PBC Review, NPM Chant Newletter
  • A generally fair review by Dr. Ford here. To his comments:

    "The PBC does not account for its omission of the required sequences, Victimae Paschali Laudes and Veni Sancte Spiritus, both present in the LC. It
    abridges the Lauda Sion according to postconciliar practice and provides the Stabat Mater. It does offer the solemn tones for the Marian canticles, something the LC did not consider important. The LC contains a complete setting of Compline, something the PBC did not consider important."

    Sequences were not included, because no other Proper chants were included. The Lauda Sion abridgment specifies extra-liturgical use, not in place of the appropriate Sequence. I personally consider Compline very important, but again we chose not to include Offices (the three Gospel Canticles are included, however). Good ideas for future editions, though.

    "The new Missale Romanum (2002) includes chant settings of the invitation to the prayer over the gifts and the invitation to Communion; the sung Orate Fratres/Suscipiat and Ecce Agnus Dei/Domine Non Sum Dignus would contribute to the noble goals the PBC sets for itself in its foreword."

    Dr. Mahrt has since advocated for some of these. Are they even vaguely traditional? They are certainly not included in the Gregorian Missal or Liber cantualis, which were my models.

    "I question whether this is the book that will get us to the sung Mass envisioned by Second Vatican Council, something few average Catholics, alas, have ever experienced."

    Ah, yet another version of the vision of Vatican II, the parameters of which keep morphing with each NPM meeting, no doubt. If you mean everybody sings Propers in some fashion, then no, it won't. I just hope it helps to get people singing what they have traditionally been meant to sing. But maybe Dr. Ford has THE book on the way?

    On the other hand, it's good to see NPM seriously discussing and advocating chant.
  • The CMAA and its publications can only benefit from thoughtful criticism such as this. Thanks for making me aware of Custos.

    Be sure to read also the final article in Custos ("Most Awful Surprise.") It's a sobering reminder of the dangers of our getting caught in a closed chant cheerleading bubble. Considering the surprised forum responses to David Goldman's First Things article (whose ideas about chant -accurate or not- are not that novel), engagement with those less than sympathetic to chant really is essential if we are to make headway in improving parish liturgies.
  • Randolph, I wish I knew what you were talking about with our "chant cheerleading bubble." There is not a single member of the CMAA that doesn't face trouble in parish life, hasn't been through the fire and back and through it again, doesn't deal CONSTANTLY with confused parishioners, singers, priests, and you name it. Chant people are punted from parish to parish, face constant upheaval with pastor changes, deal with financial difficulties and recruitment, not to mention the problem of the music publishers themselves. As a result, they are humble, wise, and dedicated.

    You can say lots of things about this chant generation but the idea that it lives in a chant bubble is perfectly preposterous, a complete fantasy. This is the generation of relentless struggle against all odds.

    Anyway, enough of that.

    That last editorial in Custos is interesting. It reports on a survey in Germany in which people reject chant. The article says "The most awful surprise of the survey results for me: The social group which most clearly rejected the chant Mass was precisely the church musicians!"

    If there is any analogy at all between the US and Germany, why should there be any surprise about this? Doesn't surprise me in the slightest bit. Most people condemn what they do not understand and cannot do. The point of our efforts is to educate and improve and upgrade.
  • By “bubble” I meant a natural internet tendency to create a reality removed from on-the-ground actuality. It is an inevitable liability of a technology that now allows primarily people with like-minded goals to congregate. The hazard is much more prevalent at The New Liturgical Movement site, but I saw a bit of it in the surprised reactions to David Goldman’s First Things piece. (Good heavens, even Ted Marier knew that the Solesmes rhythmic method was on shaky historical grounds; he just thought it made practical and musical sense.)

