A Living Gregorian Chant - Dobszay
  • Here's an eight-page* article in PDF format from Prof. Dobszay hasn't yet made the Internet rounds, but it should. I'd be very interested in other's thoughts about it. For my part, he's been able to say a lot of what I've been thinking in a much more erudite way. I've highlighted some excerpts on my site.

    *the document is 14 pages but the rest is in Hungarian.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 756
    Thanks for posting this. Much food for thought.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Does anyone have an example of the pentatonic (Central-European) style of Gregorian chant style they can post (referred to by this article)?
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 855

    This is one of the best articles I have read in years. Thanks VERY much for posting it!

  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    This is interesting, not done reading yet but have some questions.

    What is "responsorium breve" ( 1.3 p. 5) and which parts of the Mass does he indicate could use this method? What makes them different from the "antiphonal" parts?

    Are the "pentatonic" (Central European) propers referred to, of Solemnes?
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    I really appreciate this thoughtful approach to bringing chant alive in a very real context! Now I'm going to have to go back and read some of the Professor's other writings.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,667
    This is the crux of the kind of thinking I have been searching for in order to dovetail the new with the old. Excellent.
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 855
    Darcy asked:
    What is "responsorium breve" ( 1.3 p. 5) and which parts of the Mass does he indicate could use this method? What makes them different from the "antiphonal" parts?
    This is the short response to the readings of the little hours of the divine office.

    You can find them after the "chapter" (short reading) in the Liber Usualis for the hours of Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline.

    The monks of Solesmes gave the responsoria brevia (the plural of responsorium breve) a new use as the form for the chants between the readings at Mass in the Graduale Simplex, without doxologies.

    Here is the crude chart I made of the three families of the tones and my analysis of the melodies of the antiphons for By Flowing Waters.

    The antiphonal parts are the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphons and psalms/canticles in the eight modes; these can be concluded with their proper doxology.
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Thanks Dr. Ford, though I realize I have a lot of learning to do before I can understand what you offered there. I keep wishing the CMAA could sponsor an accredited program in sacred music, in a one-weekend-a-month format similar to the Inst. for Pastoral Theology.

    I can't comment on some of the technical aspects Prof. Dobszay discusses in the article, but I will say I found it surprising in some parts because he seems to contradict my impressions of what the ideal of sacred music in a parish is. I also think what he is calling for is far beyond what I would have imagined. Prof. Dobszay wants to bring the style of music that is Gregorian chant back to a living entity in the sacred liturgy, not just a static collection of approved chants in the Graduale. I can see what he means, and I think he is right on many levels, but then again I think it is important that we not lose the importance of a universal language or a common song that can be sung together no matter where in the world you go to Mass. (For example Jeffrey Tucker's experience singing the ordinary and propers with an African priest, detailed in a post on The New Liturgical Movement recently).

    I could go on and on, and I did in my blog. This definately makes me think. Hmm.
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    Isn't the pentatonic tone what Peter Wagner called "germanisches Choradialekt"? Putting little terces instead of the doubious b (flat or not flat: see the discussion about Jubilate-offertorium here...): a-c instead of a-b/h (la-do instead of la-si(bémol)) and the same avoiding of f between e and g. So you just keep c d e g a c, like in "In spledoribus sanctorum" (chrismas communio...) So sorry for my english.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Aristotle - Thanks for posting this. The article definitely starts one thinking beyond the current positions on chant.

    The call for a sung liturgy is compelling to me because I spent many years in the Orthodox Church where a spoken liturgical celebration was simply unthinkable and where there were levels of music available to match the capabilities of the parish in question. (And yes, I'm leaving out the awful experiences of bellowing priest/cantor duets.)

    Yes, it's better to sing propers than hymns in most circumstances, but most people don't recognize that music as integral to the liturgy. It's just different "ornamentation." They simply think you've substituted the music you like for the music someone else liked. What if we shifted our focus (or better, broadened it) to increasing the singing of such modest parts of the Mass as the General Intercessions? Would that begin to change people's perceptions of sung vs. spoken?

    I also am curious about the Central European chant that the author refers to. Anyone know more?
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    I'm surprised this article hasn't stimulated a flurry of discussion. I'm intrigued that Dobszay identifies the following as one of the attitudes standing in the way of the integration of Gregorian chant into liturgical life:

    3. The ideal of the "Graduale Romanum". Another ideal is to found "scholae cantorum", in which Gregorian liturgical pieces may be learned and sung with the utmost diligence, performing as much of the repertoire of the Graduale Romanum as possible. This requires intensive preparation on the part of dedicated professional singers, fully competent in reading music. Such an ideal can only be realised in cathedrals, monasteries or in a few large parish churches, and even in such favoured places, most probably only at one daily Mass. Elsewhere, the aim can be no more than to sing, with considerable advance preparation, one or two pieces of the Graduale on a few selected feasts or Sundays.

    Dobszay's objection to this seems to be that a schola singing the Gregorian propers fails to communicate the text of the propers. As a solution, he proposes vernacular propers--even seasonal "propers" if necessary--sung according to fixed, simple musical patterns in the manner of the Graduale Simplex. (It's no wonder Dr. Ford likes this article!)

