Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Liturgia Horarum in Cantu Gregoriano

One of the most remarkable tools for typesetting chant now available is Gregorio. It produces beautiful and stable editions of chant that can draw on previously written code, and that code can be shared across networks and customized using software tools. The advantage of this approach is that the corpus of chant does not stay frozen on a single machine or with a single user but rather can built a bit at a time over years and across the globe.

Gregorio users, in other words, have learned to crowd source their projects, and their efforts build cumulatively over time, just like any open source software project. This provides benefits to individuals users and to the entire class of users, not just for one project but for all projects many years into the future. It is just inconceivable that this would be possible under the old model of individualized proprietary code development.

Some tools are being worked on now to make it even easier to use Gregorio for producing chant manuscripts. I've seen one of these recently and I was just amazed at its power (it will be made public within the next six months). Once again, these efforts are taking advantage of the open-source environment to draw on software and musical talents that are decentralized and diffused through the world. Many hands make light work, as they say.

Steven van Roode is the undisputed champion of Gregorio. He typeset the Simple English Propers, among many other liturgy sheets for groups around the world. He now has more projects than he can handle, which is a great thing.

His free site for singing the liturgy of the hours is where you can find files for the entire liturgical year. It is a wonderful gift to the Church.

There is some irony associated with how the most modern, most advanced tools are being used to create the futuristic manuscript prototypes of the oldest form of music that still profitably employs a medieval system of notation. Stunning.