11 Replies to “Guide to Reading Semiological Signs”

  1. Thank you. This is very useful. I tried to download, but the quality was fuzzy especially for page 2. Can you provide a pdf?

  2. I probably should know this but what do "L," "VAT," and "SG" stand for? Thanks.

  3. L = Laon
    VAT = Vatican (edition of the chants)
    SG – Saint Gall

    Laon and Saint Gall are some sources of adiastematic chant notation.

  4. Very interesting!

    I wonder why the Laon for the virga strata has so many dots to represent the third neume shown?

    Also, is there a semiology for whole phrases? Is that what's shown here since the notation changes depending on what precedes and follows each neume? And are certain phrases more characteristic of certain texts than others? E.g., it seems in Marian hymns there're very large intervals, etc.


  5. Those aren't dots in the virga strata. It's a single tilde (oriscus). Its Laon form is rather more wavy than the St. Gall version and might look in this reproduction to be made of separate strokes. It is not.

  6. This is a very nicely put together guide. However, it is slightly misleading in that one might think the Vatican Edition is simply a transcription of the St. Gall and Laon neumes. You can clearly see that several different forms of each neume are rendered the same way in square notes.

    However, there are numerous examples where the Laon and St. Gall notations use entirely different neume forms for the same passage. Different St. Gall manuscripts will not infrequently differ from each other. And some St. Gall scribes will even write the same melody two or more different ways in the same chant! For the torculus initio debilis (second form), to name but one example, is transcribed as either a clivis or a regular torculus in the Vatican Edition.

    Also, the interpretation of the handwritten neumes is significantly different from their square counterparts. Therefore, it is of little use to compare the handwritten notes to the square neumes (which, only necessary for pitch, could just as easily be notated using only the punctum).

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