Organists as Vocal Leaders?
  • I have a sincere question that I pray causes no offense. Please, please forgive me if it does - it is 100% unintentional. Also, please forgive my ignorance if there is an obvious answer that I just don't know.

    Why are DOMs typically organists/accompanists instead of conductor-singers? Is there a specific reason, or is it just because that's the way it has always been done?

    Isn't it difficult to lead a vocal group when vocal technique isn't an area of instruction? Or is that not a concern with chant choirs? How does one direct when you're playing the organ/piano? Are chant choirs typically audition-only in an effort to mitigate these considerations? If this is the case, how does one slowly introduce chant settings to a volunteer choir at a church that is mired in at least 20 years of the hymn sandwich? How do we bring chant to un-trained, volunteer vocalists who judge a tune based on its being "easy"?

    Lots of questions here, sorry. Thank you so much for your time and patience.
  • I can't speak for all circumstances but as far as I know that's just the way it has been since organs and choirs first came together. The job title was typically "Organist and Choirmaster" and you had to be able to do both since very few places had the money or interest to provide for a dedicated body in each role.

    Certainly the arm-flapping choirmaster in front of the choir wasn't in my experience particularly widespread into the 1970s. It tended to be done on special occasions when we were singing something a little more demanding than usual, but otherwise the organist relied on the choir to know what it was doing whenever he needed both hands and his feet. Sometimes he made suitable gestures from the console whenever he could get at least one hand free and one of the more experienced men of the choir on each side would discreetly assist by gently waggling a hand or fingers.

    In the days when organists commonly served a formal apprenticeship choir work was part of their on-the-job training; equally organ scholars in chapels and churches these days are commonly expected to be involved in this. Many/most of these may have extensive experience as choristers before they begin organ lessons. These folks may not be dedicated specialists in vocal techniques, but they are usually specialist church musicians -I'd not always ask them to conduct Tannhauser, but equally I wouldn't expect someone from the Met to be able to make complete sense of Mass or Evensong.

    In response to the chant question, I doubt that it is just a matter of "easy", but of familiarity. For a volunteer choir, going gently by introducing plainsong in the form of some carefully selected hymns might be a good starting point - with a structure of verse and meter, there is a broadly familiar structure to hang onto while you get the feel of plainsong. (I'm not sure whether I can express this in any better terms than "feel" I am afraid - once you have that feel it all seems to make perfect sense, but it takes a while).

  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    Nothing offensive there!

    Ideally, DOMs need at least enough knowledge of singing to teach the basics of breathing, placement, diction, etc., and diagnose and fix basic problems in these areas. I am one of those organist-conductors you mention, but I received just enough instruction in graduate school and in private voice lessons for myself so that I can teach the basics of healthy vocal production to singers in a volunteer church choir (I also live with a professional singer and a Ward-certified elementary music teacher, so that helps too!). As a professional accompanist outside of church, I can also coach professional singers, but I am not qualified to give anyone private voice lessons, nor am I anywhere near being a professional solo vocalist. I'm very grateful for the education I have had because I see many other organists who end up being DOMs almost by accident, and they are stuck with directing a church choir knowing nothing about the voice.

    (Personally, I would prefer a situation where I was the accompanist and assistant conductor, and the primary director was a choral expert with a much more developed singing voice. But there's no money for that, so I have to do it all, like many others here.)

    Conducting from the organ is not only possible but a necessary centuries-old skill. It takes some practice. It is possible -- with head-nods, facial expressions, and when possible, one or both hands -- to indicate tempo, entrances, cut-offs, etc., while playing organ accompaniment; it often means leaving out or modifying portions of the accompaniment to free up your hand(s).

    Vocal technique is as much a concern with chant choirs as it is for any other choir.

    Having an audition-only or even completely professional choir does mitigate but not eliminate the need for a director who knows about the voice. I used to accompany an all-professional choir which ended up sounding just like a bunch of soloists because they received very little direction in vocal style from the director (and most of them would have resented getting that anyway). In fact, the Renaissance polyphony in their repertoire often sounded cacophonous.

    Use the search function to see many discussions about bringing chant settings to entrenched mediocre programs...you'll find quite a bit.
  • Philothea, you bring up very good questions.
    I also advocate hiring singers with a strong pedagogical background to train singers and form choirs/scholas. They know voices better than 95% of organists, as one would expect, and so are better qualified to develop volunteer voices. Organists are often hired as unimusicians, expected to "be all to everyone" out of a perceived economic necessity, and I agree it can be very straining on organists. In general, volunteer choir singers led from the bench will not connect to the music as much as those led by a choral conductor.

    Those who hire for parishes and cathedrals are often unaware of the different skill sets of singers and organists, and think hiring one musician is adequate. I compare this to hiring a violinist to lead a marching band. An excellent musician is capable of a lot- still, the instruments are so very different, so why not bring in someone more expert on that instrument? Bottom line- because it's cheaper to hire fewer musicians, so people go with an organist. Often that's considered good enough.

    Has it been this way for a long, long, time? Yup. That doesn't mean it's the best solution for forming and training choirs in (largely acapella) sacred music.

    Jpal-
    Do you mind me asking where you live? I'm a professional singer and voice teacher, and I'm also a DoM who trains and directs three choirs, and the program I lead is chant-focused. I ask where you live because I'm always interested in good coach accompanists for solo rep (lyric coloratura in my case).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Be grateful they hired an organist. In many places, mediocre guitarists are always willing to work for free.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Because anyone can pretend to know how to conduct a choir.
    It's very hard to pretend to know how to play the organ.
  • Adam, too true. I didn't know how to word that. :)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    Adam wins the prize for explaining the practical reason.

    But it also helps explain why choirs often do not excel.
  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    All this talk about mediocrity and pretending is not helpful to those of us who are trying damned hard to contribute decent music with the limited resources we have.
    Thanked by 2Wendi jeffinpa
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,418
    We have extensive training in how to conduct with our eyebrows.

    In fact, the Renaissance polyphony in their repertoire often sounded cacophonous.


    jpal: I didn't know you sang with the Cappella Sistina!
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    All this talk about mediocrity and pretending is not helpful to those of us who are trying damned hard to contribute decent music with the limited resources we have


    But it DOES answer the original poster's question.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Jani
    Posts: 386
    So I'm sensitive- I know that ;-) I think another answer might be that each parish simply works with what they have. If a trained singer/musician moved into my parish I'd be the happiest person there!
  • rogue63
    Posts: 405
    I hop on and off the bench multiple times during a Mass, because a choir needs no organ to accompany them---it should only serve as decoration. Chant too, as unison music, does not normally need accompaniment. I find little to no use for the many anthems with accompaniment when there are plenty of a capella propers to be sung.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Certainly the arm-flapping choirmaster in front of the choir wasn't in my experience particularly widespread into the 1970s.

    Yikes, Mad Dan, if I'd only known 43 years ago that such a characterization of conducting was the end result of years of study, lotsa $, and ongoing post-grad studies and conventions at ACDA, I could have saved myself from at least one ignomany.
    Seriously, if a parish can afford a credible (whether pedigreed or not*) conductor and an equally gifted organist, that's the ideal for moi. And in that, the salary issue of the double-duty organist may really be the answer to the OP's query.

    *No one needs to ask Paul Salamunovich about his degrees. He don't need no stinkin' badges.
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  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    I assume "arm-flapping" was a reference to my reductio ad absurdam church musician job descriptors:
    arm-flappers (people who conduct)
    button-pushers (people who play the organ)
    song-pickers (people who select repertoire)

    I was half-joking at the time- but it is helpful to stop and ask what someone with an ambiguous or inaccurate title is ACTUALLY doing. (Should the person who selects repertoire be called "the organist"? Should someone who directs the choir but doesn't have any direct input on the music choices be called "the director?")

