Friday, March 28, 2008

A Lost Ward Classic is Back

Well, this is a treasure, and I'm betting that very few people alive have ever seen this:

This masterful guide to advanced studies in chant by Justine Ward, enormously rare, is now in print again for the first time since 1949.

It is her most detailed and high-level guide to understanding and singing Gregorian chant. It assumes familiarity and experience with the basic, and moves on to cover the management of dynamics, the singing of the Psalms including intonations and rules for adapting syllables to melodic formula, the three styles of chant, the treatment of accents, varieties of notation, forms of composition, the diagramming of chants, centonization, interpretation, chironomy and conducting, expression and accompaniment, as well as the origin, evolution, and regeneration of the chant.

If you have only thought of Mrs. Ward in connection with children's pedagogy, this book will amaze you. It is probably the most advanced guide to the practical singing and understanding of the details of Gregorian chant ever written. It certainly embodies a height of classical Solesmes styling. While there is probably plenty here with which today's experts will disagree, she demonstrates vast knowledge and experience as well as intimate familiarity with the chant repertoire. It is a must for anyone who aspires to mastery.

Now, a couple of things. One is that the CMAA changed the name of the book. It was called Gregorian Chant Volume II, but that is just too confusing. The current title better reflects the contents.

If you want to look at the book, you can see or print it here. As you can see, it is an enormously technical volume. It boggles my mind.

Scott Turkington tells a funny story of having briefly seen a copy in Ted Marier's trunk. He said "hey, what's that??!!" And then Ted said, oh that's a 1949 book on chant by Ward, and closed the trunk! That was it.

Anyway, I excited about it, and more excited to discipline myself to read it in print than online. I can't ever be a master but this book can teach me so much. I'm especially happy that it shows off her capacity as a scholar. It's one of many treasures that might have been lost but for new technologies that make the whole of history so accessible.

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