From the Linguistics Department site at the Ohio State University, an announcement of the Ilse Lehiste Memorial Symposium: The Melody and Rhythms of Language, November 11-12. Invited speakers: Jaan Ross, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre; Janet Fletcher, University of Melbourne; and Linda Shockey, University of Reading.
Opening remarks by Keith Johnson, UC Berkeley; closing remarks by me. Submitted abstracts are invited; see the website.
Language Log postings on the occasion of Ilse’s death:
AZ, 12/27/10: Ilse Lehiste (link)
ST, 12/28/10: Ilse Lehiste again (link)
AZ, 1/10/11: For Ilse Lehiste (link)
From the last of these:
Yesterday in Sunnyvale, I led the peninsula shapenote singers in a memorial song for her. Not one of my usual ones, but an extravagant, transcendant, oh-so-not Lutheran “shouting song”, Hallelujah (#146 in the Sacred Harp) — Ilse came to singings when they were at my house in Columbus — where I could go all crazy on the chorus
The organizers of the symposium have asked me for a rendering of #146 in my remarks. As I said to Brian Joseph, echoing Anna Russell, my quartet singing is not what it used to be (this is four-part music), so I’m musing on ways to bring the song to the symposium, along with some comments on the fit between the poetry (by Charles Wesley, in iambic tetrameter), the prosody of the words in spoken language, and the setting to music, with comments on performance practice (what you see on the page is not necessarily what singers do; there’s syncopation, slides, turns, and so on). The song as it appears in The Sacred Harp:
A few notes about the complexity here: The natural reading of the words as poetry has a rest instead of the fourth foot in lines 2 and 4 of the verses, so you’d expect the music to hold the last syllable of those lines for a whole measure, but instead the music rushes right on from the third foot to the next line (similarly for the last syllable of line 4 of the chorus); this sort of rushing-ahead is common in shapenote music. Then there are the slurs, some (but not all) of which are often performed syncopated, with time stolen from the first of the two notes and given to the second. There are often turns linking the last two notes of the “short” lines, for trebles (top line) and tenors (third line, the melody). (The trebles and tenors are singing counter-melodies, by the way.) And, for the trebles and tenors, some singers slide up from the last note of the verse to the first note of the chorus (I’m fond of those slides myself).
If you compare different performances — I have nine on my iTunes — you’ll hear everything from very straight renderings to highly ornamented ones. Even for the straight renderings, the fit of prose to poetry to music is complex, in ways that Ilse would have found fascinating.