Accompaniments
  • tlelyo
    Posts: 21
    Where can one find the appropriate notes/chords to accompany chants? Specifically the likes of the "simple chant project."?
  • Tom, isn't it? Hi, Tom...
    Adam, Aristotle and I have had just informal, conceptual talks among us about your question. Short answer, they don't exist. As "proprietor" of the project, and an accomplished guitarist, Adam's still not sure of the efficacy of dove-tailing chord assignments for guitarists just yet. And, of course, he's full on in the midst of actually trying to stay ahead of the curve of composing them for the Sundays and Feasts of the years' cycles.
    I made a cursory look at the Introit for Advent I a couple of weeks ago, and as I later wrote to Adam, it's not a cut and dried easy notion to try to assign even a I-V ison (or "drone") to chant because of the modal nature of the tetrachord structure of their vast variety of melodies within the eight modes.
    Some of the propers will be more accessible, some almost impossible to realize for an intermediate/novice guitarist. Too early to tell. Other vexing issues involved are whether to alter Adam's basic rhythmic assignments to the melodies, or even make them wholly or partially metric, and whether it would be utterly confusing to assign commonly used chord nomenclature (GM9-Dadd2/F#...etc.) to four line staff, square neume notation with moveable "Do" or final tone?
    I think at this juncture, your YouTube project for "Jubilate Deo" settings could be augmented by getting some books like OCP's "Laus Tibi," or going on MusicaSacra's website and choosing some of the PalmerBurgess chants, and setting your own accompaniments as you hear them, and keep posting them and make mention of that here or at Chant Cafe.
    A number of folks in CMAA are not "risk averse" towards providing access to you and all guitarists who wish to enrich their repertoire via chant.* It's just that it's not on the front burner, yet, because there are so many other "brick" projects concerning implementation of chant in the common parish culture. Stay tuned.


    *That's not to say that most CMAA folks are at all okay with the notion of chant+guitar. Keep in mind, always, that chant in its supremely ideal form, is a human voice, sung in unison, enterprise, period. But no one wants to discourage enterprises that ultimately lead the Faithful toward that ideal.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    Speaking of accompaniments, I hope someone is out there producing organ accompaniments for the new ICEL Mass Ordinary chants. As material for the congregation, they would benefit from organ support.

    Furthermore, good accompaniments could influence many parish organists to take an interest in music from sources other than the Big 3 publishers.
  • Speaking of accompaniments, I hope someone is out there producing organ accompaniments for the new ICEL Mass Ordinary chants. As material for the congregation, they would benefit from organ support.


    Wouldn't it be easier to adapt the NOH accompaniments for English usage?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    That's a fine idea!

    Or rather: Bingo! (as we Catholics say)
  • If we could find a guitarist who can read treble/bass clefs, and decipher chords, we could make a lot of progress. I think the NOH modal model could work with guitars, BUT not in the simple language of Major, Minor, Dominant seventh, etc. It would need a new language that included suspensions, not just the closest open chord possible.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    From my gittar-playing days, I remember that all the music was scored on the treble staff, so one would have to present the piece in that form.
  • Actually RC, I think Steve is more attuned (do I get an award for first pun of the New Year?) to the "problem" inherent with the instrument's capabilities. I kind of meant to add to my original response to Mr. Lelyo the keen analysis of Jeff Ostrowski's article over at the Cafe about organ accompaniments. As I understand that article, JO desires that an organ accompaniment must have its own "superstructure" which includes aspects like a purposeful moving bass and carefully crafted suspensions, etc. that provides a clear and compelling pathway for the melody to reach its destination.
    OTOH, the "deciphring" guitarist ought to be able to use a common chordal nomenclature, ideally, if accessibility for the public is also a goal.
    This is no "put it in the microwave, press two minutes, and zap: it's dinnertime" project. It ain'ta gonna be easy.
  • Nova Guitar Harmonia ad Graduale
  • Okay, Jeffrey C., I googled that for kicks with nada results.
    So, if this gets done, you have the trademark title! Happy New Year.
  • tlelyo/Tom,
    Might I make a gentle suggestion? Start with the practice videos, immerse yourself in the style, and see if an accompaniment is truly needed, or just part of the comfort zone in your program.

