Accompaniment poll
  • BGP
    Posts: 215
    Hi all, I started a twit poll on people’s opinions on accompaniment of Chant. I’m dropping it here in hopes of a bigger sample
    https://twitter.com/BPeregrinus/status/1389201825811861513?s=20
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 694
    I'm no longer on twatter, but my vote would be for a fifth option: it depends heavily on the skill level of the organist and the schola. Good organist with an iffy schola that needs some prodding, OK. Inexperienced organist (at least as regards supple chant accompaniment) with a schola that could other wise sing without it? No thank you. On the whole I prefer chant without organ, yet we do use organ with anything congregational (singing the Regina Cæli at the end of every Mass, for example).
  • BGP
    Posts: 215
    Thank you Serviam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,942
    If, in that land beyond time and far away, all the singers had pitch awareness and could sing without accompaniment, no accompaniment would be needed. I never had those singers and mine needed accompaniment to stay on pitch or anywhere near it.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 720
    Prefer without, but it can work with, especially with singers who have difficulty hearing their own pitches without organ, as Charles mentioned.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,278
    Depends... as many know on this forum, I use the NOH exclusively for chant accomp... (and sometimes compose my own, but rarely). The NOH is modal and is far different (and I believe far better and true to nature of chant accomp) than any of the many others I have seen. It is more difficult to play, but does not give the impression of vertical harmony, but more a polyphonic texture of harmony that defers to the melody in a beautiful fashion.

    The chant is truly made for a live acoustic if sung a cappella, but that is hard to find in most parishes, which leave the harmonic texture somewhat dry and flat... it is the horizontal movement of chant that creates its harmonic sensability, and when put in a lively acoustic environment, it comes alive. (sympathetic vibrations of the building, echo and reverb) exposing the hidden harmonies within.

    I sing it mostly a cappella, but then when we use the organ, I only use an 8' flute or coupled to an 8' string, and the softest 16 and 8 flutes in the pedal... quite effective. I will use the 8' principal to support the congregational chant.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    I love it, at least for ordinaries and the antiphons and psalmody of the Divine Office, including the Gospel canticles of Lauds and Vespers (the organ at Compline seems a bit much, but I'm not strictly opposed); whether you use it or not for the propers of the Mass depends on the place, the schola, and so on. It seems ridiculous for pieces meant to be sung by a cantor, like responsories of the Office or the verses of the Gradual and Alleluia.

    But then again I'm attached to the French school as passed down through Fontgombault and groups like the ICRSP. This is their bread and butter.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,888
    Chan is best, and is real chant when sung strictly a cappella. I grudgingly admit, though, that in our age people do not have the inborn sense of pitch and musical flow that have been almost universal up into our own times when music has become all but a strictly listened to-but-not- participatory activity. The problem with modern (19th to 21st century) accompaniment styles is that they really have the effect of sapping the spirit out of the chant. Chant has, of course, been 'accompanied' in various ways since early in the mediaeval era, but these examples (starting with an organum style played on the organ's blockwerk) were far from as maudlin and saccharine as modern accompaniments seem to be. Such imposed accompaniments really enforce the conception of chant as sad. One may observe that chant really stopped being chant from the moment of its first accompaniments before the middle ages were very old.

    If you feel it necessary to accompany your schola, do so with having it in mind gradually to wean them from it. The lack of musicality - an inborn sense of pitch and musical flow acquired by osmosis from an elder generation, not to mention a very real emotional understanding of chant or any other music - may sometimes make it helpful to use an organ for pitch continuity. but it should be viewed as a temporary aid to maintaining pitch. However, one's shola will never, never rise to the heights of emotional freedom, even ecstasy, which is evident in real chant. As for congregational singing? I have heard too many times a congregation of 200 or more people sing a Gregorian ordinary a cappella and with confidence to be at all respectful of those who maintain that they cannot do so. As I have stressed before, the problem is too often not that 'the people', or 'children', or whomever cannot sing chant, but the poverty of mind and teaching talent of the musician him- or herself.