    I merely wished to say that it is healthy to engage people who don’t share our views regarding chant. Sometimes we learn things and often we plant seeds that in time will flourish. I actually find debates with “outsiders” on the forum to be encouraging. That means people are at least listening to what CMAA has to say. And yes, Jeffrey, I do read the employment horror stories that are shared on the forum. My heart goes out to these musicians.
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  • awruff
    Posts: 87
    Jeff O, thanks for your comments.
    The three-volume Einfuehrung in die Interpretation des gregorianischen Chorals, the main semiology text book, says that accents are lengthened but they are not louder. They don't advocate slamming anything.
    Apel is a great resource, of course, but I don't think he takes much account at all of the rhythmic data semiologists look at. His book predates that scholarly work, so I don't think he's up-to-date or helpful on questions of how chant treats accents.
    awr
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 314
    The "problem" of the displaced accent seems mostly to occur in the context of standard cadential formulas. I agree that the practice of "slamming" accents is taking things too far, but a gentle lengthening is a nice touch. In fact, in my experience if you don't encourage the choir to be careful to observe the accent, they have a tendency to put more intensity on the weak syllable.

    When the new ICEL chants are rolled out, this is going to become an issue, because they opted to leave the displaced accent in place for the Sanctus. I fear the prospect of "ho-LEE-ee, ho-LEE-ee" being sung everywhere...
  • What you describe as the bubble does indeed live on NLM. Every time i post I prepare for the barrage from people who haven't entered a conventional parish in decades. One develops thick skin, believe me.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,798
    Two things I make clear to my English seapking chanters,

    1.Latin stresses are different from English accents, they are light and high. (Gregorian Chant Practicum, P18)
    2. Ictus are not the markings for downbeat like in the metered music,. Even the ictus for arsis starts with 'up' gesture, opposite of the metered music.

    I noticed that some musicians who criticize Solesmes method don't have enough knowledge and experience to do so. (I'm still learning.)
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  • A nagging question. When exactly can we expect one of the Mocquereau naysayers to produce The Parish Book of Semiology? Just wondering.
  • Re: Will the REAL semiologists please stand up?

    Cardine's pronouncements were sometimes contradictory. In one place he said that semiology told us which notes were "more" and which were "less," but did not tell us HOW MUCH more of less. Elsewhere he said that the difference between a syllabic beat and a neumatic beat were comparable to the difference in the duration of a syllable consisting of a vowel alone and that of a syllable consisting of a consonant plus a vowel.

    Obviously, a number of erudite semiologists agree with the first of these pronouncements but not the second.

    Cardine's approach to performance was to integerate the fruits of semiology into a living tradition of chant performance, taking care not to destroy the good aspects of this tradition in pursuit of all the right note values, revised and corrected!!! (See his "The Limits of Semiology, Revue gregorienne (1989).)

    In the recordings of Alberto Turco (a student of Cardine) and those of Gloria Dei Cantores (whose style was developed under the guidance of Mary Berry, a Cardine student) the differences in note values are greater than Cardine said they ought to be. Does this mean that Turco and Pugsley are not "semiologists"? Of course not.

    Semiology is not a school of chant interpretation analogous to the Mocquereau/Gajard school or the Pothier/David school.

    Agustoni and Goschl's Einfuehrung in die Interpretation des gregorianischen Choral is a guide to interpretation based upon semiology, written by two distinguished semiologists. Other semiologists, on the other hand, may reject their suggestions without losing the right to call themselves "Semiologists."
  • Re: Stress accents in chant

    It is impossible to utter more than three syllables without placing stress on more than one of them. If you doubt what I say, try it. Even in languages in which the words do not have stress accents, no one can utter more than three syllables without placing stress on more than one of them. You can't get rid of stress.

    Furthermore, linguists are unanimous in their belief that by the fourth century A.D. the Latin language had a stress accent. (Mocquereau insisted that Latin still had a pitch accent during the golden age of chant composition; but there aren't any creditable linguists who agree with him.)

