The Best Kept Secret of Choral Music
  • Dear Friends,

    In case anyone is unaware, the best and most magnificent secret of Catholic Church music is here

    My friend Nancho, out of the goodness of his heart, has made available, FOR *FREE* online, the COMPLETE works of Victoria.

    ALSO, right on the site, are practice midi files for all voices!!!!

    He also has done wonderful works by other Spanish composers. Here is one example

    I am not sure why I don't hear more about this site on this forum, because (with the exception of the thousands of pages from books Jeffrey Tucker has made available on this is the most wonderful site imaginable for the Church musician.

    This site will change not only your life, but the life of the Church. It is truly amazing.
  • I've just recently become aware of this site as well, because of a project I'm doing with a community-based choir I direct. We're preparing to present a "cobbled together" Solemn Vespers for Tempus Paschale; a kind of hybrid of the pre-VCII and postconciliar forms. We're doing psalms 110, 114 and the Canticle from Revelation all under one antiphon (the "A" word, eh-hem), with psalm 110 being sung in Latin on the mode VII tone (from the Liber Usualis), alternating plainchant verses with falsobordone verses using Victoria's mode VII falso. (Psalm 114 is being sung entirely to the tonus peregrinus also from the Liber, and the canticle is being sung in English to a beautiful Anglican double-chant by Smart).

    For those interested in having a go at using these falsobordoni, I offer the following information: the trick is plugging the text in, especially given the complexity of the rhythms in several of the voice parts. Based on advice I've received, the best way to do it is to figure out which voice has the psalm tone formula (sometimes a very loose profile of the original) and plug the text into that line first. In the case of Victoria's mode VII, it's the second tenor line that has the psalm tone. After that, the rule of thumb is that syllables of words may fall all on the same vertical harmony and any note afterwards as long as the line carrying the psalm tone iterates the text first. Since I've already gone to the trouble of setting all of this in Finale for this choir, I'm going to give it to my church choir and have them prepare it as an anthem during Easter season, just to get them familiar with Latin chant and falsobordoni.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Are these pieces not referenced on the CPDL site? I'm pretty sure I've seen at least some of them there.
  • Yes, they're referenced on CPDL, but I find sometimes the linking can be awkward to navigate. It's actually easier to go directly to this site than to try and figure out how to get there from CPDL.

    As with many online resources, it can be difficult to figure out how things are organized, and how to get what you're really looking for. Perhaps it's a sign of my age (although I'm not that old), but all through my college years even up to my DMA work, I really kicked the goad of technology. I prefer pencil and paper, and really liked the ability of pulling a resource off the shelf and thumbing through it to see what was in it. Sometimes with online sources, there's much more than meets the eye, if you know how to peel back the layers.
  • Many thanks to Jules for pointing out this resource on the forum!

    I also commend Mr. Alvarez for using Lilypond to publish these scores, as I have found Lilypond's printed output to be far superior to other notation programs.
  • I've seen these too. Might I ask what sources were used? If these are just transcribed from the collected works, big time copyright problems exist here. If he worked from microfilms of the original prints, that's great, but I don't know too many people who have all of them.... The music is in public domain, but the editions in the collected works are not.
  • Michael,

    Take a quick spin through the first page of the website. The author references his sources, sort of. You may be right, but on the other hand I wonder if what he's done is taken facsimiles that appear in these sources and edited them for things like notation and clefs. I don't have an answer, but perhaps it's worth sending the owner, Mr. Alvarez, a quick e-mail and ask him directly.

    The site is really very scholarly at first glance, and so I'd like to err on the side of charity and believe that the owner has done his work in earnest, without any attempt at violating copyright laws.
  • It's bothering me how many threads have begun to descend to discussions of copyright. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but let's make it a principle to avoid this topic, since it really does impinge on legal issues, there is so much 'that is vague (I can tell amazing stories!!), and it doesn't help achieve the goals of this forum. No one here is interested in breaking the law but nor do we want to be the Red Guard of the copyright police. Let's see if we can all work to put this issue on the shelf as best we can.
  • Jeffery, while I understand your concern that we stick to issues that are more musically and liturgically centered, I don't think you mean to stifle discussion of something that all of have to deal with every day. As a musicologist who does editions of Renaissance music, I am a little concerned about what I see on CPDL. It seems that Sr Alvarez has been working from his own photographs, which he actually provides on his site! so my question is answered there. I'm quite suspicious of much of the rest of CPDL, though. I don't advocate that we be the Red Guard and use all our available time hunting down perpetrators, but I know that I would be quite upset to see someone post a straight transcription of my work -- which is available -- with his/her name on it. That's all. Helping others to break the law in the service of good church music doesn't sound like the right thing to do, does it?
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    Aristotle wrote:
    I also commend Mr. Alvarez for using Lilypond to publish these scores, as I have found Lilypond's printed output to be far superior to other notation programs.

