About the most recent organ accompaniment of the benedictine abbeys (Fontgombault, Saint-Wandrille)
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    There's another discussion about the organ accompaniment of the Abbey of Notre-Dame of Fontgombault, and it extends to others benedictine abbeys from Solesmes Congregation like Saint-Wandrille, but I still don't have the answers and I want to consolidate in this discussion.

    1. Most of the documents I found about organ accompaniment, like the Portier's Commitante Organo, doesn't talk with Fontgombault's. In these documents, there's a lot of harmonic change and inversions that doesn't manifests in Fontgombault's. Maybe they're there and the singer's voices are standing out, but I can't found written the proeminent 2nd octave basses from a 8' flute that occurs along with the full choir;

    2. Also, in Fontgombault's I can hear sometimes a 4th/5th octave (melodic octave) notes, but I can't figure out if the melody is played along or if it's just a part of a chord;

    3. The closest document that I found is the René Livron's "Accompagnement du kyriale grégorien" (think is used by Barroux Abbey), and, apparently, they just put the bass note an octave lower when the full choir enters, but, yet, doesn't hit the point.

    There's my considerations and, I'll enjoy to see others points.

    Also, sorry for my english, it isn't my native language!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,667

    It is difficult to understand your points

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  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    I'm sorry, let me be more direct:

    How the organ accompaniments from Fontgombault Abbey recordings, like on Easter mass, are made?

    1. They sound different from most of the accompaniments I have found, like the ones from Commitante Organo;

    2. Do they play the melody? I can hear high notes, but can't tell if is an chord or the melody played along;

    3. I found René Livron's "Accompagnement du kyriale grégorien" and they're quite similar, but Fontgombault play a root note an octave lower when the full choir enters.
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  • I think the Fontgombault accompaniments are among the most successful. I've run into that style elsewhere too, always among people that are heavily influenced by the Schola Saint Grégoire and Denise Lebon, such as in various ICKSP places. Nick Botkins, who I have the pleasure to sing with with some regularity, accompanies very much in this style. I don't have definitive answers for you, because I've never studied this directly, but here are some initial responses to your points.

    1. They move much less frequently than in other books. Often only a couple of times per chant. I have heard it stated that they change bass notes only when the hexachord changes, although in practice it doesn't seem quite so systematic as that.

    2. As far as I can tell, they do not play the melody. Thinly textured chords, probably just in the left hand. I think on those recordings that there is a very delicate 4' stop being used with the choir for shimmer.

    3. It seems to me that the pedal (with 16') enters with the choir.

    If one were to try to replicate this style, it seems that you could play two notes (like I said, very thin) with the left hand, use the right hand for chironomy, and bring the pedal in with the full choir. The chords mostly seem to move with root motion by thirds, and only at significant points in the melody, such as when the chant moves into a different register.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    I would ask the abbey directly by email; you can send the email to the secretariat, but ask for the choirmaster. Fontgombault, Triors, and Clear Creek are all reachable via email; I don't know about Randol, and I don't know if Wisques adopted the Fontgombault style when it was repopulated.

    Thanks as usual to Dr. Weaver. I would add that Fr. Bachmann once wrote an accompaniment for me (we wound up going with the Solesmes version anyway), for the Ave Maris Stella in Sabbato (NB: the monastic version has one note with an episema, but it's a dotted punctum in the Roman office). He told me to play the alto in the right hand or omit it and to double, at the octave below, the bass if you have a pedal (so he clearly envisions this being played on manuals without a pedalboard!)

    I think that this concurs with Dr. Weaver's interpretation of how one might need to do the chironomy in the right hand.

    My thoughts, as a non-organist who is terribly interested in the Fontgombault/ICRSP/Schola Saint-Grégoire tradition as well:

    Clear Creek, a daughter house of Fontgombault, does use the accompaniment for the Liber Cantualis, at least from time to time, for chants in that book.

    I don't know if the propers are routinely sung with organ or not from the volumes of the Graduale Romanum containing accompaniment or if they have a notated gradual for this purpose.

    The files here give a very good impression; you can actually hear the organ clearly (on my computer, at least… I'm often listening in the car).

