Creating the vocal score of the Gothic – 3

Jeremy Marchant

A reminder that the Scores Subcommittee is currently (2005) transferring the existing vocal score of the Gothic into a Sibelius 4 computer file. At this stage we need to ensure a very accurate copy, with only obvious mistakes corrected. Once this is completed we will ‘synchronise’ this score with the current FS. We know that the current FS contains thousands of errors. However, if we seek to make the VS ‘right’ before we have produced our own edition of the FS, we will simply introduce many discrepancies between the FS and VS which will only hold up rehearsals, create confusion and, incidentally, diminish our standing in the eyes of the music profession. The opening bars of the Judex offer an interestingly complicated page of vocal score with which to show off our setters’ skills (in this case, Alan Marshall). Ex 2 reproduces (c 90%) the whole page of the VS for choirs C and D, set using Sibelius. I must reiterate that, at this stage, the setter’s job is to reproduce what is in the existing VS, only making obvious corrections. For the purposes of clarity in this article I have undone some of the corrections Alan made. Please don’t think this is the final version of the page—it isn’t; but it does serve to illustrate some interesting points.

HBS vocal score

Firstly may I draw your attention to some of the items covered in part 1 of this series. Reading from the top of the page, we have:
- Choir A, B cues: these help the singers of choirs C and D to time their entries
- One vocal line per stave
- Use of lettering to distinguish choir names (A, B, C, D) and voice parts (S, A, T, B)
- The children’s music (this is on two staves when the singers have music)
- Orchestral cues: again, these help singers to orientate themselves. Choir and orchestral cues only appear on pages where there is a need for them
- Rehearsal piano: perhaps I didn’t emphasise enough in part 1 that this is a big issue in creating the VS because the current VS doesn’t have anything at all for the accompanist to play except a few orchestral cues.

Current vocal score
It is worth studying ex 1 carefully to see what inconsistencies and problems may trip up the setter.

1 Bar 2. Noting that the time signature is 3/2, choir A sopranos’ and altos’ music doesn’t add up. Sibelius makes it difficult to set this as written: it forces the arithmetic to be right or, alternatively, for the time signature to be changed for this bar. The general appearance of the page makes it likely that choir B’s Ju- comes in after A’s second Ju-, followed by C and D so one might deduce that the rhythm should be crotchet-crotchet-semibreve (rather than final minim) and then look to other parts for confirmation, for example by inspecting how notes are aligned vertically. The problem here is that the only other parts with music here (choir B, SA) are also wrong in this respect! As will be seen later on, one of the problems is the ambiguous value of the ‘minim rest’.

2 Bars 4-5. As usual with Brian manuscripts, supposedly vertically aligned hairpins are of varying length and start and finish at different times. Ex 2 shows our decision. Either the hairpins start at definitively different times, in proportion to the moment the choir enters, say, or they are simultaneous
(anything else, if executed accurately, will sound indecisive).

3 Bar 6. Choir A, altos: again this bar doesn’t add up. However, the clear evidence from the layout of the other 14 parts is that the values should be semibreve-minim. This type of error is silently corrected by the setter.

4 Bar 6. Choir D, SA: the Ju- doesn’t have the ^ accent that this syllable has in all other parts on this beat. Again, this would be automatically corrected by the setter.

In all cases, we have a published score to consult (albeit one containing many errors!) and from which we might expect good guidance, if not a ruling. This is a luxury the SSC doesn’t usually have when seeking to resolve this sort of confusion in other manuscripts. And, regarding point 1 above, bar 2, choir B is wrong in the full score, too (all parts)!

Irresolvable discrepancies
There are more discrepancies where it isn’t obvious whether the VS or FS is to be preferred. In the absence of another reference document, an expedient decision will have to be made.

5 Title. This may be nitpicking; I raise it because the FS title Judex crederis venturus is surely wrong—it should either be Judex crederis (as in the VS) or Judex crederis esse venturus.

6 Tempo. The FS has Adagio molto solenne e religioso, while the VS has Adagio molto. Perhaps a small point, given the difficult of creating a very solemn and religious mood in this dissonant polyphony, but this marking lasts 27 bars—including a soprano solo—for most of which it surely is achievable.

7 Bar 3. Choir C, SA: the ambiguous minim rest strikes again! The FS has note values minim (rest)-semibreve, while in the VS there is semibreve (rest)-minim. Thinking the music through, the VS version has the entries increasingly frequently (B comes in five minims after A, C three minims after B, and D one minim after C) which will build up the tension and seems compositionally plausible—indeed, an accelerando slightly later would seem to reinforce this dramatic idea, though unfortunately this accel. doesn’t appear in the VS! (See next point.) The FS entries of C after B, and of D after C, are equally paced, which raises in my mind whether the entry of B one minim after the second Ju- in A can be ‘right’ in this scheme.

8 Bar 4-5. The FS has an accel. poco marking (cancelled at the start of bar 6 by Tempo) which is simply missing from the VS.

9 Bars 5 and 6. A tenuto mark over the -dex syllable in each bar of the FS is omitted from the VS (all parts). This discrepancy applies to all the tenutos in these phrases, so either one of the copyists (of the current VS or the FS) has made a conscious decision—or they are working from
different mss (a truly ghastly thought in all its implications). Performances with or without the tenutos will sound different, and my personal view is to follow the FS. Incidentally, the lack of a tenuto over -dex in bar 1 (choir A) is consistent with the FS.

10 Bar 7. A crescendo which starts on cre- in the FS (all parts) does not start until the second crotchet of the following bar in the VS (not shown in exx 1 and 2).

Performance clues
Interestingly, notice that ex 1 includes the pencil markings of some valiant soprano in choir B. I deduce she was in a UK performance, rather than the Marco Polo recording, because she has written STAND at the beginning of the first system. Note that (a) the singer has marked a little pause at the end of bar 5—an interpretative point the SSC copyist will certainly ignore!— and (b) she has marked the beats in her parts (1 2 3 1 2 3 …) even though it is quite simple. She gets it wrong in bar 2, the very bar which is wrong in the printed score, implying to me the presentation of bar 2 in the published VS caused her uncertainty. I don’t have any conclusions to draw from this yet, save to point out the wide variety of mistakes and discrepancies in evidence. These range from those which can simply be corrected without comment, via those where, for the sake of producing a viable performing version in a finite time, decisions must be taken on the basis of plausibility without convincing evidence, to those where there is genuine puzzlement over which of two sources might be ‘right’.

© Jeremy Marchant 2005

Newsletter, 2005