    It also is helpful for being incredibly clear about what a parish needs in a potential employee or volunteer. Someone who is good at song-picking and arm-flapping might could job-out the button-pushing, for example. Obviously, the best situation is to be skilled in all three- but, these jobs do not HAVE to be done all by the same person.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I can take so much a cappella music and then I can't stand to listen to any more of it. It becomes texturally boring and monotonous. Although I do use chant, it can also become tedious if never accompanied. Singers seem to have difficulty accepting that a congregation can tire of hearing them, but it happens. Early music, in particular, does not wear so well on modern non-modal ears. A lot of time has passed since that music was written. I love that music, but believe some moderation is necessary with it, as in all things.
  • But... but... CharlesW, it's not all about you and what you find tedious. Or is it? :)
    Oh, and I don't remember the Divine Liturgy being accompanied, and who would think to assert that people get sick of hearing the singers (incl congregation) in that context?
    Thanked by 3Gavin CHGiffen Liam
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Was it monotonous and boring in 19th Century Russia?
    It was.
    No one was outraged...
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Liam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    No, but it isn't about you, either, or your considerable singing talent. Eastern liturgies follow their own set of traditions and are culturally different. We are following a western model re-introduced largely by Pius X after it had fallen out of use for at least 200-300 years. Liturgies in the west have been accompanied for around 1,000 years, although some purists today have substituted their own preferences for that. There is little in the way of verifiable historic records of unaccompanied liturgy in the Western Church. If anything, it was accompanied more and with a wider variety of instruments in the past - serpents, anyone? There is room for both, I think - both accompanied and unaccompanied. Again, moderation is the key.

    I know where the point is when my congregation is getting weary of chant. Being aware of that is what allows me to do chant in the first place. If I ignored it, I perhaps would not be allowed to do chant, at all.

    On a related matter, I'm not convinced that shooting the purists would be such a bad idea. I know I have often wanted to do that in the organ world. ;-)

    Yes, Adam, it was boring - and still is. It's a different culture with different expectations.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Was it serious in Adam's previous comment?
    It was not!
  • Exactly, Adam. The charge of "boring" and turning the sung parts of mass into a performance vehicle or being overly concerned with everyone's likes and dislikes is kinda a huge part of why we're in this mess. It's why we have Polka masses and mariachi masses and life teen bands.
    Our "cultural expectations" need to be more like our Eastern brothers and sisters. The Mass is about worshipping God.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Probably not, but let me assure you the novelty wears off any liturgy after enough years have passed.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I agree the Mass is about worshipping God. It is also about remaining employed. The day is gone, except in EF circles, where the congregation's wishes can be entirely ignored. I could leave tomorrow, if I chose. I don't need the money anymore. But what would follow me? I stay because of friends and others who would not like the previous administration returning - does anyone remember "Gather Us In?"
  • Perhaps we're making different points. What I resent is being called a "purist", when a fellow Christian maintaining their tradition is just being "culturally expressive".
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    When I use the term, "purist," I am usually referring to someone who goes off the deep end on a particular theory or practice of music. The organ world is full of them. I have learned the chant world has them, too. I would not say I am culturally expressive, but being culturally aware is a good survival tool to have these days. It's a far different world than it was in the days of Pius X.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,002
    As usual, MaryAnn has excellent points. I do disagree with her percentage (I know you weren't trying to be scientific!): I would say (nowadays, and from my experience) that there's at least a good 25-30% of organists are who are also good choral conductors, if not singers. Many of us either 1) enjoy singing and had choral groups as our ensembles all through school, or 2) were educated in programs with a substantial requirement for choral music.

    There are, of course, further divisions. There are plenty of singers conducting choirs that are not good conductors: sometimes, this is because (by nature of them having a natural vocal technique) they have a hard time conveying concepts to amateur singers, and other times because they simply have poor rehearsal and/or conducting technique. This is not mutually exclusive to singers, of course: there are plenty of bad organist-conductors.

    However, I DO believe it is much easier to find competent vocal/choral instruction than it is to find good organ instruction...AND an "appropriate victim". There are many very good organists ("performers", we might say) who are poor service-players, although I feel like improvisation is generally getting better among younger players.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen francis
  • I assume "arm-flapping" was a reference to my reductio ad absurdam church musician job descriptors


    It was and it is far too good not to be used whenever opportunity presents .
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Conducting from the organ sadly is not a centuries-old tradition, since it was very difficult to do from most trackers. Indicating tempo and starting stopping may be what is referred to, but actually conducting phrases and instilling interpretation is awfully hard even though I was trained in it by George Markey - who was very good at it, but it's like running model trains compared to being in the cab of the steam engine itself.