    If chant is sung speech, as Agustoni and Goschl would be the first to say that it is, it must have stress accents. It has agogic accents and pitch accents as well; but its fundamental rhythm is based on verbal stress accents; and these are mirrored in the rhythm of melismata. (We can't sing more then three notes without placing stress on more than one of them, even if we are singing on a single vowel.)

    Lucien David, Pothier's (accentualist) secretary, would advise us to count the first SANCTUS of Sanctus XVIII as

    1 23 12
    San-ctus
    b b a

    When we do so, we can accentuate the word correctly without any special effort.

    Why are non-accentualists (from Mocquereau to Agustoni) so unwilling to acknowledge the obvious primacy of stress in chant rhythm?
  • And why can't word-accentualists acknowledge that the musical line may have its own rhythmic pattern, independent of the text? and that the two, equally respected in performance, can create a remarkable musical line? Are we just not willing to concede such complex musical thinking to this primitive form?
  • Re: "Why can't word-accentualists acknowledge that the musical line may have its own rhythmic pattern, independent of the text?"

    In taking a look at the above cited "Einfuehrung in die Interpretation des Gregorianischen Chorals", section 1.1 states:

    To deliberately abstract the text from its melody is to deprive Gregorian chant of its very reason for existence and the source of its very life. Word and melody have entered into an indissoluble union. The word lives here in perfect symbiosis with its carrier, the melody.
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  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 619
    I was curious what Richard and others thought about this comment:
    It is curious to see Benedictine Father A. Gregory Murray’s 1958 threefold Alleluia (page 84) in square notation on a four-line staff as if it were Gregorian.
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  • @Jeff

    The quote obviously does not present any sort of evidential data--that was not the intention. The intention was to show that from the perspective of Agustoni and Göschl (evidenced by their opening chapter) there are no pieces or sections of chant "in stark opposition" to this statement. I understand that Mocquereau's foundational perspective is different. Perhaps looking at those "problematic" textual/melodic instances through the lens of Agustoni and Göschl and that of Semiological rhythmic data could offer insight that would help one more fully understand this premise. Hashing out a study from the MSS could definitely take some time! Does such a study already exist somewhere?

    BTW, I can't remember the "viva voce" conversation specifically...
  • Jeff, also:

    I was looking again at your comments above and I was a little curious about the following notions:

    "Ah! So this must be the universal law that all Gregorian chant follows, throughout its 1600 years of composition"

    "...the Gregorian repertoire is so vast, written by so many different composers over so many centuries..."

    Are you familiar with The Advent Project? To be honest I haven't even read it yet (though it's on my list), but I know that the thesis is that the composition of the Mass Proper (the bulk of the Gregorian repertory) was not an evolutionary process that spanned centuries but actually was a deliberate and methodical composition project undertaken by a particular group over the course of a few years in the later 7th century (perhaps somewhat similar to the Chabanel Psalm Project? ;) The transmission of the repertory is clearly a different story, but this thesis would seem to suggest that at least some "universal laws" (of at least the Mass Proper) can be discerned through adequate research.
  • "Word and melody have entered into an indissoluble union." This is exactly the view of Gajard, and student and successor of Mocq. And yet it is cited here as a central semiological principle. I'm confused: what exactly are supposed to be the clear differences here between the schools?
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  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,798
    It seems that Semiologists have a problem with non- ictus notes with stressed latin syllables in Solesmes. Do all the Semiologists agree that ictus should always coincide with the stress of the text?, if not, the music is a disruption of the texts? If that's the case, do all the English accents should coincide with the down beats also?

