Best pitch for congregation
  • jchthys
    Posts: 20
    Hello all –

    I will be the cantor for a litany this week, and I was wondering if anyone had thoughts about "best practices" for the pitch of the reciting tone: what is easiest to understand, and what is most comfortable for the congregation?

    My voice is in the tenor range, and I think it sounds clearest if the reciting tone is around G or A-flat below middle C. I understand that for many women, assuming they sing it an octave higher, this is at the upper end of the range.

    I will probably use G as my tone – but have any of you thought about this issue, and do you have any thoughts (whether concurring or dissenting)?
  • mburrier
    Posts: 25
    What is the ambitus?
    G should be a safe bet.
    Less frequent singers may be more comfortable with a range of Bb-Bb.
  • Jchthys,

    It largely depends, as mburrier points out, on the ambitus. When I choose pitches for antiphons at Vespers (and at Mass this week, since our Choir director is out of town), I will view the whole of the piece to see if a particular pitch will be high, middle or low for the range of the piece.
  • jefe
    Posts: 173
    If you are a tenor do chant on G. Your diction will be much clearer to the Parish than a woman chanting an 8va higher.
    G is our go to reciting tone for Compline, below middle C for men and above middle C for women.
    The rule of thumb is: an Episcopal Parish's range for hymn singing on the melody is about middle C up a 9th to D for women, and the same an octave lower for men. I assume it would be similar for the Romans. The upper notes are somewhat clearer now that most of the smokers have passed on. I have found that high unisons with our women during Compline is not very successful because the text becomes hidden in the tessitura. The last few years we have gotten into pitching the tunes during our a cappella Compline using hand bells; either alone or as a chord. Somewhat more elegant than mindlessly banging the note(s) out on a keyboard. It may work better at Compline than at Mass.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen jchthys
  • jchthys
    Posts: 20
    Thank you! I will be sticking with G (possibly slightly different depending on what comes out when I start). The range is very small, from E below to A above. The responses may not even include the A.
  • jchthys
    Posts: 20
    My preferred method of pitching, incidentally, is with the cantor doing the first line solo. Ideally they know what they are doing, and if they can't do it unaided they can use a tuning fork (which is silent).
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,107
    If you're not sure that the congregation can step up to the plate, then don't pitch them a curve ball, a slider, or a knuckle ball. Stick with the fast ball, but not to fast, not too slow, just half-fast.