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Re: [norse_course] Sequentia review

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  • tsdoughty@aol.com
    ... I haven t heard the Sequentia CD so I don t know what style of chanting they use, but only in the simplest styles is it really possible to retain these
    Message 1 of 7 , Feb 9 8:31 AM
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      I am inclined to believe that the length of vowels and consonants would have
      formed an essential part of how the poems were chanted - discarding the
      difference
      seems like a rather bad idea.

      But you never know. I am told that Chinese discards the difference between
      its
      tones when sung. Similarily one could imagine that a language might discard
      the difference
      between short and long sounds (if the difference is really only in the
      quantity) in singing.


      I haven't heard the Sequentia CD so I don't know what style of chanting they
      use, but only in the simplest styles is it really possible to retain these
      differences.  Most music, including folk music, is governed by a fixed
      musical rhythm, to which the words are fitted.  Therefore, it's the long and
      short musical notes which take precedence, not the long and short syllables
      which are forced into the musical pattern.  When vowel length and (Chinese)
      tones are discarded, it's up to the listener to supply them from the context.
       I discussed this once with a Chinese language teacher (who was not a
      musician), who didn't understand the question.   In her mind, all of the
      tones were there, although they actually weren't - it was just her
      imagination which supplied them.

      But again, I haven't heard the CD, so maybe what I'm saying doesn't apply in
      this case.   But I'm sure that Sequentia was going at this from the
      standpoint of musicians, and even though they may have a good intent to honor
      the text, they're thinking of the music first.

      Tim

      Tim
    • mdehners@aol.com
      In a message dated 2/9/01 8:33:14 AM Pacific Standard Time, tsdoughty@aol.com writes:
      Message 2 of 7 , Feb 9 8:42 AM
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        In a message dated 2/9/01 8:33:14 AM Pacific Standard Time, tsdoughty@...
        writes:
        << But again, I haven't heard the CD, so maybe what I'm saying doesn't apply
        in
        this case. But I'm sure that Sequentia was going at this from the
        standpoint of musicians, and even though they may have a good intent to
        honor
        the text, they're thinking of the music first.>>
        I like it, though I was fairly sure it was "off-tru". It did soud a bit like
        Germans singing opera, but since I like opera, Germans and some German operas
        and opera singers this wasn't a problem for me<G>...
        FridhR,
        PT Duffy (listening to 'Die Schonsten Sopran-Arian' in the back-ground<G>)
      • Haukur Thorgeirsson
        Hail there:) I see Óskar has posted his opinions to the list; I ll refrain from reading that until I ve got my own out of the way. It was not an easy thing to
        Message 3 of 7 , Feb 9 9:35 AM
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          Hail there:)

          I see Óskar has posted his opinions to the list; I'll refrain from
          reading that until I've got my own out of the way.

          It was not an easy thing to do to find this Edda-CD.
          First I accessed the University library database
          (I think anyone can do that; click on Start; then Run
          and write telnet saga.bok.hi.is) and found that the
          CD is supposedly ready for listening up on the fourth
          floor. Off I went but I failed to find it. I asked
          for help and found out that it hadn't been appropriately
          filed and was still somewhere down in storage. I had it
          fetched for me but then they told me that the music system
          was broken... Anyway I eventually got to listen but not
          for as long as I would have liked.

          Oh well... Obviously the members of Sequentia are musicians
          (not linguists) and they will have to be judged for the quality
          of their music. I don't know much of anything about music so
          you shouldn't take my comments about it very seriously.

          I read most of the booklet that went with the disk. It got my
          hopes up rather high; seems that those people listened to hundreds
          of recordings of Icelandic and Faroese chanting and were taught the
          metrics of the old poems by Heimir Pálsson. After listening to the
          CD for a while it seemed to me that surprisingly little had come out
          of this. ... Perhaps those people are _too_ good; I never got the imagery
          of a group of 10th century people chanting holy poems. To me it always
          sounded like 20th century professional musicians with huge voices singing
          an opera. ... The music itself did not remind me of traditional Icelandic or
          Faroese music.

          But I was specifically asked about the pronunciation of the language.
          I didn't see any indication that this was supposed to be a reconstructed
          ON pronunciation. I couldn't find any reference to language in the booklet
          and the cover of the CD said something like "... the language of the Norsemen,
          still spoken in Iceland today" which kind of suggests that they were trying
          for Icelandic pronunciation.

          But what it actually sounded like to me was if you took a couple of Germans
          threw some ON-texts at them, told them to sing, and didn't give them _any_
          directions on how to pronounce them.

          They made no noticeable distinction between short and long sounds;
          "gúnnarr" and "gunar" would have sounded the same.

          They made no distinction between ø and ö.

          None that I could hear between ey and ei.

          None that I could hear between æ and e.

          But the thing that really sounded like a mutilation of the language was
          the pronunciation of 'r'. An innocent little word like "er" was often
          stretched
          to no end "ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR".

          I am inclined to believe that the length of vowels and consonants would have
          formed an essential part of how the poems were chanted - discarding the
          difference
          seems like a rather bad idea.

          But you never know. I am told that Chinese discards the difference between its
          tones when sung. Similarily one could imagine that a language might discard
          the difference
          between short and long sounds (if the difference is really only in the
          quantity) in singing.
          Any thoughts on this, Yi-Qing?

