MuseData Example: mensural signs

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The example below contains a list of the mensural signs which can be encoded in MuseData and which the MuseData printing system in dmuse and muse2ps can understand. Mensural signs were use in music prior to about 1600 in mensural notation. The rhythms of the music in the example below use the modern convention, but preserve the rhythmic levels found in mensural music. Each measure in the example contains note durations and counts which represent the beats in each mensural sign.

Meaning of each sign:

  • Measure 1: The circle sign means that the breve (represented by a complete measure) is subdivided into three whole notes. Whole notes are subdivided into two half notes. In a Latin-oriented description of this sign, it has perfect tempus with minor prolation. Tempus is the rhythmic level of the breve, and prolation is the rhythmic level of the semi-breve (whole note).
  • Measure 2: The circle with two dots has the same meaning as the one in measure 1, but is an older form of the sign.
  • Measure 3: The circle sign again means that the breve is subdivided into three whole notes. And the mensural whole notes (semi-breves) are subdivided into three half-notes (minima). In modern notation, subdivisions of three are represented by adding augmentation dots to the whole notes to indicate that they divide into three half-notes (in modern terms: compound meter). (perfect tempus, major prolation )
  • Measure 4: The circle with three dots has the same meaning as the one in measure 3, but is an older form of the sign.
  • Measure 5: The "C" sign means that the breve is divided into two whole notes (imperfect tempus), and the lack of dot means the whole note is divided into two half notes (minor prolation).
  • Measure 6: The "C" with a dot means that the breve is divided into two whole notes (imperfect tempus), and the dot means the (modern dotted) whole note is divided into three half-notes (major prolation). In modern meters, this mensural sign has the same function as 6/8.
  • Measure 7: 4:3 proportion sign. The music increases in tempo by 33%.
  • Measure 8: 2:1 proportion sign. Play the music twice as fast as in C mensuration.
  • Measure 9: Similar to the C mensuration from measure 5, but the rhythmic subdivisions are described one rhythmic level higher: The long is divided into two breves (imperfect minor modus), and the breve is subdivided into two whole-notes (imperfect tempus). Comes to means play the music twice as fast, but typically faster than the sign in measure 8.
  • Measure 10: O2 mensural sign means the long is divided into three breves (perfect minor modus), and the breve is subdivided into two whole notes (imperfect tempus).
  • Measure 11: Cut O means play O music with a 2:1 ratio (double the tempo of O).
  • Measure 12: Cut C3 means C3 with 2:1 ratio (double the tempo of C3).
  • Measure 13: 3 mensural sign means play in 3:2 ratio (speed up by 50%).
  • Measure 14: 3/2 mensural sign has the same meaning as 3: play in 3:2 ratio
  • Measure 15: Cut C2 means play C2 music in 2:1 ratio (double tempo)
  • Measure 16: "2" means 2:1 ratio.
  • Measure 17: O within O mensural sign means 4:3 ratio (speed up by 33%).
  • Measure 18: Modern common-time metrical symbol. This is directly derived from the mensural sign in measure 5 (combining two measures worth of beats into a single 4-beat measure).
  • Measure 19: Modern cut-time metrical symbol. This is directly derived from the mensural sign in measure 8, although logically closer in meaning to the sign in measure 9 (beat goes up to the next largest rhythmic value). However, the meanings of the signs in measures 8 and 9 merged in later mensural notation.

More information can be found in the official MuseData specification. The following graphical notation example was printed from the MuseData source code found below using muse2ps.

Mdex-mensuration-signs.png

@muse2psv1==T^Mensural sign sampler^
@muse2psv1==z21jc180v200
Header Record 1
Header Record 2
Header Record 3
02/02/2011 C. Sapp
WK#:1 MV#:1
Header Record 6: source
Mensural sign sampler
Header Record 8: movement title

Header Record 10
Group memberships: score
score: part 1 of 1
$  Q:3   T:11/0   C:13
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 2
$   T:12/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 2
$   T:21/0
C4    18      1 w.
D4    18      1 w.
E4    18      1 w.
measure 4
$   T:22/0
C4    18      1 w.
D4    18      1 w.
E4    18      1 w.
measure 5
$   T:31/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
measure 6
$   T:41/0
C4    18      1 w.
D4    18      1 w.
measure 7
$   T:51/0
C4    24      1 B
D4    24      1 B
measure 8
$   T:61/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
measure 9
$   T:71/0
C4    24      1 B
D4    24      1 B
measure 10
$   T:81/0
C4    24      1 B
D4    24      1 B
E4    24      1 B
measure 11
$   T:91/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 12
$   T:101/0
C4    24      1 B.
D4    24      1 B.
measure 13
$   T:102/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 14
$   T:103/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 15
$   T:111/0
C4    24      1 B
D4    24      1 B
measure 16
$   T:112/0
C4    24      1 B
D4    24      1 B
measure 17
$   T:121/0
C4    12      1 w
D4    12      1 w
E4    12      1 w
measure 18
$   T:1/1
C4     3      1 q     d
D4     3      1 q     d
E4     3      1 q     d
F4     3      1 q     d
measure 19
$   T:0/0
C4     6      1 h     d
D4     6      1 h     d
mheavy2
/END
/eof
//