    I also think it's the problem of not understanding what 'ictus' is. (The sketch of the paint is there, but doesn't show on the surface.)
    To me, Solesmes method gives the basic outline of the rhythm of the music. It's like having a basic sketch for the art work. And the Semiology gives me more ideas how to paint the music. The two schools can exist in a chant, although a chanter can emphasize one over the other according to the situation and the tastes. My beginning schola definitely needs Solesmes rhythm to sing together, also I think it's easier for the congregation of large number sing the Ordinaries together with definite rhythm ( of course there are musical variants like phrasings, but the baisc musical structre is there with solid rhythm to follow.) (Solesmes also work well for the syllabic hymns) But I would prefer advanced schola elaborate melismatic Propers, like Alleuia and Gradual with more Semiologist approach.

    my 2c.
    (We have two sides of a brain. We have two schools for chants also, which emphasize one side over the other. They don't necessarily conflict, can be used for well balanced music.)
  • yes, but just to be clear: the theory of Mocquereau is not subsumed within the ictus and its placement. that's just a tool.
  • G
    Posts: 1,284
    Working in one class a would-be schola conductor, on learning of a quirk in how a gradual was to be sung, asked the master exasperatedly, "Well, how in the world would a music director KNOW that?!??#??"
    The reply - You know because I told you. I know because Turco told me. Turco knew because Cardine told him.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • @Jeff O.:

    To summarize Semiology as simply "hammering the tonic accent" would indeed be very "juvenile". Agostoni and Göschl's "Einfuehrung" (translated C. Kelly) is 322 pages long, and "Gregorian Semiology" is 248. There's much much more to the picture than "hammering" tonic accents, a practice which is never encouraged according to Fr. Ruff above. I would really encourage you to take a look at these books which might help dispel this overly simplistic misunderstanding.

    Re: "Type melodies"

    "In a melisma, a very developed neume over a syllable, one has an initial impression that the melody follows its own laws and for the moment has loosened its connection to the word. To assume that would indeed be an error. Even a melisma is closely related to a word, is bound with that word. In the case of an original composition, that is to say, a musical setting that is created for a very specific set of words or text, the melismatic ornamentation underlines and helps one to taste an important word. ... This is even true for centonised pieces, that is to say, pieces that are a compilation of different formulas into a new organized unit, and even in the case of type melodies that make use of one melody type for several texts, the compositional procedure is profoundly influenced by the text. In centonisation, the melismatic formulas are for the most part selected carefully and are so artfully fused with each other that one has the impression that the original melody is set for this and no other text (Cf. Gr. Christus factus est.)" (p 5. Einfuehrung, Agostoni and Göschl)

    This book is not a research text, but a practical book. There is certainly research to support it, but I'm not a researcher. I'm just sharing the perspective given in the "main semiology text book".

    @JT:

    Re: "This is exactly the view of Gajard, and student and successor of Mocq. And yet it is cited here as a central semiological principle."

    To quote Jeff O. from above, Mocq states that "the musical phrase comes before the tonic accent". As I understand it this essentially means that melody comes before the text. As I understand Gajard made progress in this respect, giving a greater respect to the word than did Mocq.

    Re: "The theory of Mocquereau is not subsumed within the ictus and its placement. that's just a tool."

    As I understand it, Mocq's ictus is a tool for analyzing a Gregorian melody first, apart from its text. This is where the marriage of melody and text is "dissolved" from the semiological perspective.

    @Mia

    Semiologists ignore Mocq's ictus. Solesmes has discontinued its use in their publications since the early 1980's.
  • The Augostoni and Göschl text (tr. Fr. Columba Kelly) can be found here, although it is admittedly very expensive.

    Gregorian Semiology can be found here.
  • Yes, i know that this is the Sem view of Mocq but I've never found that in Mocq nor Gajard. Both of their books are online. I've read them and I just don't see this in either. Both emphasize unity of music and text, which I guess is why I've never been able to join the down-with-Mocq campaign. I can't but learn from him and Gajard.
  • Bruce E. Ford wrote:

    "It is impossible to utter more than three syllables without placing stress on more than one of them. . . (We can't sing more then three notes without placing stress on more than one of them, even if we are singing on a single vowel.) "

    These comments are manifestly untrue.

    Sing a major scale on "ah," or play a major scale, legato, on any instrument. If you find you're stressing every second or third note, there's something seriously wrong with your technique or your musical sense.

