Note from the Editor
The Symphonia Series is my offering to anyone who wants to forge a deeper connection with the music of Hildegard von Bingen. It is forged from over 20 years experience of study, teaching, and performance of her extraordinary music.
I have for some time recognized the void of modern musical resources that adequately capture the detailed nuance of Hildegard’s creative genius. The Symphonia Series aims to fill that void, fostering a deeper connection with Hildegard’s music in its original form in an accessible, conventional format.
I hope these new musical “translations” will allow a clearer portrayal of her original musical settings than is currently available online and in print. Like any translation, there must be allowances for the interpreter. These editions are viewed through my particular lens, and subject to limitations in current notational technologies.
Modern editions of medieval music must, by default, be lost of the ineffable qualities present in original notation. Nevertheless, these editions attempt to portray the expressive and ornately detailed nature of Hildegard’s compositional style, acknowledging that every musical and textual gesture is highly specific. When we consider these crucial elements of her musical works, there is the potential for greater impact on both performer and listener.
The choices I have made in transcribing these works focus upon making visual, rhetorical, musical, and vocal sense. In most cases, I work primarily from the Riesencodex, consulting the Dendermonde manuscript as a secondary source. See below for my notes on how to read the editions.
Each song is accompanied by a fresh translation by my colleague Hugh McElroy, who has graciously partnered with Eya to offer these translations as a free, open resource. The poetic structure of the texts are informed by the foundational work of Dr. Barbara Newman in Symphonia (2nd ed. published by Cornell University Press) whose shoulders we stand upon in bringing this work to you.
Please enjoy: sing, make art, be inspired, improvise, play, pray, or whatever it is that you are called to do with these songs. And please share! We want to make sure as many people know about this resource as possible.
Notes on Interpretation of the Transcriptions
- Each edition is presented in G clef, but maintains Hildegard’s original key. One can freely transpose as needed.
- Every song is unmeasured and non-rhythmicized. However, each musical line is numbered for reference.
- Notehead size refers to the relative length/weight/stress on a particular note. Larger noteheads have relatively greater length/weight/stress/duration than smaller noteheads. (This is all relative, i.e. not every note of the same size will be the same duration.)
- Tenudo markings above a notehaed (-) indicate a stressed, or musically “pressed” note.
- Any repeated notes are typically re-articulated.
- Any letter placed in parenthesis (in the lyrics) indicates a liquescent, and would be articulated fully on that pitch. (This might mean fully closing on a consonant.)