Thursday 26 January 2023

The Music of the Bible in 21 pdfs

I started my Hebrew Bible translation 17 years ago after attending a conference on the epistle to the Hebrews at St Andrews. In 2010 I discovered the music of the te'amim through a conference on the Psalms at Oxford. And I just kept going. I was built (theologically) for this reason: to combine database programming, music, and the words of the Hebrew Bible. There are lots of other things I was built for too but those are like everyone else's.

I have transcribed many hundreds of sections to an English underlay (lyrics) and have arranged several others. Where I have done the transcription, I have always found ways to get around the problems of writing music written for Hebrew with lyrics in English. And I have often found that the music questions my translation. I am convinced that the music is an essential component for translation, interpretation, and understanding. I should prove this. I wasn't sure I had time to finish a translation when I began. I am equally unsure I have time to set the entire underlay in English - but I know this will result in questioning my translation - so it is one method for ensuring that I don't leave anything out.

So this month I have collected the 929 chapter files, 4000 pages of music, into 21 pdfs - 5 for Torah, 8 for the prophets and 8 for the writings. 

Torah (torh) is in 5 books in 5 pdfs: Genesis (brawit), Exodus (wmot), Leviticus (viqra), Numbers (bmdbr), and Deuteronomy (dbrim).

The Prophets nbiaim rawonim in 4 books in 4 pdfs: Joshua (ihowy), Judges (wop'tim), Samuel (wmual a & b), and Kings (mlcim a & b), nbiaim akronim in 4 books in 4 pdfs: Isaiah (iwyihu), Jeremiah (irmihu), Ezekiel (ikzqal), and The Twelve (tri ywr: howy, ioal, ymos, yobdih, ionh, mich, nkum, kbquq, xpnih, kgi, zcrih, mlaci).

The Writings (ctubim) 11 books in 8 pdfs: Psalms (thlim), Proverbs (miwli), Job (aiob). The Five Scrolls (wir hwirim, rut, aich, qhlt, astr), Daniel (dnial), Ezra-Nehemiah (yzra-nkmih) and Chronicles (dibri himim a & b) (3).

All names transcribed above are in SimHebrew. These are the same links as in the previous posts but here altogether in one place. 

Wednesday 25 January 2023

My second talk with chatGPT

I am getting to like this robot. It could be very useful for writing posts :). It's a whole lot easier than searching libraries but so far the robot is a little short on specifics. It wrote when I asked: "I am able to adapt and improve over time based on the interactions I have with users. The more I am used, the more I learn from the questions and responses of the people I interact with. However, my learning is not permanent and it is not stored as it is with humans, so if my parameters are updated or reset, I will lose the knowledge acquired during the interactions. Additionally, my learning ability is limited by the architecture and the parameters of the model."

Here is a conversation on follow up questions by me. The feedback from the bot helped me refine my questions. I think this is an essential aspect of clarification of learning. Does it help me formulate probabilities for the application of Bayes theorem to the breakthrough which Haïk-Vantoura developed for the te'amim? What do you get if you ask similar questions to the bot?

Bob: A couple of days ago, you noted that The evidence to support Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key for the "ta'amei ha-mikra" is limited and some scholars argue that there is not enough evidence to support the idea that the accentuation system of the Masoretic texts was used as a musical notation. Would you please tell me which scholars support the theory and which do not.

Bot: I apologize, but I am not able to provide a list of specific scholars who support or do not support Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key for the "ta'amei ha-mikra" as my knowledge cut-off was 2021, and this information may have changed since then. Additionally, the field of biblical studies is vast, and there are many different perspectives and opinions among scholars on this topic. It would be best to consult with academic experts in the field for more specific information and the most up-to-date research on this topic.

Bob: Thank you

Bot: You're welcome. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Bob: What can you tell me about coded compared to analogue musical notations, e.g. solfege (coded do-re-mi) vs modern staff notation (analogue)?

Bot: Coded musical notation and analogue musical notation are two different ways of representing music.

Coded notation, such as solfege, uses a set of specific symbols or words to represent different pitches or notes. In solfege, for example, the notes of the major scale are represented by the syllables "do", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", "la", and "ti". Coded notation is often used as a tool for teaching and learning music, as it can help to break down the elements of a piece of music and make it easier to understand and analyze.

Analogue notation, such as modern staff notation, uses a combination of symbols and lines to represent different pitches and rhythms. The five lines and four spaces of the staff correspond to different pitches and notes are represented by different symbols such as notes, and rests.

