Brave singer posts solo recording of Gregorian Gradual • and a challenge!
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592


    I remember reading an interview where Gary Graffman lamented that he had not learned Rachmaniov's 3rd Concerto as a student, when he was "still too young to know fear."

    Growing up, I was never afraid to sing Gregorian chant. However, with each passing year, I come to a different conclusion. When a microphone is in front of you, that microphone picks up every little error, mistake, and imperfection. This can be a very scary thing. Until one tries it, one cannot IMAGINE how difficult this actually is.

    In a recent article (Is it better to sing polyphonic music with only a few singers or many?), I made the point that having numerous singers on a line can serve to minimize the imperfections, as they meld into "one voice." I really think this holds true for Gregorian chant, as well. I think chant is much easier to sing in a group. Graduals, however, are a special type of chant, and they seem to have been written (perhaps) for soloists to sing (at least the verse).

    Here is a VIDEO RECORDING in which I attempt to sing a Gradual by myself. • YouTube

    It was MUCH HARDER than I thought. Every single imperfection comes through.

    AND NOW . . . a challenge.

    I would very much love to hear others' recordings of this same Gradual. Anyone up for the challenge?

    (How wonderful if someone like Mary Ann Carr would take up this challenge! Hearing her sing the solo verse at Colloquium XIX changed my life, and my entire perception of what chant is and can be.)

    The Score and Mp3 can be found at
  • Ok, I am down with this, Jeff! When is the deadline, and which Gradual from Christmas? Please say Midnight Mass. I confess, that's the only one I'm singing the verse on this year. :)

    Will listen to this asap. It's a pilgrimage of sorts just learning one of these, and trying to do it justice. It's even harder with a mic, whew been there.
  • Simon
    Posts: 127
    The Canticum trium puerorum is, I think, the longest single piece in the gregorian chant repertoire - some 20-25 minutes in length. On youtube one can find it sung by a group called Hartkeriana at a festival in Bratislava in 2009. The piece has been split into three parts on youtube. The soloist for all the verses is Jasper Schweppe, a tenor who also sings in the Netherlands Chamber Choir. A most challenging piece for a soloist. I thought this a remarkable effort when I heard it. Here's the link to part one of the piece. The others are nearby to click on if you want to continue.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I chose "Benedictus Dominus," which (like all Graduals) is a beautiful Gradual. I'd love to hear you sing this one!

    It is assigned to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the new calendar.

    As far as I can tell, in the old calendar, it was the Gradual for the 1st Sunday after Epiphany (and still appears in the 1961 Graduale).

    It seems that ever since 1921, the feast of the 1st Sunday after Epiphany is only used on ferial days during the week . . .

    Does anyone have more information about this?
  • JDE
    Posts: 586

    I will take up the challenge. I would never attempt to compete with MA's angelic voice, but I think it would be interesting to hear multiple singers execute the same piece.

    There is no end of discussion of (for example) which tenor sings the best "Di Quella Pira," which is musically trivial. Why should this be any different? Throw in the additional variables (which pitch do you use for 'home,' male vs. female vs. high, medium or low voice, tempo, etc.) and I think it should be fascinating.

    When's the deadline?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    JDE, I look forward to listening!!!

    No real deadline....perhaps the sooner the better, lest we forget about this thread....
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    Okay. If I find myself with nothing to do in the next couple of days . . .
  • Jeff, about the 1961 Graduale: If memory serves, the Sunday after Epiphany is kept as the feast of the Holy Family, displacing the First Sunday after Epiphany. However, the Sunday Mass propers would be used for ferias during that week. The feast of the Holy Family is relatively recent (late 19th or 20th century), but I'm not sure of the exact date.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Here are two more attempts:

    Again....folks.....try it....and you will is much harder than I ever thought.....just try it.....
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    I'm most certainly up for the challenge, but, umm, unfortunately you posted this about two days before Christmas, and well, some of us have other things to be doing right now... ;-)

    (give me a week or two...)
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Jeff, I'm a bit curious: What software do you use for the audio and video work? I know Audacity is pretty strong for lots of things, and I'm guessing that Mac users could use iMovie for the follow-along-with-the-music effect.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Any takers? Anyone?

  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Oooh, I want to do this using the manuscript notation, but I feel it's really best done from memory and that will take a while. I learned "Audi filia" back in August, and now I can pull it out on command. I sing and conduct the Communion each week from memory, but they are relatively short, and I have the benefit of singing (with our cantor) at three Masses before the choir arrives. They will perform the propers for Pentecost from memory in June, but we're going to have to start working on them next month in order to get there!
  • Yes, still planning on doing this, have been a little ill. :(
    Would you prefer the Epiphany or Purification Gradual?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    All Graduals are great, almost as great as the Alleluia Verses.

    Why not do ALLELUIA: Qui Timent Dominum ?

    I've already got score prepared...
  • I will throw in an Alleluia or two as a bonus just for you, Jeff! :)
    Agreed that they are glorious. When my voice is in better shape, I'll get to it. Recording like this is a valuable exercise- I'm bound and determined to do so before Dominic comes in March.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    ok, here's mine
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    marajoy: to me, it sounds truly wonderful.

    Congratulations! I hope to study your recording again as soon as I can find the time, and listen to it several times through.
  • Solo chant is important,

    I've said it before and I will say it as long as I live.

    Better one master cantor than 25 mediocre or poor ones.
    I live by the mantra of quality not quantity.
    Pray 10 times like you mean it in 1 hour instead of 100 by wrote in 10 mins.

    My best experiences with chant so far have usually been with only a few singers or soloists.
    Usually with the protopsaltis of the greek orthodox cathedrals. Stelios Kontakiotis for example:

    Now theres some good soloists!

    Apostolos, Stelios Kontakiotis / Allelouia JM Boyer

    Come receive the Light from the Light that is never overtaken by night and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead

    In a grave they laid Thee, O my life and my Christ,

    They'll put to shame almost any precenter at the latin catholic cathedrals of the modern era.

    Large choirs can be great but if they are apprentices theymust have a leader worthy of emulation.

    If the when the leader sings " The universe is in your power, O Lord God, and there is no one who can oppose you;..You O God are the Lord of all" and it doesnt feel like He really means it, your other singers probably aren't going to help save the situation.

    While it is true that multiple singers can meld together, it's also true that you tend to have more people who really cant read the neumes and just "follow the leader" and produce a slow sloppy dragging quality into the music.

    If you make too many mistakes you probably shouldnt be a soloist, but t

    Marajoy, has an excellent voice!

    Could anyone please record some chants in english too.

    I don't mean the extremely simple ones for beginners.

    Ideally the Sequence for Purification I posted here earlier would be a fine selection.

    Chants from the American Gradual, The Plainchant Gradual, The Kyriale (St Dunstan edition) especially.
    Some prolix responsories from matins of the dead or sarum vespers would be great.

    You're right about recordings picking up mistakes.
    I've noticed this years ago as a Dj I had to mix the beats almost perfectly in rhythm to have it sound good enough not be fired and be respected.

    First of all your voice has to be in decent condition, with a good nights sleep and no major sinus problems.

    When i record a chant that I've never sung before to youtube, I usually do give my self 3 takes. By the third take it sounds good enough to post. And depending how difficult practicing a bit before I begin record may be necessary.
    I wish I had more time and places to record them. I'll try to do some again this weekend.

    I record with cooleditpro from the year 2000 and a dollar store cell phone microphone.
  • Sang the Timebunt this past Sunday with a small ladies schola and it went pretty well. I sang the Verse as a about scared. The site has proven very helpful and if you guys keep recording. that would be very nice as well.