There isn't a preferred music for the Roman rite
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 756
    What can be said pro or con to this assertion: there isn't a preferred music for the Roman rite because its primary characteristic as Roman is its adaptability to various cultures ?

    One possible pro: just as the Roman Empire introduced its law to many cultures, the Roman Church adapts its liturgy to many cultures. The first step toward inculturating liturgical music would be the use of the vernacular in chants. After that, it can go any way depending on the particular culture.

    One possible con: as the Roman use was spread into various places, precisely its Romanness was imitated and "inculturated" , producing in the case of the Franks, Gregorian chant; and in the long later history, nothing else has taken precedence.

    But...

    But...

    Discuss.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    What was all that foofaffierie written by all those Popes about "Gregorian Chant and polyphony"?
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 109
    At least when it comes to Gregorian chant, I would argue that its "inapplicability" to multiple cultures is a benefit more than anything. It both allows for a universal musical language of the Church and a clear detachment from anything secular.

    To this list of "preferred-by-default" music I would add all of the composers who were influenced heavily by, or based their music directly on, chant: Durufle, Schroeder, Bach and his contemporaries in the North German school (albeit Luther's modified versions of chant melodies), Brahms (organ works), Franck and some of his students, Bruckner, and the great 16th-century polyphonists. Although they utilized elements from their time, they were all solidly rooted in the Church's music as their foundation.

    There is as little of an issue with a 21st-century Asian, African, or popular North American composer building their church music on chant, as there is as much of an issue with using Verdi's Requiem, K-pop, or a psalm tone accompanied by African drumming/ a taiko ensemble in Mass.

    I view the people pushing the "multicultural music" angle as merely using the idea of "multiculturalism" to push their preferred secular music into the Church and/or to attack Gregorian and Gregorian-derived music. It's nothing more than a red herring.

    Where this gets dicey is music such as Mozart's Masses where, although there is a clear religious spirit, there is undeniable evidence of musical language lifted directly from secular compositions. That is where the debate should be held, in my mind.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    GC, and polyphony (of course in the mother tongue) along with the pipe organ will, i believe, always be the norm from which everything else is a departure.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    At least when it comes to Gregorian chant, I would argue that its "inapplicability" to multiple cultures is a benefit more than anything. It both allows for a universal musical language of the Church and a clear detachment from anything secular.

    I view the people pushing the "multicultural music" angle as merely using the idea of "multiculturalism" to push their preferred secular music into the Church and/or to attack Gregorian and Gregorian-derived music. It's nothing more than a red herring.

    Where this gets dicey is music such as Mozart's Masses where, although there is a clear religious spirit, there is undeniable evidence of musical language lifted directly from secular compositions. That is where the debate should be held, in my mind.
    very clear and astute observations that rise above the PC
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,010
    There isn't...
    There is so!

    The Church, in councils, from the mouths and pens of popes, and in centuries of practice as demonstrated and insisted upon, has stressed again and again that Gregorian chant and fine choral works are most suitable and most desired for the Roman rite. That this music should be considered 'normative' (in the technical sense) is beyond question.

    For several millenia there was no question or conception of anything else, Nothing else existed or was 'thinkable'. That a wide variety of music by men and women who churn out poor music, pop-music, rock-music, and a faux 'folk' idiom has now become widespread in the Roman rite does nothing to speak to its desirability or its having a preferred status. That such a musical chaos has become commonplace is due entirely to a spirit of iconoclasm following in the wake of the Second Vatican Council - a chaos, it would seem, that was permitted, if not purposefully cultivated, by a priesthood and prelacy (not to mention a certain ilk of men and women) bent on the deliberate destruction of a ritual praxis which, in their minds, was thought to be archaic and senseless in a world grown numb to beauty and tradition, and at enmity with an aesthesis expressive of the Numinous and All-Holy aspects of the Godhead, while at the same time emphasising an exaggerated emphasis on the incarnate nature of Christ, as opposed to the ineffable and eternal Godhood of Christ, Jesus as God the Son, only begotten of the Father, from of everlasting. Such sickness found its expression in music inspired by street music and a variety of secularly-inspired genres. Its existence says nothing as to its desirability, let alone its being ontologically preferrenced.

    Using music that is not Gregorian chant, that is not fine choral art, that emphasises secular pop-instruments at the expense of the organ, is like unto the wedding guest who came to the wedding not wearing a wedding garment. And yes, music is a garment, a garment of the soul. Just as there is appropriate costume for a variety of occasions in our lives, there is appropriate, and preferential, musical costume for Christian worship.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    music is a garment, a garment of the soul. Just as there is appropriate costume for a variety of occasions in our lives, there is appropriate, and preferential, musical costume for Christian worship.


