Transcribing Palestrina

• Jul 15, 2020 - 00:49

I'm wondering how to go about doing this. The examples I want to transcribe do not have time signatures nor bar lines. There are like four whole notes to a measure. Should I just notate this as four measures? it seems to be an attempt by early composers to notate rubato. How would you approach this transcription?


Without knowing the composition you're referring to.
You can go into the staff/part properties of each instrument in the score and uncheck "show time signature". You can use either insert mode or joining/splitting of measure to create them into any custom duration you wish.

If there are no barlines, then how did you assess that there are "like four whole notes to a measure"? But you can in that same staff/part properties dialog also uncheck "show barlines".

In reply to by jeetee

Thanks. I'll look at this. The examples are from the first chapter of de la Motte's Study of Harmony. The first examples are from the Stabat Mater. I think I'll look at how Kitson quotes Palestrina. Or I'll download some original scores of the Stabat Mater.

It's nothing to do with rubato. Back in those days composers used much longer note values - remember that a group of singers stood round a lectern to read from a single, large choirbook, and so noteheads had to be large. It is quicker to write a large white note than a large black note which needs filling in, particularly with a quill pen. Parts were notated separately, not in score, and barlines weren't used. Instead, mensurations signs indictated how the beat ('tactus') was divided - these evolved into our modern time signatures

Common practice today is to halve or quarter the note values, and write in score with time signatures and barlines. The nineteenth-century editions in Imslp use the original note values, i.e. your whole notes, and barring in 4/2, but modern editions reduce them by half and bar in 2/2. Both retain the original mensuration sign of cut C which is still used today.

The image is of Josquin - I can't find an online source for the original Palestrina but you may have better luck.

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