The NEUMES Project The NEUMES Project

Transcription Primer

3. The Chant Transcription

3.1.1. Using Tags
3.1.2. Defining the Musical Gesture We Call a "Neume"

3.2.1. The Encoding of Neumes
3.2.2. Why Use Mnemonics?

3.3.0. Transcribing "Dextera domini"
3.3.1. Melodic Motion and Tone
3.3.2. Ligation
3.3.3. A Full Rendition
3.3.4. Data-Entry Programme

3.2.1. The Encoding of Neumes

In NeumesXML, the neumatic symbols drawn in a manuscript are represented in a mnemonic form which utilizes the accepted name of the neume within the code ("&punctum;" for example). These mnemonic codes are transferred by NeumesXML into the corresponding hexadecimal numbers (i.e., Unicode-compatible codepoints) required by the programme (as in "&punctum;" = "&#xE0B5").

The glyph images and their mnemonic identfications are listed in the file "NEUMES_characters.pen".

An excerpt from "NEUMES_characters.pen":

characters_pen file excerpt

In the above example, each "ENTITY" provides the mnemonic name for each neume form; it is this name that is entered in the coded transcription preceded by an ampersand "&" and followed by a semicolon ";", as in "&pes;". The hexadecimal value to which the mnemonic code is converted is shown next, followed by a comment (in blue) where qualifiers for the "ENTITY" are added. The line numbers on the left-hand side are not significant; they merely mark the position of this data within the file.

dextera excerpt

For example, the first neume in the gradual verse "Dextera domini" would be coded as:   &tractulus;

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3.2.2. Why Use Mnemonics?

The mnemonic codes are designed to be "human-readable" substitutions for the hexadecimal numerals of the codepoints. Although an ampersand "&" and a semicolon ";" are required to demarcate the ASCII letters used for the mnemonic code, these symbols are not so intrusive as to confuse a reader or writer of the transcription.

An example of the encoding of Greek characters will illustrate the advantages of using mnemonic codes. In the example below, each of the numbers following "&#" represents a letter of the Greek alphabet:

Greek in numerals

Compare the visual effect to the following example, where Greek letters are encoded using mnemonics. The mnemonic codes ultimately reference the hexadecimal numeric codepoints, but through their intermingling of ASCII letters and delimiters allow much greater readability!

Greek letters using mnemonic codes

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