15 Apr 2012

Music of the Bible Revealed, encore une fois

As mentioned in an earlier post, the late Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura was convinced that she had discovered how the entire Hebrew text of the Old Testament was sung in ancient times, although her thesis has been disputed by biblical scholars and musicologists alike. In the new issue of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, David C. Mitchell has published an article, "Resinging the Temple Psalmody," whose abstract follows:

The French archaeomusicologist Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura made two important proposals that have never been fully investigated: first, that the te'amim or cantillation marks of the Hebrew scriptures did not originate with the Masoretes, but date back to temple times; second, that she had developed a system for their musical deciphering. This paper suggests that there is indeed evidence for the great antiquity of the Masoretic cantillation. It also suggests that the basic idea of Haïk-Vantoura's deciphering system—that the sublinear te'amim represent the steps of a diatonic scale—is confirmed by more recent archaeomusicological research. Finally, a comparison between the ancient tonus peregrinus to Psalm 114 and the cantillation of the same psalm deciphered according to Haïk-Vantoura's system provides strong evidence in support of her claims.

Coincidentally, a review of this book appears in the most recent issue of the Review of Biblical Literature: Burns, Jeffrey; David Bers and Stephen Tree, eds. The Music of Psalms, Proverbs and Job in the Hebrew Bible: A Revised Theory of Musical Accents in the Hebrew Bible. The review is written by Rebecca A. Mitchell and Matthew W. Mitchell. Whether the three Mitchells are related to each other I could not say.

No comments: