Discouraged/banned music
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    I am trying to find some simple examples to play for a small group with no background in music to give them an idea of what is/was considered (in)appropriate liturgical music in past centuries. So, for instance, a bit of a 'theatrical' Mass setting; a bit of polyphony that would have been discouraged by the Council of Trent (compared to a form that was considered appropriate); and so on. I want to show that this is an old issue, and that even some kinds of music we might generically thing of as 'very good' or even 'sacred' are still not appropriate to the liturgy, either because they make the text unintelligible or (more often) because they turn the music into a show.

    Does anyone know of any medieval examples??

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    I browsed the forum but besides some discussion of Mozart and modern pop music didn't find anything else that named specific composers or pieces I could use to show them.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 141
    Palestrina - Song of Songs?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    Ah, that leads to a nice rabbit hole. Would this have been sung (inappropriately) during the Mass? If so, do you know where or when (ie after Communion, during the Offertory, etc.)?
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 102
    The Palestrina settings of the Song of Songs should not have been sung in the liturgy. The texts for the offertory and communion were set. Palestrina, himself. seems to have recognized that they were not entirely appropriate for church.
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  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 141
    Palestrina obviously knew they should stay out of the liturgy.

    Nonetheless, it's an ideal example in my mind because it's not obviously worldly (like a madrigal), it takes words from the Bible in Latin, and it's in a Renaissance style--qualities that any layperson would assume makes it suitable for the liturgy--yet it isn't.

    I can't think of any Masses that have stuck around in popular use which are a parody or paraphrase of inappropriately secular material (unless you count the billion "Misse L'Homme Arme")
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  • oldhymnsoldhymns
    Posts: 111
    You might want to consult the Motu Proprio of Pope Pius X on Sacred Music, issued on November 22, 1903. In this document, many factors are included as to the appropriateness/inappropriateness of Catholic Church music, Masses in particular. The musical value of Masses by Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, G. Rossini, von Weber, et al would not be questioned; however, their unsuitability for liturgical functions, according to the principles of the Motu Proprio, becomes obvious as one references the document. Many of these works have, for example, a large number of repetitions and an operatic style that are secular, rather than devotional, in style.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,565
    I'd be afraid they'd just draw the conclusion that the church can't make up its mind. Eslava's 1854 organ method gives some pretty hilarious examples of cadences to avoid, on page 25.
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  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 255
    "Thoughts? Suggestions?" Don't do it.
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  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    @oldhymns, yes those I am aware of. The older repertory I'm less familiar with. Funny: I grew up playing classical music, but always in a secular context (recitals, concerts, etc.). One day many decades later (after converting) I went to a Mass in which the music was Mozart's famous Requiem. I think my mouth hung open the entire time. It had never dawned on me that all those "Masses" I'd heard or we played in orchestra were anything to do with MASS. It literally had never clicked. I loved it. But I do think it is not prayerful - too stimulating to the senses, too overwhelming of the subtlety of the ceremony, distracting.

    I find some Renaissance polyphony too noisy, too complex and hard to listen to, too, actually. Like everyone talking at once over the dinner table? Shhhhhhhhh.

    @RichardMix (and igneus), I think we (people in the group I'll be giving the talk to) all are well aware of that - most of us assist in home parishes during the week where the musical choices are very poor; and on weekends most assist at EF Masses or reverently celebrated OF Masses and are learning the basics Gregorian chant. The idea is to give an overview of why we want to throw our hearts into learning chant, despite what our friends and neighbors back in our parishes might say; and why we musn't despair, because the Church has always struggled with these problems. Ongoing messiness seems to be part of the human condition. God's mercy is all the more evident given how shabbily we treat Him.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,286
    A type of polyphony that would have been deemed unsuitable by the Council of Trent would include polytextual motets: works in which two or three independent texts are sung simultaneously, making it difficult to understand some or all of the text:

    Examples:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWrIPh8Owho
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPjCkgRY290
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,286
    In 1922, the Society of St. Gregory, a precursor of CMAA, published a list of music considered not in keeping with the liturgical ideals expressed in papal teaching: that is, in Pope Pius X's document "Tra le sollecitudini", which encouraged chant and discouraged music that imitated theatrical styles.

    Here's the list: https://media.musicasacra.com/pdf/blacklist.pdf

    Some great composers' works were respected, but still deemed unsuitable for use in the liturgy, although they would still be suitable for concert performance: Verdi, Mozart, Rossini.

    Some popular devotional hymns appear on the list: "Mother dearest, mother fairest", "Good night, sweet Jesus", "Mother dear, O pray for me". They might be acceptable for use in novena services or other non-liturgical occasions, but not in the Mass. The critique of such songs would probably be based on their musical style, which was considered to resemble sentimental popular songs of the time. If the tune sounds like it could segue right into "I'll take you home again, Kathleen", the style is too theatrical, hence worldly.

