Effect of Specific Modes
  • I have been thinking about this for a while now, and read several threads and articles on the subject but not found a satisfactory answer. Is there any correlation between the chosen mode (of any specific chant) and an effect on a person's emotions, thoughts, or psyche? I have heard that there is such a correlation, but I am unable to find any specifics on it. For example, the following seems to hold true for the majority of chants in the Graduale Romanum:

    Modes 1 and 2 impart a sense of solemnity, or gravity

    Modes 3 and 4 are the mysterious modes

    Modes 5 and 6 are the peaceful modes*

    Modes 7 and 8 are the joyful modes*

    *These modes are perhaps backwards in my explanation above (I created the explanation: it does not come from any official source): 5 and 6 could be the joyful modes, and 7 and 8 could be the peaceful ones.

    It's almost as if the choice of mode is a form of text painting: "Ad te levavi," for example is in mode 8, and the text reflects the joy of a person raising their soul to the coming Lord.

    "Terra tremuit" is in mode 4, which imparts the sense of the mysterious to the resurrection of the Lord. I get shivers whenever I sing or hear this Offertory.

    "Reges Tharsis" is in mode 5, and is the tale of the wise men finding Jesus and offering gifts. One could argue that this is a joyful occasion as well.

    "Viderunt omnes" is in mode 1. Being that it comes from the Christmas Mass During the Day, it could easily be seen as a joyful text, however, mode 1 may have been used purposefully: as a reminder of the seriousness of what will transpire (the Lord has come to save us, but He must die to do it).

    Do you think the modes have specific correlations to emotion and thought? Do you think the modes are used purposefully in this regard in various chants? Do you think the selection of the mode can be a form of text painting? Do you have any resources which would corroborate or definitively disprove what I have suggested?
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,047
    In a word, no, as to the mode or tone itself.

    More influential in my experience is the marriage of the text and the specific physical resonance, a product of the chosen pitch, the range and quality of voices, and the acoustics of the space.

    Now, it can be, for someone deeply immersed in the idiom, that their experiences cause them to associate effects with specific modes so that the sound of a given mode evokes a liminal response by itself. That is still something extrinsic to the mode itself, and subjective to the listener's experience.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    I agree with the general assessment, except that the modes are placed onto the chants later.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 382
    I think what you have is pretty good for the most part, but I think it can really vary between chants even. I also think that 5 and 6 are more joyful, while the distinction between 7 and 8 is more distinct. 7 has a triumphal, celebratory, or victorious quality, while 8 has more of a serene, peaceful quality. Both have a sense of fulfillment, but different aspects of it. I think the case could be made for the other modes as well, but it's subtler.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 865
    I don't know...
    I agree with Liam. I don't think the modes need to be labeled by emotions, because those labels can always have exceptions.

    I do, though, think that mode I, just for the sake of all the chants that begin with DR R-L-te-L would rather be described as mysterious and very thought-provoking, as opposed to the OP's description.

    I also disagree with labeling minor and major keys for any sense of emotion they may invoke, as there are some beautiful, joyful pieces written in minor keys, and some in major keys can be awfully depressing if that's what the composer was going for.
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,812
    I don't know, but I made this a number of years ago to allow one to experience the modes.

    http://myopus.com/modesDemystified3.html
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  • Antonio
    Posts: 43
    In my modest opinion, although some moods are more favored by some modes than others, there are so many other factors, like text, motifs, modulations, etc, that's very difficult to write down a correspondence table without incurring in imprecision and so many contrary examples.
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  • All I know is that D minor is the saddest of all keys...
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  • Malton's link is useful if you don't know much about chant to begin with. I am already familiar with how to chant and what the modes are, but my original question goes to the origin of the different chant melodies and why they are sung the way they are (modality, etc.) instead of another way. Since chant began as a completely aural art form, and wasnt written down for many years, these melodies were created somehow and then passed down. My intent was to get information on where these melodies came from, and how they were created.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,367
    D minor is the saddest of all keys??? What about:

    God rest ye merry gentlemen - almost invariably in D minor.
    GREENSLEEVES (What child is this) - sometimes in E minor, sometimes in D minor - more or less Mode II (or I).
    We three kings of orient are - sometimes D minor, sometimes E minor.

