The American Gradual, free download
  • Bruce Ford has offered something very exciting. It is a free download of his American Gradual, part 1. This goes from Advent to Baptism of Our Lord. It is a straight rendering of the Gregorian chant in English, which is precisely what so many have sought for so long. I think you will be thrilled with this. It fills a gap missing between the Psalm tones and the Simplex and the full Graduale Romanum. I can't tell you how many times I've had people ask for such a resource.

    After he finishes this, he will go to print with it. Here is his email if you have questions or just want to thank him.
  • Jeffrey and Bruce, this is awesome. More good music to work with!

  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592

    I think that is a very interesting project.

    I also think there is quite a lot of beauty in the gorgeous Gregorian cantilena.

    Even though I believe that the strict Gregorian is even more beautiful, I think this could be a good (and AMAZING) stepping stone for a lot of folks (if I may say so). I know some won't accept chant in English if they are used to Latin (as I am), and I know the really good reasons the Church asks us to keep it in Latin, but I still think this project is HIGHLY valuable and commendable!

    The only (minor) critique I have is found on several pages where he said the word "corrected" when I would have preferred the word "variant." I can change the word "practice" to "practise," but I have not "corrected" it. Rather, I have given a variant.
    For example, sometimes he favors SI as the modal "dominant" in a few of the modes, which (as near as anyone can tell) is a very ancient practice, but one that nevertheless co-existed with a different practice (DO as the modal "dominant") that thrived alongside it during the "Golden Age" of Cantus Gregorianus. One of the major problems with going back too far before Montpellier H. 159 is that so much rests on speculation, not only with regard to the rhythm, but with regard to the very notes themselves, the scales, and especially the issue of scale steps smaller than a half step (which the typical 4-line stave cannot accurately represent).
  • francis
    Posts: 10,343
    a fantastic bridge to the latin end, and quite commendable. i will definitely use this to lure them back! bravo, dr. ford!
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 990
    All right, Jeffrey. Hoopla is appropriate! I've downloaded the American Gradual and am looking at the introit for the Christmas Mass at Midnight. It does print better than it appears on the screen. And I'm all for it, especially for Latin-allergic dioceses. And the stemless notation effectively silences the singers who squeal at the sight of a neum(e).

    I'm going to try some of these with my schola - not that we ever have had a Mass to sing yet - in order to see how they work. I think the spacing of the stemless notes will help the singers keep moving. And we all know that chant that "moves" belies the common notion of dreariness.

    Sound of more hoopla! Hoop, Hoop, Hoop, La!
  • Wow, makes me feel better! For years, we've heard of the need for English, modern-note, Gregorian-style propers, and we've always said, oh too bad we don't have them. But here they are! and they are free!

    I'm really happy that Bruce has done this. It's great. The only question is why, why, why, has it taken fully 40 years for something like this to appear?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    He seems to have a real talent for this: great work!
  • Thank you, Dr. Ford.
    Deo Gratias.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 990
    Why so long? I don't know because I remember coming across "englished" chant in the early 1960s (I was a religious music freak as a child). There were efforts in the Pius X hymnal and The Grail did work before they wandered off into feminism and Gaia.

    I think the liturgical rupture was just so strong and the desire to get rid of "anything" that smacked of "the old way" that vernacular plainsong didn't stand a chance. Another possible factor was the extent to which the choir directors who were conversant in chant believed that you simply couldn't sing it in English unless you took it all the say down to recto tono.

    However, with the American Gradual we've turned a corner.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,070
    Yes, this is a wonderful development. Even if many of us would prefer Latin, of course there are a variety of reasons (many non-negotiable) why English is better at this point for many of us. It is especially good for places where there is a good choral group, but other "environmental factors" discourage even weekly use of Latin.
  • Mary Jane,

    You and your ladies are invited to come down to Jensen Beach and sing Pentecost with us at 3:00.

  • I am the world's worst proofreader, and I have found a typographical error on the first page of music. It is not a carry-over from the first edition but a brand-new mistake.

    I am about to send Jeffrey a new copy of the .pdf with this error corrected.

    I When you encounter other errors (or possible errors), please bring them
    to my attention
  • correction uploaded
  • I am very impressed, humbled, by your new Gradual, Dr Ford. It sings with ease and comes immediately from the heart and mind to become prayer. Many thanks for your long work. I have but one regret: it is not in chant notation. If it were its signified nuance would be greater even, and more easily would one sing with a more profound sense, and with a sense of that greater dimmension which seems communicable only by neumes. Still, I praise your work and thank you for it. While you have undertaken a somewhat more drastic re-working of the chant than did Francis Burgess in his superb The Plainchant Gradual, nothing is lost of spirit or substance; your gradual rightly should go down as one of THE liturgical music books of the century. (In closing I note that in the Advent-Christmass series given here for downloading Advent IV is missing and Advent III is given twice. Can this be corrected?)
    Deo gratias -
    Jackson Osborn

    Our Lady of Walsingham -
  • Thank you for your favorable assessment of my work, and thank you expecially from pointing out that Advent IV is missing and Advent III included twice. I make careless errors of this sort frequently, and I'll correct this one immediately.