    The misguided notion that all music is divisible into units of 2 or 3, while mathematically true, is aesthetically false.
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  • BGP
    Posts: 140
    Jeff Ostrowski,

    well said. I'm interested in learning about different ideas about chant performance, but these sort of discussions always seem to become a big senseless argument. any chant is better than no chant
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 5,861
    I posted my two cents about 'dissecting' on the post with Mr. Goldman, so no need to repeat it again. I will just offer you a poem I composed back in the 70's. Chant (and ALL art forms) are like a delicate flower.

    THE BLOOM

    The seed falls to earth
    By wind and plan
    Only to have met death
    Should it prove to live on.

    Through warmth of light
    and cold of of night
    The beat of rain...
    Again, again.

    Finally,
    A bud appears

    Try not pry the petal
    So curious to see
    What the full bloom flower
    Is supposed to be.
    For then you will have destroyed
    The scent, not fully sweet
    And the perfect maturing of beauty
    Just wanting complete.

    But love and understand and patiently forbear-
    Only these will unfold the flower there.

    Copyright © 1978 Francis Koerber All rights reserved.
  • Patrick Joseph's comment (above) leads me to suppose that he and I are discussing apples and pears. All accents are not equal. Some are pronounced and some are slight. Not over-emphasizing unimportant accents is more of a challenge for the performer than emphasizing important accents sufficiently. A performer who deliberately “stressed every second of third note” of a scale would, indeed, demonstrate a dearth of musical sense. Nevertheless, no one who sings a scale or plays it on the piano will be able entirely to avoid downbeats and upbeats at two or three-note intervals. Even if you play a the scale on the organ, you will "feel" these downbeats and upbeats.

    Whether it is helpful for chant singers to think consciously about binary and ternary rhythmic groups is open to debate, and I take no rigid position on the question. The strongest argument in favor of drawing the singers’ attention to them is that when one member of an ensemble sings a group of five notes as “12/123” and another sings it as “123/12,” the unity of the performance suffers.
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159
    Speaking for myself, I am glad for the discussions here of topics on which there is some disagreement. I see that as a positive, one which provides the most potential to let folk with more limited exposure to some of the main concepts gain at least a two sided view. So many times when we digest info, it is coming from a single source and we are not always allowed to weigh the information in the light of competing points of view, and not allowed the possibility, therefore, to draw our own conclusions based on a more complete understanding of the subject matter.

    That said, I still really don't sense there is any real 'bickering.' For me that word is quite strong.

    While it may or may not be true that a forum such as this is not the ideal venue to dissect the different schools of thought on chant performance and scholarship, it is nonetheless good to expose so many to some of the main issues and personalities involved at the center of the ongoing 'discussion.' I am here to learn. I don't want people to feel muzzled. Diplomatic, sure. Polite, of course. But please, keep the discussion challenging and lively.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,798
    Mr. Ford, thank you for the post. I always wonder how do you know how fast each melisma can be? The Solesmes rhythm, to me, gives a sense of basic pulse, so even if there are groups of 5 or more notes, it gives some better sense of the rhythm. If I was singing by myself, of course it is much easier. It's almost like playing cadenza (which by the way drawn from the part of the piece). But when you have a group of people singing, don't you need a some sort of definite rhythm to be together? Thanks.
  • It's strange how we ask questions of chant we would never ask about any other music, e.g. a Brandenburg Concerto. Do we need a pulse to stay together? of course! Can the chamber group speed up and slow down with infinite degrees of subtlety within this structure and still stay together? of course!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,798
    I might be wrong, but I think music that has basic pulse can do rubato and retard, and other rhythmic fluctation much more easily and not so random.
    I simply want to know how the melisma can be together without the basic musical pulse, especially for a group of large number. Just by instinct and feel? Or are there any other tool the semiologists use. I have a few books I'm reading and still learning, haven't found one yet.
    Also, how the polyphony was developed from chants singing if the need of basic pulse and musical rhymn were not felt.
  • "While it may or may not be true that a forum such as this is not the ideal venue to dissect the different schools of thought on chant performance and scholarship, it is nonetheless good to expose so many to some of the main issues and personalities involved at the center of the ongoing 'discussion.' "