    Or, the 4th movement Farandole (a march) of Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite, No. 2?
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 865
    (I have a feeling that the d-minor thing is a quote of some sort)
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  • Mode II (as in D minor), is to me the most beautiful of all keys. Mode II has more of a noble gravity to it than all other modes, thus making it most suitable for worship of the Almighty One.
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  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,367
    I love D minor (and Modes I, II), but in terms of modal music, I think I'm most drawn to Mode III (and IV).
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,301
    Here's the source of the saying that D minor is "the saddest of all keys". However, be forewarned that there is an off-color joke at the end of the clip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgViOqGJEvM
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,812
    actually, to be technical, since we use equal temperament, d minor is no different than any other minor key. the modes, however, are different in that the position of whole and half steps vary. if one uses a different temperament then the major and minor keys would actually sound different from each other.

    In musical tuning, a temperament is a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system. Most instruments in modern Western music are tuned in the equal temperament system. "Tempering is the process of altering the size of an interval by making it narrower or wider than pure. A temperament is any plan that describes the adjustments to the sizes of some or all of the twelve fifth intervals in the circle of fifths so that they accommodate pure octaves and produce certain sizes of major thirds."[1] Temperament is especially important for keyboard instruments, which typically allow a player to play only the pitches assigned to the various keys, and lack any way to alter pitch of a note in performance. Historically, the use of just intonation, Pythagorean tuning and meantone temperament meant that such instruments could sound "in tune" in one key, or some keys, but would then have more dissonance in other keys.

    The development of well temperament allowed fixed-pitch instruments to play reasonably well in all of the keys. The famous "Well-Tempered Clavier" by Johann Sebastian Bach takes full advantage of this breakthrough, with pieces written in all 24 major and minor keys. However, while unpleasant intervals (such as the wolf interval) were avoided, the sizes of intervals were still not consistent between keys, and so each key still had its own character. This variation led in the 18th century to an increase in the use of equal temperament, in which the frequency ratio between each pair of adjacent notes on the keyboard was made equal, allowing music to be transposed between keys without changing the relationship between notes.


    here is a bit of an interesting demonstration on tuning related to sympathetic vibrations in the harmonic series... of course this is not a perfect demonstration because no two pianos will amplify different pitches at equal volume since soundboards and cases can favor certain notes, but still, it is a good lesson.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz0B0SwKpww
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,106
    Sunday afternoon I found myself snorting at a program note saying d minor is "the key of demonic energy, the key of Don Giovanni and the first movement of Beethoven's 9th". The performance was one of The Art of the Fugue! For me C sharp and B flat aren't enough to erase the grave nobility of mode I.
  • This is a subject very near and dear to me,
    although I haven't specifically dealt with chant. I'll try to make this coherent...

    I've always understood/interpreted/felt the d/Dorian to be THE church mode, the mode anyone who's ever heard chant would hear and say oh yes that's "church music". If you are seeing patterns in modes assigned to certain chants and their texts, I don't think that is by accident.

    How and when did people start attaching affect to modes or keys? I don't know, but I do know that perceptions of affect are largely influenced by culture. If I went to China and heard a traditional song, and I said "wow that's such a happy song!" but it was a song about dead babies or something, well then my culture didn't teach me that the song's particular mode says "sad" to some folks. One day my husband came home from work, he had the radio on in his office and the first movement of Brahms's Second Symphony was on. A co worker proclaimed it to be "very relaxing". So, culture and environment/education/etc...

    I'm not sure if this occurred before major/minor was established as the norm (common practice), but of course many composers like Bach (although he wasn't the first or only one) deliberately used keys with three accidentals when dealing with a text that specifically addressed the Trinity. The "why" for this, I assume, is mainly visual. I guess what I'm getting at here is I find it hard to believe that the old modes weren't organized or constructed without some regard for affective quality, otherwise why develop organized tonality of any kind at all?
    My disorganized two cents...

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Did Guido d'Arezzo really say this?
    “The first mode is serious, the second is sad, the third is mystic, the fourth is harmonious, the fifth makes happy, the sixth is devout, the seventh angelical and the eighth is perfect."
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,047
    Kathy

    That quote has smells of being reverse-engineered from modern online tables....

    Here's a link to a page from a late 19th century English book attributing characteristics to St Gregory

    http://tinyurl.com/hmjbqpt


    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • Thanks, Chonak for the link. Yes, I was quoting the mockumentary (rockumentary?) "This is Spinal Tap". Sorry for the confusion.
  • Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but the prior of our abbey once gave me a list of names for Gregorian modes. I dug around when this thread popped up, but couldn't find them. While looking for something on another project I'm working on (a Nocturnale Romanum for personal use), I came across them. Here they are:

    1er mode: gravis
    2e mode: tristis
    3e mode: mysticus
    4e mode: harmonicus
    5e mode: laetus
    6e mode: devotus
    7e mode: angelicus
    8e mode: perfectus

    Ora
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,343
    Eight? My modal chart goes up to 11.
  • Only 11?