Analogue notation is often more precise and detailed than coded notation, allowing for greater nuance and expression in the music. While it can take longer to learn and read, it can represent much more complex and intricate music.

It's worth noting that both type of notations have their own benefits and drawbacks, and it is not necessarily a case of one being better than the other. It depends on the context and the purpose of the notation.

Bob: Given that Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key for the "ta'amei ha-mikra" is a coded rather than an analogue system, what can you tell me about other ancient coded systems for information?

Bot: There are many examples of ancient coded systems for information, from different cultures and time periods. Here are a few examples:

The Rosetta Stone, an ancient Egyptian artifact, contains inscriptions in three scripts: hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. The inscriptions are the same text, and the Greek inscription served as the key to deciphering the hieroglyphs.

The Maya civilization of Mesoamerica developed a complex system of hieroglyphic writing that was used to record historical, religious, and astronomical information. The Maya script was deciphered in the 20th century, and it is now understood to be a syllabic script.

The Linear B script was used by the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece. It was discovered in the early 20th century and was deciphered in the 1950s. The script is believed to be used primarily for administrative and economic records.

The Enigma machine was a coded machine used by the German military during World War II to encrypt and decrypt messages. The machine was eventually broken by Polish and British codebreakers, which played a significant role in the war effort.

These are just a few examples of ancient coded systems for information, but there are many more examples from around the world. Coded systems have been used throughout history to protect sensitive information or to make it more difficult for others to understand the information being conveyed.

Bob: Please elaborate on the precursors to the modern musical staff notation. How did the analogue system evolve?

Bot: The modern musical staff notation has evolved over many centuries, with several different precursors that led to its development.

One of the earliest known forms of musical notation is the neumes, which were used in the Middle Ages to indicate the general shape of a melody. Neumes were notated above the text of the chant and provided a visual representation of the melody, but did not indicate the exact pitch or rhythm. They were primarily used in religious music, and were used in the Catholic Church to notate the chants of the liturgy.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the system of Guido d'Arezzo, an Italian music theorist, was developed. He used a system of four lines, with the notes represented by the syllables of a hexachord (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la), which later evolved into the solfeggio system. This system was a big step forward as it allowed to notate the melodies with a more precise pitch, but it still didn't indicate the rhythm.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the modern staff notation began to take shape with the development of a system called mensural notation. This system used a five-line staff, with different shaped notes indicating the duration of each note. Additionally, this system introduced the concept of time signatures and barlines, which allowed for the precise notation of rhythm.

It was not until the 15th century with the invention of the printing press that the modern musical staff notation became widespread. The invention of the printing press allowed for the mass production of sheet music, and the modern staff notation was standardized across Europe.

This process was not linear, different regions and schools had different notation systems, and it took centuries for the notation system to be standardized. The development of the modern musical staff notation was a gradual process, shaped by the contributions of many musicians, theorists, and composers over the centuries.

Bob: So solfege followed the development of neumes by a few centuries, but neumes would not work for the annotation of text. It would follow that the mapping of ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la to silluq, merkha, tifha, atnah, munah, mahpakh and ti to galgal (an octave lower), would require both imagination and the passage of time to develop such a system. I wonder what precursors were there the process.

Bot: You are correct that the development of the solfeggio system followed the development of neumes by several centuries. The solfeggio system was developed as a way to notate the pitch of a melody more precisely than neumes, which were primarily used to indicate the general shape of a melody. The solfeggio system used a set of specific syllables, such as "ut", "re", "mi", "fa", "sol", and "la" to represent different pitches.

As for the mapping of the solfeggio system to the Hebrew notation system, it's possible that the process was influenced by the development of the solfeggio system and other musical notation systems of the time. It's also possible that the idea of using a coded system to represent musical pitches was influenced by the use of coded systems in other areas, such as the Rosetta Stone, which used different scripts to represent the same text.

It's worth noting that the deciphering key for the "ta'amei ha-mikra" proposed by Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura is a subject of much debate among scholars, and the exact origins and precursors of the system are not well understood. Some scholars have argued that the system was developed by the Masoretes, a group of Jewish scribes who worked on the texts of the Hebrew Bible during the Middle Ages, while others have suggested that it may have been developed earlier. Without clear historical evidence, it is hard to say for sure what precursors were there for the process.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

The Writings - with the music of the te'amim

And finally, The Writings, Psalms (thlim), Proverbs (miwli), Job (aiob), (3 'books of truth' - so named after their first letters a-m-t, aleph for Job, mem for Proverbs, and taf for the Psalms), The Five Scrolls (5 wir hwirim, rut, aich, qhlt, astr), Daniel (dnial), Ezra-Nehemiah (yzra-nkmih) and Chronicles (dibri himim a & b) (3). 1123 pages.

