Pounding raucous keyboard playing
  • KARU27
    Posts: 147
    We have an interesting situation at my home parish (OF). Our previous pastor retired in mid-June. Our music director left his job (resigned? was fired? unknown) a couple of weeks before that. Apparently words were exchanged. Previous pastor announced at each Mass after that "Joe Schmoe no longer works here".

    We got a substitute music director, very different in style from our previous music director. Previous MD played only the organ, and in general chose the most traditional hymns from the Journeysongs hymnal (3rd ed.).
    Substitute MD brings in his own copy of Gather (for offertory solos of tinkling piano), and seems to have stopped using the organ (although he did for a couple of weeks). He has now brought in his own electronic keyboard and plays things in a very poundy pop style. The Mass setting he uses is Mass of the Resurrection, which has a lot of syncopation and jazzy chords. Substitute MD has a pleasant sounding voice which suits the modern pop-style songs that he chooses. I suspect that a lot of the parish kind of likes this music better, although I think it is not suitable for Mass.

    Since we have a new pastor (younger, rumored to be kind of traddie), I am concerned that he thinks that this pop-style music is the norm for our parish, and will make decisions accordingly (they are currently looking for a new MD). Should I assume that he knows the story of the previous MD getting let go? My fear is that the parishioners will get used to the pop-style music and complain if we get a more traditional style MD in a few months.
    Not my worry? Part of me feels like I should be defending the previous MD, and advocating for more traditional style music. I wish that the pastor would insist on "no electronic keyboard" at least, because I think there might be a strong liturgical whiplash in the future.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 630
    There's no harm in letting the new pastor know the history of the music program. A brief appointment or a short note should do it.

    If the new pastor is more traditionalist, you can bet he doesn't like the music you described.

    You might offer to help with writing a job description as an entry into discussing these things, and point the pastor to the jobs posted on this site as examples.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Ah, the infamous lounge pianist. Know them well.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,317
    Or lunge pianist, if apropos.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    He has now brought in his own electronic keyboard and plays things in a very poundy pop style.


    Ugh. Just… ugh. I presume this means he’s using special sounds too, if he can’t be bothered to use a real piano.

    I see a number of red flags here:
    Since when do subs magically change hymnals overnight? The sub should be still using the one in the pews.

    If there is a real piano, he should be using it. (To say nothing of organ.). I grant that this presumes the piano isn’t falling apart.

    Complete musical style change overnight?

    ……..
    I’d definitely talk to the new pastor and make sure he knows what is going on and that it is not necessarily appreciated.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,463
    The NO is designed to be unpredictable from week to week depending on who is “presiding”, “playing” and “participating”. It comes with the turf. We love our options and freedom to be creative. You might suggest large screens if he wants to use alternate music... apparently that is the thing these days. I believe MarkB is knowledgeable on the matter.

    One of our local parishes just got a new mixer and power tower for the contempo music group so we can also have synth, electric bass and other add ons.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 825
    I, too, see several red flags. It's irresponsible for a substitute MD to be unilaterally changing things during a short tenure; if he/she didn't agree with the direction of the parish, the option was always open to not fill in.

    If you're a regular parishioner, having a meeting with the new pastor to neutrally explain the situation and your concerns can't hurt. I wouldn't be especially worried that substitute MD would change the long-term trajectory of the music; if the pastor does his homework rather than hiring based on the last few Masses, he should hire someone in line with who was expected before.

    The NO is designed to be unpredictable from week to week depending on who is “presiding”, “playing” and “participating”. It comes with the turf. We love our options and freedom to be creative. You might suggest large screens if he wants to use alternate music... apparently that is the thing these days. I believe MarkB is knowledgeable on the matter.

    This is the kind of comment that does not answer the OP's question and adds absolutely nothing to the discussion.
  • Is it possible that he was brought in by the out-going pastor for the purposes of causing as much consternation as possible?
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,979
    I would heartily suggest that you make an appointment with the new pastor and inform him (with all due dignity and respect) what the music was like before this fellow stepped in, and that you, and others, would like very much to see a return to that regimen.

    I would also talk about this with some of your fellow parishioners, garnering support and making note of any support for your cause.

    Catholics, as a rule, will sit and bat an eye or blink at most any sort of music that any one can drag up. Or, they will just remain silent and passively assume that 'that is what father wants'.

    Good luck to you - and your new pastor.

    And, Schonbergian is absolutely right. Yet another slur on the NO is inapropos, untrue, and unhelpful. One could just as well compose a rock or pop-styled mass in Latin and perform it at an EF liturgy, saying that the EF 'called for it'. Balderdash!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    One could just as well compose a rock or pop-styled mass in Latin and perform it at an EF liturgy, saying that the EF 'called for it'. Balderdash!