    Seems to be one missing, my antiphonary lists 12.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,343
    Well that's one louder, isn't it?
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  • Thanks Ora, very interesting! Where did you get that list from (specific book/text/etc)??
  • It was given to me by the prior of the abbey I'm attached to as oblate. I have no idea where he got it.

    Ora
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,367
    Mode interpretations from Guido D'Arezzo (995-1050), Adam of Fulda (1445-1505), and Juan de Espinoza Medrano (1632-1688)

    Name Mode D'Arezzo Fulda Espinoza Example chant
    Dorian I serious any feeling happy, taming the passions Veni sancte spiritus
    Hypodorian II sad sad serious and tearful Iesu dulcis amor meus
    Phrygian III mystic vehement inciting anger Kyrie, fons bonitatis
    Hypophrygian IV harmonious tender inciting delights, tempering fierceness Conditor alme siderum
    Lydian V happy happy happy Salve Regina
    Hypolydian VI devout pious tearful and pious Ubi caritas
    Mixolydian VII angelical of youth uniting pleasure and sadness Introibo
    Hypomixolydian VIII perfect of knowledge very happy Ad cenam agni providi

    So OraLabora's list comes from D'Arezzo. See the Wikipedia article on Mode (music).
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,047
    Well, I am curious about that attribution, because I've yet to see it tied to a given work by him.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,509
    I think the problem with the effects of those modes, is that we have all heard more than chant by now. Perhaps the modes did produce those effects in hearers at the time, but we have heard harmonies and dissonances the "Gregorians" could never have imagined. Our ears are tainted, or enlightened, depending on individual viewpoints. A likely response among many hearers today would be, "that sounds like chant."
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  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,367
    Well, I am curious about that attribution, because I've yet to see it tied to a given work by him.

    I think the work one needs to consult is D'Arezzo's Micrologus. I first heard about these characteristics ("ethos") of musical modes too many years ago to remember exactly when or in what context.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    Charles, the classic example iof your point is the sound to a modern listener of “Haec dies.”
    Thanked by 2CharlesW MBW
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    I think this may have been posted before, but it is apropos here. Beware, those sensitive to strong language and emotion, there are "colorful" French expressions used and subtitled.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmgFyBJ1MKU
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,047
    Chuck

    The reason I asked is because I read many N-th-hand attributions, but redolent of because-it's-said-so.
  • Ted
    Posts: 147
    Guido of Arezzo (11th c) mentions the affective characteristics of a few Gregorian modes in a such an incomplete way that it suggests it was common knowledge during his time that each mode had a specific affectivity. (The complete list of affectivities attributable to Guido comes by way of Johannes Afflighemensis.) But this may have been a relatively more modern interpretation of the modes. The oktoechos already existed when the Franks inherited the Roman chants, so it is unlikely that the Frankish reform of chant would have had a concern with affectivity in regards to the modes. However, Father Saulnier in his "Gregorian Modes" does suggest that because of its intervallic structure, final, and range, each mode does have a specific ethos, which he illustrates using the studies of the late Father Jean Jeanneteau.
  • Many, many years ago, when I first heard chant I thought it was strange sounding - enchantingly strange, and marvelously attractive - ditto early music. (Not surprising, since I had been reared on the canon of piano and symphonic literature.) But, whilst I detected a gorgeously ritualistic and sacred ethos, I did not detect any remarkable emotional response specific to the various modes. Forsooth, I was not even aware that there were such. All of it sounded like chant and I loved it. With familiarity and immersion in the literature that has changed. For most people, though, Charles is right, most people will respond that 'that sounds like chant'. People who aren't music lovers commonly fail to distinguish between composers whose music is quite distinguishable from that of others. It's all just classical music. And, I would not be able to distinguish between the music of various rock groups, or even sacro-pop composers - nor would I want to try because I don't want it in my brain.

