Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

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DatOrganistTho
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Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by DatOrganistTho » 19 Jan 2016, 17:40

In a cursory glance through various sources, it becomes clear that Lyrics aligned to a melody are to be centered underneath unless that lyric occupies a melisma, in which case it is left-aligned. Some cases can be shifted around depending on the length of the word.

However, I have not heard much commentary on the issue of "hymnal-style" music which contains all voices and the music is flanking the words. In most cases, there is usually a melisma somewhere in the other parts, which begs two questions:
  • What should one do in the event of a melisma occurring in a voice other than the soprano voice?
    Should new lines of poetry always be left-justified? Should new verses of Psalms be left-justified?
Also, bonus question:
  • Why should/shouldn't music be combined except at counterpoint?
Some observations:

Hymnals are some of the most inconsistent and usually most violent of offenders in terms of their beauty, layout, typesetting, and choices of font. I cannot seem to find much agreement across many of them simply because they all make different choices (sometimes it seems arbitrary). I am being considered for a hymnal project and would like to set a precedent. I don't know if that is possible depending on the opinions of this forum. :)
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John Ruggero
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by John Ruggero » 22 Jan 2016, 17:45

DatOrganistTho,

Could you provide some examples?
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by DatOrganistTho » 22 Jan 2016, 18:02

John Ruggero wrote:DatOrganistTho,

Could you provide some examples?
Here's LASST UNS ERFREUEN, Ralph Vaughan Williams: http://www.hymnary.org/media/fetch/100659

You'll notice that the alignment of lyrics are based on the soprano voice, because when the other harmonies go into melisma, the text only aligns to the left if the melisma also occurs in the soprano voice.
119.png
119.png (331.73 KiB) Viewed 5175 times
Here's an example where the "rules" are not followed from a modern hymnal. In my opinion it is atrocious.

In Psalters typically what is done is they Psalms are "left aligned" according to the verse. Sometimes the verse number is separated out from the word in addition.

Does this give you enough to go on?
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by DatOrganistTho » 28 Jan 2016, 02:37

Here's something from the project I might be commissioned to work on (please keep in mind the sensitive nature of this music and it's copyright). It is default output (using LilyPond 2.18.x). I would stylize it once I can fix this problem that we are discussing.
Psalm 61B - belmont.png
Psalm 61B - belmont.png (72.64 KiB) Viewed 5155 times
Then there is this one, a potential application of what I have noticed in hymnals:
Psalm 61B - belmont modified line align.png
Psalm 61B - belmont modified line align.png (71.6 KiB) Viewed 5155 times
There's another variation that I haven't come up with, where the verse numbers are almost like line markers. I'll try to cook that up.
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by DatOrganistTho » 28 Jan 2016, 14:58

Here's an example where the verse numbers (not to be confused with the stanzas) are by themselves wherever they begin in the music:
Psalm 61B - belmont modified stanzas numbers.png
Psalm 61B - belmont modified stanzas numbers.png (72.21 KiB) Viewed 5137 times
Any thoughts?
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by John Ruggero » 28 Jan 2016, 17:21

Truthfully, I am completely out of my element in trying to advise you, DatOrganistTho, since I have no expertise in this area. I was hoping that someone more knowledgable would take up your question. Since that is not happening, please take this for what it is worth:

Your last example appears best to me because I think that the words and notes should dictate the spacing, not the little numbers. And I think that every voice should have its own stem, just as you have it, not mixed as in the initial example, which does look like a mess for that reason and also for the other reason you mentioned. Your three examples don't contain the exact situation that you asked about, melisma in the lower voices only, so I can't address that directly. However, the layout of the words in your last example seems excellent to me and I can't imagine that would change much with that situation. My impression is that the project is in very good hands.

However, I would change out those ugly LilyPond Clefs. Almost anything else would be better!
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Engraving Lyrics in a Sacred Setting

Post by DatOrganistTho » 28 Jan 2016, 18:09

John Ruggero wrote:Truthfully, I am completely out of my element in trying to advise you, DatOrganistTho, since I have no expertise in this area. I was hoping that someone more knowledgable would take up your question. Since that is not happening, please take this for what it is worth:

Your last example appears best to me because I think that the words and notes should dictate the spacing, not the little numbers. And I think that every voice should have its own stem, just as you have it, not mixed as in the initial example, which does look like a mess for that reason and also for the other reason you mentioned. Your three examples don't contain the exact situation that you asked about, melisma in the lower voices only, so I can't address that directly. However, the layout of the words in your last example seems excellent to me and I can't imagine that would change much with that situation. My impression is that the project is in very good hands.

However, I would change out those ugly LilyPond Clefs. Almost anything else would be better!
Thanks for your input!

I'm starting to lean towards the last example as well. As for the ugly LilyPond clefs -- I'll see what I can do! :) Honestly, I was planning on switching into one of the other excellent fonts that Abraham Lee has designed. :)
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