The Subdued Voice - A reverent way to sing.
  • I had been meditating for a while on what makes people come to Church, stay at Church, keep coming back on Sundays. The music has changed so much since the Novus Ordo Missae. Reverence in Church music could help some people pray well during services. The Subdued Voice is a way people can sing modestly and with increased reverence. The upper lip is still with very little movement. The tongue remains flat. It creates a modest tone of voice, and can almost render a song haunting. The key is to keep the mouth movement limited.

    https://youtu.be/BmKyTCPNSsA
    Thanked by 1EliRotello
  • I am not a professional musician, and I don't know all the proper words to describe the concept I am trying to illustrate here. To me, it is closest to what people call a persons "tone of voice." I hope that this idea can help some Church choirs have an alternate way to sing to render a more reverential or haunting character to modern Church music. It could also be used in the extraordinary form perhaps. If anyone ever uses this idea, please post a video. Thanks so much and I hope this helps someone someday.
    Thanked by 1EliRotello
  • Sometimes when I hear modern music sung at the Ordinary form, The vowel sounds seem so exaggerated. There is sometimes too much emotion and personality in the music, sometimes distracting, many times not. Maybe singing in the Subdued Voice, can add to Church musicians' arsenal one more tool of expression.
    Thanked by 1EliRotello
  • Any thoughts?
  • madorganist
    Posts: 196
    This sounds like the typical French monastic style of singing, where there might be eighty monks in choir but they can hardly be heard in the nave. In my opinion, it's a far cry (maybe far whimper would be more accurate) from an ideal for congregational singing. I'll take hearty, robust singing, no matter how unrefined, any day over what one writer has called "shamefaced congregational mumbling," which is unfortunately all that obtains in most Catholic churches in the US with the exception of a handful of the more popular traditional hymns such as "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name" or "Immaculate Mary." A good organist can't even inspire the people to sing Christmas carols enthusiastically in many of our parishes! More vigor and vitality is the solution to this sad state of affairs, not an exaggerated and misguided notion of "reverence." Of course, this is only my opinion, but if anyone came up to me saying that the singing in our church needed to be more reverent, I would politely suggest that he or she might be happier at the early Mass with no music.
  • Indeed.
    The mumble singing which is (barely) heard in many of our churches can hardly be called 'reverent'. In fact, owing to its lack of convicted enthusiasm and its reluctant spirit toward the object of praise, it would more aptly be labelled quite 'irreverent'. There is, indeed, hardly anything more irreverent than the tongue that is not overjoyed to sing its maker's praises with an irresistible fervency.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,685
    Here is a recording of monks at Heiligenkreuz in Austria singing Gregorian chant excerpts from the Requiem Mass.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcP2YW5mhPg

    The singers are united rhythmically, varying in volume, and with clear Latin pronunciation.
  • Why would anyone want to sing the parts of Mass and the hymns in such a manner that it can't be heard? If you're going to sing, then SING!! Don't just stand there a mumble something inaudible.

    If choir members sang like this, we'd be told not to bother showing up.
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,906
    I think this style of singing would not keep many people coming back to church on Sunday. And I don't think it is "more reverent" per se.
  • Reval
    Posts: 139
    I think maybe what PaterNosterQE3 is getting at, is that he doesn't like to see a pop-style performance at Mass, but he doesn't know what constitutes trained choral singing, or a trained voice in general.
    Thanked by 2kenstb chonak
  • Scott_WScott_W
    Posts: 438
    He was doomed the moment he used the trigger word "reverent". :)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,362
    I agree with Reval. If you read between the lines what he is reacting to is the overtly obvious "performance attitude" at most liturgies, and that goes for some excellent choirs that want to be seen just as much as heard.
    Thanked by 1kenstb
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,802
    Often times there are loud singing behind me in the congregation, usually off keys, very distracting, especially during communion. Even when I am joyful, I like singing quietly. If you are also in a choir, better to sing with a choir voice than a solo voice, Blending is better than 'outstanding.' I think the same thing applies to the congregation singing, but no one cares about that by just asking 'sing loud.' Does loud mean joyful? Also I don't think enthusiasm is the same as joyful. Watching a football game, one can be enthusiastic (emotional) but not necessarily joyful. I think joyful means something much deeper.
  • Any thoughts?


