Typesetting new harp music Based on Gregorian chant melodies

Deus Israel arranged for Celtic harp

Deus Israel typeset in LilyPond

I’ve started typesetting a few Gregorian Chants for Irish harp to make them available as pdf’s and have run into an interesting puzzle… what is the best way to present them? In five stave modern notation, which everyone is familiar with, or in addition, set a four-line staff with the neumes just above the harp score so the harpist can see the source melody?

It turns out to be a little more challenging than I thought. I have custom staff paper that I write everything out on in pencil and it makes sense to me when I’m working with this material on my own, but for distribution purposes it might be better to have everything nicely typeset.

I’ve tried several different notation packages on my (our) Mac Powerbook, including Gregorio (TEX) and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. The biggest challenge when learning a new app usually involves trying to get rid of time signatures and the software’s insistence on strict mensuration… Gregorian chant doesn’t come in 4/4 or 3/4, although it does have a rhythm of its own… just not so boxed in and counted like that.

Roráte Cæli 1

Roráte Cæli typeset in Frescobaldi

I would really like to be able to show both modern and Gregorian notation on the same page. Finale has a very nice plug-in available called Medieval 2, which, if Middlebury College’s Information Technology Services department were open to walk-in traffic, George and I could take our college-owned laptop in and request this academic title, as he is music faculty. However, Covid-19 has successfully defeated that plan for now.

Roráte Cæli

Roráte Cæli typeset in Gregorio (TEX)

So, back to Gregorio Tex, LilyPond, MuseScore and whatever else I can come up with. Completed scores with the name of the software used will be posted here as I finish them.

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