    Parenthetically, there are those for whom chant just isn't chant unless it is accompanied by their favourite book of accompaniments, unless they get to accompany it. Their focus is really on the organ, the accompaniment really putting the encumbered chant in a straight jacket. it is comical that these accompaniment enthusiasts will assure one that the organ is a subtle and hardly heard presence in the background, when actually it sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb, sapping the chant of energy or impetus.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 774
    I make a case for accompanying Ordinaries, in a very extroverted style, when the congregation should join in. It provides a great rhythmic and sonic impetus and keeps the chant moving along rather forcefully. In this case the "subdued" style would be inappropriate.

    For exclusively choral chant, either a discreet doubling of the melody line only or, preferably, unaccompanied singing is my ideal.

    In either scenario, I don't see what subdued NOH-style accompaniment can offer beyond making the chant ever more lugubrious, heavy, and ultimately emasculated.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 596
    I prefer to sing unaccompanied, as we never rehearse with accompaniment, rarely have anyone to play organ, and thus on those rare occasions I find it very distracting. But I could see it being helpful for supporting congregational singing or a weak schola.

    If I'm not singing I prefer to hear just voices for the clarity of sound.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • Ted
    Posts: 186
    I will be a black sheep here and ask why make Gregorian chant (GC) a museum piece that is more suitable for musicologists than the average parishioner? Will one next want the schola to sing chant with Pythagorean intervals to make it more "authentic". And what rhythm does one use?

    My point is that GC should be a living expression of the faith of the worshiping community in situ, and using organ accompaniment generally makes chant more accessible to the faithful by making it more pleasing to the tastes of our age which are difficult to change. The way GC was sung over the ages differed according to the age with its customs and social derived tastes because it was a living chant, not a museum piece.

    Yes, chant can be sung without accompaniment, but there is also a long history in the art of chant accompaniment, as well antiphonal singing with prayerful instruments, still done in some places. Accompaniment of GC is an art, so here I do not mean using NOH with its problematic theories, but actually having the organist/director spend some time elaborating his/her own accompaniment for the propers beforehand so as to have a living musical prayer at the liturgy.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW a_f_hawkins
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 774
    Will one next want the schola to sing chant with Pythagorean intervals to make it more "authentic".
    Yes, actually - this is no "museum piece" but is widely considered to be the most euphonious way of tuning a melody and is commonly used by string players to this day.

    For me, it has nothing to do with historical accuracy and everything to do with what works nowadays and provides the best technical rendition.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,942
    Unfortunately, chant that has become a museum piece is one reason some people detest chant. Chant has always made adaptations "according to the age with its customs and social derived tastes" which is a significant reason it has even survived. One can accompany without turning a chant into a concert piece. One can also use accompaniment to cover inadequacies in singers. I used to threaten using the trumpet to give pitches to one nearly deaf chorister, although the trumpet may not have been loud enough for him to get his pitches.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 483
    My preference is unaccompanied chant, and that's the only way my choir is allowed to chant.

    I'll sometimes conclude a hymn or a Communion song with an a cappella verse or refrain in SATB. People in the pews are often struck by the beauty of unaccompanied singing.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,455
    [Rant]. I don't believe the organ can accompany Gregorian chant! It can lead congregational chant, and if the chant alternates between cantor/schola and congregation it should fade into background harmonic support when not 'conducting' the congregation. But it really has no place in melismatic chant, the idea of playing along with a cantor singing a jubilus is absurd, and so are the results. Good accompanists are rare, and bad ones are a bane. Singer and accompanist need a good rapport, just as the members of a schola do, there may be many on this forum who can achieve that, but the majority of churches cannot put in enough effort/time/money. Also chant should, as Schönbergian says, ideally use natural Pythogorean tuning and organs can't do that. I suppose a simulacrum could, but that is not a satisfactory argument. [/Rant]
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,888
    In my observations something labelled a 'museum piece' is mostly anything that is different from what the speaker has in mind, wants, is accustomed to, or what he or she may prefer to sing or teach.
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 124
    I don't allow my choir to sing accompanied chant either. Although I should qualify "my choir" - I am not a director at any parish or anything (although I was at one time); but I still do direct a choir a handful of times per year at a sung Latin Mass.

    So obviously, my preference is unaccompanied chant. As a couple of other comments seemed to be saying, it is not really "chant" any more if there is accompaniment - it is "chant with accompaniment," and there IS a big difference, because no matter the method of accompaniment, and no matter how well done it is (of course there are tons of different ideas of what "well done accompaniment" is...), it adds harmonies to the chant that would not have been envisioned in any way by its composers.

