Eye Strain and Exhaustion, or 2000 pages down

With my (unrenewable) inter-library loan books due on Monday, the past week has been a mad dash through Primary Source Land – hence the lack of exciting updates recently.  Unfortunately, this endeavor has been largely fruitless, or at least hasn’t provided me with textual source material specifically about rhythm.  Apart from the Letter to Mainz, music isn’t directly discussed anywhere – though singing and various instruments do pop up throughout the texts.  Admittedly, in the end I resorted to skimming for keywords and I’m sure that between my speed and my often dubious German comprehension I’ve missed some of the more subtle references.  I’ve probably even missed some of the blatant ones.  Hopefully my future meetings with the nuns of the Benedikterinnen Abtei St. Hildegard will prove more helpful and possibly direct me to specific passages of primary source material.

Though I may still lack supporting evidence of rhythmic interpretation, I do have a far better understanding of Hildegard’s cosmology and a more finely tuned sense of her use of metaphor.  There are sets of images that run through her entire body of work, both in theological prose and in song texts, and having a sort of roadmap to this imagery will certainly come in very handy when it comes to musical chant interpretation.  I very much look forward to re-reading these works in English (and possibly Latin!), and I think that when I do I’ll have a much deeper comprehension of what Hildegard is saying.

Since this aspect of my project hasn’t provided me with the material I was hoping for, I’ll have to rely even more heavily on the other elements – manuscript study, vocal preparation, and discussions with the nuns – and whatever presents itself as I pursue those.

Hildegard on a wall near Basilika St. Martin.

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