    In the USA combined position came about in the mid-1900's - up until then the AGO was only for organists and choral directors had their own group. At that point they merged.

    Today there are thousands more choral directors than organists...so possibly that is why many churches are moving once again to split jobs. But here I am speaking about churches in general./ The Catholic ones will remain as they always have been - abandoned by many talented organists and directors for the obvious reasons and filled by often incompetent non-Catholics in need of a job badly enough to take a Catholic job.

    There have been very talented non-Catholics like our own Donna Swan, who was treated like !@#$ after 19 years of music making including conducting her choir for the Pope.

    Treated like !@#$. And Catholics wonder why the music can be so bad.
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  • I can't speak for all circumstances but as far as I know that's just the way it has been since organs and choirs first came together. The job title was typically "Organist and Choirmaster" and you had to be able to do both since very few places had the money or interest to provide for a dedicated body in each role.


    The widespread double- triple-tasking of church employees is deeply troubling to me. It is also troubling that parishes/priests expect a majority of liturgical positions to be filled by poorly - and even completely un-trained, volunteers (lectors, EMoHC, musicians, etc). Not only is it astounding to me how little care seems to be taken in properly forming people to fill these roles, it saddens me that priests and liturgical directors are so scared of losing volunteer ministers that they allow faaaaar too much leniency and tolerance for liturgical abuses...

    Ok, getting kinda OT, so I'll stop there. My apologies.
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  • Some of the best vocal coaches and conductors I have ever had are organists. Some are not and that is frustrating but what are you going to do? It seems that our society isn't about putting money into the music of the liturgy except in a few parishes where good organists and trained singers are a must. Very good singers who cannot play the organ often settle for volunteer work with a wonderful organist/choir director (if they are lucky) or accept jobs as section leaders if they are fortunate enough to find one. For years I sang for Protestant churches as a paid vocalist. Then one beautiful summer day I found a Catholic church choir in the middle of decaying city that performed Mozart Masses as part of the liturgy and a 17 year love affair with the best of chant, polyphony and orchestra Masses began.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Having worked in Protestant churches, and now in a Catholic Church, I can note some differences between the two. The parish is large enough to have adequate staff. It doesn't. At most, there have been a couple of people in the office who are paid. The paid music ministry is me, myself, and I. The rest are volunteers. The pastor talks about the long tradition of decent music at the church, but puts very little into it in the way of funding. The building is not maintained to the degree the Protestants maintained their facilities. The same for the organs. I can only conclude the parish has little money, or spends it on something else. When I compare the incomes of one of the Protestant churches where I worked to the Catholic parish, there is not much difference. It doesn't make much sense. Where does the money go? Is this typical of Catholic parishes?
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,757
    " Is this typical of Catholic parishes?"

    In the US, yes.

    First, recall that, for a few (but only a few) generations, the Catholic Church in the US had the benefit of abundant free labor in the form of non-cloistered religious (especially religious sisters). That went away as American Catholics assimilated with postwar prosperity.

    Second, the succession of the Great Depression, the demographic and material upheaval caused by WW2, and the postwar Boom, had the effect, I think, of aculturating pastors to doing less with less. You can see how church buildings became more cookie-cutter in design after the Crash, for example (this was the advent of many variations on a single basic architectural plan, a pattern that went viral after WW2 with the need to build so many new parishes). Even more salient was the obligation, imposed from the Councils of Baltimore until US bishops effectively relented in the mid-1960s, to build schools because Catholic parents had a fairly grave obligation to send their children to Catholic schools if they had the means/ability to do so (even in 1966, my parents got a dispensation from our pastor to permit me, their fifth child, go entirely through our *much* more excellent public school system than the strained parochial schools). So, in the immediate generation after WW2, pastors focused more investment on schools (which became harder to sustain once the source of free labor dried up...) than church buildings and liturgy; this was easy to justify in an era of widespread legalist minimalism with regard to worship.

