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Re: Gregorian Divisiones

From: Graham King
Subject: Re: Gregorian Divisiones
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2021 02:44:10 +0000

> On 2 Jan 2021, at 19:45, Dan Eble <> wrote:
> ´╗┐Is there an ancient music expert lurking who is willing to clarify a couple 
> of things about divisiones for me?
(I don't claim to be an expert but then, fools rush in...)
> The LilyPond Notation Reference says, "A divisio . . . is a staff context 
> symbol that is used to indicate the phrase and section structure of Gregorian 
> music."  I see that these are implemented as breathing signs, which makes 
> sense except that LilyPond engraves them in voice context.  Which one is it, 
> staff or voice?  Or doesn't it matter?
In modern usage, it doesn't matter.  I'm not aware of any modern example with 
>1 voice per staff...
>  Is this notation ever used with more than once voice per staff?  It is ever 
> used for polyphonic music at all?
... however there are some very early examples.  One is the conductus 
"congaudeant catholici" from the Codex Calixtinus (early 12th century) in which 
the discant is entered in red ink on the same staff as the tenor.  Given the 
note-against-note nature of this example, any divisiones would not be affected. 
 Other polyphonic examples in this notation, such as the Notre Dame sources, 
have AFAIK the tenor and (sometimes a choice of) discant written separately, 
even distantly. Yet other examples, such as the four part "viderunt omnes" of 
Perotin, appear in what is effectively vocal score format, one voice to a 
staff, with the divisio maxima roughly aligned.
> The NR also describes a "finalis" in the same section.  Is a finalis as much 
> like a breathing sign as the divisiones are, or is it more appropriate to 
> consider a finalis the ancient equivalent of modern section and final bar 
> lines?
Yes and no.  If one assigns any weight to the front matter of the Liber 
Usualis, 1961, then "a double line [finalis] closes either a piece of the Chant 
or one of its principal parts.  In books of Chant another role is also assigned 
to this double line: for it is used in addition to mark the place where after 
the beginning the whole choir takes up the singing ... but ... it [has been 
replaced herein] with an asterisk."  The implication being that there exist 
sources where that usage may be found.

Bottom line: with a few rather recondite exceptions, I think that for practical 
purposes it doesn't matter whether the divisiones are at staff or voice level.

-- Graham
> Thanks,
> --
> Dan

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