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Early Music Notation

s&r 27 Aug 09 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Aug 09 - 07:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Aug 09 - 08:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Aug 09 - 08:22 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Aug 09 - 11:11 PM
SteveMansfield 28 Aug 09 - 03:02 AM
Joe Offer 28 Aug 09 - 03:02 AM
s&r 28 Aug 09 - 11:32 AM
Jack Campin 28 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM
Newport Boy 28 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 09 - 02:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Aug 09 - 06:30 PM
Uncle_DaveO 28 Aug 09 - 06:44 PM
Lox 28 Aug 09 - 08:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 28 Aug 09 - 11:17 PM
SteveMansfield 29 Aug 09 - 05:38 AM
Bernard 29 Aug 09 - 06:36 AM
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Subject: Early Music Notation
From: s&r
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 06:19 PM

From the Times today:

Modern musical notation began in the Roman Catholic Church, as monks sought to transcribe holy songs on to parchment. The series of dots and strokes could not convey pitch or time, but was an aide-mémoire for those who already knew the tune.

That must have been a breakthrough.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 07:49 PM

Yes, indeed. Your remark has caused me to ponder how many systems of symbols mankind has produced over the ages. So far I have:

the alphabets of the world
Chinese and similar pictograms.
Roman numerals
Arabic numerals
sign language for the deaf

All are major achievements, and we probably have little idea of the effort it took to conceive and perfect them.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:12 PM

All of them evolved through a period of time.

Sign language is not the same everywhere, and they are not mutually intelligible:
ASL (American) in U. S. and Canada, and some other countries
BSL (British) in UK (ASL and BSL are not mutually intelligible)
LSF (French) in France (about 60% shared with ASL)
Spanish- no uniform system. Mexico, Colombia, etc.; each has its own.
CSL (Chinese)
etc.
There are 271 identified sign systems.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 08:22 PM

Most of us think of the current Western musical notation.
Some of the early notations used in western Europe are discussed in this article on the Neume Notation Project (of course the Chinese, etc., had their own systems).

Notation


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Aug 09 - 11:11 PM

Q, thanks for the link to that wonderful site!

"...they are what the Catholic Church calls sacramentals (sacramentals are physical objects where the spirit realm touches the physical domain). One of my tenets is that books of chant served a mystical function in the Middle Ages: apart from any practical use they might have had, the books themselves were considered to be holy objects."

This statement makes me understand for the first time why these books were so beautifully written and decorated.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 03:02 AM

The next big development was the introduction of horizontal lines for the neumes to be positioned on, which began the journey to the accurate notation of pitch.

The Italian monk Guido d'Arezzo introduced four horizontal lines in the early 11th Century, with a yellow line marking the position of C and a red line indicating the position of F. A good summary of his work can be found at http://www.totallyratted.com/theory/0004_guido.pdf.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 03:02 AM

You'll find some nice examples of notation and illustration at http://www.yale.edu/adhoc/research_resources/liturgy/s_index.html

I found some wonderful Gregorian Chant resources at http://www.b16schola.org/resource/. They have an extra folder of resources that has all sorts of stuff, including a couple of Gregorian hymnals in PDF format.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: s&r
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:32 AM

Referring to my opening post "The series of dots and strokes could not convey pitch or time"

I just wondered what they did convey.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM

Th earliest form of neumes gave a rough idea of how far up or down to go. The same idea was invented independently in Japan for Buddhist Shomyo chant.

http://www.performingarts.jp/E/art_interview/0705/hakase1.html

Ancient Greek notation had been far more precise (it was about as expressive as ABC) and the Arabs had continued it. Neumes were a huge step backwards.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Newport Boy
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:57 AM

There's also the harp notation from Scotland & Wales, most recently reported in The Scotsman. This is some of the earliest instrumental notation in Europe.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 02:01 PM

Jack Campin raises an interesting point; Arabic systems spread to Spain where advances were made. Although many of the advances in the Arabic world spread to Europe, the refinements of Arabic musical notation systems failed to take hold in the Christian realm.

Arabic Music- Arab Music


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:30 PM

QUOTE
Referring to my opening post "The series of dots and strokes could not convey pitch or time"

I just wondered what they did convey.
UNQUOTE

The relative moves up and down.

A very good TV doco on the whole progression of music theory and practice was (BBC) Goodall's "Big Bangs in Music"


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 06:44 PM

Let's not forget tablature, which tells how to play the tune on a particular string keyboard.

The idea of standard notation is (roughly described) to show what a tune sounds like, whereas tablature shows how it is played.

But every differently designed instrument will have its own tablature notation of, say, Barbara Allen, which limits its usefulness.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Lox
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 08:18 PM

"The Italian monk Guido d'Arezzo introduced four horizontal lines in the early 11th Century, with a yellow line marking the position of C and a red line indicating the position of F"

Not quite right - as I remember it these four lines represent the first four notes of what we call the Dorian mode today.

If we work backwards from the subsequent premiss that C is the only key with no sharps or flats then we would be dealing with D dorian, and might retrospectively assign the notes D, E, F & G, however this would be to view their system in hindsight and would not be an accurate description of how music was understood at the time.

I will return with more info later when i have had some sleep.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 28 Aug 09 - 11:17 PM

"Not quite right - as I remember it these four lines represent"

Well, actually he had several ideas, the four lines represent the four fingers of the hand... :-) on which he had all sort of music memory tricks associated... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 05:38 AM

Not quite right - as I remember it these four lines represent the first four notes of what we call the Dorian mode today.

Please understand, Lox, that I'm not point-scoring or playing Ancient Notation Top Trumps, I'm just trying to make sure that the information we circulate is accurate.

I've been back and checked and the illustrations in the PDF I quoted earlier, together with other sources such as Howard Goodall's book 'Big Bangs' based on / tied in with the TV series, and 'The Story Of Notation' by C. F. Abdy Williams, confirm my earlier statement of what the four lines represented.

Guido was quite an innovator, because he is also credited with inventing what became sol-fa (Ut - Re - Mi - Fa - So - La in his version, later changed to Do as in Ut, a deer, a female deer and the 7th Ti added), and also, as Foolestroupe has mentioned, the Guidonian Hand (whereby the fingers, spaces between the fingers, and finger joints become aide-memoires for notes and intervals. I'd never heard of him until I saw the Howard Goodall series, and I'm suprised he's not rather better known.


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Subject: RE: Early Music Notation
From: Bernard
Date: 29 Aug 09 - 06:36 AM

Gregorian Chant, which dates back to the 4th century, is what people are indirectly referring to above. The origins of the notation, it seems, date back as far as the 9th century, and the lines/spaces were not specifically related to pitch or modal structure, as there was a movable clef system!

Read here. It fits in with what I learned nearly fifty years ago as a school chorister.


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