    The simple propers are patterned more or less after the Gregorian propers, which were intended as unaccompanied vocal music.

    There are good reasons to accompany if needed, but there are better reasons to take things slow and master something new by singing chant unaccompanied. My guess is that a goal of the Simple English Propers is not only to get the propers sung, but to familiarize people with chant that points to the original tradition- unaccompanied traditional vocal music. I would also guess this is why Adam and others have chosen to present these propers in square notation, because it is closer to the neumatic expression/articulation that is a key component of Gregorian chant style, most especially in the propers.

    Perhaps Adam or someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I think there is a reason why there is no accompaniment to the SEP, but there are great tutorials. Chant is an aural art, after all, so I applaud all the work done on this, especially the video resources.
  • There are good reasons to accompany if needed, but there are better reasons to take things slow and master something new by singing chant unaccompanied. My guess is that a goal of the Simple English Propers is not only to get the propers sung, but to familiarize people with chant that points to the original tradition- unaccompanied traditional vocal music.


    One can argue that there has been a long tradition of accompanied chant, but debating any more about this is like beating a dead horse.

    Can anyone say exactly why the organ was even introduced into The Christian Church - if not for the purpose of accompanying Gregorian chant to begin with?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    I think it is well known that some posters here sing exceptionally well. All of my singers don't. They need accompaniment.

    Why was the organ introduced to the mass? Maybe to annoy and upstage the singers? Sounds like good reasons to me. ;-)
  • Silly Charles! Chant is not entirely dependent on highly skilled singers.

    Consider the Colloquium, where good, average, and not so good singers are trained together in various levels of chant experience. Year after year they make something beautiful happen, all without accompaniment.

    If singers are never trained to develop acapella singing, accompaniment only masks their weaknesses, it won't help solve them or move them beyond a low level. Do you also accompany polyphony? Just curious.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    If it's 17th-Century polyphony, it might have a continuo part! But that's another story. You know the Requiem Mass by Kaiser Leopold I? That's polyphonic, but much more akin to Schütz than to Palestrina.

    It seems to me that the organ is a good method for keeping people on pitch, but any ensemble of continuously sounding instruments - winds, strings or brass - would also suffice for that purpose. The advantage of the organ is that it only requires two people to play it (assuming someone has to be on the hamster wheel to keep the windchest inflated).
  • If singers are never trained to develop acapella singing, accompaniment only masks their weaknesses, it won't help solve them or move them beyond a low level.


    If I am given more than 45 minutes before Mass per week with a cantor, then I might be able to do this.


    Do you also accompany polyphony?


    Wasn't the Church serpent used for this very reason?

    Chant with Accompanying Serpent?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    What I run into time and time again, is singers who think the liturgy is all about them. It isn't, and I, for one, don't want to listen to them continually - maybe the congregation doesn't either. Aside from a thousand year tradition of using the organ during the mass, which apparently isn't important in some quarters, the organ at the very least, provides a bit of contrast for the congregation's ears. So throw out the tradition of using the organ and give up the car, the central air, the electricity, and live in the 9th century. At least that's consistent. ;-) However, I think it is some of the extremes of the purists that will doom the success of the chant revival, not the chant itself.

    And yes, you can sing chant without highly skilled singers. But don't those great singers do it so much better? As to accompanying polyphony, it depends on the polyphony. I am aware that the Colloquium does some wonderful things and produces some very beautiful music. But while I want the general state of music to improve in the Catholic Church, recreating the Colloquium every Sunday is not one of my goals - not that I could ever achieve it every week with my resources. The congregation would likely tire of it week after week, anyway. I do program a wider range of literature than that from one time and place. I think it's all good music, but it is not always chant, and some of it is even accompanied by - gasp, shudder - the organ! LOL.
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