          I hope no-one takes me too seriously. As for music I am the most ignorant
          person in the
          world and as for pronunciation of Icelandic I am the most biased person in
          the world.

          Regards,
          Haukur
        • falconsword@hotmail.com
          ... Indeed. Yet I suspect that it was the other way around for Old Norse singing - that the tones were made to fit the vowel lengths. Vowel (and consonant)
          Message 4 of 7 , Feb 9 9:49 AM
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            Tim wrote:

            >Most music, including folk music, is
            >governed by a fixed musical rhythm,
            >to which the words are fitted. Therefore,
            >it's the long and short musical notes
            >which take precedence, not the long
            >and short syllables which are forced
            >into the musical pattern.

            Indeed. Yet I suspect that it was the other
            way around for Old Norse singing - that the
            tones were made to fit the vowel lengths.

            Vowel (and consonant) length forms a part of
            the metrics of dróttkvætt. For example the
            second last syllable of every line must be long.
            I imagine that every type of line had a
            particular set of possible "chantings".

            But I am far out of my depth in this matter.

            Surely there are studies of this "problem"
            for other languages. Latin comes to mind.




            >I discussed this once with a Chinese
            >language teacher (who was not a musician),
            >who didn't understand the question. In her
            >mind, all of the tones were there, although
            >they actually weren't - it was just her
            >imagination which supplied them.

            Very interesting.



            >But I'm sure that Sequentia was going at
            >this from the standpoint of musicians, and
            >even though they may have a good intent to
            >honor the text, they're thinking of the music first.

            I completely agree with you.

            Regards,
            Haukur
          • falconsword@hotmail.com
            It occurs to me that modern Icelandic does distinguish between some sound solely with length. The only difference between, for example, bruna and brunna
            Message 5 of 7 , Feb 9 9:54 AM
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              It occurs to me that modern Icelandic
              does distinguish between some sound
              solely with length.

              The only difference between, for example,
              "bruna" and "brunna" lies in the length of
              the sounds. Yet I think one would distinguish
              between those words in singing.

              Bruna þú nú bátur minn...

              not

              Brunna þú...

              I am quite confused now. Maybe there
              is no problem. (Or maybe it makes some
              difference that n is a voiced sound.)

              Regards,
              Haukur
            • tsdoughty@aol.com
              ... You re absolutely right in regards to single and double consontants. These can be distinguished in singing no matter what the musical style or genre, and
              Message 6 of 7 , Feb 9 3:20 PM
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                The only difference between, for example,
                "bruna" and "brunna" lies in the length of
                the sounds. Yet I think one would distinguish
                between those words in singing.


                You're absolutely right in regards to single and double consontants.  These
                can be distinguished in singing no matter what the musical style or genre,
                and not to do so is merely ignorance or laziness.

                Tim
              • E-Ching Ng
                Hi Haukur, ... Well, yes and no. Melodies don t reflect the Chinese tones in any way that I can pick out, but from what I ve *heard* about people who write
                Message 7 of 7 , Feb 9 7:48 PM
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                  Hi Haukur,

                  >But you never know. I am told that Chinese discards the difference between its
                  >tones when sung. Similarily one could imagine that a language might discard
                  >the difference
                  >between short and long sounds (if the difference is really only in the
                  >quantity) in singing.
                  >Any thoughts on this, Yi-Qing?

                  Well, yes and no. Melodies don't reflect the Chinese tones in any way that
                  I can pick out, but from what I've *heard* about people who write Chinese
                  lyrics to given melodies, the tones are always a consideration when you're
                  trying to fit words to the tune. You try to choose words whose tones are
                  somewhat compatible to that tune. You'll hear a lot of glides from one
                  note to the other in traditional Chinese music, instead of straight quick
                  transitions from one level note to another as is usual in Western music - I
                  think this might have its source in the many contour tones of Chinese. I
                  have a feeling that most Chinese now could sing most words to most tunes
                  and not feel too weird about it, so maybe this is not as important as I'm
                  making it sound. To summarise my state of confusion, I think tones matter
                  in singing but I'm not sure. :-)

                  How does Icelandic manage the difference between long and short vowels in
                  singing? (I guess pre-aspiration takes care of the consonants.) Japanese
                  has long and short vowels and consonants, and I'm really intrigued by what
                  they do in the few songs I've followed with lyrics. Short vowels can get
                  very long in singing. But long vowels almost always get two different
                  notes, or if they're on the same note, the second "mora" of that vowel gets
                  a little extra punch so that even this ignorant foreigner can can often
                  tell that it's there (often it's the same deal with diphthongs, which I
                  guess is why the Japanese insist they haven't got diphthongs). Long
                  consonants are not pronounced the way they are in ordinary speech, but they
                  are indicated with, of all things, a preceding glottal stop: yatte becomes
                  [ya?ate]. I would not necessarily expect any other language to use these
                  strategies; I think it happens in Japanese because there's such a strict
                  rule that every mora in a word takes up the same amount of time (loosely
                  defined, a mora is one (consonant+)vowel(+nasal) group, or just one nasal,
                  or one long consonant. So there are 2 morae in ha-na 'flower', ha-a 'yes',
                  ha-i 'yes', and ha-n 'half').

                  This message feels SO off-topic! :-)

                  E-Ching
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