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ambling through ancient music

GUEST,leeneia 05 Nov 08 - 02:49 PM
Jack Campin 05 Nov 08 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Volgadon 05 Nov 08 - 03:45 PM
Joe Offer 05 Nov 08 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Nov 08 - 09:13 AM
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Subject: Splendor Paternae: ambling thru ancient music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 02:49 PM

While turning the pages of the Lutheran Book of Worship (the now-superseded hymnal of the ELCA) I came upon #271, 'O Splendor of the Father's Light.' The tune name is Splendor Paternae and the old Latin text is accredited to St Ambrose, 340=397.

For an enthusiast of early music it doesn't come much earlier than that. I believe I'll play this ancient tune this Sunday.

The thing is, I ask myself if the tune is old, or just the words. Well, at the bottom of the page it says 'Antiphoner, Sarum.' So I googled that and found this lovely page:

Sarum MS page

And there it is, the Sarum Antiphoner itself, with its music, its art and its Latin. And - where to find it. It is owned by a church in Ranworth, Norfolk.

Someday I would like to hear how scholars derive modern notation from a MS such as this. What do the marks mean? What about key? The old staves seem to have only four lines, but modern staves have five - how does that work?

So many mysteries, so few answers!

I have made a MIDI of the melody and bass line which appeared in our hymnal. (Wonder where the harmony lines came from?). Having just the two of them strikes a balance, I think, between spareness and over-elaboration. I'll see if Joe will post the MIDI for your listening pleasure.

Finally (in order to coax people to actually look at the MS) I have a quiz question. Study the art in the margins. It is amazingly similar to a present-day form that I saw on a recent cruise. What art form is it?

Click to play


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Subject: RE: ambling through ancient music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 03:37 PM

Looks a bit like spraycan graffiti, doesn't it?

Except the materials were a LOT more expensive. 250 pages of sheepskin is a large flock. In real terms, a large monastic library could easily have cost as much as the Google campus.

Notation of 1400 is pretty well understood. Willy Apel's book is the standard reference; there has been more recent research but it only makes a difference for the much more mysterious earlier notation.

There is reason to believe the hymns of the Syriac church are older than that - they are sometimes the same as Jewish liturgical melodies that have been maintained by congregations (in the Yemen, I think) that had no likely contact with the Syriacs for 2000 years.


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Subject: RE: ambling through ancient music
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 03:45 PM

Actually, the Yemenite communities have had contact with the Syriacs, and the Jews in Syria throught their history. Trade routes, and even monasteries (before the Arab conquests).


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Subject: RE: ambling through ancient music
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Nov 08 - 05:38 PM

MIDI posted for Leeneia:

Click to play


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Subject: RE: ambling through ancient music
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 09:13 AM

Sorry, Jack. Spraycan graffiti is not the answer.

Thanks, Joe.


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