Conventions for Writing Lyrics in English

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#1
As part of the prefatory material for my next music book, I have prepared a little article explaining what I believe to be the most practical conventions for writing the lyrics of Byzantine music in English. I have posted it here: www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Conventions.pdf
I would appreciate hearing any feedback from you (especially if you disagree with what I have written!)

+Fr. Ephraim
 

basil

Παλαιό Μέλος
#2
I agree that the final consonant before a repetition should be omitted, and I think that using brackets as you have proposed will work well.

I agree that one should follow the standard method of writing English lyrics for music in Western notation, as you have proposed. But I am not so sure about putting the final consonant in parentheses if it continues for more than one line of music, mostly because it just looks messy. If you feel the need to remind the singer which consonant to sing after holding out a vowel for a long time, you should do so not only at the end of a word, but at any point in the word. For example, while singing "mys - - - - - - tic - - - [linebreak] - - - - - - - al" it would be easy to forget which consonant to sing after the linebreak. By the same logic, a reminder could be placed, like so: "mys - - - - - - tic - - - [linebreak] - - - - - - - (c)al." But I still think that such reminders look messy. In other words, I might pencil in a reminder like that in a score if I was making a mistake often, but I wouldn't want the published score to have reminders at every instance.

I will comment on the meaningless consonant "n" in the other thread you have started.
 

basil

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
I sent this essay to a friend of mine, who provided the following excellent remark:

"My initial reaction is that no one should be trying to sight read papadic chant in the first place. [...] the text can easily get lost. Having a canonarch certainly works. However, the chanter should familiarize himself with the text beforehand so that he knows what he's praying. Said another way, if the chanter doesn't know the words to the hymn, there's something very wrong. Maybe it's because [the Cherubic Hymn] is such a well known text that I feel that any attempt to help influence correct pronunciation should be unnecessary."
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#4
...But I am not so sure about putting the final consonant in parentheses if it continues for more than one line of music, mostly because it just looks messy.
Yes, it does look messier. Time and time again I find that practicality and beauty often oppose one another. Being much more of a pragmatist than an artist, I usually opt for practicality at the expense of beauty.

If you feel the need to remind the singer which consonant to sing after holding out a vowel for a long time, you should do so not only at the end of a word, but at any point in the word.
Good point. I think I will also include those consonants in parentheses.
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#5
...[the Cherubic Hymn] is such a well known text that I feel that any attempt to help influence correct pronunciation should be unnecessary."
I agree with this point made by your friend, but there are many other hymns besides the cherubic hymn that have the same issues, that I don't think we should rely on the chanter's foreknowledge of the hymn's text.
 

basil

Παλαιό Μέλος
#6
Yes, it does look messier. Time and time again I find that practicality and beauty often oppose one another. Being much more of a pragmatist than an artist, I usually opt for practicality at the expense of beauty.
Father, you are the most pragmatic perfectionist I have ever met. I respect your choice, even if it isn't the same one I would have made. Let me then share with you another comment from my friend, regarding these "musical reminders" which you propose:

"When I first tried to chant [a papadic piece] ... I remember very clearly that it was easy to forget what syllable I was singing when the melody went on and on like that. Fr. Ephraim suggests putting a reminder consonant at the end of the melisma. What I naturally did was to pencil in the entire syllable in parentheses at the end of the melisma so I could make a successful transition to the next syllable. I think this would be clearer than what Fr. Ephraim is suggesting."
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#7
What I naturally did was to pencil in the entire syllable in parentheses at the end of the melisma so I could make a successful transition to the next syllable. I think this would be clearer than what Fr. Ephraim is suggesting."
But if that syllable begins with a consonant (e.g., "foun-" of "fountain"), it is likely that a careless few chanters (who haven't paid attention to an explanatory note in the preface) would pronounce that consonant again, as if it were a repeated syllable. So, for example, when they see the lyrics: foun - - - - - - - - - - [foun] - tain, they might pronounce the "f" twice.
 
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