    On a personal level, I find it very distracting from the chant itself, and often find myself analyzing the harmonies or method used. But I acknowledge that I am more sensitive than probably most people on many liturgical music issues. I also find it extremely distracting to hear someone just tinkling away on the organ throughout Mass (my local Institute of Christ the King occasionally has these "Low Masses with organ"), and for any choral piece I will find myself analyzing the choir and paying more attention to the music than uniting myself to the Sacrifice. Of course I also accept that the problem may lie more with me than anyone/anything else.

    In any case, I think there is a good case to be made that generally speaking (i.e. not taking into account various circumstances) unaccompanied chant is the ideal, and that people should be given the opportunity/taught to appreciate chant for what it is. That being said, I would also say that accompanied chant can be done well (I think that the accompaniment found with Fontgombault's recordings is a good model for any accompaniment) and I would rather that there be accompanied chant than no chant at all.

    In other words, not a hill to die on in the average setting, although I would probably make my opinions and thoughts on the matter well known whenever it would not be rude or imprudent to do so. :)
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Ted
    Posts: 186
    I will raise the stakes here.

    Quite a number of years ago I visited Solesmes. Solesmes has put out quite a few recordings of Gregorian chant over the years. But what surprised me was that their chanting the divine office live there was accompanied with the organ. When I inquired, the response was something like "Oh, we only sing GC unaccompanied for those CDs."

    I grasped the idea immediately, that whatever helps sung prayer at the liturgy should be always considered. Moreover, it also occurred to me that the organist too is praying, not with his mouth but with his heart which is modulating the prayerful sounds of the organ. What is important is prayer at the liturgy, is not some "authentic" concert performance or musical antiquarianism for the musical critics, or worse, for the ivory tower know-it-alls like we had for the "reform" of the liturgy.

    I am also reminded of the time when, immediately following Summorum Pontificum, the local bishop had a sung Traditional Latin Mass at his cathedral, the first one in over 40 years. The cathedral was packed, perhaps because the people there wanted to have that mystical experience they were lacking in the New Mass. The choir and the director were from the local university. The director was excellent and in fact is well known in the chant literature, and the choir sang the chant well. But I knew it would be a disaster when the choir sang all the chant a cappella. The next time a TLM was held there a few months later, the cathedral was only 1/4 full, and eventually fizzled out to a small group of about 50 people over the years. My point is, that as well intentioned and as proper the performance of the chant was according to the latest scholarship, it did not speak to the hearts of the ordinary people there. Very few had likely ever heard monodony sung by a choir unaccompanied like that, except perhaps in horror movies, and judging by the age of so many, they were expecting the lyrical music of pre-Vatican II they had been accustomed to, not the perfect music of the "experts".
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,942
    Those scholars and experts are a big part of the reason organ recitals have small audiences. What the experts produce may be scholarly and it may be accurate. It just isn't listenable to most people. It is music produced by experts for other experts.
  • Pope Benedict commented (if I recall correctly) on music written by modern musicians as being (in Charles' expression) "produced by experts for other experts", and therefore not readily appreciable by a wider audience. Some "experts" are just snobs in disguise, but others are, in fact, not merely knowledgeable in their fields and skillful in achieving their desired results, but also capable of communicating a good, healthy appreciation of this result and that knowledge to a wider audience.

    Mind you, get two mathematicians or two engineers together in the same room and they might just as well be speaking a foreign language for anyone else in the room. (Ducking and covering now, since there are so many mathematicians here....)
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,888
    I have played numerous recitals which included alternatim chant sung as closely as I could to how it was performed in this or that period. I have received many compliments for having the experience of having heard such chant. I would even have employed a serpent if one had been available (perhaps the nearest modern equivalent would be a very quiet bassoon). I have been cantor at a number of masses at which I sang a communion antiphon or some other chant as nearly as I could to pre=mediaeval or Carolingian chant, or improvised chants for the verses of responsorial psalmody in an early style and have received many compliments from both priests and people for it. People, ordinary people, like learning something that they didn't know or haven't heard. Of course, there are those who will raise the roof about most anything unfamiliar (to them!), and, oddly, they are often assumed falsely to represent a majority opinion - while they make a lot of noise they very often do not represent anyone other than themselves or some clique.