    It's true that they omit the melody, but you could play it without much difficulty.

    (This is both for Soneto and those who don't know the style. It's been mentioned before, but it's worth exploring again.)

    The office accompaniment is given first, in the antiphonal itself, with a key signature, e.g. "4 fb". The first note is explicitly named, e.g. "Fa" (F); now, we can say that it is F minor, but I don't dwell on it too much unless I'm explaining a full accompaniment to my organist. A series of note names, numbers, and symbols underneath the square notes tells the organist what chords to play and what to change. The older (1930s) Solesmes-style accompaniments changed the bass note only on the ictus, and my example has changes only on the ictus as well, but somewhat less frequently. Triors described this style as "lourd" (heavy) and while I agree, it's pleasant in its own way; people are too dismissive of this because it's not pure modality, which doesn't respect the amount of work and love for chant done by organists such as Henri Potiron whose collections are now scanned and available online.

    The notation is not terribly intelligible without being taught directly, and you can see in the attachment (the scan of the Antiphonale monasticum) that while the hymn has its own range unrelated to the psalms, the Magnificat antiphon on the subsequent page has B-flat as the dominant (Fa) which would certainly be the case in France, but Clear Creek apparently uses A. In either case, the principles be should the same.

    Anyway, you can compare the singing here (as far as I can tell) unaccompanied to their antiphonal and the version which Fr. Bachmann wrote for me (with one sharp, not four flats!).
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    Thank you for the responses!

    What I can conclude, for now, considering all the points here, is:

    I think that the point on this type of accompaniment is probably increase the chant with the base note of the hexachord, like Dr. Weaver said, like old Byzantine chant made with the ison. And, to avoid major dissonances, maybe an incomplete triad is made which is completed by the note of the melody and the harmony naturally flows with the chant.

    there is a very delicate 4' stop

    And the stops are used, as mentioned, to double the voices from the chord. Is relevant to mention that Fontgombault's recording starts with an intonation with an 8' Bourdon in the 3rd octave, but later is clear, during pauses, that a 4th octave note corresponding to the melody is sounding, probably from a 4' Flute which appears when the chant begins.

    It seems to me that the pedal (with 16') enters with the choir

    I use GrandOrgue and, to my ears, the basses are from the 2nd octave. Maybe they play with a 16' stop in the 3rd octave, or they use the 8' Bourdon on the pedal. In either cases, the right hand is free to do chironomy, and this was very well pointed.

    Interestingly, Saint-Wandrille Abbey uses the same type of accompaniment, but they clearly play the melody, totaly visible, and even a little annoying, at the psalm from Laetetur cor introit.
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    I made this quick sheet of what I can hear from Fontgombault's Ave Maria...Virgo serena Seq. and played it with a simple Gedeckt 8' on Musescore. Yes, from what I could hear, they did parallel fifths.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,932
    While looking up the Fughette on Kyrie Orbis Factor by Henri Potiron, I found this PDF document (in Dutch, with some English for things originally in English). Eugène Lapierre (who, interestingly, studied under Vincent d'Indy in Paris) attributes the parallel fifths to Potiron, and it seems reasonable that he got this from Solesmes and Quarr Abbey, via Dom Desrocquettes, who would have also passed it on to the monks who would found Fontgombault (although if I'm not mistaken, Desrocquettes stayed at Quarr Abbey) to

    The consecutive fifths present here and there in these accompaniments serve a very useful purpose. Whereas in modern harmony, consecutive fifths are forbidden because of the leading tone and the weak degrees, - constituent elements in modern music, they are often permitted in the accompaniment of the chant when they enhance the modal scale. Gregorian scales are composed of independent degrees which
    are not subject to one another. Therefore, the law of attraction (the leading tone, TI, subject to the tonic, DO) has no connection whatsoever in Gregorian accompaniment. This is not an invention of the author [Lapierre], but the fundamental teaching of Henri Potiron of the Solesmes School at the Gregorian Institute of Paris, of which the author is a graduate.

    You can take it or leave it, but there you go. (Potiron and Lapierre's writings are available as scans from CC Watershed; just use ctrl+f to search for their names.)
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