TeX and LaTeX for chants

Be prepared children: we’re heading for heavy church-geek waters.

The Rev. Chris Tessone (Even the Devils Believe) has typeset some public-domain chant settings using a TeX-derived application, OpusTeX. TeX (pronounced with a Greek chi) is a venerable typesetting system, still widely used through template packages and even graphic interfaces.  In computing terms, there’s something foundational and powerful about TeX, like Latin itself, even though I put off exploring it more than a year ago as too esoteric for most producers of church-related documents. (Readers with advanced degrees in the hard sciences and mathematics may remember LaTeX with love or hate, as its use in creating theses and disserations is still robust and its ability to set mathematical formulae is unexcelled.)

I’ll be interested where Fr. Chris goes with this.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

2 comments

  1. Beautiful stuff.

    But. You have to be a very special kind of geek to want to learn neumes, *and* a special variant of TeX that can depict neumes.

    And really how many musicians do you know who can sightread neumes (or mensural notation for that matter)? Frainkly, I don’t know any. I know the purists will gasp and tell me I am a heretic (oh wait I *am* a heretic), but really plainsong chant (and mensural notation) can be adequately notated in conventional musical notation….

    Right now, I’m looking at a nice edition of Hildegards’ “Songs for the Blessed Virgin Mary” put out by Hildegard Publishing House of Bryn Mawr, Penna., an edition which uses slightly modified standard musical notation (the only non-standard thing is that the note heads don’t have stems). For those of us who just want to play the music, it makes Hildegard’s chants accessible.

    Neumes, and then TeX to boot — oy. That’s really hardcore.

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