    Click on SHOW MORE and read the category of the video.


  • Liam
    Posts: 2,906
    I was wondering when anyone else would bother to notice that (and the manner of posting under two different names), but did not to appear too quick to point that out, but did respond to people who took it straight.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,268
    I think the OP is sincere. I also think he is misguided to the point of not worth engaging with. These are not ideas to take seriously.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,608
    The problem with the posting is that it puts the blame for outlandish singing on the mechanics of vocal production.

    The problem is actually aural. I tell my students that the most important part of the body for singing is the ears.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 414
    I see what you mean Noel. We've been had. Category of the video - Comedy!
  • dhalkjdhalkj
    Posts: 43
    This is exactly how most people in my congregation sing. Maybe he's serious and maybe he's sending us up, but I have to think seriously about how my people approach the question of singing out loud in church and most of them are not keen to stick out or be overheard or hear anybody else doing those things either. Most of them are content to let the choir do it. And a lot of choir members just want to sing along quietly too, seek the back pew and avoid the microphone. This is something that has to be paid attention to and besides figuring out what section to put a singer in you have to figure out whether they're a follower or a leader, and if a leader whether a sensitive responsible one or the other kind. Just saying.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • Avoid the microphone .. and avoid pronouncing final consonants...
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,331
    Does the video show Snoopy or one of his two sock puppets?
  • Does the video show Snoopy or one of his two sock puppets?


    sock puppet: An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.

    ???
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,268
    EliRotello and PaterNosterQE3 are clearly the same person. I'm curious who eft thinks the third member of this Unholy Trinity is. I'm also curious why this caca puesto wasn't B&&V&.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,685
    I think Reval has got it right: the suggestion from Elia probably comes from a desire to see singers have a right intention (offering their performance as a contribution to the worship of God, not as entertainment for the congregation) and carry it out with their choices of vocal style, avoiding practices that sound too informal or theatrical or self-dramatizing.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,026
    I'm curious who eft thinks the third member of this Unholy Trinity is.

    It's probably CharlesW; those Easterners are known to be subversive. ; )
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,675
    If I'm correctly imagining what you're describing: I haven't watched the video yet, it sounds like this technique would not produce desirable results in those who have not worked at making it sound good. Having a congregation of mostly untrained, and completely unrehearsed singers attempt to sing in this manner would probably not be effective.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 414
    It's a joke. The 'technique' is a farce. This doesn't even deserve serious discussion!
  • GerardH
    Posts: 20
    Fake or no, the general idea certainly has precedent. From the Preface of Walford Davies and Ley's "The Church Anthem Book" (1933):

    "There is a frequent order issued by choirmasters to choirs: ' sing out '. A corresponding order should perhaps as often be issued and perhaps even more treasured: ' sing in '. This is what a man does when in quiet talk with a friend he remarks on some fine melody: ' Isn't this lovely? ' and sings a stave of it. Singing-in produces a magical result when a whole choir sings as though they were all quietly showing a friend how beautiful this and that phrase can be."

    The described technique, however, is undoubtedly for choral singing, not congregational.
  • Interesting, indeed, Gerhard -
    Whether 'singing out' or 'singing in', the important aspect of each or both is 'singing with heart'. This, alas, is an all too glaring absence in the mumble singing, that species of less than halfhearted murmur which characterises far too many attendees (as opposed to participants) in our modern churches.