    Nice analogy!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    If you don't own it... get it.

    wow... i cannot believe that this is hard to find on google... but then again... i TOTALLY believe it... it is the be all end all scholarly definition of what sacred music IS...

    "Papal Legislation on Sacred Music". The Author is Robert F. Hayburn, Mus.D.

    article on NLM

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2006/03/book-review-papal-legislation-on.html#.W1-zMdhKjUI
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen eft94530
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,010
    I have it.
    It is an invaluable resource.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    I've read it. Boring; the Popes say the same thing over and over and over and.....

    And the Bishops and priests ignore the Popes over and over and over and over....
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    dad29

    Yes, but "the Popes SAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER..." !

    that is THE POINT!

    The church has been very clear about its directives on sacred music, but we all like sheep keep going astray... over and over and over.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,010
    ...like sheep keep going...
    Alas!
    Some who would not go astray are required so to do - lest they get fired and go hungry.
    They can even get fired just for mentioning the 'right way'.
    What was that notorious refrain at the trials of a certain military caste of a certain country languishing under a certain dictator in a certain war of the last century - 'I was just following orders'?
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  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    MJO... been there... done that...
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,178
    Yes, but "the Popes SAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER..."


    But have they led by example... What was the Papal liturgy like? What was going on in Rome / Italy ?
    AND how does a century of regular changes to the music help?

    I was just following orders'?
    This is rather sad, if you did not follow orders you would be executed, and if you did follow orders you would be executed after war crime trials...
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,010
    True, tomjaw - however, the issue of conscience enters in when a person knows right from wrong, yet knows that he will be shot for not following orders, but whose conscience requires him not to follow them and he pays the penalty, as some saintly few did. Then there were those who gladly followed orders and at their trials were defiantly unrepentant to the bitter end.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,207
    Some who would not go astray are required so to do - lest they get fired and go hungry.


    This has actually happened to friends of mine, and to others who were not friends, as well.

    What was the Papal liturgy like? What was going on in Rome...


    Looking to Rome for guidance is not always wise. Various popes have had widely different practices as far as liturgical music goes. I don't mean what they said, but what they did. Some have talked a good game and followed little of what they preached.

  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,498
    purple=MAYBE

    Maybe every parish has a pope.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 264
    Just curious, do not ALL clergy from Deacon to Cardinal, take an oath of obedience to the Popes and to uphold the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church? IF so, why are there seemingly no absolute uniform world-wide consequences for clergy who disobey? Is not the Church an "absolute" in its rules, regulations and rubrics? Employees are dismissed all the time, right or wrong. Why not then cleric? Indeed, it seems every parish does have its own "pope."
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,010
    Maybe every parish has a pope.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 628
    Back to the OP, if you read the GIRM you will find a preferred music spelled out in black & white.
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 109
    It's not like the GIRM is meant to generally apply to every parish, regardless of what nation or situation it's in. That'd be silly!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 871
    But the preferred Gregorian chant goes with the Latin language. When we move to the vernacular we may need a modified approach, Anglican chant, for instance.
    I could argue that the lack of development is also political, first a period when the Roman church was just in and around the Holy Roman Empire. And then when the colonial expansion carried it round the world there was the (neccessary) rigidity of the counter-reformation. The christian expansion into the Slav lands was, with the blessing of popes, accompanied by a different language and a different chant style.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,392
    The statement is more accurate if it's *descriptive* - given a choice, I believe "No Music" would be preferred by the PIPs over any other musical choice....
  • NihilNominis
    Posts: 274
    I have a practical argument.

    There is only one musical language in which I can sit down with the near-prosody of an inculturated, vernacular Psalm translation or Proper and, without significant mental gymnastics, write anything from a formulaic, recitative setting, to an elaborated, through-composed, and embellished setting that is durable, singable, and beautiful.

    That language is plainsong. Yes, adaptations may be helpful in various vernaculars, but the musical language itself is robust.

    The liturgical texts are what they are. If they are to be set to music, the musical vocabulary that most readily receives them is plainsong.

    Any music under discussion that does not set or attempt to set the texts of the Rite itself, seems to me to fall short of the descriptor, "music of the Roman Rite."
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 756
    The one whose words I quoted would say, indeed said, that vernacular chant was the first step, and then as the liturgical text is "inculturated" under the guidance of the local Church and bishop, further musical adoption according to the culture goes along with it. Plainsong (and polyphony) therefore cannot be a goal. In an established cultural setting (ahem, English Canada) it would be unnecessary to move away from accessible "cultural" music and towards Gregorian chant or vernacular chant. And quite wrong to push or insist, for there are no grounds to prefer the latter.
  • NihilNominis
    Posts: 274
    Andrew,

    I wonder if his idea of "musical adaptation" includes also the alteration of texts to bring them into conformity with the demands of setting them prevailing musical styles?
  • OraLabora
    Posts: 118
    Well admittedly my history of Gregorian chant is a bit shaky but:

    For several millenia there was no question or conception of anything else, Nothing else existed or was 'thinkable'.


