09 July 2010

Salmaire: Edinburgh Chant group

Before I started researching the Chant scene I had no idea such interesting things were going on. Having just blogged about a group at the Royal College of Music in London, here is a fascinating group in Edinburgh who I will add to the map as soon as I have a proper Internet connection!

Salmaire is a Gregorian chant study and performance group which meets every Wednesday evening at 7.30 in
St Patrick's
5, South Gray's Close
40 High Street

(This is just between the Cowgate and the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.)

Contact Alasdair Codona:
Tel 07511 201399
Contact: calumcille@yahoo.com


Salmaire is a Gaelic term equivalent to the Greek ψαλτός: the word denotes one who sings ecclesiastical chant. The group learns various ancient styles of neumatic notation which are used to assign long and short durations to pitches. Chants are memorised rather than read from and musical notation is used ultimately as a reminder rather than a text to be followed in performance.

The repertoire is taught according to a 'syllabic beat' interpretation, as per other Christian chant traditions where the basic short note is half the durational value of the average syllable. Generally, proportional pitch durations are assigned to communal items to match the syllabic beat and rhythmic nuancing is mainly a solo preserve.

The singing style is Scottish and modern, rather than French and Romantic. The Gaelic harp is used to guide singing when learning chants. An ability to read music is not necessary to take part, nor is a beautiful voice. The tutor of the group is Alasdair Codona.

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