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  • Writer's pictureTim Braithwaite

Adhémar de Chabannes on French and Italian Articulation (11th c.)

‘All the singers of France have learnt the Italian style that they now call ‘French’, but cannot express perfectly the tremulous or sinuous notes, or those that are to be elide or separated. Rather than expressing these sounds, they subdivide the notes in their throats with a barbarous voice.’

‘Omnes Franciae cantores didicerunt notam Romanam quam nunc vocant Franciscam, excepto quod tremulas vel vinnolas sive collisibiles vel secabiles voces in cantu non poterant perfecte exprimere Franci, naturali voce barbarica frangentes in gutture voces potius quam exprimentes.’

Latin from Jacques Handschin, Eine Alte Neumenschrift (Leipzig: Verlag Nicht Ermittelbar, 1950). Translation from Timothy Mcgee, The Sound of Medieval Song: Ornamentation and Vocal Style According to the Treatises (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).

The image represents Pope Gregory I dictating Gregorian Chant while the Holy Spirit whispers in his ear, and is taken from Antiphonary of Hartker of the monastery of Saint Gall, c.1000 (Cod. Sang. 390)

Image from the tenth-century Antiphonary of Hartker of the monastery of Saint Gall.

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