    ....except that Lilypond apparently can’t update these Lilypond files, which were written some time ago with a 1.4x version (IIRC), to the current format.

    I used the “Conditor alme siderum” during Advent and wanted to have the congregation sing the alternate verses, so I wanted to edit the .ly file and put in the English translation from the hymnal. What should have taken me an hour or so took many more because I had to weed through the muck that is Lilypond’s documentation, still not find what I needed, then google for quite some time until I had enough to start trial-and-error, which eventually led me to the right thing I had to do to fix the file......which, again unfortunately, involved a good deal of manual editing.

    (To save anyone potential headache, IIRC, modern Lilypond factors slurring into its text underlay algorithm, whereas the old version did not.)
  • On copyright, I do understand your point Michael. I'm only suggesting that we leave these issues to plaintiffs and perps. It doesn't have to involved anyone else.
  • Jeffrey is right. This forum does not exist to impugn the hard work of others. If you have a doubt about someone's copyright status, please (*privately*) contact authorities and file a law suit. And, after you've done this, don't post about it! That does not concern this site.

    Also, beware! Making an edition of, for example, Palestrina from original sources does NOT necessarily make that work your own. This is especially true when there are multiple editions available.

    If Palestrina wrote "G - A - B" in the soprano (and Haberl, Casimiri, and others have already put this in print and public domain) that music (G - A - B) does NOT belong to you.

    This is so because reading and transcribing Renaissance manuscripts (generally speaking) is not really "translation" (at least those manuscripts composed after about 1525). The only choices involved are your choice of what the pulse will be (half notes or quarter notes), and a few other minor choices. Copyrighting and making money off "editions" of this music is fine, but don't think that "G - A - B" is protected under copyrighted laws. It is not. And you did not compose it. You merely put "G - A - B" in another format. That is all.

    For example, if "Bob Jones" puts a public domain article from the New York Times on his website, and I copy that article from Bob's site and put it on mine (giving credit to the New York Times) there is no problem whatsoever. This is true EVEN IF Bob Jones changed the format a bit when he put that Times article on his site. It is not really "translation" for him to copy verbatim the words of that public domain article, merely changing the formatting a bit here and there.

    Again, Jeffrey is right: copyright matters should have their own posts dedicated to them. But I wanted to clarify a few things, since this is "my" post.
  • Does anyone have an opinion on whether this piece is really Victoria? We've been singing it for years, and suddenly yesterday I began to doubt it. Seems just a bit too neat and hymnlike, if you know what I mean. I don't see it on the Victoria site.

    Any opinions?
  • "I don't want to spoil the party, so I'll go-o-o..." (Lennon/McCartney)
    But I have to second Mike's concerns while understanding your own, Jeffrey. I've posted of my own regarding the "rush to judgment" aspects in the CPDL phenomenon, so I won't rehash them.
    However, I'm happy to endorse postings such as Jules' and Francis' (loved the KYRIE, as well!) that put us "consumers" in direct touch with the "producers." That direct connection is obviously not mitigated by the third party middle agency that cannot possibly monitor all the legal contingencies. Suffice it to say, when I have seen choirs led by ACDA/AGO directors performing whole works such as Faure's REQUIEM obtained and reproduced under CPDL license, I get a little more than squirmy with the duplicity potential.
    Bye now, enjoy the apertifs.
  • Jules, please look at my first post again. I did. I don't see anything impugning anyone's reputation. I simply asked a question. I did say that IF these editions were copies from Pedrell, Angles or whomever MME has doing Victoria now, there would be some ethical questions in using them. Telling me to shut up and file a lawsuit IMO was quite rude. I'm happy to bow to Jeffery's request to keep copyright discussion to a minimum since he is the moderator here, I believe. You may notice that I posted a subsequent entry that applauded Sr Alvarez's work.
  • Michael,

    I did not mean to speak to you in particular.

    The thing is, Nancho's site has been around for years and years. On his site, he even posts pictures of the original editions that he uses (and this isn't really even necessary: see above post).

    But I have seen a lot of comments (by various people) on this site, and I think that Jeffrey was addressing this, and I second the opinion.

    Basically, post after post comes on, and (without justification) comments on copyright issues, and many of the people don't have a clue what their talking about.

    They need to start their own posts where they can talk about copyright or else file their own law suit. I am very serious.

    Just for example, a lot of folks will click on this post and read about the ENORMOUS contribution of Nancho, and one of the first things they see will be comments like these:

    "If these are just transcribed from the collected works, big time copyright problems exist here."

    ...and other false statements about public domain works.

