Haugen vs. Haas
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    Am I the only one who gets very difference “senses” from these composers’ music?

    Haas is a rock star, a performer. “We Are Called” is typical of the music for which I think he has become well-known. Even “The Lord is My Light and My Salvation” has a “theatricality” to it that exalts the individual.

    Then there is Haugen, whom I think of in connection with “Eye Has Not Seen”, “To You, O Lord”, the Ps. 33 in A minor, and other such pieces. These all seem to me less individualistic. More “pretty” than the showy flash of Haas “No Longer Strangers” (which is great fun, btw, to sing).
  • Dave
    Posts: 64
    When I hear Haugen's "Gather Us In" or "Sing Out, Earth and Skies," I feel like I should don a toga and join a band of Druids dancing around a big rock. The music sounds laughably primitive, pagan and cold. In fact, I even played the accompaniments sometimes for entertainment. When I hear Haas, I imagine Bing or Frank singing dramatic glissandos from the G to the D on the first verse of "We Will Rise Again." Amusements at best.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I have the same sense, I find Haas to be more oriented on being showy and at least SOME Haugen more focused on functionality. All in all, Haas is more fun to perform.
  • Jscola30
    Posts: 116
  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    I agree that there is definately a difference entre les deux. Haugen's works lean more toward the compositionally sound (NPI), not all of them, to be sure, but certainly more so than Haas' compositions. With Haugen's original texts, however, one must be careful to avoid his occasional heresies (verse 4 - Gather Us In, for example).
  • Much agreed with Dave here.

    One thing I've noticed is that BOTH of these guys are notorious for using the following cadences to end a melody...
    suspended 2 to 3
    suspended 4 to 5
    suspended 4 to 3

    And to add to Joe's list of GOOD contemporary composers (all of which are very good), I would add John Rutter and Alexander Peloquin.

  • john m
    Posts: 136
    Mr. Haas did step outside of his usual entertainment idiom for his setting of "The Guardian's Farewell" (GIA) on the text from the Dream of Gerontius. A quite fine setting, in my opinion.
  • Two things:

    1) John M- Yes, I was truly caught "on the hop" (to borrow an English colloquialism) when I stumbled upon Guardian's Farewell by Haas. Part of it, I think, has to do with the beauty of the poetry. When you have good material like that, I think, as does Papa Ratzinger (read some of his writings on music), that beauty begets beauty. Of course that thesis doesn't always apply. IMHO "Mass of Creation" is hackneyed and lacking in the real dignity those texts require. (When people say something's "not so bad," I'm reminded of a truly humorous quote from the original version of the film, The Scarlet Pimpernel, in which the fop Blakney, brilliantly played by Leslie Howard says, "There's nothing in the world so bad as something that's 'not so bad.'") Which is an excellent segue into my second remark:

    2) Not to be a wet blanket, curmudgeon, or the like, isn't this entire thread rather not in keeping with the spirit of the forum, vis a vis these gentlemen's compositional style?
  • I appreciate that this thread is, for the most part, dealing in specifics and not generalities, which is most often the case when discussing these gentlemens' offerings. For example, citing the "Druid" affect to GuI is a viable, subjective criticism. Pointing out "riff vocabularies" such as propensities to use signature suspensions (presumably ad nauseum) is a valuable observation.
    But I echo and still maintain the stance that we must judge the overall merit of anyone's compositions on a one by one basis, and use both subjective and objective criteria before consigning either the work or the writer to Gehenna.
    Someone's enjoyment of "Sing out earth and skies" may stem from an appreciation of its (my word) faux-medieval attributes. Others' disdain of certain medieval traits could simply come from a visceral dislike the first time they heard a Landini cadence. To each....
    Thanked by 1SBCpianoman
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    This is general discussion of music, is it not? I've yet to see anyone say that Haugen or Haas's music, any of it, is suitable for Mass. I wouldn't argue that any of it is excellent, but some of it I must admit is enjoyable in small doses. I think we can say that on here, or are we bound to utter the typical SMMMH tripe, a few song parodies, and then all agree that Gather hymnals should be burned? If someone can say on this forum that the music of the greatest composer of all time should be banned from liturgical usage on the sole basis of that composer's church affiliation, I think Cantor and others can discuss the musical value (liturgical or in this case otherwise) of a piece of music. One of the things that really annoys me about the Catholic blogosphere is the tendency to get their unmentionables in knots over someone who dares to not condemn enemy-bishop-of-the-week or anyone insufficiently conservative in any way. And everyone falls into line. I should hope we can rise above such a mindless "everyone must agree with and quote the rhetoric of the day" attitude here. If you think it's important to disagree with Cantor's assertion that some of the lambasted music has musical merit, go ahead and try to convince him otherwise. But I don't think this forum is about shutting up people with witch-hunts against those who violate the Sacrosanct Spirit of the Reform of the Reform.
    Thanked by 1SBCpianoman
  • Dave
    Posts: 64
    Charles in CenCA: If you treat my comment about Druids with the same gravity as you would a rational criticism of the music, text and liturgical appropriateness, then you have clearly missed my point: that I was trying to inject levity into this thread.
  • SMMMH? Not sure what that refers to.