    Those who know little about a subject, or profess to be champions of the 'PIPs' like to think that they have banished as impossibly eccentric certain scholarly researches by calling them with a know it all air 'purist', or 'out of touch scholars', or 'dwellers in ivory towers', or 'experts', and so on, One might observe that so called Solesmes and LU chant are, also, historic curiosities, which makes of them who are partisans of the same 'purists', 'experts', 'snobs', and so on ad nauseam. The majority of people in the US are, unlike those of other countries, not known for respect for scholarship, even for scoffing at it. The average Russian on the street can quote Pushkin - most people on the street (not to mention those who are 'educated') in the US would not be expected to quote Frost, let alone Pushkin or any other great writer. The citizens of most oriental countries admire scholarship and hold their scholars in high, very high esteem. Not so the average American. No, he and she are more likely to find such scholarship a matter for out of hand dismissal, waving it off as snobbery and hurling epithets like 'purist' and such about as if they themselves were authoritative.

    There are, one concedes, commendable reasons for accompanying chant in certain situations. That doesn't make impossibly eccentric those who choose otherwise and enjoy the pleasures of scholarship both as congregants, scholas, or those who teach.
    Thanked by 2CatherineS CHGiffen
  • sdtalley3sdtalley3
    Posts: 194
    Generally, I’m with Francis on the accompaniment side of organ registration, 8’ flutes etc. When I fill in for the organist at my church, I use a different accompaniment for the Commons of the Mass (A simple French arranged version, I don’t know the name of the publication where it comes from since it is an incomplete copy I have), and I never accompany the propers.

    Last time I played before I recently arrived in Germany for a business trip, one of the gentlemen thanked me. He said that it was nice to actually be able to hear both the congregation supported by the organ, rather than have the instrument more or less blast out the music. I thanked him and told him that it was also nice to actually be able to hear the congregation from the bench. Because I usually change up the registration while I play, I also deactivated the speaker system to the organ console so all I could rely on was the sound coming from the nave. It was a nice affect....Back to the point, I prefer accompaniment with the Commons; although I’m not a big fan of the “Accompaniment to the Vatican Kyriale by Achille Braggers”. Hence I use something else.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,278
    I have been asked to accompany the introit on rare occasion, but it is truly the ordinary that we sometimes accompany. To keep a large congregation singing the GC together I prefer accompaniment.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW sdtalley3
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    My point is, that as well intentioned and as proper the performance of the chant was according to the latest scholarship, it did not speak to the hearts of the ordinary people there. Very few had likely ever heard monodony sung by a choir unaccompanied like that, except perhaps in horror movies, and judging by the age of so many, they were expecting the lyrical music of pre-Vatican II they had been accustomed to, not the perfect music of the "experts".


    For better or worse, this is true for Gregorian chant, even when talking about people interested in music history and musicology, as far as the liturgy goes.

    It is much less true for accurately performing Baroque music and music of the "Middle Ages" and the "Renaissance;" although Jordi Savall might be overextended — I find it hard to believe that he is equally expert in both Iberian music of the thirteenth century and French of the seventeenth — his music is always a treat. Ditto Les Arts Florissants and a number of other ensembles dedicated to the historically informed performance of period music. Even there, however, the recording from LAF of H. 146, the Te Deum of Charpentier, that dates to 1986 IIRC is very different from later performances ; it's rather slow, and one can go too far. Should an orchestra that passed down music from the composer himself — let's say Beethoven — be expected to ditch it all in favor of period instruments and supposed practice? Probably not, although a period orchestra performing Beethoven might be very interesting, and while I've heard wonderful performances of the reconstructed Miserere of Allegri, nevertheless, the Miserere is the version with the C's and the mode VIII psalm tone.

    Why this is, I don't know. It's perhaps due to the instrumentation that gives a bit of a lift to a performance that chant wouldn't have, even if you have organs or horns to provide a sort of accompaniment.