    It is not appropriate.
  • Jules, point taken. I probably should have checked out the site before making a comment on copyright, but the topic of CPDL (and his site is linked there) instantly makes me think of this issue. I think we both might be guilty of knee-jerk reactions here. While I admit that I should have looked at the site a little more closely, I hope you understand that your call to cut off any copyright discussions as if they didn't matter was rather troubling. BTW whether I know copyright inside and out -- who does? -- shouldn't matter. If anyone on CPDL is transcribing music from MME, DTO, CMM or any other monument set and posting the transcriptions with their names on them, that's a pretty clear violation that I don't think we should be simply ignoring. Anyway, please accept my apology if you believe your friend's reputation was smeared. As I said, his work seems to be impressive, although I've not yet had a chance to compare the facsimiles and his transcriptions. In the end, though, you are right. It is great to have all this music available. I hope that more churches will allow its use!
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Jeffrey's the moderator, and I can understand his attitude. It's a technical and often obscure subject, and to make matters worse the law varies from country to country. Unless people have real expertise to bring to the table, and something new to say or a point to clarify, there's not much point in our spending lots of time on the subject.

    That said, I'm going to have my cake and eat it too! Sites that host 'free' score downloads should think about the reasonable steps they can take to discourage the lifting of professional editors' work, e.g. by encouraging the referencing of sources, as in Nancho's work. It's not sufficient to say "well, go sue". We all know the real beneficiaries of that approach (sorry if any of you do that for a living).
  • Yes, on the point about obscure in particular. I work in this field and I've seen amazing things. Deep pockets get away when anything and everything, forever. Small guys just take their lumps. Someday I'll write up some astounding examples I've run across - examples that reveal how the law is used merely a veneer, how roomfuls of legal paper are used merely as smokescreen, how bullying and threats plus money trump justice time after time, how lawyers will charge thousands upon thousands to tell people what they could easily discover very quickly, and how lawyers will make things up if paid highly enough. These experiences have made me very much of a cynic on these issues, particularly as regards old editions. I've also been struck by how much "street knowledge" on this subject is completely wrong. So here you have the background on why I have doubts about pursing these discussions on the forum can't really benefit people and might actually do harm.
  • Hi, Michael,

    I, too, apologize for anything I said that was harsh or knee-jerk. I was reacting more to other posts I've seen than your comment.

    At the risk of saying things again and again, I will say again, I think that copyright posts should have their own subject heading, by and large.

    In Christ,
  • How sure are we that this score repository is the entire works of Victoria?

    There is an Ave Maris Stella setting that I got off CPDL, which attributed the setting to Anerio. But just today I stumbled upon the same setting published by GIA as being by Victoria. I don’t see this setting on the site, though there are two AMS settings on there.

    Unfortunately, the setting is no longer available via CPDL.
  • I looked over the site and it seems pretty complete. I checked the Marian antiphons and they are all there. I recently analyzed all of them for part of my dissertation. I think if he doesn't have it, you don't need it ; )
  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    Does anyone know if there is a similar site for Gibbons' music? I'm working on some now w/ my choir and would love not to have to make practice tapes/cd's myself.
  • Chris, Not really, but a lot of his music is in Musica Britannica. Your nearest large university should have this venerable set.

  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    Thanks, Mike. I'll check it out. I'm close to Rutgers, Princeton, and NYC as well, so I should be able to lay my hands on it somewhere!

  • Princeton will definitely have it and its a great excuse to get onto that wonderful campus. I performed the Monteverdi Vespers there a few years back (on sackbut) in the round theater with a couple of the choirs from Westminster and their resident early music vocal group as soloists. Great experience.

  • For Gibbons's music, your best resource would be the many octavo editions by Oxford University Press, or the series "Early English Church Music". This is a very big series now with many volumes. Volume 3 is devoted to Gibbons's "verse anthems" where solo passages alternate with full choir, with an obbligato organ part. I think one of the later volumes in the EECM series has Gibbons's "a cappella" anthems. There is also the very old edition of all of Gibbons's church work in the old series "Tudor Church Music". (this is from the 1920's) The pitches are often very unusual (which gets into a hornet's nest about what sorts of choirs these pieces were performed by) and the barring is often irregular and in practice not easy to perform. Both of these big series you should be able to find at a good University music library. Northwestern University's music library in Evanston, Illinois, definitely has all of these, and I'm sure there are many other good libraries.
  • Some of you might like to know that the editor Jon Dixon, who's near London, has for about 15 years steadily been making superb editions, including now the complete works of Byrd and Victoria, and he's working on Lassus and Palestrina too. Plus lots and lots of early English Catholic music by the likes of Tallis, Sheppard, Ludford, Mundy etc. My choir in the UK has used several of his editions, they are competitively priced and often include several works by one composer in one score. he can print your editions to order, at any pitch you need them to be. Choirs that regularly turn to him for editions include Westminster Cathedral Choir, Gabrieli Consort etc. He doesn't seem to have a dedicated website that I can find, but there is plenty of info in this link:

    Here is his article on Victoria:

    I hope this is of help.