Total pages in this form, single line of music for recitation: 4,156 comprised of Torah 1,032, Prophets 2,001, Writings 1,123. My 6000 page guess in 2013 was over estimated by 50%.

And now, having done these simple collations, who knows, I might think of something more substantial to do, like going through my translation again, a full pass. Anyone game for such an exercise? I suspect it is a multi-year effort.

The Latter Prophets - with the music as derived from the accents

The Latter Prophets - Isaiah (iwyihu), Jeremiah (irmihu), Ezekiel (ikzqal), and The Twelve (tri ywr: howy, ioal, ymos, yobdih, ionh, mich, nkum, kbquq, xpnih, kgi, zcrih, mlaci).

You can tell from these how relatively big the job would be to sing the work from beginning to end. The Twelve give us 209 pages of music. The latter prophets in total are 979 pages in this form. Torah is 1032 pages. The former prophets are 913 pages. I had guessed years ago that the whole might be 6000 pages - slightly too high I think. Tell you in the next post.

Monday 23 January 2023

My first conversation with a Robot

 What did it do to me! Here is the conversation: What is gong on behind the scenes?

Explain the deciphering key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura

Answer: Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura was a French musician and musicologist who proposed a deciphering key for understanding the musical notation in the Dead Sea Scrolls. She argued that the notation in the scrolls represented an ancient form of Hebrew cantillation, a system of chanting used in Jewish liturgical music. Her key proposes that the marks in the scrolls correspond to specific melodic patterns and rhythms, rather than just indicating the vowels in the text. Her work, however, has been met with mixed reactions, with some scholars supporting it and others criticizing it for lack of evidence.

My response: There are a number of problems with your response: 1 - not the Dead Sea Scrolls; 2 - nothing to do with vowels; 3 - you have missed the most important item, the mapping of accents below the text to a modal scale.

Answer: I apologize for the inaccuracies in my previous response. You are correct that Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key does not pertain to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but rather to the biblical texts of the Masoretic tradition. She proposed that the system of accentuation used in the Masoretic texts, called "ta'amei ha-mikra" or "trop" in Hebrew, represented a musical notation for chanting the Bible. She claimed that this notation mapped the accents found in the biblical texts to a specific modal scale, allowing the texts to be sung according to ancient melodies. Her work is still debated among scholars and has not yet been widely accepted.

Then I asked: What do you think is the likelihood that the ancient musicians could understand both a scale and a mapping of signs in a text to that scale?

Answer: It is possible that ancient musicians had the ability to understand both a musical scale and a system of signs that mapped the text to that scale. However, it is also important to note that Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering key is still debated among scholars and has not yet been widely accepted. The evidence to support the theory is limited and some scholars argue that there is not enough evidence to support the idea that the accentuation system of the Masoretic texts was used as a musical notation.
It's also worth mentioning that the people in ancient times had a different way of learning, educating and understanding music than we do today. They were not only trained in singing and playing instruments but also in understanding the meaning and context of the text, the culture and tradition of the society and the religious significance of the music. They had a holistic approach to music, thus the possibility of understanding a scale and a mapping of signs in a text to that scale is quite high.

I am trying to figure out who is teaching whom? And what if I taught the bot something - would it incorporate that memory into conversations with others? I was testing to see if I could get it to help me define my likelihoods better.

The Former Prophets - with the music per the Haïk-Vantoura deciphering key

Of the books of Tanach, there are five in Torah and four in the Former Prophets, three + twelve in the Latter Prophets, three + five + three in the Writings. Does that add up to 24 -- 5+4+3+1+11 - whew - yes.

Music by book is easier to handle than 929 chapters. (All the chapters are available in pdf and music XML forms here.) But you really can't hear it all at once. Everything has to be relearned with the music. (Tch... and you worked so hard at memorization of inadequate wordy translations!)

So here are the former prophets - Joshua (ihowy), Judges (wop'tim), Samuel (wmual a & b), and Kings (mlcim a & b).

More to follow - 

Saturday 21 January 2023

The Torah in Music according to the Haïk-Vantoura deciphering key

 No section of Scripture is sung more often than these five books. Yet few would sing them in this form. I have gone on with this deciphering key since 2010 when I first heard of it at the Oxford Conference on the Psalms. The tone of voice is restored with these melodies and the leitmotifs and connections of Scripture  with Scripture are rediscovered.

Genesis is here (brawit, as noted earlier this month).

