This page describes the written form of Gregorian chant for those interested: in particular the precise rules for the construction of a score, rules which are respected by Gregorio.
The alignment of text and neumes
The alignment of text and notes is something fundamental in Gregorian chant scores, because the correspondence of text and notes needs to be very clear when a score is read, in order to make rapid sight-reading possible.
What we need to do, in fact, is to align two points: one on the neumes, and one on the text. The alignment point on the neumes needs to be determined based on the notes; and that on the text, depending on the type of syllable.
The alignment point on the neumes
This point is the simplest to determine, as there are only three cases:
- if the first glyph is only one note, or is a normal pes, or is composed of three or more notes, the alignment point is in the middle of the first note.
- if the first glyph is composed of two notes (other than a normal pes), the alignment point is in the middle of the glyph.
- In the case of a porrectus, the alignment point is in the middle of an imaginary square punctum beginning at the same point as the porrectus.
The alignment point of the text
This alignment point is harder to determine as there are more cases. We treat here the case of the Latin; there may be different cases depending on the language, but Latin is the most used language for Gregorian chant. For Latin pronunciation, see the Wikipedia article on Latin.
The basic case is the case of a syllable with only one vowel, for example -tor in creator . In this case, the alignment point is in the middle of the vowel, here o.
In the case of a diphthong, for example au (pronounced
[au̯]) in aurum), the alignment point is in the middle of the diphthong.
The case of double vowels having only one sound (monophthongs), such as æ (pronounced
[ɛː]), is quite similar; the alignment point is in the middle of the two letters.
Gregorian chant scores usually start with a large initial letter. In this case the alignment point is in the middle of the first letter after the initial if the initial is a vowel. Otherwise it is in the normal position described above.
The harder cases to discern, which deviate from the rules of the diphthong, are the cases of the “false vowels”, that is to say iota and digamma:
- iota is a phonetic figure on the i in Latin when it is followed by another vowel. This corresponds to the j in German (as in ja) or to the y in french (in maya). In derived languages, this generally gives us words with j for example Iesus → Jesus. The iota appears mostly at the beginning of words.
- digamma is a phonetic figure on the u in Latin when it is followed by a vowel. It corresponds to the w in English (as in were). digamma is used often, for example in qui (pronounced
[kʷi]) and its declined forms.
In these two cases, the alignment point is in the middle of the second vowel, for example on the e of Iesus, on the i of qui. Be careful not to confuse multiple structures. For example, cuius consists of two distinct syllables, cu and ius: the second one is an iota, so it is aligned on the u. In the same way, the word media is composed of three syllables: me, di and a.