I found this great channel on accompanying Gregorian chant on the organ.
  • Gedackt
    Posts: 1
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nzmgTrDLjDU

    I don’t know the opinion of accompanying Gregorian chant here, but it seems like this guy has a lot of respect for the chant and tries to avoid traditional harmonic progressions, modern styles, et cetera to preserve the church modes.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,778
    In general, I will wager that vocalists who lead or sing chant prefer a cappella and will tend not to want organ, and organists will tend toward accompaniment, although this is by far not a hard fast rule.

    I like both, and have employed both. Chant, in its simplest form, of course, is unaccompanied, and IF you have an acoustic that has a good reverb, it can be the best. (good luck with those 'churches' that are glorified carpeted living rooms.)

    Also, if you are leading a congregation in a large church, it is almost necessary to give a foundation of accompaniment with an 8 foot flute or principal. I had this experience a couple of years ago where I was the DoM and the church was 1/2 a city block long and because of the time lag, I used the organ to keep them all together. They sang four of the Ordinaries from the GR throughout the year.

    The organ must be used as a foundation, and I highly dislike and discourage the use of anything but an 8' pipe and in some cases an added 4'.

    I don't agree that through composed accompaniments can stifle the chant... it just has to be well composed and you must FOLLOW and LEAD at the same time. You (the organist) will find it helpful to be chanting along in your mind, or even out loud, to keep the natural sense of rhythm). The group of chanters, be it cong. or schola, have their own pulse once they are 'into' it. It is truly an art that comes from experience only.

    Look up the NOH... I like those arrangements in general although sometimes they are perplexing in spots.

    This video reminds me of the style of the monks of Fontgombault... very basic but ethereal and extremely effective, and respectful of the voice being primary.
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  • thanks for sharing this.

    what IS that piece he begins with? One of the comments requested it, but I didn't see a reply. Anyone?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,498
    The snippet before Kyrie Cum jubilo is BWV 577
  • thank you! This forum is amazing.
  • Glad you find the videos useful. Francis is right - I was trained more or less in the Fontgombault style of simple, complementary accompaniment which doesn't detract from the vocal aspects. Of course, there are plenty of varying opinions about this. But since no one else was really talking about it on YouTube, I figured I might as well get something out there to encourage organists to think about chant accompaniment as its own discipline separate from other accompaniment tasks. And one of these days, I'll put together a video about how working on chant accompaniment in this style is subconsciously training you to improvise on chant melodies and modes...


    Richard is right - the piece at the beginning was the opening of Bach's Gigue Fugue, 577. Fun piece to play, and a good workout when the pedal lines come in!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,778
    Yes, that Bach piece is a blast to play. Learned that when I was 18.
  • Ted
    Posts: 139
    The problem with accompanying chant is that most real organs use equal temperament tuning, so the notes always sound out of tune compared to singing with natural intervals with its perfect fifths, as the human voice tends to do. The various Pythagorean based temperaments on digital organs are very useful here, but still, that Si, whether natural or flat, differs in intervallic distance from the Do or La today to that of the Middle Ages. The distance between Si natural and Do, or La and Si flat was much smaller in the Middle Ages than it is today.
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 792
    Ted: as I am an untrained occasional cantor, can you clarify for me. In the tone III formula for the doxology (GR p823), the phrase 'Sicut erat ..' would have begun closer to the end of the preceding 'Sancto' than a modern keyboard would sound?
  • This is an enlightening (and fun!) introduction to tuning/temperament concepts (aimed toward polyphony, but the concepts apply universally): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R75unSXKJXQ
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  • Part 2: https://youtu.be/nLa7GOKGMaQ

    And since this Elam fellow makes such great videos, this is worth a watch as well on the modes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyq48eybjZw
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen a_f_hawkins