Transfer of Modes
  • Mark
    Posts: 1
    I have a technical question concerning two of the "propers" as part of the Psalm chants involved with the Traditional Latin Mass. Having struggled over the years deciphering and interpreting the Liber Usualis, edited by the Benedictines of Solesmes, my quandary is how the pitch transferred over from the Gradual to the Alleluia/Tract. In the Mass, one immediately follows the other. If, for example, the Gradual is in the 5th Mode (as many of them were written), the finale would end a fifth below "doh". As the mode for the proceeding Alleluia changes, where does the pitch for "doh" go? If the Alleluia is written perhaps in the 2nd or 3rd Mode, does the pitch for "doh" remain the same? If so, then the cantor must transfer the beginning neum for the Alleluia to musically satisfy the continuity coming from the Gradual. Even though confusing and difficult to chant, it makes sense to the musical ear. Or is the pitch determined at the cantor's discretion, thereby having no regard for the preceding "proper" from a musical sense?
  • "Or is the pitch determined at the cantor's discretion, thereby having no regard for the preceding "proper" from a musical sense?"

    Yes.

    Even though one piece follows the other immediately, they are two separate pieces of music. In many cases establishing a sing "Do" for the two wold put one or the other out of the singer's range.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Has anyone thought about starting pitches across the entire Mass, such that, taken together, they constitute a coherent musical idea? A kind of cantus firmus underlying the entire thing?

    Is this worth considering?
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    "Has anyone thought about starting pitches across the entire Mass, such that, taken together, they constitute a coherent musical idea?"

    I think, (I may be remembering incorrectly,) that Dr Ed Shaefer (sp?) talked about this in a lecture at Mundelein, (sp?) but sorry, the details escape me, (at that time for me, noting the fine points of using the chant for an entire Mass would have been like noting the asking price of a yacht at the Boat Show...) (O Me of little faith)

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I had asked this question before, but the consensus seemed to be that it wasn't important. I would suggest that, if possible, the do note could be retained. But primarily you should think of the abilities of your singers, secondarily of the nature of the chant, and finally consider how to create unifying pitch elements if desired. We have this fantastic thing (ok, I hate it) called equal temperament. It means you can start on whatever pitch you like.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Plus, organs have a "transpose" button. Cheaters.
  • We try to keep do prettcy consistent throughout a Mass, but the changes in mode sometimes force us to transpose from a different pitch. Also, that change of tonal center can be effective in changing the mood of a chant. I will, on occasion, let a chant sing a little higher when a joyous text is set or lower for a penitential one.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    If you watch the Mass by FSSP filmed by Jack Cashill in Kansas City with Fr. Bisig and sung by Fr. Peter Gee, Fr. Berger, and someone else, you see an interesting thing. The name of the video....I think it is called TRADITION

    Fr. M. Berger is an AMAZING chanter (as is Fr. Gee), but he screws up the intonation of the Alleluia (sings a diminished chord instead of DO RE FA)

    That proves that even the pro's can miss this difficult transition. I suggest you take a slight pause between the two chants.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Right, do at least pause for 3-5 seconds. More if you can get away with it. If you use a short organ intonation to help you establish pitch (and I hope you do!) I recommend a modulation to the new key very briefly.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I try to keep consecutive chants within one of the three major hexachords (Do, Fa, and Sol) whenever possible. From the Sanctus to the Our Father, I use the Fa hexachord (or you could think of it as C-do with a ti-flat). I think this does help the congregation and choir alike, especially since the priest does not usually sing "Deliver us, Lord..."

    Sometimes rather than keeping the same compass of notes, it's easier to keep the same pitch class for the final (e.g. a E-sol becomes an E-re). For instance, I'll start the Agnus on either F or G depending on where we've decided to pitch the Communio, even if they are not in the same mode. I'll often coordinate the entrance with the key or final of the prelude, and any organ music to follow the communion with the Communio. Is any of this necessary? No, but I do think we feel it, whether we realize it or not.