    As for affective characteristics peculiar to each mode, this should strike no one as strange. Many people who listen to music often remark that this or that example is joyful or sad; or contemplative or serene; etc. These reactions can be brought on by minor mode music or major mode music. It is not at all far-fetched to think that each of the ecclesiastical or ancient Greek modes has its native 'affect'. Plato, et al., were writing about music as experienced by the hearers of their time and their musical culture. Ditto, Guido and others, who write about what they did indeed experience, not a theoretical abstraction. (Theoria, after all, follows praxis - as we all know). If any of us fail to be 'moved' this way or that in response to chants in various modes it is because we really have not been immersed in the musical culture that produced them - just as (as I have experienced) singing, say, Easter Hymn or Hyfrydol, or Winchester New in the minor rather than the major mode, while the different 'affect' is to me glaringly obvious, has brought nothing but shrugged shoulders and blank faces from some of our own western folk who obviously are not 'in tune' with our musical culture or literate in it - thanks to those who monopolise our educational system, our school and university curricula, who, unlike the long-ago founders of our civilisation, foolishly think that music is ephemeral to the human psyche and anima, and the knowledge and understanding of it extraneous to the educated and spiritually mature mind.

    Too, the difference between the two principal modes of our time is often blurred as to affect. This is, primarily, peculiar to the tonal system, which has the inherent capacity to effect such blurring. Witness Mozart's 40th symphony, which is anything at all but 'sad', even though, as we all know, it is in g-minor. We would wisely accord to oriental or Indian music a wide variety of affect and mood on its native peoples that would go right over our heads because we are not steeped in that musical language and sensitive to its affective elements. It just sounds 'oriental' to us. Then there is the music of the Dodecaphonists! Which of us could assign an affect to any of it, though, to its composers and students, there must surely be detectable affect. Or Messiaen, whose music to some of us is profound, whilst to many it is just senseless notes because they can't relate it to the comfortable tonal system which is the very foundation of our musical language - even of much of western music which purposefully avoids or attempts to supercede it. (Indeed, sort of tongue-in-cheek, I think that those who would surpass and antiquate the tonal system are rather like those who think that because they don't believe in God he isn't there! He is! And it is! And with both we must, ultimately, reckon - and be affected by.)

    Everything, everything!, has affect. And to the degree to which we are spiritually aware we will be sensitive to it.
  • @CHGiffen: many, many thanks..!!
    @M. Jackson Osborn: I hope to be as eloquent as you someday. Beautiful.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Everything, everything!, has affect. And to the degree to which we are spiritually aware we will be sensitive to it.


    This is one of the central ideas that I have been trying to explain to Catholic priests and liturgy committees for many years. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful.

    We are sensitive to everything we sense. This should be obvious, but it is not. Everything from parking lot in to parking lot out has an affect, either positive or negative. stimulating or dull, transcendent or mundane. Music is a major part of the experience, but everything else is also important.

    Back to the topic at hand, our listeners come with many different kinds of ears. The affect of our music will vary listener by listener. That is today's reality. Even if the congregation is in lockstep about what they like (good or bad) they will be liking it for different reasons. The days of a common musical heritage are gone, probably for good.
    We need to look ahead. We need to break open the treasury of sacred music and share it with the world, but we must not fool ourselves into thinking that a static musical praxis is going to survive.

    Really, it is not constructive to be safe, to hold the line or merely slavishly follow Rome's latest document. This is actually doing the minimum. The challenging and important work is being part of the search for what is next in sacred music. I don't mean the next Mass setting or the next song, I mean the next integration of serious music (which will necessarily grow from the Church's treasury) into serious worship. There is not much of this happening now.
  • Spot on, MBW - You understand completely!
    Actually, when I wrote 'Everything...has affect', I started to say '...has affect, even that bar of soap next to your lavatory', but excised it because it seemed unseemly. But your comments are very true, and it is a genuine task to bring people to this spiritual awareness and import of everything and everyone in their lives. I think that one isn't really 'alive' absent such awareness. Everything is alive in some manner or another. It is we ourselves who give them meaning. The entire universe and all within it would make no sense, would be meaningless (and, perhaps, non-existent!) but for we ourselves who alone are sentient of our existence, for whom it was made, who witness and comprehend it, we who are created and chosen by God that we might know his splendour in all things, in our arts, in one another, and in Himself.
    Thanked by 3MBW CHGiffen bhcordova
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,509
    Actually, when I wrote 'Everything...has affect', I started to say '...has affect, even that bar of soap next to your lavatory', but excised it because it seemed unseemly.


    You still use bar soap? How utterly gauche!

    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    This is one of the central ideas that I have been trying to explain to Catholic priests and liturgy committees for many years. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful.