And here is Exodus (wmot), Leviticus (viqra), Numbers (bmdbr), and Deuteronomy (dbrim).

I am convinced that the music will bear much study.

Friday 20 January 2023

The music for the five scrolls

Included in this volume are the books of The Song, Ruth, Lamentations, Qohelet, and Esther (wir hwirim, rut, aich, qhlt, astr). One pdf to sing for 5 distantly related books.  

How to be led

What does one learn about theology by reading the Bible? Well -- one thing is sure, there are plenty of things to learn about: history, geography, words, ideas, conflict, mercy, and so on. Are people who read the Bible the only people who learn such things? Hardly. Does the Bible teach also how to critique our own understanding?

I began with fear, disjointed instruction from various sources, 'certainty' and ignorance all round. Who doesn't? So how long does it take to become inarticulate? We drive on complex routes and we are much more complex than an articulated lorry - as they are named in the UK. How on earth or in heaven could I begin with 'certainty'? I knew nothing even about myself and my personality -- and beginning there, whether I was brash or humble, would be impossible. We are more than mechanism, more than biology -- though we should definitely study and respect such things. My latest reading is in 'The Gene' by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Wonderfully written history. Last year and still now my favorite history book is East West Street by Phillippe Sands. Don't miss it. These writers are not inarticulate. They speak to the wonder of creation, whether our discovery of it, or our serious distortions of truth, and even to the fact that both sides of a conflict can love the music of Bach.

Given even these three areas of investigation: science, history, or music in the last 3 centuries, how should we read and hear the ancient texts so lovingly advanced to us through the Hebrew tradition? And if we really read this Hebrew tradition, how will those who read the New Testament avoid the apparently certain conclusions -- several of which we have repeatedly got wrong over the last 2000 years? How also will we relate to the wonders that we receive each day from beauty to political distortion to the lessons we are meant to learn from the Bible? 

Someone said to me yesterday - based on a reading of Isaiah 19, that the prophet arises from within the community and speaks through, for, and into the same community. I immediately thought of our supply chains of physical goods through which we all depend on each other, (whatever theological tradition we come from). So I saw the prophet reading the community in its exile and giving it hope and stimulating its love and desire to return to its roots after the crushing troubles it had received. It was a hopeful sign. Read Sands and Mukherjee and Bach as also arriving on the scene, being taught, nurtured, and finding their place to encourage us in correction, in knowledge, and in beauty.

In looking recently at my setting of Genesis 22 (mechanical performance at the link), I also saw the future calling to the present to move away from error and into a right assessment of faithfulness, a word (from the same Isaiah passage above) describing the character of the One who calls us. I set Yahweh's part and Isaac's part with the same forces for that reason. Today I note that the name, Yahweh, apparently arises from early Arabic, Midianite, reflecting passion. See this portion. Why not? 

How much shame do we need to come to our senses? (Remember the positive value of really getting the point that we might be wrong in our theological emphases and in the evil deeds that result from them. Think Nineveh and Jonah.)

So the move to learn and grow in love comes from within the social fabric even in exile, in trouble, in remote islands like Turtle Island -- called into being by an unknown future and present to us as if given in a mystery, a light to the nations, salvation to the extremity of the earth.

Sunday 15 January 2023

The music of Genesis in a single PDF

 These single files are raw material but somewhat handy to have in a single rather than 50 pdfs. I am using this site to combine them. It is really quite simple and there is no attempt to get you to buy anything. Combining the 50 files takes only a few minutes. My program only does a maximum of a chapter at a time and it produces musicXML not PDFs so I didn't consider making it more flexible at this time.

So here is Genesis (brawit) for anyone who wants to sing it from beginning to end in Hebrew.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Common phrases in the music

I pointed out that certain psalms are related to what has gone before when their first note is not the tonic. This thesis has served me before and while there are possible caveats, it seems quite useful. For example, Psalms 114-115 are a unit. In exitu Israel is not to be seen as glorifying Israel, so the attacca psalm 115, Non nobis domine must be seen as a corrective to that potential thought.

Another test is to see that when two verses share the same music, is there a connection? (Same music = same sequence of te-amim; same notes = same sequence of te-amim below the text). Such sequences of notes can be recognized.

We are dealing with several languages here and it is very easy to get lost. Using the Latin titles of the psalms was common in the 17th century, less so today. Not too difficult if you've been around the churches and have heard psalms chanted in Latin. But who would think that the following two sequences were a translation from one tongue into another:

e C B g A, f e. Musicians get this. So would anyone with grade 1 piano or voice. Tonic sol-fa is equally acceptable if not more so.  But:

silluq mahpakh munah tifha atnah, merkha silluq. Musicians don't get this. Hebrew accent scholars don't get it either. No musicianship - no decoding.

