Friday, March 14, 2014

Guest Post: Liber Gradualis or Graduale Novum?

An NLM reader, Richard Llewellyn, provides us with the guest post below. Thanks to Richard for his post on the various chant editions.

The Belgian « Académie de Chant Grégorien » organised a most interesting workshop with both Mgr Alberto Turco and Franco Ackermans (of the Aiscgre-Arbeitsgruppe), who respectively wrote the Liber Gradualis and the Graduale Novum. These books are the fruits of decades of work of research to restore the Roman Graduale from two independent bodies, though both had links with Dom Cardine and Dom Jean Claire.

If probably 90% of the books have the same text, which shows that the restored text is rather more accurate in general that the present Graduale Romanum, there are some noticeable differences in a few pieces.
It has been an amazing day of dialogue on some of the complex restored pieces. Both authors have also exposed their way of working.

What are these books ? 

Let us first remember that Dom Pothier’s Liber Gradualis was a first shot at reconstituing a sort of supposed historical graduale. St Pius X took its musical text to make the Graduale Romanum, and asked all dioceses to use it with his famous motu proprio. These were to put an end to the use of the simplified Franciscan books of the curia. The benedictine and roman scholars of the time knew that this graduale was a first step : it could therefore not be meant to be a permanent and definitive edition. This is also why Dom Gajard requested a special paragraph to be added in Sacrosanctum Concilium, which became

117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X.

Work progressed in that direction at Solesmes, and also in other academic places. The main step forward probably came with the understanding that Gregorian chant had not been dictated by St Gregory the great,  but that it was a mixture of Gallico-Antiochan and Romano-Alexandrian chant. This resulted in a better comprehension of their structural compositions (modality, phrasing, ornamentation, etc)

The post-conciliar atmosphere did not really favour an immediate publication of new chant books, and it was really with the incentive of Pope Benedict XVI that some books could (at last) come out.

Liber Gradualis juxta ordinem Cantus Missae, ad usum privatum, ex codicibue antiquioribus ac probatis restauratus cura et studio Alberto Turco.

Mgr Alberto Turco is a very established chant specialist. Professor of Chant at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, music director of the Verone cathedral. He has published many books on both Gregorian, Old-Roman and Ambrosian chant.  Mgr Turco has now published his full restoration of propers for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holyweek, Eastertime, in separate booklets. The first of these came out in 2009. The ordinary time and sanctoral are yet to be published. You can find the chant books in the Vatican bookshop amongst other places, and on the internet. Mgr Turco is also member of the Roman  commission that deals with making mass propers for the Ordinary form (which correspond to the texts of the missal) and for the divine office. So a very Roman church musician.

Graduale Novum

The Aiscgre-Arbeitsgruppe is a group of very well established Dutch chant scholars. They published the Graduale Novum with their own restored text. This book covers the whole of the liturgical year, though you do not always get different chant for both years A, B, C, as you get in the Triplex.  This book has been launched in the Vatican in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, and has benefited from a rather good promotion campaign.

The good news is probably that about 90% of the musical text is similar in both books.
Nevertheless, some pieces are really different. This stems notably from different liturgical and musical approaches. So, for the church musician, choosing the version to use is sometimes difficult.

Liber Gradualis’ square notation is richer than Graduale Novum’s. In particular you get some grace notes which are very useful to discern more and less important notes. In some places you get small variations like ossia in modern music, which gives more choices coming from different manuscripts. Regarding neumatic notation, Liber Gradualis only gives St Gall’s, whereas Gradual Novum gives both St Gall and Laon. Probably a pity for Turco’s books, since Laon’s notation is perhaps much more precise regarding rhythm.

If Graduale Novum basically uses the square notation of the Vatican typical edition, it gives many more indications of # and b. We must remember that these signs are not mentioned in most medieval manuscript, because it is assumed that the rule of not singing tritones is known (ie you are not allowed to sing FGAH, BCDE and alike). Uses of b and # are there to correct this problem within the hexachord/diatonic system of notation. This is why you find them in square notation books from the late middle-ages onward.
Turco’s notation, on the other hand, is rather more restrictive in the use of b, and does not use # at all. His notation is therefore more traditional, but it supposes that cantors are going to make choices.
Both authors presented their books and the way they worked. Then there was a technical discussion on a few problematic pieces where the versions given were radically different.

 Int. Populus Sion, Judica me, Scapulis suis
 Gr. Qui sedes, Ex Sion,
 All. Pascha nostrum, Domine Deus salutis
Off. In die sollmnitatis
Com. Data est mihi

Graduale Novum
1908 Graduale Romanum
Liber Gradualis

I suppose than many participants made their opinion as to which analysis was more convincing. Some also suggested (after the seminar) that the identified « problematic » pieces should be reanalyzed in order to understand the approach and to arrive to a common text when possible, or to the use of ossia on some of the phrases. There was also a non strictly musical interesting point : Mgr Turco explained that for some pieces he decided to take into account the necessary continuous evolution with the existing books (ie a hermeneutic of continuity approach), notably regarding some of the intonations. ie, keeping some existing usages  even if they were not necessary the more certain « original » version.

This is indeed an important point. We have seen the disasters of reforms carried out with a hermeneutic of discontinuity. And not everybody is yet inclined to use chromatic and enharmonic scales. So there is still a bit of work to do, but it is clear that both books are after all more satisfactory than the Liberi currently in use.
Now, of course, there is the legal issue. We now have the luxuary to have the choice to use 4 serious Gregorian chant books for parish masses (Graduale Triplex, Graduale Romanum, Graduale Novum, and Liber Gradualis). There is also easy access to orginal medieval / renaissance manuscripts thanks to the internet.

Technically, the St Pius Xth obligation to use his graduale has not yet been abolished, and many priests in traditional institutes feel that they do not have the right to use these unofficial books –   though they very often use the Solesmes/Dom Mocquereau books with their rhythmic indications, which are by no means the official books…

But it seems quite clear that pope Benedict has fostered the development of these new chant books, and so that there was a clearly expressed papal intention for the chant texts to evolve. So, do we really need to wait for an official papal motu proprio to celebrate mass with what we believe is a better score?

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