[Smt-talk] Examples of Modes

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Tue Sep 3 14:04:54 PDT 2013


I cannot really discuss your hypothesis of the leap from the final, 
which you probably submitted to many tests. I have no such arguments and 
only can envisage it in the abstract. The abstract questions that remain 
open in my mind include these:

– Would not the antiphone/psalm joining be from the modal final to the 
psalm intonatio? (This raises the question whether the intonation was 
sung at each verse, a point about which you may know better.) Supposing 
that the succession really is between the final and the first note of 
the psalm-tone intonation, the situation varies from mode to mode: 1, 
D–F; 2, D–C; 3, E–G; 4, E–a; 5, F–D; 6, F–F; 7, G–c; 8, G–G. In other 
words, there would be no upwards leap in modes/tones 2, 5, 6 an 8; I 
admit that these are not among the most frequent...

– If there are more that one upwards leaps in a melody, not all from the 
final, how does one know which one is from the final? I mean this 
especially if the leap where to be understood as a conventional signal, 
as I trust there are of all kinds in all sorts of ensemble oral music.

– If the leap often is from the final to the tenor/reciting tone, could 
it not more generally be said that it is the relation between these 
notes, not necessarily established by a direct leap but rather by 
statistic qualities of the notes, that define the tonal centricity? 
Final and tenor often merely are the most present notes, from a 
statistical point of view... I cannot refrain thinking that this 
final/tenor relation eventually led to the mid-11th century (St Emmeran) 
theory of the fourth and fifth species, and later to the "neo-classical" 
conception of the modes which, I believe, strongly determines tonal 
centricity in modal polyphony.

Certainly, I have to read your book, and I'll do so as soon as possible. 
And your mention of secular music in this respect is tantalizing.

You probably graduated in Paris-Sorbonne just before I arrived there. 
Did you work with Nicole Sevestre? (But that probably better belongs to 
private discussions.)



Nicolas Meeùs,
Université Paris-Sorbonne (Emeritus)