    For me, whatever flaws might exist in the Solesmes method (even when performed more accurately, e.g. by Fontgombault) seem to be outweighed by what clearly seems like a concert and what is also the work of the imagination in many cases. I know of at least one CMAA Colloquium faculty member who is against the classical Solesmes method but who takes great issue with Marcel Pérès, because what he does is either speculation or outright incorrect, yet that's what people in the pews seem to think of as "what chant may have sounded like" because his albums are frequently uploaded to Youtube. There are other musicians who perform very interesting music that is perhaps more accurate, but it is not, in my view, adequately in service of the liturgy.

    So I would push back on MJO's point, as on the flip side of what I've just said is that European respect for scholarship gets you people who know just enough to be dangerous, as Pérès is admired here, despite the very grave flaws in his performance of chant, and it is also true, I think that too many musicologists in North America are either not Catholic or are liberals, which does not really help their case when it comes to the day-to-day use of Gregorian chant in the liturgy. Is that unfair? I don't know. But it's very irritating to be told by people who have no skin in the game that Solesmes no longer uses the classical method, that the rhythmic markings are junk, and that the melodies in other graduals are more accurate, "based on the latest research," as if this is supposed to help sustain the faith in the Netherlands and in Germany (the two places where such seem to have caught on the most, if the internet is a reliable guide). I can take it from the CMAA faculty members, to whom I owe a great deal and whom I admire very much, although I like the classical method and won't change it for the world, although I will follow Fontgombault and insist on a crisper performance when it's up to me. But I refuse to take it from people for whom chant is clearly an academic exercise above all, whether they be monks in liberal monasteries in the US or laypeople wherever.
  • Ted
    Posts: 186
    The issue I raised about experts is not meant to be derogatory towards them. The issue is about prayer at the liturgy. As CharlesW rightly intimated, the ordinary parish liturgy is not the place for experts to produce music for other experts to listen too. Chant experts have come up with some important insights into chant performance, but on the other hand, they also usually disagree with each other. I dare any expert to prove sine dubitas what the chant in Charlemagne's court sounded like. But, then, not knowing this is the beauty of chant too, as it allows for a flexibility of chant performance for all the ages.

    One has to face an important fact with regards to congregations today, that an extremely small minority of them appreciate art-music even strongly tonal art-music. Gregorian chant is a kind of art-music which if performed according to expertise will likely sound terribly alien to the ears of today's pop-cultured congregations. Some may like it, perhaps those who already like some art-music, such as the better educated music diletants. But springing on an ordinary parish the music done "properly" according to an expert will likely not go very far.

    It reminds me of another experience I had, fortunately not at a Roman Catholic church this time, where again the organist/choir director was a university music professor, and the choir members were mostly payed students from the music faculty. The professor decided one Easter that the Exsultet would sound much better sung by the lead tenor from the choir loft, and did not inform the rector... Yes experts are important, but they also have their limited place in the prayerful liturgy.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Gregorian chant is a kind of art-music which if performed according to expertise will likely sound terribly alien to the ears of today's pop-cultured congregations


    Well, this is why I brought up people who are "cultured" and who appreciate not only classical music but historically informed performance; I've heard, from the same people, raving reviews of such music when it comes to secular and non-liturgical music as well as absolutely scathing comments of chant sung in a supposedly more historically accurate way in the context of the liturgy.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 774
    As CharlesW rightly intimated, the ordinary parish liturgy is not the place for experts to produce music for other experts to listen too. Chant experts have come up with some important insights into chant performance, but on the other hand, they also usually disagree with each other.
    You seem to be making a better case for simply not programming chant than performing it with accompaniment, as your arguments are equally applicable to accompanied chant.

    Moreover, most of us with unease towards accompanied chant don't do so for snobbish reasons, but practical ones. I think it's unfair to paint those with such reasons as not facilitating prayer in the liturgy, and I would argue that the issue of accompaniment has no bearing on such whatsoever.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • MarkB
    Posts: 483
    I pretty much only know Solesmes chant, and that's what I teach my choir. I'm aware that some scholarship disagrees with Solesmes notation and rhythm, but I find that Solesmes makes it quite easy for a volunteer choir to learn a chant and to stay together while singing unaccompanied.

    I've heard a few so-called "historically accurate" chant performances, and I much prefer the pacing of Solesmes chant for parish liturgy.

