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Re: "Songs to the Invisible God" review...


I wonder how your comments on Gregorian chant and books of the Bible
relates to the following excerpt from notes by Laszlo Dobsay to the
Schola Hungarica recordings subtitled " : Repons Gregoriens sur les
Textes de La Genese/de La Bible"?

"In the Christian liturgy the books of Genesis and Exodus were read in
the offices during the months of February and March.  From time to
time the recitation was interrupted by chanting in order to lend the
sustenance of music to the meditation.  In the "responsories" for
Matins the libretto was drawn from the book of the scriptures that had
just been read; in this way comprehensive musical cycles to every book
in the Bible came into existence..."


-----Original Message-----
From: Judah Cohen <jcohen (at) fas(dot)harvard(dot)edu>
To: World music from a Jewish slant <jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org>
Date: Monday, March 20, 2000 11:36 PM
Subject: Re: "Songs to the Invisible God" review...

>First things first:  I want to clarify that I make no overtures to
say that
>Christian monophonic chant is NOT derived from Jewish chant.  Rather,
>assert that there is not enough evidence to prove anything definitive
>either direction.
>I've been through much of Lachmann and Avenary's work.  Here's what
>Lachmann did not produce much: he died at a very young age (41), and
>only major monograph is his 1934(?) Jewish Cantillation and Song of
the Isle
>of Djerba.  He's also responsible for helping establish the fabulous
>of Jewish music at the Hebrew University.  While his forte was what
>called "Oriental" music, he did little to feed into the "Jewish from
>Christian Chant" issue.
>Hanoch Avenary is to me one of the most careful and thoughtful Jewish
>musicologists of his age--I think his Encyclopedia Judaica article is
>generally about as good a summary of the subject as was known then.
>he focused primarily on source studies and observations of diverse
>groups in Israel, he did occasionally take a stab at some issues of
>derivation (such as the use music in biblical times, etc.).  I recall
>reading many of his essays (especially his 1979 "Encounters of East
and West
>in Music") that he is careful about making Werner's assumptions,
being very
>clear to cite the limits of the materials available to him.
>Having a good amount of Gregorian chant study under my belt as well,
>having explored the very issue of its relation to Jewish chant for
quite a
>bit of time, I've come to just the opposite conclusion.  My
>Jewish chant as we know it (which is primarily from the Masoretes c.
>10th century) consists of symbols representing melodic formulae,
often with
>little correlation between the symbol itself and the contour of the
>it represents.  Every form of neumatic chant I've seen (and I've
studied and
>transcribed several) contains neumes that *look* like they could be
>symbols, but actually conform almost exactly to the melodic contours
>represent (this, after all, is how Western musical notation
>developed in the first place).   This to me became one disjuncture
>threw a big wrench into what seemed initially to be an elegant theory
>Upon further searching, the comparisons between the two systems fell
>for me.  Whatever "melodic" motifs there are in Gregorian chant are
>nearly as consistently placed as they are in Jewish biblical chant,
and need
>to be ripped irregularly out of the neumes themselves in order to be
>identified for comparison.  Even then, the comparison is messy at
best, with
>a number of extraneous notes to be dealt with in between motifs.  It
>didn't work for me.
>Moreover, Christian and Jewish chant are used for two almost
>purposes:  Jewish chant is used to chant from biblical texts *ONLY*
>a simplified system appears to exist for reading psalms).
Conversely, I
>have NEVER seen an entire, continuous book of the bible set to
>chant.  Rather, I've seen Christian monodic chant set prayer rituals.
>this comparison alone, Gregorian chant is much closer to the Jewish
>of nusach and "modes" than to the Biblical Chant system [though I
>believe this too is impossible to ascertain]; it makes it seem to me
that a
>comparison to Jewish cantillation symbols exists more because they
>*THERE* rather than because they make a convincing comparison.
>The big kicker for me, though, is that *we actually don't know what
>Biblical chant sounded like.*  At the absolute earliest, manuscripts
>any Western notation of Jewish chant whatsoever appear in the 15th
>(and I may be erring on the early side).  The vast majority of what
we know
>in terms of melodic "motifs" of the trop markings comes from
>made in Israel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (as
spearheaded by
>the research of Abraham Z. Idelsohn).  And as I mentioned before, any
>definitive source of organization of melodic motifs dates from the
>century with the Masoretic codex.  How, then, is it even possible to
>a source for comparison without assuming that oral traditions
>absolutely static for over two thousand and one thousand years
>Even if you take wholesale Idelsohn's theory that the melodic
formulae of
>the trop system all came from a single source (i.e., the Temple;
>among others has placed this theory in doubt), the wide variation
>among the numerous musical traditions, even in a single trop marking,
>any comparison to Gregorian chant motifs a nearly impossible task.
>If you're still skeptical, you may wish to check out Peter Jeffery's
>of "The Sacred Bridge, Volume 2" in the Jewish Quarterly Review 77:
>(1987).  Jeffery takes a less critical, but highly effective approach
>unravelling Werner's theoretical underpinnings.
>Of course, I'm interested to see your evidence to the contrary.
>there is something I'm overlooking, in which case I'd be quite
interested to
>know about it.
>Be well.
>>From: eliott kahn <elkahn (at) JTSA(dot)EDU>
>>To: World music from a Jewish slant <jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org>
>>Subject: Re: "Songs to the Invisible God" review...
>>Date: Mon, Mar 20, 2000, 4:14 PM
>> Judah:
>> I am not a specialist in ancient music, but I believe excellent
>> musicologists such as Hannoch Avernary and Robert Lachman have done
>> substantiative research proving Werner's point.
>> I will also tell you, as someone who has analyzed Gregorian chant,
that the
>> method of motivic organization to create melodies is IDENTICAL to
"trop" or
>> Biblical cantillation.
>> Please offer proof otherwise, if you believe Christian monophonic
chant is
>> not derived from Jewish cantillation.
>> Sincerely,
>> Eliott Kahn
>> At 03:44 PM 3/20/00 -0500, you wrote:
jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org ---------------------+

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