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Singing, Drinking, Discussion and Writing: the New Codex Scintillae

If you have been to a cantus of Scintilla somewhere in the past five years, the chances are big that you own a Codex Scintillae. This is a nice bundle with all the rules of the Cantus Scintillae, a bit of history and (most importantly) a selection of songs that can be sung during the cantus. However, if you own one of these codices, you’re probably in dire need of a new one, as the pages are letting go of the booklet. Also, the third edition codices are sold out, so new cantus-goers have to borrow second edition codices. So, that is why the Censores Cantus Scintillae started with a new edition last summer.

Although the third edition of the codex is in English, it was clear that the rules could use an update. We needed to clarify and prettify some of them, and that is where the big update started. We decided on some inconsistencies, for example after the procantor sings the first two lines of a song do we start again or do we continue? These kinds of rules seemed to be inconsistent in the second and third editions of the codex. Furthermore, we had some great nights of brainstorming on new ad fundums. We already tried a few on the past few cantus, such as the Ad Fundum Chicken (both arms of the punished are behind their back while performing the Ad Fundum like a chicken) and the Ad Fundum Beggar (The punished has to go around the corona while holding up their hands to collect some beer from charitable corona members).

However, most work of creating a new codex goes into the songs. First, we had to decide which songs had to go. As the codex has already quite some pages, we have to let go of some of our beloved songs, before adding in new ones. The criteria for crossing out songs were: we never sing them, nobody enjoys them, nobody knows how the song goes or the lyrics of the song are too inappropriate. Of course we enjoy a slightly naughty song, but we also felt uncomfortable by some lyrics. Wherever we could just adapt a few lines to make them suitable, we did, and all other inappropriate songs are gone. Do not worry: yogi bear is still there. Most of these songs were rarely sung on the cantus of the last five years anyway, so they will probably not be missed. In the end we threw away more than 100 songs… which brings us to the best part: the new songs!

We already kept a list of songs the last few years that should be added. Furthermore, we had a few brainstorming sessions to get a nice list. Then we asked the members of Scintilla to give their opinions and to give their ideas for new songs. We evaluated all songs on several criteria: people need to know the melodies, the song has to be singable a cappella, the lyrics have to be (sort of) appropriate and it should not be too much like other songs we already have. After evaluating all songs, we agreed on a list of about 100 songs that will be added. The next step is to process the lyrics. The codex is created in Latex, so all lyrics have to be formatted neatly. Furthermore, some songs are way too long or have parts that cannot be easily sung a cappella. So all lyrics had to be processed and trimmed in such a way it is singable. Then we double-checked all lyrics. We checked on spelling, but also interpunction and formatting. This took a great deal of time, but after this the most time-consuming task started: the layout. Because one can format the lyrics in Latex, but that does not mean that the text shows nicely on the page. Furthermore, as the editions of the codex are backwards compatible, we have to do the numbering of the pages by hand and keep them nicely ordered. And compiling such a big book takes quite some time, so it was not the easiest job, but it is done!

We worked quite hard on the new edition and it is almost ready for the presses. We still need to tweak a few last items and do a big final check, but I hope to be able to hand out the fourth edition of the Codex Scintillae with the other censores very soon!