    Several millennia? Well, maybe one millenium give or take a couple of hundred years. Gregorian chant is a modernist (couldn't resist sneaking in that word!) 10th century or thereabouts invention that grew out of many influences such as Old Roman and Gallican chant to name a couple.

    Then it sort of went into a slow decline, until revived by Solesmes in the late 19th century.

    One could almost say that what has pride of place in the Church is Solesmes chant, or rather the Solesmes interpretation of Gregorian chant. And I say that as a practitioner of it and as oblate of a monastery of the Solesmes Congregation.

    I still prefer it though, to anything else out there at the moment.

    Ora
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    many influences such as Old Roman and Gallican chant to name a couple


    Some scholars have traced Chant roots to Jewish temple-chants. Gregory the Great lived before the year 900 AD. So it's not really "10th Century" material, and Solesmes is not relevant to that discussion.

    However, it IS relevant to interpretation.

    Chant was dying for a few reasons, one of which was the horrible, terrible, awful renditions by many church choirs. Another was the demise of the Solemn High Mass, or even the Missa Cantata, due to large numbers of Catholics and small numbers of parking spaces.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,207
    Scholars often speculate based on what they do know, but the speculations can be totally inaccurate. In other words, sometimes they overreach. Gregory the Great might not even recognize what is called chant today. I suspect he wouldn't.
  • Carol
    Posts: 282
    So given the above conversation, why did I just see a televised "prayer service for altar servers with the Pope" which had dreadful contemporary music? I am not really a purist, but I know good music when I hear it and this was sing-songy drivel! I couldn't bear to watch too much of it, so maybe I missed the Gregorian chant or any other type of traditional music. But given the overall tone, I doubt it.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Yes, several millenia!

    I shall qualify my assertion as to 'several millenia'. What I had in mind when I wrote that was that there was so-called 'Gregorian' chant in various dialects, and various states of purity and degeneracy from its precursors in Jewish temple and the early church up until fairly modern times. No other musical language was used or thought of in Christian worship until after the Second Vatican Council. I will qualify this assertion even further, namely, to take note of the development of organum (which very likely was a much earlier development than is ordinarily thought) and sacred polyphony. It is worthy of note that these last named developments, though they were not profane music, yet were met with various degrees of contempt and indignation by many churchmen and a few popes, bishops, and saints (St Aelred of Reivaulx, for one).

    Of course, there were 'secular' genres throughout these millenia, but their likeness did not influence the ritual music of the Church - unless, of course, one wishes to point out the use of hocket and such, late mediaeval encrustations onto chant, such as motet and clausula, and late mediaeval-early renaissance parody masses, followed by the operatic masses of the baroque era. It is notable that not a few churchmen railed against these idioms' invasion of sacred precincts. Still, it was chant, in one state of abuse or another, that remained the ritual music of the Church, and remained the root from which all western music grew.

    In all the above there is no street music, field music, tavern music, or other popular genres making their presence felt within hallowed walls. There remained a clear distinction between the Church's ritual musical genres and those of the profane world. This music was for two millenia plainsong complemented by the finest of choral and organ musical craftsmanship of the day.

    The post-Vatican Two era is unique in the Church's history in being an age in which bald adaptations of street music and popular idioms were dragged, unvarnished, into the worship of the Church, all but displacing the historic ritual chant and choral music. The intense rivalry between musical idioms which we are experiencing today would not have been possible, nay, would have been undreamed of, and, therefore, literally unthinkable in past eras - because there existed a civilisational consensus (more, really, than consensus, more, I should think, like an intuitive grasp) as to what did and did not belong in church, what was and was not ritual music. That consensus was shattered by design in the wake of Vatican Two - in impious opposition to what the council directed - and preferred for the Roman rite.
    ________________________________________________

    Charles' comment above is probably correct. Scholarly speculations can be wide of the mark. However, they are undoubtledly nearer the mark than renditions which are not informed by scholarship. He is also correct in that Gregory the Great would likely not recognise most modern chant - certainly not that of the so-called (Old) Solesmes Method. He would likely come nearer to smiling upon the chant of Marcel Perez than the most precious 'Solesmes' chant at a CMAA colloquium. And, Charles is right in that we can never know exactly how chant (or any other music) sounded 'in its day'. But, the scholars inevitably will come closer to the mark than those who sneer at them.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw CharlesW francis
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 683
    I believe "No Music" would be preferred by the PIPs over any other musical choice

    And yet the idea of a Low Mass can set them off on a (mostly uninformed/unfamiliar) rant.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,207
    But, the scholars inevitably will come closer to the mark than those who sneer at them.


