The June/July issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Daniel Friderici’s Rules for Choral Singing” by Sion M. Honea. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the introduction.
After four centuries, Daniel Friderici’s (1584-1638) rules for choral singers and directors still offer valuable advice on a variety of subjects relevant t o the choral practice. What makes Friderici’s rules exceptional is their practical orientation, breadth of coverage, and relatively succinct formulation. They impart a wealth of information on a wide variety of subjects including aspects of choral training, singing, conducting, performance practice, and music interpretation.
Friderici first published his book, Musica Figuralis, oder Newe Klärliche Richtige und Verständliche Unterweisung der Singe Kunst, in 1618.(1) The book saw seven subsequent editions, the last being in 1677; remarkably, this last came almost forty years after Friderici’s death in 1638 as the result of an epidemic.
In the year of his death, the fifth edition of 1638 appeared, containing what can only be considered the author’s “last words” on the subject, which clearly had developed since earlier editions. In fact, the earliest edition available for this article, which is based on the 1638 edition,(2) was the 1619 edition, and there are substantial modifications between the earlier and later edition that concern additions, expansions, clarifications, and reordering. The changes themselves are occasionally almost as interesting as the rules and receive attention here when appropriate.
1 Figural [i.e. mensural] Music, or New Clear Correct and
Comprehensible Instruction in the Art of Singing.
2 Friderici’s book appears in facsimile along with works
by Johann Herbst and Johann Crüger in Deutsche
Gesangstraktate des 17. Jahrhunderts, ed. Florian Grampp
(Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2006). Unfortunately for readers,
the original copy from which the facsimile was made is
in poor condition with much discoloration and bleedthrough
of the printing. The publisher had little choice,
RISM B VI reports only two surviving copies! All the
more reason that the rules should appear in some form
more accessible, legible, and in translation from the
sometimes rather obscure, early seventeenth-century
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