So what’s this semiology thing all about??

Read up on an excellent series of articles about Gregorian semiology, hosted over at MusicaSacra.

I was rereading this series of articles this morning, and thought I’d post a link to it for those who are interested in a solid introduction to Gregorian semiology and the history behind this “new” movement in chant. Dom Cardine’s work is invaluable to the study of Gregorian chant, and how much information these early semiological signs can convey once we understand what their meaning. In the end though, he urges us also to move beyond the signs and the analysis to once again see the whole:

If all music begins “beyond the sign,” this is even more true of Gregorian chant. Its notation is as supple as its rhythm is free. After having pleaded for respect for the sign, we must beg gregorianists to surpass it!

 (…)

In paying attention to the analysis, will we miss the synthesis? To prevent this, we must so greatly assimilate the result of our work that we end up by forgetting technique so that the listener does not hear it

either. This ideal will not be achieved from one day to the next and perhaps never completely, but we will have to try for it as much as possible. May good sense guide us and keep us halfway between inaccessible perfection and a routine which is too easily satisfied with anything at all! Let us accept this obligation willingly because it will reward greatly both those who look to Gregorian chant for pleasure for themselves, their students or their listeners, and those who consider the sung liturgy as praise of God and a source of spiritual life.

Of course, any serious student of semiology would do well to consult Dom Cardine’s treatise Sémiologie Grégorienne (1970). How much my world has been opened after reading Cardine…

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