Hebrew - maybe just nonsense.
  • you will retrieve for me a flight of raptors topyni bork aiim. (pdy for idy, brk for ark, and aih for kih).
  • you will truncate for me a rising of wild places togdyni zork xiim. (gdy - zrk - xih -- too many possibilities). zrk is not a good choice for this experiment since it is mostly used with wmw (sun) and it has come to mean shine rather than rise (as in sunrise).
Going to the section after the ole-veyored (the lesser cadence on the supertonic), the roots are 
  • wby, satisfaction, and the other roots in this form are gby, bonnet, hillock; 'tby, sink, ring; nby, bubble, ferment, xby, coloured cloth, wet; qby, defraud; rby, four, forty, four-square, and others. wby is a rich and common root. rby and wby are both used for numbers, 4 and 7 respectively. The others are far less frequently used.
  • wmk, gladness, mirth; the other roots in the group xmk, grow, sprout; qmk, flour; rmk, lance.
  • pnh, a complex root with a lot of sense but largely face to face, before, presence. The other roots are here. Which of them would take a plural in some context? 
Two odd things I wonder how to render: the feminine plural of gladness, and the direct object marker - perhaps a note of emphasis? The music is very matter of fact - not emphasizing that section at all.
Psalms 16:11 -- a path of life is angular
presence enters into rest

So can we make an alternative poem? My first cuts were dismal indeed.
qoby xmkot at-qniç -- defrauding the growth of your acquisitions
zyimot baminç rxk -- indignations in your faithfulness demolished

Interesting mechanical exercise. It could be that some roots are of a family of senses when seen together, but not all of them seem to follow such 'logic'. It could also be that some second and third letter stems are connected by the first letter such as ksh and ksd. Families of related roots - are there some, are there orphans, is there something to be learned? I don't know yet. 

The game is afoot, but I am stumbling in my first steps.