Congregations' like or dislike of different chant modes?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    I've been chanting a vernacular Communion antiphon while the choir receives Communion before the Communion song. It's been well received at a parish that has had almost no exposure to chant prior to my arrival. This week I want to use the Communion antiphon from Fr. Weber's The Proper of the Mass, but the mode 4 chant sounds too "strange" for my parish's inexperienced ears, in my opinion. I found that I can modify Weber's setting slightly and turn it into a mode 1 chant, which I think will be more pleasing to my community's ears.

    Have any of you found that congregations like some modes and dislike others? Are some modes an acquired taste?
  • Nisi
    Posts: 104
    Easy-listening modes are 1, 5, 6, 7, 8.
    2 has a closed feeling that some are not used to.
    3 & 4 are, well, wild, weird and wonderful!
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 83
    Mode 5 rocks (for me anyway)!

    4 and 7 are good for keeping folks on their (vocal) toes. ;-)

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,783
    Mode 3 is a gem!
    Pange lingua gloriosi & Tantum ergo sacramentum Hymn
    Gustate et videte Comm. 8th Sunday after Pentecost
    Mode 3 Te lucis ante terminum
    Cor, arca legem continens (Lauds), Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus (Terce), En ut superba criminum (2nd Vespers) - same Mode 3 melody, all for Sacred Heart

  • Luggzhry! One dreams of having a congregation aware enough to have preferences among the modes.
  • Andrew,

    I don't read Hungarian well. Could you translate?

    On the other hand, congregations will have preferences for pieces of music, even if they can't identify that beauty with that mode.
  • Chris : I'm alluding to a (in some circles) well known Monty Python sketch "Four Yorkshiremen" in which four old countrymen try to outdo each other in relating the awfulness of their childhood. They exaggerate more and more outrageously, wherein the humour is found. So "Luggzhry" is trying to spell one of their words, "luxury".

    As an allusive joke, I meant to suggest not that anyone was exaggerating, but that the misfortune of having a congregation that dislikes certain modes, was no misfortune compared to... well, ordinary life really. It seems people in the pews perhaps have much more mundane things to complain of.

    For example, and I agree with you, far more likely to get complaints about this or that particular song or speed or even rhythm... rather than mode.

    All that said, I would like to hear how anyone expressed preference or dislike of the modes.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • Really the only mode I dislike is mode 4. I know some of the other musicians at my church feel the same way. Our main dislike is that sometimes the reciting tone is a third above the final and other times it is a fourth. It can make going between verse and antiphon kind of difficult.
  • I sometimes don't like singing in mode 5: too athletic, or too high, or something. Mode 6 is like a reassuring hug or a comfy chair. Mode 4 is serious and lovely but a bit troubled. Mode 8 is overused. Mode 3 is pure emotion.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • And mode 7 explores the towers of Zion and the mountaintops of Hermon and Tabor and the clouds where the angels give invisible praise to El Shaddai.
  • Andrew, that may be the best description of mode seven ever given.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,436
    Mode 4 is perhaps a wee bit unbalanced. I love TP, though; it *is* well balanced.

    Perhaps assign Shakespearean characters to the modes.

  • Mode V : Henry V
  • I have much love for mode 4!

    For congregations not accustomed to chant you're doing well to keep it simple. I like to keep to Weber's simplified tones, using his second set of Gloria Patri at the back of the book, for easier "modern listening".
  • For added effect many mode IV chants reveal their Eastern origins if you sing them with a freygish third (viz, so that I-III is almost a major interval). Try it for example with Comm. Vidimus stellam.

    Do not try this in church.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen hilluminar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,657

    Is there a Youtube vid that demonstrates the freygish technique?
  • Francis, I never looked until now and am unsurprised to find no YouTubes that literally propose singing Gregorian melodies to Eastern ish modes.

    I found this, though, which actually comes surprisingly close and is of interest anyway.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    How would you notate a piece in the freygish mode? Chant notation wouldn't seem to be adequate. Modern notation in C-major with every G# indicated by use of an accidental?
  • In chant notation, I'd just add a sharp sign. This is not unknown in recent editions anyway.

    In five line modern notation I'd use a non-standard key signature. For D to D I'd write two flats and a sharp as the key signature.

    But of course the performance practice for modes like this, be it klezmer or cantor or Maronite chant, doesn't follow a simple rule. The III is sometimes not so sharp; the VII is sometimes also sharp so that V-VII is a major ish third. The "melodic minor" in our classical theory is an analogue of this: sharp on the way up, flat on the way down. Something similar happens in traditional shape note singing too, where the VI is often sharped in the minor mode (making it "Dorian") without an accidental to say so.

    In other words, musica ficta is found in every place and time.

    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • Andrew,

    A sharp sign in chant? I've never encountered that. Can you point me to an instance of this?
  • Well, in the Graduale Novum, for a start. It's not uncontroversial; but as I said not unknown. Generally results from "transposing" or rereading of the old neumes and/or proposing new assignments of mode to the resulting melodies. After all, the tradition predates the modal system by which it was systematized starting in the ?ninth century, and not all the melodies fit the system perfectly.