Questions about Respond and Acclaim
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    I received the following in email. Anyone want to take it on?

    Can you point me to something that deconstructs Alstott's psalm settings and explains why they are bad? Because I don't understand the problem with them. I know they aren't Gregorian chant, I know the responses are metered. But many of them seem nice to me. And I don't understand why the verses are so different from other tone settings. I've sung Gelineau, Guimont, and others in English. All are a huge improvement on the "song" repertoire that typifies contemporary parish usage.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586

    you know, I have to agree. One could do a lot worse. The things I like about them are that at least they are sort-of like Psalm tones, so they help the choir and/or cantors get used to that concept; and most of them can be sung easily in four parts. We have used them a capella at my parish for some occasions with good effect.

    I think maybe the "problem" is that they come from the Withywindle of Catholic publishing today: OCP. So yeah, some of them are blah, but most of them are serviceable, and some are actually pretty good.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Hi JDE

    Those weren't my comments - that was the question. Doesn't matter.

    As I told the person who wrote to me, not ALL of them are bad. Being metered alone does not disqualify them. Some are dignified. But others are just silly sounding - too dance-like or insipid. Also, I think some of the choral harmonizations sound more like they belong in a jazz elevator than in a church.

  • Both of you have "named that tune in five notes" and that, mon amis, is the point of R&A, its very raisinduhtruh and why lotsa pastors insist on their use. We could, indeed, do worse. We could, indeed, also do better. Takes time.
    AOZ, I could provide a spreadsheet of R&A fruitpies' nutrition levels, if you want. But is that a wise use of my time?
    QTR principle: how much quality time remains for each of us?
    Yesterday's R/A response illustrates its connundrum ("Happy the people the Lord has chosen, chosen....)
    If you're monitoring congregational decibel levels as the criteria for success, we happy.
    If your psalmist renders the verses with precision and a good measure of improvisational imagination, we happy.
    The banality or silliness factor will always be mitigated (that must be my word of the week) by performance standards.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    could someone please post examples --- I would like to be able to comment, but I have never seen any of the Respond & Acclaim Resp. psalms ---- whoever posts, just put "SAMPLE ONLY" in red over the music so you don't get sued.
  • JeanL
    Posts: 21
    I would take OCP's Respond and Acclaim any day over Gelineau, and the dancing pseudo-psalms that are used in most parishes. If done a cappella or with light accompaniment SATB, they can be done reverently. They of course could be improved, but compared to the common alternative, they are a better choice.
  • OCP psalms are useless...hard to sing, poorly composed, have tremendously lowered the standards of music in the church.

    Rather than being mastered by singers, singers stumble through them.

    This is wrong...

    Especially since there are fantastic guides to how psalms should be sung already in place:

    This is a set pattern in which the antiphons leads to the verses, the verses leads back to the antiphon.

    The repeated antiphon is sung.

    The verse starts on the last note of the antiphon.

    The verse ends on the first note of the antiphon.

    Any questions?

    This pattern is tried and true. A composer that wants to ignore this lessens the use of their compositions.
  • Would anyone sing a respond and acclaim psalm at a voice class? Now, a Chabanel psalm is a different thing....well written, musical and useful to singers.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    The Chabanel psalms vary widely in quality, IMHO.

    It seems to me--practically speaking--that an antiphon should be memorable. Not necessarily ear worm memorable, but logical in its construction. Part of achieving this is writing music that more or less fits the natural rhythm of the text. When the pairing is good, remembering the music and remembering the words go hand in hand. Some of the R+A antiphons work well in this regard, and some don't. The same is true of the Chabanel collections. When reading antiphons in any set, I am often left wondering whether or not the composer actually speaks or understands English.

    Verses are easy to re-compose if you don't like melodic direction or harmony. In verse recitation, the biggest problem is a singer who runs over the syntax of the sentence so quickly that you can't understand it at all--huge pet peeve of mine. Pausing briefly at a comma? Novel concept! Whether a phrase ends on ii or IV or whatever seems secondary.

    In response to Arlene's original question, I would challenge the e-mailer to reconsider the idea that R+A psalms are "a problem" in toto and to develop criteria for judging any musical setting, regardless of where it is found. The million dollar question, right?

    PS. I agree 100% with Charles, because as the psalmist yesterday for that very setting, I heard the entire church resounding with dozens and dozens of lovely voices singing the antiphon. An abomination of sacred worship? A pastoral success? I'm glad it's not my job to decide.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Almost three years ago I posed this question to Arlene and to Jeffrey T., after reading their wonderful "14 easy ways to improve the liturgy" article:
    Must we really "fix the Psalm"?

    I'm looking again at your "14 ways" article, #7, and I'm thinking now of the availability of the Chabanel Psalms project -- [these are] "English renderings of the elaborate Gregorian chant" which weren't around at the time you wrote the article.

    Honestly, I must admit that I rather like the Owen Alstott "respond & acclaim" settings, and I recall that you've written before about them, saying that most of them are at least singable. Gregorian they are not, but they seem musically acceptable, the voice takes precedence over the organ accompaniment, they adhere to the Lectionary text -- and they are printed in the OCP hymnal. I'll admit that I sing them with a bit more of a bel canto voice (though I'm careful not to overdo it) than I would if I were singing Gregorian Graduale chants.

    I'm not sure just what my English ideal is here, but perhaps would you recommend that I abandon the OA music, and try instead to simply intone the English psalm text from the Lectionary -- improvise, perhaps -- unaccompanied?