    The conversation regarding the appropriateness of Bach's organ music was a bit of a reach, and I think that's why JT decided to delete a fair number of entries, including mine, which was a defense of the use of organ music of the German Baroque (primarily of Lutheran origin) on the basis of its place in high art, rather than an examination of the denominational affiliation of the composer(s).

    I think it's reasonable to say that one could readily engage in an in-depth analysis of the music from the pen of Haugen, Haas, Joncas, the St. Louis Jesuits, et al, on a piece-by-piece basis. The question is not one of engaging in a witch hunt or shutting anyone up. The question is, does this kind of intellectual exercise merit the time and energy? Is it in keeping with the purposes of this forum and its parent organization?

    According to the etiquette guidelines for this forum, we read at entry no. 5: "Members may not level insinuations of heresy, bad faith, or criminality against members; members should also avoid such inflammatory language against non-members." Narrowly read, we should not engage in a discussion about the potential for heresy in the hymn and song texts of these gentlemen? To be sure, more than enough ink has been publicly spilled regarding the theological difficulties surrounding the texts crafted by Haugen ("Gather Us In" for example), but once that topic of discussion is removed from the table, we're left with justifying the fruits of their craft from a wholly subjective point of view, that is, the quality of the tunes they have composed, and the techniques employed or the styles they ape: country-western, pseudo-musical theater, pseudo-Latin-American, pseudo-Gospel, pseudo pop-rock (or even quasi-Druidic . . .with a wink at Dave). Now it becomes an argument of historic precedent.

    Perhaps then we are wrong to pour scorn on the contemporary music of this type, trafficked by the major (Catholic) music publishers for the last 30 years. After all, as +Aidan Kavanagh so eloquently pointed out in his commentary entitled, "Beyond Words and Concepts to the Survival of Mrs. Murphy,":

    "[And] it seems that many basic melodic themes found in Gregorian chant were so popular in their origin that the were used as much in village pubs and dances as they were in church at Sunday Mass, only the texts being different. Good music is good music wherever it is found. Because of liturgical music's distinctive service to the ultimate survival of people of faith, I would advocate this be the criterion for musical selection for liturgical use rather than the criterion of whether or not a piece is 'sacred'." (Music in Catholic Worship, Revised Edition: The NPM Commentary. Ed. by Virgil Funk. Washington, D.C.: The Pastoral Press, 1983.)

    If Haugen, Haas, Joncas, et al see fit to draw from contemporary musical idioms, as apparently was done in the renaissance, who are we to criticize these gentlemen for engaging in the same approach to their craft? Perhaps we aren't.

    Perhaps our work in promoting the best music for the liturgy, that is Gregorian chant, polyphony and contemporary art music, is misplaced. Another quote from the above-referenced book appears in an article by +Eugene Walsh:

    "We know that we can no longer follow patterns inherited from the recent past: the "high Mass" pattern, the "four hymn" syndrome. These no longer work. They render the Eucharistic sign confused and ambiguous. The sign becomes less revealing, therefore less life-giving. Nostalgia is not a good enough reason to hold onto anything of the past when it clearly does not fit, when it clearly gets in the way." Perhaps we should get out of Haugen and Haas' way.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen", in case you haven't heard of it. It's a website which consists primarily of a list of names of people who agree with the statement, "LOL MARYT HOOGIN IS TEH SUX0R!!!1!"

