Making the Resp. Psalm more like the Gradual (a.k.a. "Gradual Tones")
  • An excellent question was posed at tonight's plenary lecture here at the Colloquium. Jeffery Tucker asked if there was a way to make the responsorial psalm sound more like the gradual, and Dr. Mahrt answered that a more solemn and elaborate tone could be used for the verses. To that end, I'd like to offer the first of what will hopefully be eight chants (one for each mode) which will provide one way of accomplishing this. I have termed it a "gradual tone," and it was originally conceived to offer parishes the opportunity to chant the gradual without necessarily having a choir capable of the standard chants—as evident by the supplied texts for the season of Advent—but could easily be used for responsorial psalm verses instead. It is essentially a psalm tone with elaborated cadential formulae; being in mode I, it uses melismatic figures common among the dorian graduals and the reciting tone proper to the mode. Please take a look at it and let me know if it is something you'd consider using in your parish, and whether I should continue with the other seven.

    Thanked by 1Ragueneau
  • Definitely continue! Our parish needs these excellent resources! God bless.
  • This is really fine. Do continue. I have done some similar to this as the need arose, but yours is better.
    Providing pointing for Latin AND English is also superb.
    Why, pray, would anyone not use these unless he/she were using the Graduale Romanum or the Palmer-Burgess or the Bruce Ford???
  • WJA
    Posts: 237
    That is a lovely setting.

    Am I correct in assuming that the idea is for the congregation to sing a fairly simple setting of the antiphon in the same mode, and then for a cantor to sing the psalm verses in this more elaborate setting?

    If so, I wonder:

    (a) Whether that would sound incongruous -- simple antiphon setting versus complicated verse setting (it's the reverse with introits and communions, and with graduals, alleluias, and offertories, its complicated antiphon/complicated verse); and

    (b) Keeping in mind that you usually sing, say, six or eight verses in a responsorial psalm, would the elaborate setting of the verse get, well, kind of old? I'm trying to imagine how a gradual would sound if instead of one elaborate verse, it had eight, sung in alternation with the antiphon.

    In sum, I love the setting and the overall concept, want to use it, and am trying to figure out the practicalities of doing so.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    GIRM on the Responsorial psalm:

    In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the
    Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm
    from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another
    musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons,
    including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the
    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not
    be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

    It seems too me that there are few restrictions on the responsorial psalm, other than that it must be a psalm text (or canticle). Verses may be sung in alternation with the antiphon, or the verses may be sung straight through. There is no mention of the minimum or maximum number of verses (remember, this section describes what may be sung in place of the Lectionary text). I see no reason why you couldn't have a short response, one or two verses (in my opinion, ideally a simple tone for unskilled cantors, a solemn tone for skilled ones, and a harmonized version for choirs), and then another simple response.

    However, at that point one might ask, why not just do the Gradual? Remember the reasons for introducing (or as some would have it, "reintroducing") the Responsorial psalm into the liturgy in the first place.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,490
    I've thought that the RP could be more interesting than it generally is. Musically, it's just a ritornello form, and nothing restrains the fancy of what comes between the ritornelli. The problem is that composers would have to write a lot of music, and cantors and accompanists would have to learn it, And I'm not in a hurry to do it because of the copyright issue. But the music could illuminate the text. I'm not sure this would make it "more like a Gradual" in ornateness. But it would make it more, anyway.
  • Definitely continue!

    Well, that's enough for me to continue. "For the sake of ten" and all that, you know? Thanks for all of your support. As for your questions, they are all good (and I do not know the answers), but I think I'll continue regardless of what specific uses the tones would have. At the very least, they could provide for somewhat more dignified psalm tone propers.
  • Just wondering how they're coming? I realize you're busy, but I really like this idea and can't wait to use them.
  • To tell you the truth, I don't have any others finished yet. I'll keep you posted, though. Thanks for the support!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    It's been on my mind, so I'm bumping this thread… first, to check on progress (and to encourage catholiccomposer here!).

    But I've also been thinking of this in light of the success of the SEP, and wondering if this could join the ranks of the wonderful resources now available for the responsorial psalm (I'm thinking of AOZ's and Jeffrey O.'s writings; I know there are others as well!).
  • mahrt
    Posts: 508
    This is pretty much what I had in mind. When I had to do this, I made a proper adaptation for each text, but I think this formulaic approach would work quite well. It contains figures that are proper to real graduals, and it would be a very good way to prepare the congregation to hear a Gregorian gradual.

    The drawback is still asking the congregation to sing a trivial antiphon, a different one each week. There are probably some good solutions to this problem.
  • Just wondering how this project is going? It would still be an outstanding resource for our congregation here.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    catholiccomposer, I think what you've done is really beautiful. One question: why not just use the Gradual texts? And can each be written out?
  • I am still developing the others, just to let everyone know! I'm attempting to finish up the music for my senior composition recital, though, so it's unfortunately not my top priority. I was asked for mode II, though, by a member here, so I'll try to make more headway. Thanks for the encouragement!
    Thanked by 1Chris Allen
  • JQ "...nothing restrains the fancy of what comes between the ritornelli."
    If I were Don Draper I would turn that into the cornerstone of the Respond and Acclaim ad campaign! That idea and the words themselves just roll off the tongue and down the hatch like a fine apertif! (And I'd have a lot of women eyeing me at ritzy lounges! The Don Draper thing!)
    The following bears no correspondence with Arlene, Aristotle, Royce or JMO's settings. My intuition for lo these thirty years of R&A usage, is that the venerable Alstott's 65-75% usable responsorials work quite well for the congregation. The breakdown occurs with whether an intuitive, sensitive pro works the verse "skeleton tones" or is a schlemiel by overworking his or her "fancy" or worse, plods through the tones in strict, monotonous droning. Unfortunately I have to gently coax both of those extremes in most of my psalmist designees.
    My solution for us all? Glad you asked. Assemble your melange of "crooning Sinatras or Marilyn Monroe-Mr. President sultry whisperers," your slow, syllabic weight equalists," your Mr./Ms. Caruso's (we need another name for the distaff, maybe Sutherlands?...) and show them videos of MaryMezzo and the Singing Mum cantillating readings and graduals/tracts. They are two of the four best psalmists I've ever heard live (the other two also happen to be women! Take THAT Pray Tell!) and would provide the world of English canting with ideal "role modeling."
    Ooh, I'm frisky this morning. A little congregation of about 35 souls sang their gluts off at morning Mass! SDG.
    Thanked by 1kevinf
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    I generally adapt the music from the New English Hymnal. I use the accompaniment lines for the Psalm Verses, and I usually end up composing my own responses, using the text from the lectionary. It serves a need. If I write enough of them I might start publishing them online.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,374
    Bumping this thread. I'd really like to know if there are any more where this came from!
  • The stated goals ("to make the responsorial psalm sound more like the gradual", and "a more solemn and elaborate tone ... for the verses") were also those of my Responsorial Psalm Tones, now in four books (Year A, B, C, and Propers+Commons). Unfortunately for many of you down there, but well for use up here, eh, they're based on the Canadian lectionary. Still, for anyone interested, please drop me a line, here at the forum.