Le 3/09/2013 12:00, Fiona McAlpine a écrit :
> Dear Nicolas,
> Your second question first: tonal  centricity. I too would say that, 
> when all notes in all scales/ modes are the same, there has to be a 
> way in which the performer knows which should be the final, & that 
> this is nowhere more acute than in the antiphon/psalm interchange. As 
> you say, a lot of antiphons are very short: where you might still get 
> that leap is from final of antiphon to tenor of psalm. This is where 
> the joining mattered.
> Your first question now: whether that leap is a natural or 
> conventional way of signalling the tonal centre? I think I'd say it's 
> both: it's there in the music, & can't be gainsaid; but how did it get 
> there? we don't know.
> I can also say that it is there in the secular trouvère music manuscripts.
> subsidiary questions: the leap from the final is often to the 
> tenor/reciting tone; but not always. see the dark phrygian modes
> & cordes m~eres: again, for a fuller discussion you'd have to read my 
> book.
> /Salut/ from a graduate of Paris-IV,
> /f/
> (Dr) Fiona McAlpine
> Honorary Research Fellow
> School of Music
> University of Auckland
> /Le Béguinage/
> 42 Horns Rd
> RD 1
> Oxford 7495
> North Canterbury
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Nicolas Meeùs [nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be]
> *Sent:* Thursday, 29 August 2013 09:06
> *To:* Fiona McAlpine
> *Cc:* smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
> *Subject:* Re: [Smt-talk] Examples of Modes
> Fiona,
> Unfortnuately, I cannot have access to your book just now; but I read 
> your paper "Arripui hymnarium" in /De musica disserenda/, which gave 
> me an idea of your hypothesis. I am very interested with tonal 
> centricity, which to me is essential to the very notion of 'modality'. 
> I believe, for instance, that late medieval and Renaissance polyphony 
> is modal because it evidences tonal centricity.
>     I have two questions, however; I am aware that I may find an 
> answer at least to the first one in your book, which I intend to read 
> as soon as possible: in that case, don't bother to answer it.
> The first question is: do you think that the leap upward from the 
> final is somehow a 'natural', unconscious feature of modes, or do you 
> view it as a conventional way of signaling the tonal center? On the 
> one hand I fail to see how such feature could result, say, from the 
> structure of the diatonic system; it is true that most melodies of the 
> world tend to leap upwards and to descend stepwise, as I think Curt 
> Sachs already noted, but I don't see why the leap should be from the 
> final (especially that it would have to be from an intermediate 
> final). On the other hand I know that music does make use of conscious 
> signaling, particularly in ensemble singing, but I don't immediately 
> see the reason for this in the case of church modes.
> The second question that I have concerns the special case of psalm 
> antiphons: many of these are too short to include any internal 
> cadence, or upwards leaps of any kind (unless at the very beginning, 
> but then not always upwards from the final). On the other hand, it is 
> in that case that the tonal centre may be of "vital importance", as 
> you write. I can see your point when dealing with hymns, but there the 
> question of joining bits of music does not arise, I think.
> There are many subsidiary questions that immediately arise:
> – I thought that the notion of "final" did not appear in medieval 
> theory before Hucbald, i.e. at a time when the modes were close to 
> being "turned into scales". Is your hypothesis to be linked with the 
> interval between final and tenor (reciting tone)?
> – The joining of antiphons with psalm verses concerns not only the end 
> of the antiphon and the beginning of the psalm tone (which very much 
> involves the final as tonal centre), but also the end of the tone with 
> the beginning of the antiphon, which depends on the particular 
> differentia used.
> – Did you consider what Jacques de Liège (and others, probably) had to 
> say of melodies which did not end on their proper final because of a 
> mistake of the singers, who ended on one of the affinals? Would these 
> cases concern melodies lacking the upwards leap that you describe?
> – Etc., but these will suffice for the time being.
> I presume that the upwards leaps that you describe could often be from 
> the final to the reciting note, what may suffice as 
> justification/explanation, and which may link to the later theory of 
> fifth and fourth species. But does not this raise a question of 
> chronology (considering the theory of "cordes mères", of tenor and 
> final at first not being distinct)? I'd very much like to hear your 
> opinion about all this.
> Nicolas Meeùs
> Université Paris-Sorbonne
> Le 26/08/2013 10:49, Fiona McAlpine a écrit :
>> Coming back to Nicolas' earlier point about the 'church' modes being 
>> not just scales but collections of melodic formulae: in the absence 
>> of any harmonic underpinning, these melodic formulae also had to 
>> define the tonal centre in a world where the tonal centre was of 
>> vital importance because most of your  musical activity consisted of 
>> joining discrete bits of music to each other (I'm talking abut monks 
>> joining antiphons to psalm tones, which Nicolas touched on). Those 
>> modes were there, and organised thus in relation to tonal centre, 
>> from perhaps mid-ninth century (Aurelian), long before they got 
>> turned into scales (let's say before the point of reference for most 
>> of the readers of these pages, Guido in the early eleventh century). 
>> There is a technique by which medieval musicians achieved this 
>> tonal-centredness, given that all medieval modes used the same 
>> diatonic collection: leaps upwards from the final in an essentially 
>> stepwise melodic world. Forgive the self-puffery, but for further 
>> collaboration see my book /Tonal Consciousness & the Medieval West/.
>> (Dr) Fiona McAlpine
>> Honorary Research Fellow
>> School of Music
>> University of Auckland
>> /Le Béguinage/
>> 42 Horns Rd
>> RD 1
>> Oxford 7495
>> North Canterbury
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Aucun virus trouvé dans ce message.
> Analyse effectuée par AVG - www.avg.fr <http://www.avg.fr>
> Version: 2013.0.3392 / Base de données virale: 3222/6631 - Date: 
> 02/09/2013

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20130903/94f84e7a/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list