    My point isn't that Haugen is great or that anyone who thinks he's bad is just spouting off like an idiot. Nor am I discouraging anyone from criticizing someone for not thinking that Haugen's worth as a human being is lower than dirt. I'm simply saying that I find it inappropriate to suggest that discussions about any music, of any sort, from a musical standpoint, are inappropriate for this forum. In short, if you don't like the topic, just ignore it. You may say "So I can write an post, Styx Rocks?" Well, yes. If no one comments on it, it just sinks to the bottom with no dialog produced.

    I point to rule 6 of the forum: "The topic is music and liturgy. Discussions within a forum should pertain to the forum in which they occur." Emphasis is my doing, of course. This discussion is occurring within the forum "General Discussion: Music". I suggested the General Discussion forums when this site began so that we would have an opportunity to chat about music (or Catholicism) without it being "work". If that is horribly unacceptable and we're wasting everyone's time and destroying lives with doing just that, discussing music, then I humbly and sincerely offer apologies around the board for my involvement in this thread and starting another one on the wonderful Stanford Requiem (oops! I accidentally mentioned music again! Mea culpa!)

    But until the moderator should decide that "General Discussion: Music" is too pleasant a topic for this board, I repeat my main point, which could have spared me a lot of typing had I just said this: if you don't like it, don't read this thread.
  • Sometimes sensibility in one area spills over.

    A confirmation plan produced by one of the 2 lettered names has an entire service based on and around "Song of the Body of Christ" by Haas, based upon the a traditional Hawaiian song.

    In a multicultural parish, we are apprised to be careful not to favor singing in one language or another for fear of appearing to be working by favoritism. Makes good sense. A Hawaiian couple and I talked after mass recently.

    Having been given notice of this song and it's planned use, I searched out the original and discovered it's like a top ten hit over there...the translation I discovered was:

    `Oia la he koa no ke ano ahiahi;
    `oia nei no ke ano kakahiaka.

    He is a warrior of the evening hours;
    but this person here is of the morning hours.

    I'm not going to attempt to interpret that..but I have suggested that it's use might be....troublesome?

    nj at sjnmusic.com
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    And honestly, I'm just going to back out of this one. Because I HAVE said my piece: some Haugen and Haas music is fun to play, and Haas sounds more like pop music than Haugen. Beyond that, I don't have anything else to add, nor am I interested in discussing the topic much further than that. And it won't hurt me a bit if other people want to have a better discussion and this thread remains at the top of the list.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,667
    i get a very different sense about religion from their music.
  • Francis,


    Brevity is the soul of wit.
  • john m
    Posts: 136
    I am given to understand that Mr. Haas is not a pianist; didn't a Jeanne Cotter write many/most of the piano arrangements of his melodies? If that is the case, the sound which is identified with his name is not entirely his work.
  • No, Haas is a pianist, after a fashion. Cotter (Haas' ex-wife) did write the more challenging and technical accompaniments, the rhapsodic accompaniment to the Mass of Light Gloria, for example.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    I admit to a touch of disappointment in finding that this was not the title of an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch....
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    I’m a bit surprised this thread has gotten the traffic it has gotten, but I suppose I shouldn’t be.

    I’d be curious, for the readers who are still following here: can you put the following Haugen songs in increasing order of offensiveness? (All are well-known from Gather) It’d be great if someone could articulate what offends (or redeems).

    Ps. 22 “My God, My God”
    Ps. 33 “Let Your Mercy Be On Us”
    Ps. 34 “Taste and See”
    Ps. 51 “Be merciful, O Lord”
    Ps. 66 “Let All the Earth”
  • Cantor
    Posts: 84
    Never mind - starting a new thread with that last post.
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    "Sing Out, Earth and Skies," I thought was Mr Haugen's homage to Personet Hodie.
  • "CommentAuthorDave CommentTime23 hours ago edited
    Charles in CenCA: If you treat my comment about Druids with the same gravity as you would a rational criticism of the music, text and liturgical appropriateness, then you have clearly missed my point: that I was trying to inject levity into this thread."

    HaHa. Levity from you and Francis acknowledged. Actually, I didn't think my comments contained any gravitas at all; to the opposite, I thought them perfunctory. And the tone of my post was meant to be complimentary to those who'd contributed to the thread, not to advance a major thesis. But I do appreciate G's comment above as some sort of personal exoneration, even if IT was meant to "inject levity." Without emoticons, I am sometimes at a loss to recognize secco humor. Just trying to remain civil and intelligent; Pinot Noir helps with the latter. ;-)