People who "can't sing" can sing chant - Why?
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    A friend commented this morning that she had been surrounded at Mass by blood-curdlingly awful voices. One hymn after another had been screamed around her. And then there was the chant Agnus Dei - and those same dreadful voices sang just fine.


    I've noticed the same effect with a variety of scoop voices, scoop+flat, warblers, you name it. Most of the time, when we hit the very simple chants for the Ordinary that had somehow survived in my region, the horror is mitigated.

    Why? Is it the inherent simplicity of these chants? Is it the fact that they were probably learned in childhood? Is it the matter that chant doesn't encourage the same extravagence as the "Jesus is my best boyfriend" power ballad or Moody-Sankey sentimentality?

    I know I should simply be grateful for small blessings.

    But why? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • 1) the range is usually between a major sixth and an octave
    2) they are unison/magidized so people spend less time hunting for a harmony part
    3) many are pentatonic based, or have lots of simple stepwise motion, which hearkens back to elementary school music
    4) I find a lot of the melodies "catchy" in a way, and easy to remember

    those are just my opinions, ymmv
  • I think its the range of the simple Ordinary chants, mostly. The lines have an inexorable logic to their direction as well. They were conceived in the a capella environment, so they don't need a harmony in order to hear the correct notes. I disagree, however, that people who cannot sing can sing chant. A minor third is the same in any idiom. The folks you heard probably COULD sing, but they were given poor music to attempt.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Michael - You're right about those intervals. I'm working with some "challenged voices" right now on those. I used to say that everyone can sing. Now I say, "most people can sing." Along the lines of "one size fits most." and if someone tells me that he/she "absolutely, positively cannot sing," I don't argue with them anymore.
  • Yeah, as my group improves, I've begun recruiting much better singers rather than anyone who wants to try it.