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Author Topic: squiggly things  (Read 362 times)

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Tone Dumb Greg

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squiggly things
« on: December 09, 2019, 12:00:59 AM »

I was coding an old carol when I came across these squiggly things. Any ideas as to what they are?
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Greg Smith
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Winston Smith

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2019, 12:19:54 AM »

Dunno, but the last one's crossed out so that's one fewer to worry about, eh?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2019, 07:33:23 AM »

I was coding an old carol when I came across these squiggly things. Any ideas as to what they are?

They are the numeral 6 and the slash on the final one is meaningful; not a mistake which is crossed out. It's part of what looks to be a somewhat simplified figured bass notation - a short-hand method of indicating the harmonies to be used by a keyboard player, particularly an organist, harpsichord or lute player.

Figured bass notation was an indication to the player of the general chord structure to be used, but the exact realisation of the notes and rhythm was left to the player. It could get very complex. See here for a comprehensive explanation, including the meaning of the 6 and the slashes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figured_bass

Our present day notation of chord symbols above a melody or song fulfills a similar function.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2019, 09:02:16 AM »

Thanks Steve and erm..thanks Winston  ;D

Edit:After looking through the linked document, I can't help thinking I 'm glad we moved on from this system. Could be useful, in some circumstances, though.

My initial thought was-what instrument do I know, that's in common use, that features chords and basses.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 09:13:50 AM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Greg Smith
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playandteach

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2019, 11:43:43 AM »

I was coding an old carol when I came across these squiggly things. Any ideas as to what they are?
They're actually straightforward and help you know which chord and inversion to play. 6 is short hand for 63 which is a 6th above and a 3rd above the bass note. No number is 53 which is a root position chord. The most likely answer for the slash 6 is a sharp 6 which would give a G sharp which is a 1st inversion of chord 7 of A minor. In this case it is slightly strange as you'd expect the G sharp to rise to an A but there are a few escape routes. Most harpsichord parts in Baroque ensemble music used this system as all the players were used to the style which was obviously contemporary for them. It did also save a huge amount of time in writing parts. We still refer to this system when discussing suspensions as you can have for example one bass note with consecutive numbers over or under it showing 4 - 3 or 9 - 8.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2019, 02:01:28 PM »

Thanks. While I'm at it, what about the little d note in this image? I wondered if it was some sort of grace note, but I don't really think it is. Another harmony instruction, maybe? It's not the only one like this, but there are only a few.
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Greg Smith
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2019, 02:13:59 PM »

Thanks. While I'm at it, what about the little d note in this image? I wondered if it was some sort of grace note, but I don't really think it is. Another harmony instruction, maybe? It's not the only one like this, but there are only a few.
It's difficult to tell with only a small image of only a section of the music. It might be easier if you were to provide a larger excerpt.
Is this also from a carol (i.e. with words)? Possible interpretations:

1. The small note might be an alternative note e.g. for a different verse

2. It could be an appogiatura grace note, although it's unusual to see one with such a big leap to the main (following) note. The slur is a bit odd too.

3. It could be the remnants of an incomplete erasure of an error; it looks as if there has been some alteration to the stave lines and maybe the tail of the small note itself.

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2019, 02:17:36 PM »


It's difficult to tell with only a small image of only a section of the music. It might be easier if you were to provide a larger excerpt.
Is this also from a carol (i.e. with words)? Possible interpretations:


Here's the whole thing

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Greg Smith
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playandteach

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2019, 02:22:30 PM »

Thanks. While I'm at it, what about the little d note in this image? I wondered if it was some sort of grace note, but I don't really think it is. Another harmony instruction, maybe? It's not the only one like this, but there are only a few.
2. It could be an appogiatura grace note, although it's unusual to see one with such a big leap to the main (following) note. The slur is a bit odd too.
On a pedantic point it wouldn't be an appoggiatura because it's not a non chord note resolving to a chord note.
But Steve's right it was a habit to show the main tune in bold notes and additional embellishments in grace notes. The little E on page 2 is a passing note between 2 chord notes. Crucially it doesn't have its own syllable so I'd suggest that the high D you spoke about also shares a syllable with the previous note.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 02:33:10 PM by playandteach »
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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2019, 02:29:55 PM »

On a pedantic point it wouldn't be an appoggiatura because it's not a non chord note resolving to a chord note.
yes - I agree, which is why I thought it looked odd.
Now I've seen (and played) the whole tune, I'm pretty sure the anomalous mark is the remnants of an erased error and can safely be ignored; the tune makes sense without it.
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Steve
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playandteach

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2019, 02:34:54 PM »

Steve, I've added a point to my previous post which I think explains it.
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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2019, 02:37:39 PM »

Steve, I've added a point to my previous post which I think explains it.
OK yes - I've now seen it. You could well be right.
I wonder if there is a version of the tune in another book or manuscript somewhere which could be used to compare.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2019, 05:08:54 PM »

I wonder if there is a version of the tune in another book or manuscript somewhere which could be used to compare.

The image I posted is from Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols (London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823). It is identical to the plate used for the First edition. The only other rendition found, so far, is a much later arrangement first published in  Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931.

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Greg Smith
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2019, 05:20:15 PM »

The more I think about this and also see the two versions of the carol, the more I am convinced that the spurious small D note is just an artifact of printing and/or erasure of an error. My advice would be to just ignore it.
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Steve
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: squiggly things
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2019, 05:38:33 PM »

Ignore it I shall. Thanks.
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Greg Smith
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