    Yes, though perhaps better done in a discussion topic dedicated to that issue, rather than randomly strewn through every post about chant, as seems to be the general method here.
  • Dear Jeff,

    Thank you for your sincere and thoughtful post. As is probably evident, I am a huge supporter of the work of the CMAA and see the many ways that God is working through this group to bring about many good things in the liturgy. I also thank you for the great work you're doing. Praise the Lord for his marvelous deeds! However, if all that was discussed on this forum was chant interpretation I would probably not be a participant. It may be true that an online forum is not the best "forum" for discussion of this issue, but I wonder what the most appropriate forum would be. Any thoughts on an alternative, Jeff?

    On the other hand, I can't see how this topic can be avoided. I mean, singing chant is what we do as sacred musicians. I don't think that a week goes by where a newcomer doesn't ask a question about chant interpretation.

    Nonetheless, comments like this are commonly made:

    "It's strange how we ask questions of chant we would never ask about any other music, e.g. a Brandenburg Concerto. Do we need a pulse to stay together? of course! Can the chamber group speed up and slow down with infinite degrees of subtlety within this structure and still stay together? of course!"

    This comment has nothing to do with research. This is not scholarly debate. Yet it flies in the face of the chant interpretation as it is currently being taught by Solesmes. It's a strong-armed statement that will influence many who read it. It does not leave aspiring schola directors and singers of chant to explore answers to the question for themselves. If these sort of statements are left without accountability I fear that progress will not be made. That's my personal opinion.

    Also, Jeff, I don't see how having an online database of manuscripts can have any impact on comments like the one above. I doubt that many on this forum are interested in doing their own research on the manuscripts. I'm certainly not. The proper place for this would probably be a doctoral dissertation. Working through the practical results of the research done in the past 50 years is not akin to getting a doctorate in Gregorian Musicology. Gregorian Semiology is a small paperback book. It can be read and it should be read by every aspiring schola director IMHO.

    So, I don't know what the answer is, but I would suggest that if the leaders of the discussion in this forum are not open to discussing chant interpretation as it is currently being taught and advanced by Solesmes then they would be cutting the group off. I would think that they would be doing an immense disservice to those who they seek to serve.
  • "It's strange how we ask questions of chant we would never ask about any other music, e.g. a Brandenburg Concerto. Do we need a pulse to stay together? of course! Can the chamber group speed up and slow down with infinite degrees of subtlety within this structure and still stay together? of course!"

    If chant is "sung speech", and I contend that it is, then there is as much of a need for a rhythmic pulse in singing chant as there is in asking a group of people to speak a text together. Congregations recite the Creed and much of the liturgy every week together in perfect sync, following the rhythm of speech. There is no pulse. Asking them to use one would be absurd. Gregorian chant and a Brandenburg Concerto are comparing apples to oranges. One is unison melody and the other an orchestral suite.

    "I simply want to know how the melisma can be together without the basic musical pulse, especially for a group of large number."

    Mia, take a look at Chapter 9 in Gregorian Semiology entitled "The Neumatic Break" (sometimes called Graphic Separation). This is the key to the melisma, and really the semiological understanding of chant. The basic chant is syllabic, and a more ornamented chant is simply that, an ornamentation of a basic pitch or two as found in syllabic chant. Melismas use the same melodic conventions as in ornamented syllabic chant which is very clear in the St. Gall and Laon notations with an understanding of the "neumatic break", which shows the structural pitches of a melisma. With an understanding of the structure pitches of a melisma and a proper understanding of how these structure pitches are ornamented it is not difficult at all for a schola to stay together.
  • "...not scholarly..." , unaccountable, hindering progress...

