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Ornamentation and mediaeval notation

Jack Campin 25 Apr 16 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Apr 16 - 08:13 PM
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Subject: Ornamentation and mediaeval notation
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Apr 16 - 12:51 PM

This entry in Cait Webb's blog has an interesting idea:

http://medievalmusician.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/neumes-vs-notes.html
http://medievalmusician.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/the-flowers-of-musical-science.html

She's writing about a 1998 book by Timothy McGee, The Sound of Medieval Song.

The idea is that early mediaeval notation wasn't aimed at notating the tune at all - the singer was assumed to know it. Instead, the "neumes" of early mediaeval notation represented ornamentation, and the kind of ornamentation it dealt with was more like what Indian classical singers do than anything found in modern Western culture.

Makes an interesting contrast with some opinions Steve Shaw has been expressing in other threads (anent Irish session music) where he thinks ornamentation is integral to the tune to the extent that you can't learn it as an add-on. For these mediaeval performers, the ornamentation was considered so important that it was the only thing the notation dealt with, but the system only worked because you could treat it as an addition to a melody from which ornamentation had been abstracted away. (A similar idea operates in theatre - when I was taking part in a community drama, the director made a point of it that we should just learn our lines, not try to work out an expressive interpretation of them - that would come later).


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Subject: RE: Ornamentation and mediaeval notation
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Apr 16 - 08:13 PM

Jack I respect you and your contributions.

Re: the director made a point of it that we should just learn our lines, not try to work out an expressive interpretation of them - that would come later).

Most every director of a play....arrives with a concept, understanding, of the end they want to work towards. It is not the actors realm to interpret. In community theatre...it is remarkable if the actors know their lines at all.

Walk through, with scripts in hand allow the writer to revise....

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

For a good director, with a cast of actors that know their lines....the Tabula Rosu...unfolds


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