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date: 17 October 2019

Ekphonetic notation [lectionary]locked

  • Gudrun Engberg



Notation designed to facilitate the solemn cantillation of lessons, especially of biblical texts. The term ‘ekphonetic’ (from Gk. ekphōnēsis: ‘pronunciation’, ‘reading aloud’) was coined by I. Tzetzes in 1885 (‘Hē epinoēsis tēs parasēmantikēs tōn Buzantinōn’, Parnassos, ix, 1885, p.441). Various such systems may be found in medieval manuscripts; in no case is the musical significance of the signs known, and hypothetical transcriptions are possible only by comparison with cantillation in the modern practice of the various traditions. The signs may comprise letters, dots or ‘cheironomic’ figures which presumably represent the motions of a conductor’s hand; these signs are termed ‘accents’ in the Semitic systems and ‘neumes’ in the Latin and Greek, although their significance is not that of the neumes in Western and Byzantine neumatic notations (see Notation, §III, 1 and Byzantine chant, §2) and the types should not be confused. Ekphonetic notation occurs mainly in association with biblical texts, whether for church or synagogue, but may be found also in other prose texts and even in hymns....

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