    These lessons were hard-baked into the clerical/prelatial culture, and we still live with the residue of them.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Just another data point:

    The Episcopal parish that I work for is SMALL.
    When I started working there three years ago, average attendance on a Sunday was about 80. It is currently about 60-65.

    I am not paid much, but I am paid.
    My job: song-picker and arm-flapper. (My official title is "Music Director" and I am often casually referred to as a the "Choir Master.")

    We ALSO have a paid button-pusher (official title: accompanist) who is a fine musician (better than me) who teaches voice at the local community college. He replaced the excellent organist who was there when I got there (and who left to take a job at another Anglican church only because they have a real organ).

    Let me clarify that:
    When I was hired (by this tiny parish with no money) there was already a perfectly fine organist. There is no reason they couldn't have gotten along with the priest picking out some hymns every week and singing the same service music over and over. I was hired because of my liturgical/repertory knowledge (song-picking) and my ability to get a choir to sound good (arm-flapping).

    The entire budget for music, including what I am paid, what the accompanist is paid, and the little bit I'm provided for purchasing sheet music and supplies works out to somewhere around $180 per year for each person who is a registered member.

    Do the math sometime on what that would look like in a larger or even normal medium-sized congregation.
  • Another point to add - just because someone is an "organist" by degree or majority training, doesn't mean they are not trained in other areas.

    I'm working on an MM right now in organ, but I've had some private conducting lessons, am taking a graduate choral conducting class right now, and am singing in an early music vocal ensemble that specializes in chant and polyphony, so you'd hope that I would come close to knowing what I'm doing when directing a choir. I won't make that judgment though; Jeffrey Quick will be along soon enough to do it for me, I'm sure.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Plenty of people who are primarily organists are excellent liturgists and choir directors. Even more are, if not excellent, at least perfectly adequate.

    And vice vice versa versa.

    Being an organists doesn't mean that you aren't a good choir director.
    But it also doesn't mean that you are.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Oh- and by the way-

    I'm of the opinion that money isn't the primary reason there aren't more good musicians in Catholic parishes.

    By that I mean:

    The obvious: Lots of parishes don't pay as much as they could in order to get good people.

    The less-discussed: Lots of parishes pay just fine, but hire bad people and overpay them.

    And the much less-discussed: Many good musicians would be happy to work for a pittance or less if they weren't subject to the abuse and ridiculousness rampant in Catholic parish work. Many more would do so for just enough more than a pittance to make something like a normal, lower-middle class salary.


    I would direct a choir for a low-maintenance "PropersAndMore" Mass for free.

    But you could not pay me enough to be the Music Director at a typical Roman Catholic parish.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Abuse and Ridiculousness. That sums up it up quite well.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    I would direct a choir for a low-maintenance "PropersAndMore" Mass for free.

    But you could not pay me enough to be the Music Director at a typical Roman Catholic parish.


    That was exactly my situation five years ago at a typical Catholic parish: Constant. Backstabbing. Drama.

    Left to form a schola and lucked into singing weekly for the EF; no money; no drama; no planning necessary: just concentrating on singing as well as possible.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Is it just me, or are there any others that BELIEVE a dedicated DM (with all the other requisites in place) can actually effect positive change at the "typical Catholic parish" for the better?
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    I think the question is whether a particular "dedicated DM" has the willingness to be very patient and accept the full implications of the situation. Not everyone is cut out for it.

    My parish used to be the "typical Catholic parish"; my pastor hired me to turn the music program around so it's not so typical anymore. If I knew then what a huge burden it would have been to myself and my family, I would not go back and do it again. Of course, now that the dust has settled for the most part I'm not going anywhere, but I do not have the personality or spiritual constitution to withstand that again. I'm just not cut out for it (though my former pride told me otherwise). And that is in a situation where both priests were 100% behind the reform and gave me everything I needed.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Melo, you are just exceptional, in all senses of the word.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Is it just me, or are there any others that BELIEVE a dedicated DM (with all the other requisites in place) can actually effect positive change at the "typical Catholic parish" for the better?