The 20th century musician, Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura, mapped the language of named te'amim from Hebrew to music. I can barely speak to those who go on and on about which accent precedes or follows another. The language is so foreign to me. But sing me a phrase - decoding the notes - and I won't need any explanation.

Here's my second idea on how to interpret musical phrases. If a verse has identical notes to another verse, then I suggest there may be a significant relationship between them.

Two different theses here: (They apply across all 24 books. But I am concentrating on the psalms for the moment.)

  1. when the first note is not the tonic - look for a connection between this verse / psalm / book and what has gone before it.
  2. when verses have identical (or similar) music phrases, look for a connection between them.
In the psalms, consider Psalm 1: Verses 1 to 4 are unique as to their musical phrases. Verse 5 is identical to Psalm 6:11. Now that is significant. Why?

So they will not arise, the wicked, in the judgment, // nor sinners in the assembly of the-many righteous.

Shamed and vexed much all my enemies. // Let them turn, let them be ashamed in a moment.

Psalm 6 is a plea that Yahweh not judge the psalmist in anger. If you have read these personally with or without the music, you will get that much given to you. Then the poet knows that judgment is good and so prays for 'all my enemies' so that they will turn and learn the same message from Yahweh. Shame is positive here. Let us pray for Russia today - for they need shame to turn from their evil ways and evil thoughts. Denial, rationalization, self-justification will not do the job.

The promise in psalm 1 is reflected in psalm 6 - the musical phrase is identical.

The music of the last verse of psalm 1 is reflected 32 times in the psalms. Is this musical motif significant for partitioning the book of psalms? Check them out: 1:6, 30:2, 33:7, 34:17, 37:10, 49:21, 50:18, 51:14, 56:12, 58:6, 66:16, 68:33, 72:14, 74:3, 74:4, 74:8, 77:15, 86:10, 88:15, 89:47, 105:44, 112:2, 112:8, 115:11, 118:6, 118:23, 119:39, 124:2, 136:9, 136:12, 139:8, 140:2.

What phrases are common like this one?  There are 1157 distinct musical phrases taken a verse at a time in the psalms. 61 of these occur more than 5 times. Here another example of one that occurs 4 times. There are 19 of these and these 4 are among them: 

21:4, For you go before him with blessings of good. // You set on his head a crown of pure gold.
44:21, If we have forgotten the name of our God, // and spread our palms to a strange god,
115:5, Mouth they have and speak not. // Eyes they have and see not.
135:16. Mouth they have but they don't speak. // Eyes they have but they don't see.

A curious collection. Not entirely random. To what extent is our trouble idolatry? It's possible that this approach might bear fruit.

These first trials have been done with the whole musical phrase including ornaments. If we just look at the overall curvature of the phrase isolating the accents below the text, and ignoring ornaments, we will get more commonality. There are 70 phrases that occur more than 5 times if the accents above the text are ignored.

Monday 2 January 2023

The Book of Job

 Here is a pdf of the music of the book of Job. You know, the fellow who suffers the whole of the curses of Deuteronomy 28. Sing it and rejoice. Music makes the Old Testament transparent.

The first note

 The te'amim, everywhere in the Hebrew Bible, provide continuity among verses as well as separation of verses. There are cross-verse connections that the accents create. This is not at all obvious if you are without the music, but it is quite obvious if you have the music. The rule is: if the first note is not the tonic, then the verse is continuing a thought or a story from what has been before it.

There are 36 psalms where the first note is not the tonic. All the others begin on an 'e'. In the score, it is easy to find these. Just search for the word 'psalms' and you will go from chapter to chapter and can observe the psalms where the first note is something else. These are the 36 - and they all ask the question - what came before this musical phrase that the psalm is continuing.

What are possible explanations? How is it that the whole Psalter begins on 'f'? Why is 9 saying something about 8? or 22 about 21? And so on. What do you think?

PsalmFirst Note

Sunday 1 January 2023

Psalms - Story - History - Performance

 Mark Whiting (@PsalterMark) has begun a new series on the structure of the Psalter. I have been wondering to what extent the music of the psalms would contribute to understanding the story of the sequence of the psalms. To help with this I have prepared a pdf of the music of all 150 psalms that can be read by a musician who can read Hebrew. Sing it and say what it reveals to you about its own story.

The pdf is available here or here.