    That is probably not a new idea. I remember some rock masses in the 1960s era that were in Latin.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,463
    Just leveling with my own experience being in the same position numerous times.
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  • jclangfo
    Posts: 185
    That is probably not a new idea. I remember some rock masses in the 1960s era that were in Latin.


    Not rock exactly, but of a similar spirit - I think one of the main targets St. Pius X was going after in Tra Le Sollecitudini was the operatic masses.
  • JClangfo,

    Since I get to agree with you, I want to do so.

    Verdi and Schubert were on his list, among others, because he did not want nationalism infecting the Church, nor soupy sentimentalism dressed up as religion.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Don't we have the same today with music stylistically more suited to the Broadway stage than church. Granted, Verdi and Schubert seem to be a better model than Webber.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,463
    Yet another slur on the NO is inapropos, untrue

    This is the kind of comment that does not answer the OP's question and adds absolutely nothing to the discussion.

    I take offense.

    There is no slur here... nor untruth... my insights add significant perspective to this discussion based on first hand wisdom as a long time devotee of the NO mass. I have been working in the NO for five decades and STILL DO, and am only speaking from experience and real world situations.

    If you work in the NO you have to be ready for a change on moments notice... And that change can come from a deacon, visiting priest, parish members who have an itch to join the “music ministry” (by far the greatest thorn in the flesh of a DoM), visiting bishop, family members who wish to sing or play for a funeral, wedding, or other special occasion liturgy, and yes, the new style or approach of an incoming DoM or rock guitarist. (forgot to include the fully participating Liturgy Committee... they are capable of martyring a DoM)

    In Wyoming along with my usual weekend Masses I was directing the music for 25 destination weddings each summer that ranged from a simple TLM to full rock group scenarios. I never knew what was coming next and had to be a chameleon that could change style at a moments notice... from Bach to Rock and “Bach” again. It’s just the nature of the beast.

    Once there was a funeral where the entire family were rock musicians and they wanted to play a song from the 60s with full set up... bass and guitar with amps, drums, keyboard, back up singers... I told the family it was not appropriate for Mass let alone a funeral... however, the pastor wanted it to proceed and I told him I would not be playing music for that Mass. He respected my conscience on the matter, but they proceeded to play the song at communion... I believe it was “Turn, Turn” by the Byrds. They performed it quite well, musically speaking. It was just like a concert with accompanying applause.

    The point here is that I am giving solid advice on what to expect if one attends the new mass... you really have to come to grips with the free minded creative expression that is the norm for this reality.

    However, I have never had to endure pounding raucous keyboard playing... but I did wear earplugs for a number of years.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 487
    In my long tenure as a choir member of the NO, something I witnessed in my old parish when the organist died, the pastor did not seemed concerned with the musical tradtion of the parish when he brought in a replacement, several over a short interval. I think this typical since many parishes fail to reinvest in the future. This is also a problem in many businesses who have long standing employees who leave or die suddenly. A vacuum is created and the traditions or the knowledge of past practices are gone.

    A short anecdote is in order. When Marie Ahern was getting on in years, Msgr. Price had the foresight to enlist a young man of the parish about 13, who already had some musical inclinations, to take lessons and learn to play the organ at the direction of Mrs. Ahern. This young man played for the children's choir Christmas Eve 1929, and continued to play for another 67 years. Pastorally no one saw a need to reinvest when the young man began getting on in years as Msgr. Price had done. Suddenly, the musical traditions everyone enjoyed and took for granted disappeared. The parish never truely recovered.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 826
    The NO is designed to be unpredictable from week to week depending on who is “presiding”, “playing” and “participating”. It comes with the turf. We love our options and freedom to be creative. You might suggest large screens if he wants to use alternate music... apparently that is the thing these days.

    I forget the source now, but one mathematician calculated all the possible permutations of the NO when you take into account all the various options and it was in the Trillions (with a T) if I'm not mistaken. Definitely billions. I have witnessed a large spectrum of options that, in truth, are hard to reconcile and believe they are the same rite.

    The thing I still can't quite comprehend with the OP is the need to bring in his own electric keyboard... that seems to indicate not only a preference for modern hymnody (if you can call it that) but a desire to render the music in a pop idiom to boot. I have only ever brought a keyboard into church to run a hauptwerk rig and creat a faux continuo organ to still do appropriate repertoire.
    Thanked by 1francis