    I would raise the objection here that Dobszay is giving too much priority to the text. He seems not to take into account the position of William Mahrt and others according to which the musical forms of Gregorian chant are essential to what the liturgy is communicating. A graduale text sung in a responsorium breve style that grew organically within the Office rather than the Mass may make the text more easily understood, but does it promote a sustained meditation on the reading that precedes it in the way a true Graduale chant does? The Gregorian idiom does have ways of communicating texts simply and straightforwardly--the common tones for the readings and prayers, and yes, the music of the Office. Is not the fact that the chants between the readings and for the entrance and communion take a different form indicative of a different liturgical purpose operating in the background?
  • Jevoro
    Posts: 108
    I understand -even for smal paro?i?shes- Dobszays proposition as a pedagogical one, a way from graduale-simplex-like gregorianik to the Graduale Romanum, step by step, gregorianik as language and texts bewared. (Sorry for my english)
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    Thanks Robert for bumping this up again, I agree there is much to discuss here. I share your concern about losing the meaning shared with the text by the music in Gregorian Chant if the melodies were simplified or narrowed down to just a few selections. I think it is a good idea for the congregation to have access to translations of the text but I think they should still be sung in Latin if possible. It is fair to say that vernacular chant may be a better first step in some situations. If he were suggesting that as a transition to the ultimate goal of sung Gregorian propers, I would agree. Yet he isn't saying that, he's saying something along a different vein. If I understand correctly, the professor is challenging us to allow evolution to return to the form of Gregorian chant, rather than being frozen in time (or limited) by the Graduale Romanum.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,204
    A wonderful article, but I can't help but infuse a bit of humor:

    Darcy asked, "What is a responsorium breve?" Answer: a responsorium made with steamed half-and-half rather than steamed milk.

    Happy Wednesday, all.
  • Darcy
    Posts: 73
    :-} Too much starbucks.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,667
    Of course, I only read the eight pages once through and it was a cursory reading at that. Therefore, I do not assume to understand all the intricacies and details of what the Dr. is definitely proposing. However, I understood it to be a "program or process" of transition BACK to the ideal which already exists (in my mind in the TLM), not yet another innovation or mutation to add to the many of which we now already have. We certainly don't need another innovation!

    At this point in time, I only see the ideal as the latin Mass. Why? Simply for the reason that the liturgy was inseperable from its organic growth rooted in historical tradition until VII. No sterile liturgical formula was ever devised, concocted or proposed until that point in time from the beginning of the Church. Therefore, with much pain and discomfort I more and more realize that we 'abandoned' the liturgy at that point in time when I myself was only ten years old or thereabouts.

    Perhaps a metaphor will help illustrate my point.

    In the age of growing humans in test tubes, it seems we adopted that very same mentality with regards to the liturgy itself. And it is that very mentality that destroys life in all of its sacred form. In the test tube of VII, we 'grew' a new anomaly that seems to have a life of its own, completely separate from the organic growth that occurs and had been occuring within the womb of the Church; a kind of surrogate mother, so to speak, creating a somewhat 'sterile' child. This is when man plays God.

    So now, we have the 'child' of the new rite. It lives, it breathes, it evolves on its own. People adopt the child. Churches take on its form(s). They manipulate it within their own test tube labs (altars of the new rite) but it is not a natural, organic child, no matter how you dress it up or how you take it out!

    All of our attempts to 'return' or 'reform the reform' are frustrated because we try to take a finger or an eyeball from the true child and graft it onto the new child. You will always wind up with a freak, no matter how many parts you take from the true child. And the irony is, the more you take from the true child, the more we disembody the very nature of what we once loved and what had grown up for the past 2000 years in the sacred womb of mother church. What a dilema! How will God rescue us from our own imagining?!
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Well, I'm pleased that this has been pointed out. I was rather taken aback at this passage when I first read it some months ago-- I somehow would not have expected this from this author, whose book on the topic of liturgical music I found definitive in every way. I'm glad to see Robert's response to it.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Dobszay wrote:
    I would recommend rather the universal use of the Missa Mundi (Kyrie 16, Gloria 15, Sanctus-Agnus 18 of the Liber Usualis, plus the Ambrosian Credo).

    So, this "Missa Mundi" (which I tried to find, unsuccessfully, in my PDF of the Liber) is a hodgepodge of other Masses, à la Jubilate Deo? Would others here recommend that?
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    Yes. I would. I put together pretty much the same combination for my former parish years ago, and they are still using it for the 8:15 AM Sunday Mass almost 10 years later. The only difference is the Agnus Dei - ad lib #2(maybe 3, I don't have my reference material hear at the office), which is very pretty, and also easier than some of the others.
  • I would recommend it as well.

    As far as i know, only the Graduale Simplex includes this setting of the Creed (listed as Credo IV, more ambrosiano, pp. 47-49). Also in that same book, the Ordinarium I composite Mass setting incorporates the other parts of the Ordinary.

    Here's a recording of the Ambrosian Creed I made recently (with simulated reverb):
  • awruff
    Posts: 94
    Just one clarification:

    The Graduale Simplex is not a Solesmes edition, it is a Vatican Edition. In addition to Cardine of Solesmes, several others not from Solesmes were involved in the production of this Roman-rite book.

    Fr. Anthony, OSB
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Well, it didn't take me too long to discover here that at least for the Kyrie, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei, the Missa Mundi setting is the same as in Jubilate Deo. And it's probably no coincidence that they're among the shortest and simplest of selections for the Ordinary. (Not that that's a bad thing.)
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 855
    Fr. Anthony, my sources tell me that the Graduale Simplex was the work of Dom Jean Claire, O.S.B., and (the late) Dom Raymond Le Roux, O.S.B., monks of Solesmes. Can you enlighten me/us further?
  • awruff
    Posts: 94
    Hi Paul (and all),

    I know Luigi Agostoni was also involved. One would have to look in Notitiae, or perhaps Bugnini's Reform of the Liturgy, to find out more. (I don't have either at hand where I am.) In any event, it certainly is not a Solesmes edition, even if Solesmes monk(s) were involved. That's why it doesn't have any episemata or other signs of the old Solesmes method.