    Ditto, even in the "small ways", e.g., utilization of the solo organ during Lent
  • Ted
    Posts: 147
    Mr Osborn: "It is we ourselves who give them meaning."
    This is where I have to disagree with you, and I believe this is the source of the relativism that plagues our civilisation.
    The true meaning is there whether or not a person apprehends it. Let me explain.
    You are talking about affectivity of everything and how it somehow relates to meaning. But that is to reduce the world to feelings, to personal feelings which somehow produce meaning. In modern philosophy it was at one point popular to talk about values, that everything has value. The problem was how to address the seeming relativity of values. Some, such as Max Scheler, tried to show the relativity is in the apprehension of values, how society conditions our apprehension of real objective values. From a Christian perspective, those values are real and God-given.
    The ancients looked at the issue differently. Aquinas showed the metaphysical link of everything to God, where every-thing is related to God's esse (being). Everything has being to the extent that it exists according to its essence. Essence is real and related to the Divine Ideas in God's mind. In other words, there are objective values and meanings in the World, coming from God.
    Similar things could be said about music, and have been, for instance during the Middle Ages and before. It is our civilisation that mistakes apprehension of meaning with the meaning, the apprehension of musical meaning with the "meaning in" the music. Ratzinger pointed this out with the example of using sensuous music in the liturgy, that it is wrong to do so. That is to say, some music by its very nature is sensuous, whether or not some people apprehend that. To use sensuous music at Mass is a perversion; yes, perversion happens.
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  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    That is to say, some music by its very nature is sensuous, whether or not some people apprehend that.


    Ted - can you explain how we know anything except through our senses? If we can only know through the senses, is not everything "sensual". Or, if we have to pick and choose from our sensory experiences which are good and which are bad, on whose authority do we choose?

    Our own personal individual authority?
    The authority of someone else-a friend, academia, a hierarchy?

    Or is it actually a bit more complicated? Perhaps we have individual consciences and the responsibility to struggle with various sources of authority. In the end, we are responsible for our choices as individuals before God.
  • Ted
    Posts: 147
    Ratzinger's remark was in regards to music such as "rock n' roll" which is meant to only stimulate the senses in a crude manner, and not the mind for instance. Music for the Mass is meant to uplift the soul to God, particularly in regards to the Holy Text it accompanies.
    The problem of Good and Evil has centuries upon centuries of thought behind it, an issue that can be addressed philosophically, theologically, and, as very much today, politically.
    In the sphere of the arts, beauty is no longer a factor of concern because it connotes truth, and, as Pilate asked "What is truth?" The world of art today is filled with Pilates, not being concerned with is such a thing as truth other than what they "feel" it is for themselves as a feeling of satisfaction. In the sphere of music, there is no longer any thought of truth given either, even if it confronts but is then rejected by the Pilates. The main, if only authority, today is the Me, the self, as to what constitutes the basis of right judgement.
    We are responsible for our choices, but as Christians the choices are those based on truth, whether revealed or properly reasoned. The choices are between, good or evil, truth or falsity, God or nothing. That is quite an "Either-Or" as Kierkegaard pointed out. So the first concern is for the truth, even in music and the arts, and not just posit relativistic feelings as the only answer to satisfy the Me.

    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • "The days of a common musical heritage are gone, probably for good. We need to break open the treasury of sacred music and share it with the world."

    Why is this? When did we move away from common, recognizable elements in sacred
    music that listeners could relate to? In most
    of the modern sacred music I'm sadly exposed to on a weekly basis, almost none
    of these things are present. The music is bland, empty, devoid of almost any affect.
    (Think: Haugen's psalm settings. Yawn. And I have to hear one every.single.week). Someone mentioned that we're no longer concerned with truth but only about how the music makes us "feel". Even that is gone! This music doesn't make me feel anything, except maybe discouraged.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Why is this? When did we move away from common, recognizable elements in sacred
    music that listeners could relate to?


    FideminFidebus, Yours is a good and crucial question. I answer it like this: when societies were more separate, they could generate and nurture distinctive musical traditions. Now, with all cultures melting into one another (not without great strife, unfortunately), all traditions, including music, are changing. I don't think there is any stopping this process. It has always been there. Think of all the Middle Eastern influence on Western European music through the centuries. The process is so much faster now. There will be much pain and loss as things change. There will also be challenge, excitement, and even musical ecstasy as new cultural pieces fall into place.

