The Devil came Down to Canberra
  • Hugh
    Posts: 194

    I was quietly going over v1 of today’s offertory “Perfice” in preparation when my eye strayed down to V2 … and there it was. A tritone! The Devil’s Interval! The first I’ve ever encountered in the regular chant cycle. It’s not in the Gradual, only in the Offertoriale, which supplies the sumptuous verses.

    I had no choice. (“the devil made me do it”) I had to sing a chant tritone for once in my life, come what may. Anyway I would be protected: the very verse itself prayed “Keep me Lord as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings, safe from the evil-doers.”

    A quick mental hum through, and then into it. I have to admit the tricky approach on “o” of “oculi” is something I would have like to have rehearsed out loud a few times to create a stable melodic and rhythmical idea in my head. But the notes were there.

    Uh oh!…at the end of the La-Mi clivis, a bit of phlegm stuck in my throat that I knew I couldn’t sing through. My dear guardian angel’s last warning perhaps? Micropause for a quick swallow, then into it. I put a tiny bit of extra pressure on the two notes.

    No heads jerked back, hands held to ears, in the congregation. I think I saw someone raise a hand…to stifle a yawn. No babies shrieked. No dogs howled. The foundations of the church didn’t tremble. The great FSSP priests didn’t come running after me with crucifixes held aloft after mass. I have no intimation that a letter of excommunication from the Archbishop is on its way. The choir seemed not to notice at all.

    Bit disappointing, reallyI Perhaps our Latin Mass cong. are all closet heavy metal heads where the tritone is often invoked. Or they’re fans of “The Simpsons” where the first two notes form an ascending tritone “The Simp...” so it’s already familiar?

    But there: I’ve done it and privately thankful. After 40 years of singing and directing chant, my first tritone!

    P.S. Is there an exclusive club of chanters worldwide who have sung chant tritone in the Liturgy and who convene after Sexagesima Sunday Mass for convivialities? If so, what’s the password?

    Oh I know, it’s a two note melody!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,528
    Why do we suspect you of not taking this nearly seriously enough?
    Thanked by 3tomjaw LauraKaz Hugh
  • Drake
    Posts: 196
    At Matins of Holy Saturday, there is also a tritone jump (Fa to Ti) from the end of Quia venit dies Domini magna et amara valde to the repetition of Plange quasi virgo in Responsory 3, ending the first nocturne. This responsory is definitely one of my favorites.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Hugh
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    It's been a loooong time since tritones rattled the sensibilities of listeners.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen LauraKaz Hugh
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,925
    I play jazz... hardly a measure goes by without a tritone being found within it. Now, if you understand the roots of jazz are in voodoo then I guess it is a logical deduction. I also tell my students that jazz is the 'chapel music of the bar'. Now, the bar does not have to be the devils chapel per say, but you have to be on guard if you venture there unaware...
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Hugh
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 907
    Next time, sing the offertory according to Anton Stingl’s restitution: http://www.gregor-und-taube.de/Materialien/Offertoriale/E.05-Of.-Perfice-gressus-meos.pdf.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Hugh
    Posts: 194
    Drake: Correct. But I was thinking more of a tritone within a melodic section, not interrupted by a gap.

    Speaking of which ... true confessions:

    We've sung that difficult but actually beautiful response many times. Early years, disastrously so. We sank so much despite all efforts and alerts that there had to be a pause while I re-pitched so we wouldn't go subterranean in the final repeat. The result was inevitably much wider than a tritone !

    I regard that response as the nadir of the triduum for our choir. You're snapped into the zone by the huge psalm (Zelus domus) at the beginning of Tenebrae on Wednesday evening. You go through Holy Thursday. Then the huge Good Friday 3.00 pm service. A quick bite of vegetarian pizza, then into Tenebrae. And that response winks mischievously at you when it comes. But I have come to love it, now we've mastered it.

    Smvanroode: No, no! I'm embracing this little. black swan, tritone! How dare you deprive me! :-)

    Thanked by 2tomjaw Drake
  • I saw the thread title, and my mind immediately thought someone posted a parody of the Charlie Daniels song.
  • tandrews
    Posts: 126
    I saw the thread title, and my mind immediately thought someone posted a parody of the Charlie Daniels song.


    That would belong in the "chantifications" topic.