    Adam, I would like to know more about this claim, which was politely put in passive voice. Are you implying that I haven't read Cardine? I have. That I haven't read Fr. Ruff? I have, in fact, in English (not German).

    Is it really inconceivable that no one could possibly have read the works of semiologists that still believe that chant requires a pulse like structure?

    Is it really ipso facto proof of ignorance and lack of scholarship to believe, for example, that it is a good thing to sing like the monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz?

    That anyone who likes that sound is a head-in-the-sand fool who is attached to dated Romantic myths?

    Or is it the case that the only people who have a right to opine or have tastes on this subject must read a three-volume work in German, which I humbly admit I have not?

    I'm quite certain that the Friars at Salmanca, Spain, who still today sing with a pluse haven't read that treatise or are they further evidence of pervasive ignorance and unscholarly chant practice?

    Finally, am I supposed to belive that a giant like William Mahrt has got some mental block that prevents him to absorbing the latest scientific advances but prefers instead to wallow in the myths of the past?

    Finally, our relations with Solesmes are in fine shape, as it turns out.
  • Jeffrey--

    Firstly, I hope I don't have to clarify that my post was directed to Jeff O., not Jeff T., in response to his lengthy post directed to me above. I hope this was clear. So, in effect, I wasn't directing anything toward you or implying anything about you at all. I did cite your comment as an example of the many similar comments that are found all over this forum.

    Secondly, I do not like the words that you are putting in my mouth. They certainly are not mine. I am not sure where you get notions like "head-in-the-sand fool", "pervasive ignorance", or "mental block" but I can tell you that I will not engage in conversations that use language like this.

    The only other thing that I have in response to your comment is that the first volume of Augostoni and Göschl, the main semiology textbook according to Fr. Ruff above, is available in English translation thanks to Fr. Columba Kelly. See above for a link to this book.
  • This comment has nothing to do with research. This is not scholarly debate. ... flies in the face of the chant interpretation as it is currently being taught by Solesmes.... If these sort of statements are left without accountability I fear that progress will not be made.
  • This comment has nothing to do with research.


    Correct. The comment in question doesn't.

    This is not scholarly debate.


    It is not.

    ...flies in the face of the chant interpretation as it is currently being taught by Solesmes


    Correct.

    If these sort of statements are left without accountability I fear that progress will not be made.


    This is my belief.
  • To respond to Mark M., re: "It is curious to see Benedictine Father A. Gregory Murray’s 1958 threefold Alleluia (page 84) in square notation on a four-line staff as if it were Gregorian."

    Just one of those crazy things, a well-known chant-like piece (which most certainly should be attributed; the editor is most chagrined). But then, the critique could easily be extended to any number of faux-chant hymns in the book. More curiously, nobody has yet called me on my own spurious chant contribution to PBC. (Shall I offer a prize to the first?)

    And for heaven's sake, yes, let us move beyond binary and ternary groups, and think of fours, fives, sixes, twelves... Dom M's greater rhythm. We all tend to be stuck in an amateurish rhythmic rut, when it comes to the classic Solesmes method. This IS music, after all, and when all the academic pontificating dies down, all interpretations will be judged by their readily (I would even say, universally) perceived musicality.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 314
    "equal importance should be given to both the sacred text and the Gregorian melody"--Preface to the Liber Hymnarius

    IMO the best interpretations of chant respect this principle, no matter what theory is lurking in the background.

    Can any choir singing according to the "classical Solesmes" or "Mocquereau" method aspire to do better than Dom Gajard directing the monks of Solesmes? But listen to a recording of his choir...go and download Memento verbi tui at Jogueschant and tell me that the text is not treated with the utmost respect, never sacrificing good diction even where the melody appears to be going in a different direction than the text ("Domine," "Gloria" at the Gloria Patri)...

