[MEI-L] First efforts to bring modal notation to MEI

Joshua Stutter josh at yokermusic.scot
Fri Apr 16 22:42:55 CEST 2021

Although I believe my previous response made it to Janek directly, I 
think it didn't reach the list as it came from my other e-mail address. 
It is reproduced below.

> Janek,
> Great, yet another person interested in this tricky transitional 
> notation! It gets a little lonely sometimes.
>> a thread initiated by Joshua Stutter about two years ago
> (for it was he)
> My initial interest in this was during my Master's level study where 
> I was attempting to encode some modal notation into MEI. The issue at 
> that time on this list was whether modal notation should be encoded 
> as "neumes" or "mensural". I was initially on the side of neumes as 
> it seems most readily available for the same elements, but it seems 
> that the neumes module cannot support polyphony. IIRC, modal notation 
> would fit best into mensural.
> My view at the time was that it is neither neumes nor mensural, and 
> is something "special" and inherently transitional. My answer then 
> was to try my hand at writing an ODD (in PXSL because I don't like 
> the verbosity of XML - don't judge me!) which can be found here: 
> <https://gitlab.com/yockyrr/digital-musicology-mei> this ODD likely 
> doesn't work but I had no idea what I was doing...
> There was discussion about adding "plica" to ligatures which I 
> believe has made good progress: 
> <https://github.com/music-encoding/music-encoding/pull/722> there was 
> lots of discussion around October of last year in the MEI Slack 
> server #ig-mensural
> For my continuing work I have largely moved away from MEI until 
> someone (perhaps yourself!) can add support. My own project at the 
> time was attempting to encode modal notation as succinctly as 
> possible (due to time constraints) which eventually became 
> <https://gitlab.com/yockyrr/w1-ndp> with a parser 
> <https://gitlab.com/yockyrr/ndp> and discussion can be found in my 
> Master's thesis: <http://theses.gla.ac.uk/79015/5/2020StutterMMus.pdf>
> How I would approach this nowadays if I had more time would be to 
> pragmatically attempt to fit and stuff modal rhythm into the mensural 
> module as best as possible, but bearing in mind what I know now that 
> any "rules" that the mid-twentieth century writers came up with are 
> broken time and time again in actual sources.
> Good luck, and feel free to reach out to me for more info as someone 
> who would love to use more MEI in my projects for want of support!
> Joshua.