    My decision to use modified modern notation was a response to entreaties to choirmasters who were using my work. "What will I do when I have to hire a substitute?" one asked. I may in the future produce an edition in conventional chant notation.

    My approach to adaptation is more akin to that of Winfred Douglas than to that of Francis Burgess. Douglas used the melodic material from which the Latin chants had been forged to set the English texts. For him the texts were primary. Burgess strung English words, wily-nily, under melodic lines constructed for Latin texts. Douglas's method is the one employed by the composers of the Latin chant corpus when they adapted existing melodies to new Latin texts. See, for example, the offertory, Iustorum animae, which is an adaptation of Stetit angelus.

    I must explain, by the way, that I do not have a doctorate.
  • More typos--these in my previous message:


    "entreaties FROM choirmasters"
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Hey, why did no one notice that I had been raving about this publication for a year now? Of course it is fantastic that it's now being offered for free. Really, there's no excuse not to include at least one Proper at every Mass with any singing.
  • Everyone DID notice and it's one reason that it is online!
  • JennyJenny
    Posts: 147
    Beautiful and wonderful! Now my job will be convincing my parish music director to use it.
  • Updated through Ash Wednesday!
  • Maybe I've missed something mentioned elsewhere, but, has there been a download update passed Pentecost?
  • I have fallen slightly behind in the work of revision.

    In fact, I have completed revision of the propers for Corpus Christi, Trinity Sunday, and all but one of the subsequent Sundays through Proper 10 (Roman rite: 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time). Because of the gap, I have not posted all that I have completed.

    I'll try to catch up as soon as possible and then to keep the postings up to date.
  • Thanks, belatedly, Bruce. As soon as "Music Ministry" receives a stipend for something, I'll buy the hardcover, promise.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,835
    Thank you, Bruce, for all your work. Thank you also, for not using chant notation. You have taken it out of the hands of the "annointed" and given it to the choirs and congregations who go nuts when confronted with neumes.
  • Saw the "release" over at NLM, Bruce. I pray blessings upon you for increasing the bounty of resources available to us.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    up and looks fantastic

    If you haven't tried this, please do. It is a bit different from Latin chant. You have to work with it a bit to get your confidence up and each requires a slightly different method (imho) depending on the text. But once you get it, it really does the thing. very moving, prayerful, and beautiful.
  • The Statutes of the Lord — The American Gradual

    All errors in execution are mine and mine alone.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    fantastic! Thank you so much. Love the speed.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thank you Aristotle. It's good to hear how it's sung. Beautiful singing.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Great job !
  • Aristotle,
    Are you singing in an ambient environment, or using digital processing for the reverberant effect? Just curious.
    Dittos to all comments, btw. Also, are you planning on posting recordings weekly in advance of Sunday? ;-) Just being lazy.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,343

    can I play this on my iPod through the sound system at the appropriate liturgical moment? (just kidding)
  • "Obi Wan Kenobi, we need your help!"
    If there are any situations where holographic performance would generally improve the status quo aesthetic, 'twould be with marching bands and choirs in churches.
  • Charles — I use Audacity with the GVerb plugin for the reverb.

    Thanks to all for the good words on this. If there's demand for weekly recordings, I would consider it. Show of hands, please?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,041
    And I though Aris was recording the antiphon in a tiled room!
  • see new thread: Why didn't anybody think of this before?
  • Aristotle:

    Thank you for this recording. You sang the piece beautifully.
  • JennyJenny
    Posts: 147
    Wonderful, Aristotle! I was singing it way too slow.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    Aristotle, well done!

    Which video creation program are you using? This may be a pointless question because I have a PC and you have a Mac IIRC. But I would be happy to divide up the Gradual and take turns posting the recordings. Heck, I might even have to start using my real name. Eventually one has to declare himself, right?

    For the record, I use Sonar 8 from Cakewalk. It's buggy at times, but as Tonio says in I Pagliacci, "fo' quel che posso." ('I do what I can.')
  • Hi Yurodivi,

    Sorry for the delayed response. I'm currently recording audio from an Edirol R–09 and using iMovie '08 to stitch things together.

    (According to public records, my first-last-name combination is one in 150,000,000 — and it's probably singularly unique if you include my middle name.)
  • Mr. Z
    Posts: 159

    O big pair o hands raised over here. Loved the singing. Try a better reverb. I will look for one,

    OK found one ;

    Try Reaper - it is shareware -30 days free and then 39 bucks or something, but that other verb has got to go, singing 10+, verb -3. Not the 64 bit, unless you are running 64 bit OS.

    Nice program. Create track by left clicking in the blank space, too simple almost. Under fx VST look up (Cockos) Reverbate, pretty good, try the wide wide preset for catherdral effect.
  • Does anyone know when TAG will be updated through the end of the liturgical year? Or am I missing something?

  • yes, do a search. Ford is uploading the unrevised versions.
  • I will begin revising the propers for the Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time this week. I'll try to do one set a week between now and Christ the King. When I have finished, I'll go back and do the five Summer Sundays that I have not done. Finally I'll do the propers for certain feasts. The revision will then be complete.

    I have had some other projects to complete and, frankly, I ran out of steam.
  • Thanks for all you do Bruce! Prayers for you and your intentions!