Oktavism in Gregorian chant?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 188
    Has Gregorian chant ever used "oktavists" (basso profundos) like Eastern rites (e.g., this Byzantine Kyrie eleison)?
    The closest to this I've heard is droning to Gregorian chants, but not in the range of a basso profundo.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,023
    It is quite likely, a veritable certitude, that early chant was sung in octaves, low or high, and that choir boys were used to great dramatic effect in places where they were cultivated..
    Good examples are Paul McCreesh's mass for Christmas Day at Sarum and his Spanish vespers.
    Both can be heard on youtube.
    I suspect that the absolute unisonal chant which we know and cultivate is, like the so-called 'Solesmes method', yet another Romantic and inevitably subjective imposition.

    There seems to me to be a certain contrived delivery in much modern chant, regardless of the 'method' followed, some more than others - and some (without naming names) are downright stilted. We are always trying to 'resurrect' a pure performance practice, which, really, is impossible. The only 'authentic' chant's singers are long gone and they weren't 'contriving', they were just being themselves - that is what is so convincing about Saval, Perez, and other early music specialists.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,366
    Jordi Savall brought along an octavist to Berkeley back when Hespèrion XXI was still Hespèrion XX. I don't see any rosters online, and am not familiar with their discography, though.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,546
    We are always trying to 'resurrect' a pure performance practice, which, really, is impossible. The only 'authentic' chant's singers are long gone and they weren't 'contriving', they were just being themselves.

    Yea... don’t go searching for the “right” way to sing chant. Find a method and sing your heart out. God will love you for it. Octaves, fifths, thirds... even organ accomps...
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,700
    ... And he told me in a vision of the night:—
    "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
    And every single one of them is right!"
    but not solo organ, à la française
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,366
    I see the San Francisco Examiner shares credit for the first publication of Primum Tempus. "Still a cultured Christian age sees us scuffle, squeak, and rage…"
  • At our monastery we have done it a few times on very special occasions- its not so easy- you have to be sure that the two choirs will not go flat or sharp... if one choir goes off the whole thing goes off- but it is pretty neat if you can make it work... we also tried once having the organ pedals do the octaves .... its an interesting theory

    personally I like just the simple gregorian without adding but it can be nice to solemnize and try something different
    Thanked by 1madorganist
  • Geremia
    Posts: 188
    Johannes Tinctoris did octavism in this polyphonic mass:
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,769
    Well, assuming it was sung at notated pitch, which doesn't seem all that likely.
  • Geremia
    Posts: 188
    @JeffreyQuick
    assuming it was sung at notated pitch
    Tinctoris's Missa sine nomine has quite the range. I can't imagine pitching it higher; the tenors are already comfortably in their range.