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

3.3.0. Transcribing "Dextera domini"

Portions of the transcription for the gradual verse "Dextera Domini fecit virtutem, dextera Domini exaltavit me," copied with text and notation in the Sarum manuscript London, The British Library, add. 12194, f. 25r, will be explained here. This verse is sung after the gradual "Haec dies" in the Easter season. The notation, which can be viewed in an image of this folio side [183kB] and in a detail image of this particular verse [136 kB], is square Anglo-Norman, on a four-line staff inked in red, with C-clefs.

The text of this verse, from Psalm 117:15b-16a, can be translated as:

Following the transcription chronicle and cataloguing information (see example), and after the comment: <!-- HERE BEGINS THE CHANT TRANSCRIPTION: --> and details on the staff and clef (if provided in the notation), the first item of an actual transcription from chant notation is the opening tag "<neumed_syllable>"; this tag encloses all the information concerning the text and melody (neume types, pitch letters, melodic motion, etc.) for each syllable of the chant to be transcribed. NeumesXML (like other computer-based chant notation systems) associates the neumes of a chant with the syllables of text to which they are sung. It is important to recall, too, that sources must be transcribed to data such that they can be compared melodically without requiring an assignment of pitch letters, since early notations are generally not pitch-accurate but they do provide a variety of neume forms, some of which show relative intervallic motion in their diastemity or partial-diastemity.

It is at this point in the creation of a NEUMES transcription when the Java™ Data-Entry Applet (see below) can be employed. In this programme, tags and neume types can be selected from pull-down menus, thus minimizing data-entry time and the potential for typographical or syntactical errors.

After the <neumed_syllable> tag, the textual syllable of the chant is entered without hyphens or other punctuation:

Following the entry of the textual syllable, the melodic data are entered beginning with the opening tag <neume>.

dextera excerpt

For example, the transcription of this chant, opening with the word "dextera," begins:
<neumed_syllable><syllable>Dex</syllable><neume>&tractulus;[enter melodic motion here - see section 3.3.1. Melodic Motion and Tone]</neume></neumed_syllable>

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3.3.1. Melodic Motion and Tone

The next items of data in the transcription line provide information about the melodic motion and the notes which are sung (the latter, only if the notation is pitch-accurate). The letter of the tone is entered with the entity "&ton_[place letter here]" as per "NEUMES_characters.pen" section VI. Upper-case letters are used for the lower octave and lower-case letters for the upper octave.

The letter-name of the tone is followed by an indicator of the melodic motion from the previous tone. The options within a transcription include the identification of:

"NEUMES_characters.pen" section VII lists the melodic entities and their mnemonic codes; these are also available in the "Tonal Movement" menu of the Data-Entry programme (see below).

For example, the first two neumes for "Dextera" are coded as:
<neumed_syllable><syllable>Dex</syllable><neume>&STA;&tractulus;&ton_a;&no_preced;&END;</neume></neumed_syllable> <neumed_syllable><syllable>te</syllable><neume>&STA;&virga;&ton_c;&up_m3;&END;</neume></neumed_syllable>

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3.3.2. Ligation

If connected to another glyph with an unbroken stroke of ink, the entity "&LIG;" (for "ligated") in entered in the transcription line.

domini excerpt

For example, the two tones of the clivis on the syllable "mi" are connected. They are coded as:

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3.3.3. A Full Rendition

dextera domini excerpt

The complete first two words of this chant, "Dextera domini", comprising six syllables (see the <neumed_syllable> beginning tags on the left side), appear in NEUMES coding as:


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3.3.4. Data-Entry Programme

Although it is quite feasible to create a NEUMES transcription in a text editor, the "NEUMES Data-Entry Applet" is a convenient tool. Its pull-down lists offer options for neume forms, melodic movements, and other elements of the chant transcription, and with mouse clicks in lieu of typed characters, the appropriate codes are entered into the transcription file. (NOTE: Java™ must be installed on your computer for the Applet to function.)

The "Transcription" pull-down menu of the Data-Entry programme provides clickable selections under the heading "Neumatic Glyphs". Clicking on a neume type will result in the automatic entering of the mnemonic code into the transcription.

Data Entry Applet- neumes

For melodic or tonal movements, the following menu options are available:
Data Entry - Tonal Movement Not Specified

Data Entry - Tonal Movement Up

Data Entry - Tonal Movement Down

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Contains software or other intellectual property copyright © 2003-2005, Louis W. G. Barton;
copyright © 2002-2003, The President and Fellows of Harvard College; and/or
copyright © 1995-2001, Louis W. G. Barton.