    I found this video in a search for "historically accurate gregorian chant". I thought it was very good. Sharing it:
    https://youtu.be/QuRrd35kvUo
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,942
    It is a good thing to know your congregation and pastor when it comes to programming music. I found I could do a smaller amount of chant even with a congregation that didn't like it. Getting out of sync with your congregation can get you fired. It's a case of do, but don't overdo where it can create a backlash against you. All the important clerics who wrote glowingly about the merits of Gregorian Chant are not around to save your job.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    You seem to be making a better case for simply not programming chant than performing it with accompaniment, as your arguments are equally applicable to accompanied chant.

    Moreover, most of us with unease towards accompanied chant don't do so for snobbish reasons, but practical ones. I think it's unfair to paint those with such reasons as not facilitating prayer in the liturgy, and I would argue that the issue of accompaniment has no bearing on such whatsoever.


    The first paragraph is particularly ridiculous.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 774
    Matthew, I don't get the venom you seem to have towards me lately. It's happened multiple times in the past while, and always without provocation.

    If the argument is merely that chant is artistically foreign to most congregations, then most accompanimental methods that seek to preserve the modality and melismatic nature of the chant (a.k.a. most in existence) would do nothing to make the chant more stylistically acceptable or approachable to those individuals. Merely accompanying it isn't going to fundamentally change the style in a way that makes it more palatable to those who already hate chant or believe it is "out of touch" with modern Catholicism.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 694
    Merely accompanying it isn't going to fundamentally change the style in a way that makes it more palatable to those who already hate chant or believe it is "out of touch" with modern Catholicism.


    I must agree with you there. Anyone who is open to chant generally doesn't care (I'm speaking of general people in the pews) whether its accompanied or not; they are typically happy either way. But people who dislike chant likely won't embrace it suddenly now that there's some organ in the background. In fact, adding organ probably only makes them perceive it as even older church music since many uninformed church goers these days believe the organ is old and out of touch too. Putting the two together is likely the cherry on top for them, not the gateway to new appreciation.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Matthew, I don't get the venom you seem to have towards me lately. It's happened multiple times in the past while, and always without provocation.


    I'm not sure how you can accuse me of acting unprovoked, when I'm responding to you.

    Is it venomous? Well, it's certainly not meant to be, but I'd also suggest that it is hardly so in reality, and whatever disagreement is entirely justified, both between my feelings on the subject and the way that you basically sidestepped a legitimate discussion. You can think that I'm wrong, as you mostly do, but that's not really the point, now is it.

    As to the point, and as far as I understand it, the argument is not at all what you present it as. It's that the alternatives presented would be worse for people unused to chant and that accompanied chant would be helpful. I tend to agree and while you're free to disagree, there is a clear difference between all of the various styles of historically informed, more "accurate" performance of chant and accompanying chant (usually, I suppose, sung to the Solesmes method), particularly because something closer to the latter would have been far more common before the 1960s and in the intervening years when recordings existed. Yes, I'm aware that unaccompanied chant is frequently found on records, but the Divine Office is usually accompanied, at least for the psalmody, and accompanied propers and ordinaries are pretty easy to find.

    I do stand by my point that academics and liberal monks without a skin in the game are not particularly good advocates for what they sing — quite literally having relegated chant to concert halls — and I also hold that it's quite possible for musically educated people, never mind the ordinary faithful, to find such chant repulsive and out of place in the liturgy.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,223
    Split the difference, and accompany every other note. On piano. That way, people have a choice to laugh or cry.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,942
    Love it. There was a satirical organist's cartoon calendar published some years ago that showed the organist leaving out the tenor line to protest his recent pay cut. There is always a way to get even.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 774

    I'm not sure how you can accuse me of acting unprovoked, when I'm responding to you.
    I don't remember directly attacking you, as you've done in the past, or merely insulting my point of view without contributing anything to the discussion, as you just did in this thread. I don't wish to derail this thread, but one of the things I appreciate about this forum is the chance to have polite, earnest discussions with individuals with whom I disagree. Every time you engage me, it has an extremely malicious tone that I haven't found anywhere else on this forum, and one that I don't believe I've matched in any way.

    Is it venomous? Well, it's certainly not meant to be, but I'd also suggest that it is hardly so in reality, and whatever disagreement is entirely justified, both between my feelings on the subject and the way that you basically sidestepped a legitimate discussion. You can think that I'm wrong, as you mostly do, but that's not really the point, now is it.
    This kind of tone what I'm talking about.