    Of course, we can all agree that stentorian bellowing is not to be confused with that lively and glad-minded song of the soul expressing its joy in the presence of God. Too, we can accept that at times one's song may, for a variety of valid spiritual and emotional reasons, be less than ecstatic. I would wonder, though, if such excuses can be claimed by those whose song is never more than a tenuous half-hearted mumble, or who can't even be bothered to open the hymnal and read the text for their own enlightenment.
  • I think that when a populace has the federal reserve and the atomic bomb, it does something to the people of that populace. I think that the Subdued Voice can subdue that attitude, and that there is technique to it. Mumbling is something else. Singing subduedly annunciates every syllable correctly in a modest and almost haunting way when done in choir.
  • Too much music at Mass. We should have several Masses without music on the weekend.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,675
    Then you'd essentially have the old High Mass/Low Mass differences again that so many progressives have fought to eliminate.
  • I think that when a populace has the federal reserve and the atomic bomb, it does something to the people of that populace. I think that the Subdued Voice can subdue that attitude...


    Eli (or "PaterNoster", if you wish) precisely how do Federal Reserves and Atomic Bombs give God's People "attitude"?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,685
    There are problems with performance practice in many churches. Perhaps, Elia, it would be useful to talk about that, or show examples, if you can find video demonstrating them.

    The solution, whatever it is, should not sacrifice the intelligibility of the text so much.

    By the way, was there a reason for choosing the particular song in your demo video? The "St Louis Jesuits" team were not very skilled composers, especially in that early period. The phrasing of that song seems to have a theatrical quality that is not very suitable for the Mass. I'm thinking, for example, of the long notes at phrase endings.

    Incidentally, has anyone noticed that OBOB doesn't really contain a complete sentence anywhere in the piece?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,268
    Staaaaaaaahp.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 3,868
    The "St Louis Jesuits" team were not very skilled composers, especially in that early period.

    Blanket indictment time, huh?
    OBOB....is a stinker tune, but Foley more than made up for that with "Take, Lord, Receive....Who has known.....May we praise You..... etc."
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • Are not the S.L.J. "sacro-pop" ...as opposed to Sacred Music e.g. sung propers, chant, sacred polyphony, or even classical hymnody?
  • Yes, indeed!
    And that quite purposefully so.
    (Anything, anything but!)
  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 202
    I think this guy's a hoot (albeit a subdued hoot).
  • Since this thread is clearly destined for disintegration:

    Lately when serving as cantor, there is a lady sitting near the front who sings so strongly that I have difficulty hearing the choir or organ while she sings. Our church is large enough it is trying to keep the cantor, choir, organ, and congregation together is nearly impossible in the first place, and this now renders it entirely out of the realm of possibility.

    This comment has nothing to do with the topic at hand, just a random thought floating around my head that I reached up, grabbed, and shared.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,331
    lady sitting near the front who sings so strongly

    If you turn off the sanctuary microphones does it reduce her influence?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,146

    It's probably CharlesW; those Easterners are known to be subversive. ; )


    The east has witnessed the Latin church blithely follow Augustine and later the Scholastics into error compounded upon error. However, I have no association with the originators of this crazy thread. LOL. No subversion here.

    I do have a couple of singers who could benefit greatly from a "Barney Fife" microphone. There was an episode where Barney wanted to sing a solo, but was horrible. They hid a good singer behind the curtain, told Barney his microphone was super-sensitive, and had him sing in a nearly inaudible voice while the good singer was the one heard. I could go for subdued voices in that case. ;-)


  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,362
    there is a device that will CANCEL out the sound waves of the loud singer. you could install it in an inconspicuous location and aim it at the offender.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW bhcordova
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,146
    Wonder if I could get a quantity discount. ;-)
    Thanked by 1bhcordova
  • I do not know if turning off the microphone would decrease her influence, but it would certainly decrease mine, which could be an argument in favor of the idea...
  • I think that some techniques that have been discussed before, have some correlation with the Subdued Voice. For example, singing with covered sound: https://youtu.be/uo6dDQiBGyI

    I think covered sound has a modesty about it.
  • I think that singing modestly is a key to improving Church music today. I hope you understand what I mean.