    And let's look at the best choirs who base their practice on semiological research: dom Jean Claire's, Alberto Turco's, Jaan Eik Tulve's: don't we hear eminent musical sense, avoiding the pitfalls of getting lost in every episema and neumatic break or not seeing the phrase for the words?

    Cardine wrote something about having to go beyond the neumes...I would say that Gajard went beyond Le Nombre Musicale. Let the chant speak to us on its own terms; consider it as a whole without getting lost in analysis.

    Richard Rice gives what seems to me to be excellent advice in the final pages of The Parish Book of Chant:

    "A gently flowing, steady musical rhythm need not be disrupted in an effort to convey the Latin accent; but neither should the music obscure the meaning of the text, which is, after all, the essence of the prayer it seeks to enliven."

    Who could disagree with that?
  • [Robert gets a prize, merely for the above.]
  • Adam, there is a huge difference between a Creed and a Gradual, and between settings of the Creed, for that matter, but I'm tired of this supposed debate which has gone on for sixty years and not helped a single parish get on the right track, so I'm out.
  • awruff
    Posts: 87
    Hello all,

    I've enjoyed this far-ranging discussion and I was glad that Jeff O took up my article on Gregorian psalm tones, but I think he may have missed my point. He wrote the following:

    "Near as I can tell, he [Ruff] fails to admit the possibility that, perhaps, Gregorian chant simply does not treat the tonic accent the same way that, for example, Baroque composers treat the tonic accent. ...
    I think it's more logical to say that, in many instances, Mocquereau was right: the musical phrase comes before the tonic accent, which is not the Baroque way. But in other instances, that is not the case. ...
    In essence, the Gregorian repertoire is so vast, written by so many different composers over so many centuries, I have very little use for 'universal laws.' I was expecting Ruff to make allowance for this point of view."

    My article wasn't about the whole repertoire, it was only about the Gregorian psalm tones. Interpretation questions (semiology, equalism, etc.) aren't really at issue here. I'm talking about how to point psalm tones. Surely we can all agree that the Latin language has accents - since every chant book marks the accents in the Latin text - and surely we can all agree that the Gregorian psalm tones are pointed according to the accents, since every edition of the Liber Usualis and of any Antiphonale tell you how to sing these psalm tones according to the accents. Again, how you interpret it musically, whether you "hammer" the accented syllable or not, whether you lengthen the accented syllable or not - all is this is entirely different issue and I didn't treat it in my article. But at the mediant cadence of mode 5, for example, with a Latin text, you move up to D on the second last accent, and you move from B to C on the last accent, yes? My article was about what to do with the accent patterns in English, since they are so different from Latin.

    I think we can leave semiology out of this one, we can all agree that Latin psalm tones consult the text accents, and then we can discuss what this means for English with its accents. I would very much enjoy hearing from others what solutions they have found, or what they like and dislike about various approaches, or if they think the German Benedictine approach works. I tried to write the article to show that there are many approaches, and to show that I'm trying to be open to the strengths of many approaches. I'd appreciate learning from others.

    Pax,

    awr
  • This is a thrilling direction to a riveting thread. In the past, people have gone to war over these issues. We can't afford to have such a thing now, not with such progress on all fronts.
  • I have to say that I really enjoyed reading Fr. Ruff's article and it confirmed just about every experience that I have had with English psalmody. At the time I'm using St. Meinrad Psalm Tones and Fr. Samuel Weber's tones (sometimes with the Gregorian intonations added) with English texts despite my very strong inclination to want to somehow find a way to use the Gregorian tones. I have experienced all of the downfalls that Fr. Ruff describes and I concur that slurring the final accent with English texts does indeed become very taxing very quickly. It seems, though, that it is easier to convincingly use the Gregorian "solemn tones" though than the "office tones", for example, with an English Introit or Communion by Fr. Columba Kelly. I've attached an adaptation of the solemn tones which I have been experimenting with that elides the final pitches of the termination where an English text would demand it. I would be curious to hear anyone's thoughts on these.