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Coronation of Kenric I and Avelina I

Project Notes

The Translator

In the past few years, I have had the rare pleasure of collaborating with Steffan ap Kennydd on latin translations. The first was particularly noteworthy: Steffan gave my beloved and me the latin translation for a short phrase Molly and I both find meaningful.

Later on, with that phrase neatly wrapped around my wedding ring finger, I asked Steffan to assist me with a more challenging project: a latin translation for the processional I wrote for Darius and Alethea. In that collaboration we learned to negotiate scansion and meaning, slowly working my poem into the singable Latin text for which I eventually wrote the music. I wrote “Dari et Alethea” in the style of a Hildegard von Bingen sequence; my Lady and I performed it several times that year.

Next, when my dear friend Angus (Ian Stewart) stepped down from running the Baroncy of Concordia (New York State), I offered to write a motet — the signature musical form for 14th Century Europe — in his honor, to be sung on the occasion of his de-investiture. Motets are quite challenging. Steffan translated my poetry for that project as well, and the result was fantastic: “Conjunctim Regnant”, which I sang with my Lady Aildreda de Tamwurthe and Master Peregrine the Illuminator. What Steffan and I learned about motets in that collaboration will serve us well on the next. I’ve started assembling notes.

In the meantime, Steffan rang me up to ask if I would help him on another collaboration: music for the Coronation of the new King and Queen of the East.

The Ordo

For that event, Steffan translated and adapted the Ordo of Aethelred, an extant coronation cermony from the 9th Century.

There are three musical works mentioned in the Ordo:

Firmetur Manus Tuam
Te Deum Laudamus
Unxerunt

Steffan asked me to assist with the music specifically, and so I immediately enlisted the aid of my favorite music scholar in the task of exhuming musical scores from period. Dreda plumbed the Loeb Music Library. Using copious research-fu, industry, and mysterious means, Dreda unearthed several works for me to listen to — including the actual original neumes for the Te Deum as written by monks in later period,
– modern music notation from the Vatican-approved Ordinary reconstructed by the monks of New Solesmes who, in the middle of the last century, reconstructed what the Church has been singing since time immemorial. They used original texts, but the way it was written down was modern.

So: as was becoming our pattern, Steffan sent me a latin text and English translation, in this case written by monks of the 9th Century. I read the text, hummed it to myself, and sent him small notes about scansion and flow. In the meantime I set about comparing notes across sources and preparing a baseline melody for each of the three works. Within a few cycles of email, Steffan had a draft for me to set. By then, dreda and I had winnowed the music down to

In the meantime, Steffan’s work with Kenric yielded interesting challenges. Kenric asked that the coronation ceremony integrate certain SCA-appropriate and -expected moments with the text from the Ordo, all of which Steffan integrated with the original. However, this shuffle changed the feel of the ceremony considerably. Given the new format and thematic flow, Steffan and I elected to switch two of the pieces to suit the stage business, and removed the Unxerunt.

I consoled myself by giving the recitation of the roll of kings a ritual twist: instead of being read aloud by a herald at the close of the ceremony, it would be chanted in the latin, with a responsory after every fourth pair:

regnaverunt quia credidimus = you ruled because we believed

And after the last pair, the newly-crowned King and Queen of the East:
regnatis quia credidimus = you rule because we believe

The Neumes

When my Lady returned from the Loeb with a few armsful of extant material, we reviewed everything and shared thrummingly excited thoughts about flow and chant. One of the books, [], gave a few Rosetta Stone references to neumes and their interpretation and also spoke to the singing style of arrangements in-period. [more from Miss Molly] Then I took up the [neumes document] and set about transcribing the Te Deum Laudamus neumes to modern notation.

The goal was singability. A page of neumes has several systems of four lines (compared to modern notation’s five lines). Switching out the lines for spaces, and v/v, gave me a singable key with reasonable intervals. Neumic squares (compared to modern dots and flags) are stacked and connected, rather than barred. Not for nothing, but these particular neumes are also smudged and blurry on account of the several generations of photocopying prior to their being scanned. I did my best.

As the modern notation emerged, I started setting Steffan’s text to it. I’d stop every few lines to sing it back to myself and change the alignment. This task made simpler by Steffan’s adherence to the syllabic breakdown for the words.

Summary: Redacting a Period Piece

1. confirm the musical style needed; find extant works of appropriate style
2. write poem/text in English
3a. (Steffan) translate English to Latin
3b. (Lucien) transpose the neumes, if any, to modern notation in MelodyAssistant
4. trade notes with Steffan on correct scansion and build/momentum/flow of the Latin
5. write/set music to the Latin text
6. sing it with Dreda to confirm and tweak the flow
7. sing it into Audacity
8. make MP3
9. distribute to delightfully helpful choir of rock stars

Here follow the lyrics as sung at Kenric and Avelina’s coronation.

Te Regem

the processional for Kenric and Avelina’s coronation ceremony
translation: Steffan ap Kenydd (Stephen Mesnick)
research: Aildreda de Tamwurthe (Molly Eskridge)
arrangement: Lucien de Pontivy (Myra Hope Eskridge)

MP3 | sheet music | video

Te Regem laudamus
Te Reginam reveremur
Vos Coronam veram
Oriens laetus veneratur.
Vobis omnes Populi
Vobis Pares et omnes vires majestatis
Vobis viculi et oppidi
Incessabili voce proclamant:
Vivat Vivat Vivat
Proles Tigris Regnabit.

Orbis terrarum didicerunt
Orientis animam Tigris.

Thou O King we praise
Thou O Queen we revere
You are the true Crown
The happy East honors you.

To you all the people
To you the peers and all men of majesty
To you all the villages and towns
With unceasing voices proclaim:
Vivant Vivant Vivant!
The Children of the Tyger Shall Reign!

The world has come to know
The soul of the Eastern Tyger

Firmetur

in Kenric and Avelina’s coronation ceremony, this piece was set after the recessional of Gregor and Kiena
translation: Steffan ap Kenydd (Stephen Mesnick)
research: Aildreda de Tamwurthe (Molly Eskridge)
arrangement: Lucien de Pontivy (Myra Hope Eskridge)

sung just after the candidate is escorted to the altar
“a verse or two” while the candidate is kneeling before the thrones

[TBD]

Bibliography

[TBD]

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