    In our fermenting present, we are indeed faced with cultural expressions which are difficult to appreciate. Some, like you and me, find the neo-folk style bland. Some, like some youngsters I was teaching today, find psalm tones bland. Some, (pace, Francis) don't even like Mozart!

    Like it or not, we are always moving into something new. My aspiration is to weave the old (the traits of the sacred treasury) with the new. I hope many others try this and perhaps we can have another Bach-like synthesis. This would be far better than being a flock of Telemanns (whose conservative compositions were prized much more highly than Bach's in their day).
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Ratzinger's remark was in regards to music such as "rock n' roll" which is meant to only stimulate the senses in a crude manner, and not the mind for instance.


    In my opinion, Rock has much more far reaching objectives and accomplishments. It is true that it is fueled by adolescent energy and thus has a lot to do with sex, relationships and rejection of authority. It deals with these topics in an astonishingly wide variety of forms and affects. It very often includes vocal, instrumental and choral virtuosity.

    I am not saying that I think it is the ideal music for our current liturgy. I am saying that it may well behoove us to understand and appreciate more of the great clouds of music that surround us, and judiciously employ aspects of that music in the conception and composition of new sacred music. And we desperately need new sacred music, not because there is anything inherently wrong with chant and polyphony, but because we are still alive and we are creative beings.

    So the first concern is for the truth, even in music and the arts, and not just posit relativistic feelings as the only answer to satisfy the Me.


    Musical truth? Western European? South Asian? African? I'm afraid it is culturally provincial to suppose that only chant and polyphony and their close derivatives constitute truth. We do not any longer have it that easy!
    Thanked by 2Vilyanor CHGiffen
  • Ted
    Posts: 147
    We certainly do not have it that easy, particularly in a society that no longer seeks after The Truth, as it were, particularly in the arts (eg music). The point is to realise that the World as a creation of God contains truth about God. People create things, but are meant to co-operate with God in their creations so as to realise His plan for creation. He will even allow people to create evil things as a respect of their moral freedom, of their dignity.
    As for provincialism, Church documents do highlight the Gregorian chant paradigm as most suitable for the Latin liturgy. Once one understands what this chant paradigm is, and I don't think it has generally been taken seriously in our age, it does not exclude African, Asian, or other musical idioms. Again, the issue is musical truth, not musical taste.

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,509
    I see that as not completely about "truth" but another factor. If one goes back in time, sacred music is what one finds. Chant based music has not died out. Closer to our own time Tournemire was writing compositions based on chant, and current composers such as Hamilton are doing the same. Examples of early secular music did not survive in any great quantity and "church" music did.

    It seems to me the divide between sacred and secular music had more to do with the dominance of secular music in our day. Back to one of my professors who talked often of the "rise of the concert hall." He also talked about music moving from the aristocratic drawing rooms to the stage for the rising middle class. All factors, I am sure, in the current dominance of secular music. For composers trying to make a living from their art, the money is in the secular world, not the church. It doesn't help that religion has become a thing most don't believe in. As an Episcopalian friend tells me, "I find the ritual comforting but I don't really believe any of it any more."
    Thanked by 1MBW
  • Ted
    Posts: 147
    CharlesW:
    Like so many of the elements of our civilisation, the origin of music was religious, for instance, as in the myth of the Muses. Music and religious ceremony went hand in hand and in no other way, and still do in some cultures. Yet so many of these elements have found new homes apart from religion in our society. It is interesting how over the ages, people want things for themselves, taking them away from the divine. Think of those beautiful polyphonic harmonies discovered in the middle ages now applied to all sorts of godless music.
    Yet in doing so, don't some things still remain sacred but in a godless way? Music preference sets apart, defines people, particularly young people. That music becomes sacred to them, setting them apart from others. The music idols that are the sources of their definitions are worshiped. If you want to completely tear apart a parish, start a disagreement on musical preferences. There is a lot of money involved in defining peoples' lives.
    But is truth considered in all of this? Is that lack of consideration why musical wars break out? A ritual that is comforting but does not uplift the soul to embrace the mysteries has failed. Liturgical music that does not do so is a failure. Godless music used for the liturgy will be a failure, and yet is that not what is preferred in many parishes?



  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    A ritual that is comforting but does not uplift the soul to embrace the mysteries has failed. Liturgical music that does not do so is a failure. Godless music used for the liturgy will be a failure.


    True dat. I would also suggest that TEXT MATTERS! Ratzinger was very clear about this in his 'Word/word' remarks at Vienna in 1985. For the Truth in music, first find the Truth in text.