    We hope, but scholars have biases, too. I suspect that if we were to approach "authentic" chant, we would throw all our Solesmes books in the trash. Maybe Bach editions, too. His contemporaries mentioned his slow and stately organ playing but lively playing on other keyboards. Truthfully, we will never know, but at least we have the advantage of accounts by Bach contemporaries who actually heard him. Not so with St. Gregory.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,838
    [scholarly] Don't worry about the 'one authentic way to do it'. If you get hung up on that point you will just wind up staring at your belly button. Just sing the chant. God will most likely approve and Gregory will listen in with a smile at the genius of 'always old always new'. [/scholarly]
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 756
    Until you are told to stop because it isn't accessible to the faithful and they don't sing along.
    Thanked by 2bhcordova CharlesW
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    One could always take the advice of a very very very good musician who was Catholic: "Sing [Chant] as though it were MUSIC!" --Roger Wagner, KSCG.

    The more one sings and understands the classical canon of Western music, the more one understands how to sing Chant. The music illuminates (or illustrates) the text; it is the enfleshment around the bones of the text, and the text is The Word.
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,888
    Dad29, the problem with that is no one will let you try, because “it’s chant.”
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    Yes. "Chant" was batted down in my [territorial] parish, after only about 90 days of use (and only at a couple of Masses.) The pastor is trying to pay off a enormous debt--which he inherited--and he cannot afford to irritate the PIP's with money. Those PIP's think that Broadway tunes are the epitome of Western musical culture.

    Oh, well. I travel about 30 miles one-way to a parish which actually has SOME Chant.
  • Dad,

    How does the pastor manage to annoy people by using money?
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,207
    Unfortunately, dad's problem is quite common. He who has the gold makes the rules. My folks are not opposed to chant, but I do capitalize on the fact that many in the congregation don't really know music. Many don't know the fine distinctions between schools of music. They pick up on melody, "singability," for lack of a better word, and mood. It is possible to manipulate all those into an acceptable package, incorporating several schools of music.

    Where I think some musicians go wrong is going off the deep end on chant. The congregation probably doesn't really care what the church says or had said about music, that is, if they even suspect what the church has said. If I were to do chant exclusively, I would probably get a backlash. As part of a blend, no one objects.

    I am reminded of a story about a lady car wreck survivor with her leg in a cast in a hospital bed. All the while she was proclaiming loudly, "but I had the right of way." What good was it when she was the one in the hospital. She may have been right, but it was definitely a Pyrrhic victory. Some musicians are like this.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,498
    Chris, I thought I was clear. The moneyed parishioners use money as a weapon.

    And yes, Charles, *some* Chant is usually not a problem (we are speaking of OF here) for most PIPs. I don't think doing "all-Chant" for OF Masses is helpful, nor prudent. The only question is who dislikes it the most: the PIPs or the priest.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Charles,


    Just a pinch on incense to the emperor?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,207
    Just a pinch on incense to the emperor?


    Incense can serve several functions. It can be an act of worship, but it can also be used to mitigate unpleasant odors.
    Thanked by 3Carol igneus tomjaw
  • jcr
    Posts: 10
    A corrupted culture must produce a corrupt art. Anyone who doesn't believe that our culture has been corrupted isn't paying attention. The music performed in the worship of God ought to be very different than that performed in the corrupted larger culture.

    The music of western civilization is born of a Christian understanding of the world and nature. There is more to be said about this, but music suitable for the Mass is, or ought to be, quite distinct from that of the popular culture.
    Thanked by 2Torculus hilluminar
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 62
    It seems to me that if you celebrate the liturgy in a more or less monastic way, like one might find at a Benedictine abbey, then there is very little 'you' in the liturgy. One opens the book and chants the chant of that liturgy. Or perhaps, in some context, the Mass(es) or Office might be said in private. But still, you open the book, and you read.

    All other music is an elaboration or substitution on that foundation, based on the choices of the celebrant or other people involved. [The result may be beautiful or offensive, and may be more or less obedient to the guidelines of the Magisterium, but that's not the point at the moment]. But leaving that aside, it seems to me that the very act of choosing, as opposed to 'following' (as it were) creates a different relationship between man and liturgy.

    This distinction (between choiceless an choice-laden) seems to me an interesting one.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,498
    Non serviam?