    A present-day analogy would involve songs that sound as though they could be theme songs for TV shows, commercial jingles, or songs from musical theater.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,565
    I somehow doubt the Council of Trent knew the Montpellier or the Ars Nova repertoires. It did express itself clearly on abolishing the bulk of the Gregorian Sequence repertory and music for 'pleasure only', and called for intelligibility of texts without specifying how this should be achieved and without going as far as Thomas Cranmer's "for every syllable a note".
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,198
    @Richard Mix

    Which canon of the Council of Trent abolished Sequences?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,565
    Touché, Tomjaw; the Gradual didn't come out until 1570.

    New Grove, I've discovered, has an article by J. Dyer on "Roman Catholic Church music". Gounod gets less space than you might expect; a surprise for me was that the Medici Gradual only became an official book in the 19c.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,565
    I'm playing advocatus diaboli but you might look at Coppini's contrafacta, surely thought appropriate by enough customers to guarantee a print run. One can't really say its sole purpose is pleasure, nor fault the text declamation even if the believer's gratitude for Christ's wounds was originally Dorinda's relief at finally having her love requited.
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  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 102
    Although it is technically inappropriate, I would love to sing the Gloria from the Haydn Klein Orgel Mass. It does make a joyful noise. And given that we have a bishop that likes the trains to run on time, its 50 second duration may make a point.
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,286
    In 2009 we performed that Haydn Mass at the Colloquium in Chicago, with an extended version of the Gloria, modified to use the full text.
    http://music.dierschow.com/2009Colloquium/26Mass/Gloria.mp3
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  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    Currently listening to "I'll take you home again, Kathleen", Johnny Cash version.
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  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    The polytextual motets (above) are just bizarre. Were they trying to save time in Mass by singing everything at once, or was it an exercise in musical cleverness?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,286
    I'd call it an exuberance of devotion: singing one text at a time just wasn't enough.
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  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,512
    If the priest is responsible for the Gloria text
    then whatever the choir does at the moment is soundtrack
    therefore it might be nice to end the music when the scene changes.
  • It's possible that it was demonstrating the medieval practice of having more than one level of narrative going at the same time. When we think of Protestant writings, they're usually not subtle or multilayered. Catholic writers (like Shakespeare), on the other hand, have subtle word play, and multiple layers of work going on at once.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,083
    ...(like Shakespeare)...
    Is it now a certainty, rather than speculation, that the Bard was Catholic?
    Too, while admiring your zeal, I question your veracity: can one really maintain that being Catholic endowed writers, sui generis, with the capacity to compose multi-layered thought and that being Protestant meant that such endowments were ipso facto absent? This assertion is, I think, highly debatable - to say the least. Edmund Spencer, for one, comes to mind. Then, there is the layered mystical imagery in much hymnody of the late Renaissance and Baroque eras, both Catholic and Lutheran. The hymns of Paul Gerhardt and Johann Franck come to mind.
  • Jackson,

    All the evidence I've seen points clearly to the conclusion that the Bard was Catholic. His works, themselves, are persuasive on this point, but there's no shortage of evidence.


    As to the comment about Protestantism, yes, since Protestantism is a religion of subtraction, a religion of Sola Scriptura, I think it is self-evident that those endowments are absent.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,368
    My website Catholic Romantic Music has a multitude of examples in score form, though I have very few media links. (One occasionally finds YouTubes from choirs in Asia, which seems to be where old Masses go to die.) Most of the performed examples are not egregious (Nobody has taken on Gilsinn's Grand Italian Mass, in which various bits of the bel canto opera repertoire get contrafacted.) There are a fair number of youtubes of La Hache whom Montani blacklisted. A good way to approach this would be to look at the Society of St. Gregory's Black List and chase down recordings. Even then, there are issues: Kalliwoda's music got blacklisted, but there are some a capella Masses discovered after Montani's time which are quite appropriate.

    You can't legislate taste, and Mother Church is loath to legislate anything that doesn't have to be legislated.
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  • CatherineS
    Posts: 78
    Really interesting to see the 'creative' examples from other times! I'm not sure if I find the sappy early-20th-century hymns more or less annoying than today's propensity for electric guitar and drums. At least the sappy stuff is gentle enough to allow one to meditate privately and doesn't encourage jumping up and down waving ones arms in the air, which seems to me to go into that territory of 'contrafacta', where even if the words are pious, the kind of music being used is the same as music intended to encourage near occasions of sin. But I'm old. Were I a yooth, I would find myself intolerable.
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  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 253
    What about the hocket? a kind of hiccup effect used by medieval church musicians. Try googling:
    PDF Pope John XXII, Docta sanctorum patrum - Cengage
    to find out what Pope John XXII (in office1316-1334) had to say about it. Here are a couple of examples (hope this works)

    image
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