[b-hebrew] TRe: poetic accents and poetic metre

rochelle altman willaa at netvision.net.il
Wed Sep 13 07:53:35 EDT 2006


I just finished reading your draft; you have an error in  a basic premise. 
The Psalms are meant to be sung -- not chanted. Just ask the early Church 

The point is one must know the history of religious music or you fall into 
the trap your 'authorities' did of  unquestioned acceptance of desired as 
opposed to actual history. The very concept that Psalmody is aligned with 
Gregorian Chant is fallacious. One also needs a background in music theory 
and practice to approach the Psalms -- or any other songs in the MT.

First of all, Gregorian Chant never existed.It's a pot-pourri of Frankish 
and Roman chant and dates     to ca. 100 to 150 years AFTER Gregory I. (d. 
Second, until the 4th century, translators tried to fit the words to the 
existing Hebrew Melodies --    and it shows..Greek parsing rhythms are 
completely different from Hebrew parsing rhythms.      The Greek versions 
are full of trilling.
Third, the LAtin versions have the same problem; during the Renaissance, 
the trilling was called        'goat's trill.'.
Fourth, the tempi were slowed in order to hide the misfit between Latin and 
Hebrew parsing      rhythms... the concept that the slowed tempi equals 
'grandeur' is a retrofit.
Fifth, Hebrew Psalmody is descended from Sumero-Ajjadian hymnody.
Sixth, Medieval mathematical and geometric theories of composition -- which 
are based on the    techniques used in the MT -- are required 
reading.Generative grammar cannot be used on  any part of the MT -- 
inclusive of the songs.
There is much more, but I think you get the idea and it seems redundant to 
iterate material I have already addressed in Chapters 9 and 10 of my book.

Sung, not chant! Heck,in the late 10th-century, AElfirc the Grammarian 
refers to the Psalms as 'harp song'.

I have a bib i can send you re: the North and North-West Semitic musical 
tradition  of religious music and musical notation systems that might be 
useful. I could include a smattering of more recent works on the 
mathematical and geometric theories as well.

And I know that folks pooh-pooh "counting syllables" -- I have to inform 
folks that Hebrew song is syllabic song , that is, one note sung to each 
syllable. You darn well better count the syllables if you want to have any 
idea of the meter and density of Hebrew religious song.


I wonder...did you happen to notice that Haik-Vantoura conflates musical 
notation with
  grammatical notation? Or that she gets the tempi all wrong? Are you aware 
of the fact that
  Hebrew Psalmody descends from Sumero-Akkadian hymnody and not from 
Egyptian hymnody
as Haik-Vantoura and John Wheeler assume?

If you really want to be informed about Hebrew music, try reading Avneri or 
Werner or even the first three chapters of Will Apel's 'Gregorian Chant.', 
second ed. Come to think of it, Vincent, read those first three chapters... 
and if you get further into the book, you'll find out about the fallacy of 
Gregorian Chant as well as the way the Solesmes School of reconstruction 
emends the notation in the St. Gall MSS to suit the concept of what G. 
chant should be, not what it is in the MSS..

Dang it; I have a deadline to meet, but, sometimes.....

Best wishes,

Dr. R. I. Altman
>>Vincent Shalom,
>>While noting that 'The psalms are for singing' or 'the psalms are for 
>>I would recommend looking into "Music of the Bible Revealed" research
>>by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura. I think it could open alot in the area you
>>are studying.
>>Avi Wollman
>>On 9/12/06, Vincent DeCaen <decaen at origin.chass.utoronto.ca> wrote:
>> > dear friends on b-hebrew,
>> >
>> > draft 5 of "Theme and Variation in Psalm 111: Metrical Phrase and Foot in
>> > Generative Perspective," has been posted to my papers site. feedback is
>> > welcome...
>> >
>> > nearing completion is a study of syllable, foot, metheg and accent,
>> > arising from questions in Khan (1987). (i am using eth/el as diagnostic
>> > before word with silluq.)
>> >
>> > http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~decaen/papers/
>> >
>> > shalom,
>> > V
>> >
>> >
>> > 
>> -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
>> > Dr Vincent DeCaen
>> > DeCaen and Associates Research and Communications
>> > 135 Bleecker Street, Suite 307
>> > Toronto ON, M4X 1X2
>> > 416.927.7667
>> > vince at decaen.ca
>> > 
>> -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

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