Discussion and comparison of Elisabeth zacharie
In middle age of western music, neumes was an effective method to memorize melodies and the frame of a chant. It gave people a sense of what was the melody’s contour, even the exactly accurate pitch and rhythm were missing. This way was useful during the medieval period because people had learned music by using oral transmission for centuries before they invented neumes. According to what we learned from the class, they are several reasons why people using neumes during the middle ages. Firstly, there was no physical materials such as parchments or animal skins to read music, musicians had to find other ways to pass the songs. Secondly, they had no composing system to record what they knew. Thirdly, memorizing thousands of chants was a giant challenge to all the musicians during the time. Inevitably, they needed to create a notation system in order to improve their memorization. The transcription of These three versions of Elisabeth zacharie give me an opportunity to discover some problems that researchers also confront when they are facing to these different versions of ancient chants.
When making edition of these neume versions, the first important aspect is to identify their pitches position within the lines. These three versions have different clefs, which means how to set up the first note and locate the rest of pitches are crucial. According to the chronological order, the third version has C clef on the second line; the second version has F clef on the only red line; the first version has C clef on the top line. Under these clef indications, it is possible to identify the first note is G in all of these versions. After set up the clefs of the first and the third versions, we can easily decipher the entire melody by following the hierarchy of the notes. The second version seems a little challenge: there is only one red line indicating where the first pitch starts. Therefore, the letters on the left side could give us an assistance to mark the rest of the notes. Comparing to the earlier type of neumes notation which has no staff line to indicate the position of each neume(usually using graphic or symbolic marks), these manuscripts include more information about the pitch of each notes.
Elisabeth zacharie chant is syllabic rather than melismatic. The evidence is demonstrated by each syllable corresponding with single note. For example, E-li-sa-bath has 4 neumes and do-mi-ni has 3 neumes. Neumes are grouped according to the text and it is gradually clear from the 12th century to the 14th century. The neumes and text are separated distinctly(pitches above text), there is no confusion of reading the entire excerpt. After looking the manuscripts, one hypothesis is emerged that when monks and nuances practiced or performed with other colleagues, the leader singer had to set up the first pitch(like nowadays the beginning chord given by pianist or organist before a song), then other people joined...