    To actually engage with your argument: you set up a dichotomy that I don't believe is particularly accurate, considering a) chant has been accompanied almost since its inception, and b) there is not an absolute overlap between chant "scholars" and those involved in its active performance who disagree with accompanying it. In my view, many of the consequences of accompanied chant (especially tending towards a slower, heavier performance) are exactly what many PiPs with mixed feelings on chant tend to dislike. Purely on a practical performance level, accompaniment introduces unwanted habits from the singers. Frankly, I don't care about the minutiae of chant scholarship or historical reproduction; as a musician, I am only concerned with what best produces the rhetorical, text-driven, and varied style of chant which I believe best communicates its nature.

    The discussion should be between what methods of accompaniment, if any, might make the Gregorian language more palatable to the uninitiated and/or provide better support for singers, rather than taking shots at "chant scholars" and insinuating by connection that those of us who happen to share the same conclusion, but for different reasons, are similarly out of touch. That line of reasoning is uncomfortably close to the argument that chant itself is out of touch and only performed for "elites" - something which Jackson elaborated in an above post.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    A few scattered thoughts:

    To actually engage with your argument: you set up a dichotomy that I don't believe is particularly accurate, considering a) chant has been accompanied almost since its inception, and b) there is not an absolute overlap between chant "scholars" and those involved in its active performance who disagree with accompanying it. In my view, many of the consequences of accompanied chant (especially tending towards a slower, heavier performance) are exactly what many PiPs with mixed feelings on chant tend to dislike. Purely on a practical performance level, accompaniment introduces unwanted habits from the singers. Frankly, I don't care about the minutiae of chant scholarship or historical reproduction; as a musician, I am only concerned with what best produces the rhetorical, text-driven, and varied style of chant which I believe best communicates its nature.


    This is what I wish you had said at first. It doesn't work for you and your singers, regardless of how one sings, which is basically unarguable, though I didn't set up the dichotomy, at least not as far as I can see…I waded into it; in fact, MJO gets to the heart of it, because the debate is also all too frequently a proxy for Solesmes and not-Solesmes, which somehow has implications on accompaniment that are a little hard to untangle as there are preferences for accompaniment (or lack thereof) regardless of the historical practice. At the very least, it seems fair to say that certain styles of accompaniment will be tolerated by some more than others depending on how the chant is interpreted. (Should this debate be a proxy in the way that I perceive it? Is it always? No, and no.)

    As to what MJO said: the argument isn't remotely the same, and if one doesn't like the quality or style of the last two hundred years of chant accompaniment goes, well, de gustibus.

    Also, I will say this: you and I do agree more than either of us probably think when it comes to the issue of chant performance methods, for lack of a better word. The advocates of newer methods and the latest scholarship are horrible advocates for their own cause.

    Now, as to my tone:

    I had already made my point, twice, and but the last interaction that we had (as far as I can see) was another instance where the other person wasn't going to be convinced of much, and while I'm not sure what I think about something that I wrote three weeks ago, I hope that you might appreciate why I wrote what I wrote.

    I agree that generally people are pretty nice here, but that is a far rosier picture than I'd paint of just the last month or so on the forum, and while I understand that purple means a joke, nevertheless, I'm still occasionally shocked and disturbed by what actually comes out, as if "just kidding" excuses a lack of charity. We also just had a big struggle session on what the forum is and isn't… and those are always unpleasant.

    You can think that I'm wrong, as you mostly do, but that's not really the point, now is it.
    This kind of tone what I'm talking about.


    It was an observation, and I assure you that no malice or venom was intended.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,278
    it allows for a flexibility of chant performance for all the ages.

    All of your prayerful contributions to chant are good, beautiful and appreciated... prayerful is the key thing... accompanied, unaccompanied, it really doesn't matter... none of them are the 'correct' way. Get over yourselves and sing the chant... the best way you can!

    It might be nice to actually HEAR your version... post it here. Thank you.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,274
    We're rather lucky the "too many musicologists [that] are either not Catholic or are liberals" don't do their work in any expectation of gratitude.
    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 111
    I accompany the ordinaries because the congregation sings them better when I do, and because there is extremely well-established precedent for doing so in good faith. Quite plainly, I also like how it sounds, whether I'm playing or in the pews. My most joyful and spiritually rapturous moments praying Mass have been experienced due to a boisterously sung and firmly accompanied ordinary at TLM missa cantata.