    If by "typical" you mean only that they are engaged in The Habitual Music of the Roman Rite. Of course- I'd be all over it. Especially if there was a strong and supportive pastor with a sane vision of liturgy and music.

    But if by "typical" one means (as I did, above) an omnishambles of histrionics, abuse, and unreasonable demands...
    Yes, I think someone might be able to deal with it without losing their sanity, and actually effect positive change.

    I am not that someone.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Greg, I certainly meant not to prime my own pump there, but thanks.
    jpal's answer is very troubling to me, as I tend to assume that most folks who habituate here are so dedicated. But the toll, even with the pay at a decent level, is oft-times too much to bear. I haven't shared anything in particular, and with four parishes, my job is more administrative by the day going on five/six years. And there's a situation here now that has had me want to hang up my spurs over a few occasions as in "it's just not worth it" bad. But, I won't abandon, of my own choice, 20+ years of work and a tradition that's been established.
    But, if faced with an "omnishamble" joint (great term), then what steps should a choir master, this is about vocal development (with repertoire being factored in), right?- employ to quickly get beyond the chaos?
    Thanked by 2gregp CHGiffen
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,304
    Prayer.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Prayer is good. Threats of physical pain and the obvious physical capability to make good on the threats can be helpful, too.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,597
    Since starting to do this work "full-time" I've had three positions:
    1) I was music director and principal organist with an assistant who did handbells and helped me with the children's choir(s).
    2) I was music director with a full time principal organist and 3/4 time assistant. My duties consisted of directing a few choirs, playing one Mass per weekend, and going to meetings.
    3) I am alone and do everything.

    I think my order of preference is:
    #1, #3, #2.

    Having multiple people on staff is not always a good thing. It can be if you're all on the same page and work well together... but other times it can be a disaster. Having just yourself guarentees that you are all on the same page (unless you have extreme personal problems).
    Thanked by 1Salieri
  • I think that, relating to the question of accompanied versus unaccompanied liturgy, for some reason a capella choral music is considered to be a higher art form than accompanied, so therefore should be the way we present the highest art form for the high liturgy.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I certainly don't consider unaccompanied singing the "highest art form." I am more interested in music done well, whether accompanied or unaccompanied. For a number of years, there hasn't been a "high liturgy." Sad to say, in most parishes it was never that "high" even before the Vatican II reforms. It only went down from there.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I wonder if we're mixing superlatives here.
    The human voice is the supreme musical instrument to offer God sung praise as, save for mrcopper's synth, it alone produces sacred text set to the elements and properties of music. The "elevation" of the voice is simply magnified by the quality and quantity of voices, parts, intrinsic nature of the music/text being sung that is presumably worthy according to an acknowledge criteria. The artistic merit is subject to those criteria, not superior.
    As in all things, sometimes lines get blurred. For example, I personally prefer Barber's ADAGIO for String Quartet/Strings over the a capella version of the same piece that sets the Agnus Dei text. I think the aesthetic of the music casts a larger musical shadow over the meaning of the text, and so I'm distracted away from that text, not drawn further into it. OTOH, if I hear a great choir singing FINLANDIA to Be still my soul a capella, I feel the rendition will be efficacious because of an equal marriage of voices to text. I won't miss an orchestra in that.
    I get Charles' opinion because he's an organist, tho' it's also a bit strange given his Byzantine heritage, and the fact I personally love "orthodox homophony." But I sure wouldn't want to sing Thaxted without a great organist as support.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    That's the key, isn't it Charles? It depends on the composition. The thing that bugs me is some of the chant Puritans have come up with the idea that chant and polyphony can only be sung unaccompanied. Interesting, since it hasn't been sung that way for centuries in the western Church. These nuts are as bad as the worst organ reformers playing wretched mixtures, and I might add, totally misinterpreting and misunderstanding Bach. God save us from the purists and extremists! How about some moderation for a change? Again, it depends on the composition. I do some unaccompanied pieces because the works in question call for it, not because some crazy singers like to hear themselves.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • ^
    Needless opposition of organists and singers...

    (Begin purple script)
    We all know its the organists who like to hear themselves in a composition that doesn't include organ...
    (End purple script)