The Use of “Elision” in Spanish Hymnody

April 17, 2014

Spanish hymns have an interesting feature that I call “elision.” When a word ends with a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel, the last syllable of a word and the first syllable of the next word are often combined into one syllable.

For example, although “Pen-san-do en ti” has five syllables, through elision this phrase spans only four notes instead of five [“Pen- san- (do en) ti”] in this example:

Elision A

On beat 3 of measure one in this example, “-do” and “en” are elided.

The following chart shows what vowels are elided with other vowels in songs in Himnos Majestuos: Revised Edition. The integer part of each entry denotes the number of the hymn and the decimal tells in which system the example occurs.

The rows give the first of the two vowels that elide while the columns give the second vowel.

Elision chart

For example, the top left cell of this table has this entry: 1.1; 255.1. This notation means that “a” elides with “a” in hymn #1 in the first system and in hymn #255 in the first system.

Using this table should especially help people who are not native Spanish speakers (like me) know what vowels or combinations of vowels often elide in Spanish hymns.

 

 

Rajesh

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