    I don't accompany the propers, primarily because my small and somewhat timid volunteer schola can't sing them without me standing with them and singing at them (I play and direct). They're also a different animal than the ordinaries, obviously.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 694
    Same here, Trenton. I have to sing at my schola to keep it together; if my voice drops out they second guess themselves instantaneously, and I suspect big bird himself couldn’t flap large enough for them to notice or pay attention, lol. I accompany the ordinaries, but not the propers. It works reasonably well and then you get both flavors.
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • trentonjconn
    Posts: 111
    I once failed to put the text to the gospel acclamation verse on the organ with my sheet music, didn't realize this until I had already started playing, and therefore had do trust the crew to sing it without me. I hit the first chord of the psalm tone and didn't sing, so neither did they! I just finished playing through the psalm tone all alone, and they came back in for.the last iteration of "alleluia." I was about evenly amused and angry.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,455
    Cantor :..., let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. (Therefore, dearest friends ... The Lord be with you. .)
    Lift up your hearts.
    We lift them up to the Lord.
    Fortunately I saw this coming, and arranged for Father to say the intervenient dialogue, to which the congregation responded robustly enough. (not explicitly illicit, I hope)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,507
    That sounds like a harmless approach.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 322
    Cantor :..., let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. (Therefore, dearest friends ... The Lord be with you. .)
    Lift up your hearts.
    ℟ We lift them up to the Lord.
    Fortunately I saw this coming, and arranged for Father to say the intervenient dialogue, to which the congregation responded robustly enough. (not explicitly illicit, I hope)


    Another thing I have done, which was suggested by my favoritest boss ever, in a parish at which we had 1 priest with an outstanding voice and a lifelong devotion to the chant, 1 part-time permanent deacon who could barely sing “Lumen Christi”, and then two good choirs, was for the priest and a [lay] cantor from the choir to divide the Exultet about equally.

    The priest and the cantor would switch off in paragraph-sized chunks, arranged so that the portions which are reserved for those in holy orders were always his. That way

    1) we could sing the whole wonderful text,
    2) the contrast between the celebrant and the singer of the Exultet foreseen in the Missal could still exist,
    3) he could save his singing voice for the collects, Alleluia, Gospel, Preface, etc
    4) the same cantor could reasonably sing the Exultet, canticles, the rest of the propers, the choral music, etc. without collapsing.

    Perhaps the permanent deacon felt disenfranchised to lose the Exultet and the Gospel, but he knew I was happy to take as much time as needed to teach him to sing, and just never took me up on it…Everyone else was happy.
  • GerardH
    Posts: 194
    thread is heading off track, but...

    In my opinion, the schemes presented in the above 3 comments for dividing the Exsultet do violence to its form and function as a prayer of blessing and consecration. It should be chanted by one minister; and if the cantor is not ordained, it makes no sense to give part of the text to someone else. How can we possibly follow the exhortation—
    ...invoke with me, I ask you,
    the mercy of God almighty,
    that he, who has been pleased to number me,
    though unworthy, among the Levites,
    may pour into me his light unshadowed,
    that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.

    —if the one exhorting us doesn't then go on to sing the praises of this pillar?

    You can't baptise by having one person say "I baptise you in the name of the Father", a second say "and of the Son", and a third "and of the Holy Spirit". Likewise, you can't consecrate a candle by divvying up the prayer of consecration.

    ...at least that's my argument.

    (I note that the strength of this argument is somewhat reduced by the current practice of concelebration, but I counter that the prayer of consecration is said in full by all concelebrants).
    Thanked by 1francis
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,455
    GerardH - if the ordained ministers can/will not sing we don't get that exhortation (which also doesn't occur in the shortened form). But without a preceding "The Lord be with you." a congregation will not be primed to respond to "Lift up your hearts", and bathos will result. It was only the dialogue which I asked to be spoken. [My predecessor as cantor, had blithely sung through, ignoring the red brackets] And this could be overcome by accompaniment, which in this instance is a no-no.