On Fri, 16 Apr, 2021 at 20:34, Eleanor Selfridge-Field 
<esfield at stanford.edu> wrote:
> If you look broadly at other music-encoding systems, you will find 
> periodic coverage in our yearbook Computing in Musicology 
> (1985-2008), which are indexed in RILM and now included in the 
> extended RILM subscription.  Brief title information can be found at 
> <http://www.ccarh.org/publications/books/cm/>.   Later issues are 
> available from the MIT Press.  Various issues in early notational 
> styles are presented in Vols. 6, 8, 10, and 12.
> Digital Resources for Musicology (drm.ccarh.org) contains information 
> on open-access projects.  Its companion ADAM (Archive of Digital 
> Applications in Music) features projects that originated in the 
> mainframe era.  See especially the work of Nortbert Böker-Heil: 
> <https://adam.ccarh.org/>.
> Eleanor
> Eleanor Selfridge-Field
> Stanford/CCARH/Parkard Humanities Inst.
> Braun Music Center #129
> Stanford University
> Stanford, CA 94305-3076, USA
> esfield at stanford.edu <mailto:esfield at stanford.edu>
> Profile: https://profiles.stanford.edu/eleanor-selfridge-field
> *From:* mei-l <mei-l-bounces at lists.uni-paderborn.de> on behalf of 
> Janek Spaderna <janek.spaderna at pluto.uni-freiburg.de>
> *Sent:* Friday, March 19, 2021 12:21 PM
> *To:* mei-l at lists.uni-paderborn.de <mei-l at lists.uni-paderborn.de>
> *Subject:* [MEI-L] First efforts to bring modal notation to MEI
> Hello everyone,
>  as a project for university I am looking into the challenges of 
> bringing
>  support for modal notation to MEI. I am quite new to both modal 
> notation and
>  MEI so please don’t hesitate to let me know in case I mix things 
> up, miss
>  something or end up writing straight up wrong stuff.
>  Instead of directly thinking in terms of a (potential) concrete 
> encoding I
>  would like to discuss the elements and concepts of modal notation 
> first.
>  Below you can find the thoughts I had so for in this regard.
>  In my opinion thinking this through beforehand can help because we 
> can get a
>  feeling on which level an encoding should work (rather purely visual 
> or should
>  it include/require analysis of some (which?) sort).
>  The only prior discussion about this I could find is a thread 
> initiated by
>  Joshua Stutter about two years ago [1]. (Did I miss something?) It 
> touches on
>  some of the concepts which exist in modal notation but have 
> disappeared in
>  mensural music but is mostly concerned with finding a concrete 
> encoding for
>  some piece of music.
>  # Visual elements of modal notation
>  The distinctive visual elements are only very few: lines, clefs, 
> notes, tractus
>  and lyrics.
>  Regarding notes there are some special cases:
>    a) notes can be grouped into ligatures
>    b) a note can have a plica attached
>    c) notes can be followed by currentes, making it a coniunctura
>    d) the last note in a ligature can also be coniunctura
>  Cases a) and b) also occur in mensural notation; about c)/d) I am 
> not sure, at
>  least I think I do not have seen a way to encode it in MEI?
>  Also for c) there is a difference in musical meaning wether there is 
> a note
>  followed by up to three lozenges or if there are more than three. 
> The former
>  corresponds to a ternaria whereas only the latter is truly a 
> coniunctura.
>  Tractus serve multiple purposes:
>    1. It groups notes into ordines.
>    2. It indicates syllable changes.
>    3. It indicates alignment of different voices in organum passages.
>  # Concepts of modal notation
>  ## Tempora, perfectiones, ordines
>  The rhythmic feeling is based on perfectiones which consist of three 
> tempora.
>  If not changed by context a brevis has a length of one tempus, a 
> longa of two.
>  Only having seen a few transcription I still got the feeling that it 
> is quite
>  common to number the perfectiones.
>  Notes are grouped by tractus into ordines. The duration of an ordo 
> is not fix
>  and can encompass one or more perfectiones. The tractus which ends 
> an ordo is
>  usually transcribed as a rest with a context dependet duration.
>  ## Discantus/organum purum
>  On one side there is the discantus, on the other the organum purum. 
> In between
>  the two lives the copula.
>  In discantus passages each voice follows a mode which can be 
> recognized by a
>  specific pattern of ligatures. The mode then tells which notes in 
> the ligatures
>  are longae and which are breves. Additional notes---be it from 
> overlong
>  ligatures not fitting the patterns or coniuncturae---live outside the
>  longa/breve classification.
>  This concept does not apply to organum purum. As I understand it the 
> most
>  important bit here is finding a way to encode the visual alignment 
> of the
>  voices. Karen Desmond writes in one of her responses to the 
> aforementioned
>  thread on the mailing list [2]
>  > Ideally you would probably want to number the perfections and then 
> you would
>  > simply tag your tenor notes as occurring within a certain 
> perfection.
>  Whilst she notes other problems with this idea I am wondering if 
> this would
>  even be feasible in organum purum passages as I thought we do not 
> know which
>  notes are longae and which are breves. As I read it, Joshua shares my
>  sentiment [3]
>  > I'm against tagging in a particular perfection as that is implying 
> that the
>  > music proceeds in a constant modal rhythm and has length, which 
> may not be
>  > exactly correct.
>  The copula is used to connect discantus passages with organum purum 
> passages.
>  During these connecting sections the duplum operates as in discantus 
> sections
>  whereas the tenor holds notes as in organum purum passages.
>  Overall it can be said that a way to encode alignment is important 
> in organum
>  purum and copula passages. In discantus passages however this is not 
> necessary
>  as the modal rhythm used in all voices carries enough information; 
> moreover the
>  visual alignment usually does not even correspond to the musical 
> alignment.
>  -------------------------------
>  What are your thoughts so far? I am looking forward to your feedback!
>  Best
>  Janek
>  [1]: 
> <https://lists.uni-paderborn.de/pipermail/mei-l/2019/002268.html>  
> Joshua Stutter’s initial message
>  [2]: 
> <https://lists.uni-paderborn.de/pipermail/mei-l/2019/002272.html>  
> Karen Desmond in response to Joshua
>  [3]: 
> <https://lists.uni-paderborn.de/pipermail/mei-l/2019/002280.html>  
> Joshua in response to Karen
>  _______________________________________________
>  mei-l mailing list
>  mei-l at lists.uni-paderborn.de
> <https://lists.uni-paderborn.de/mailman/listinfo/mei-l>

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