    Jeffrey was kind to forward my question to Dr.Mahrt, who offered this very thoughtful response:
    The answer to this question depends upon how seriously you take the injunction that Gregorian chant have pride of place, and whether you would take that principle to the point of preferring a Gregorian gradual over a responsorial psalm (which GIRM does allow). If you do, and I do, then what you do there should at least point in that direction, and the use of a psalm tone might be a step in that direction. Likewise, I would experiment with the English settings of the Graduale Simplex (such as By Flowing Waters). I do not find these ideal in any sense, but they are probably better than the OCP things.

    In my view, the problem with the OA settings is partly in the texts; the texts are so short that it is hard to compose a refrain melody easy enough for the congregation to pick up on the fly that has substantial musical coherence, this coherence depending upon elements of repetition and of establishing a clear tonal or modal center. Thus so often you hear a final cadence in these melodies that is not very final. In such a short space a very final cadence seems trite and a not so final cadence seems incoherent.

    The more serious question about the responsorial psalm or gradual is what is the purpose of that part of the Mass proper? That is something that I addressed a little bit at our colloquium last summer, and will address in Sacred Music in a future issue.

    Hope this helps!
  • The OCP psalms DO NOT adhere to the lectionary text, which you discover when you set the USCCB lectionary test and get complaints from the pews.

    At first I was amazed that so many catholics read music....till I found out the words were...ready for this?...often paraphrases.

    The Chabanel Psalms have grown in number but also in general quality since day 1. Until this project started there were no criteria for composing them but now they are developing a style.
  • Can you point me to something that deconstructs Alstott's psalm settings and explains why they are bad? Because I don't understand the problem with them. I know they aren't Gregorian chant, I know the responses are metered. But many of them seem nice to me.

    Okay, went back to the source question.
    The question is faulty. (Charles sez "duh," why didn't I notice that the first time?")
    Dr. Mahrt's quoted response answers, as best it can, the question as posed. However, I'm not onboard with global forensics, whether it's Salieri or Smetena. You don't need Schenker at yer shoulder when it comes to R/A. Knowing I risk the wrath of Noel, but I'll stick to my first answer, don't qualify Alstott, qualify each one of his settings. If, at the end of your day, the majority of qualifications are "deconstructed" as failures, by all means quantify R/A as "bad" and OA as insufficient.
  • The wrath of Noel!

    My dislike of the OCP psalms is really not aimed totally at the composer. There are things that are strange about them and the end of the church year, especially, is interesting in strange ways.

    My dislike of them is that music directors arrive at a parish charged by the pastor to improve things. The psalms are being sung, badly, by the cantors. Attempts to improve their singing of the OCP psalms ends up angering the cantors who have sung them forever and they really, really do not care what you think but are only interested in singing their psalms their way and that's the end of it. [It is rude, but it is a lot like trying to teach pigs to just angers the pigs]

    Of course, getting a choir involved in singing the psalms threatens them, you threaten them by your mere existence and no one wins...except them when they befriend the pastor and lead him down the path that leads to your being restricted to doing what they want you to do. Of course, if a new pastor comes in he may see the fray and fire the lot of you. (do a google search on Catholic choir director fired and, aside from the ones that decide their lifestyle is more important than being Catholic you see and read some interesting stories) But they have become a status quo thing. [the psalms, not the lifestyles]

    There is no psalm tone or graduale simplex or graduale romanum step up choice, instead all parishes sing the same psalms. I have even had singers say, "Oh, we have to sing this OCP psalm at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost because the people just love it!"

    They are unable to step back and see that what they like to sing is usually not something that the people love....or even notice.

    Because you "HAVE TO HAVE A CANTOR SING THE PSALM" the art of psalm singing does not enter into the equation. Just as the KOC Grand Knight who takes the Lord's Name in vain three times loudly during dinner at a public restaurant. You have to have a grand knight. (can you say, toxic parish?)

    My problem with the OCP psalms is that they have taken hold, a hold that for many, though not all of them, is undeserved. People should have a choice and OCP does not offer a choice. Liturgical Press does in their Missal. Buy it. Support the Benedictines instead of the Diocese of Oregon that is behind all this....

    The Grail Psalms were not all translated by one monk. There was a reason why.
  • There was a time when R & A did not always coordinate with the lectionary translation, but that was fixed a few years ago.

    R & A was created by a former Benedictine monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, Father Owen Alstott, who was hired by OCP to be their music editor in the late 70's. He brought to OCP the style of chanting the monks then did at the monastery.
  • Interesting, very interesting.
  • I have to admit that I'm not an enemy of R&A. For the most part, I think that seasonal psalms are the way to go, but if you can't do that (e.g. Christmas, Epiphany, etc.) the Alstott settings could be worse. I quite like the Good Friday setting of, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Sure there are some that aren't as solid (the past July 4), but that's going to be true with every collection. I've sung both as cantor and in a choir that sings the responses and verses in SATB. When you get to the fifth psalm of Easter Vigil, it's not always bad to have something somewhat simple.

    My bigger beef is with the responses that are chosen, and OA isn't to be blamed for that. This past third Sunday of Advent, the response was, "Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel." The first stanza also lasted forever. Not OA's fault. The solution: seasonal psalm.

    I guess on my list of priorities for liturgical reform, R&A is pretty far down on my list.
  • The settings of the psalms themselves is not at all bad. Not outstanding, but not objectionable; some of them are really rather nice. What is atrocious are nearly all the responds (with or without the tasteless word repetition) and their attendant amateurish descants. Most unbearable are the rhythmically cute, uninspired and un-churchly Alleluyas. It would seem that the template used for these was the same which might be applied to the production of a TV jingle.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    The tunes usually don't help the text make sense--that is my issue. I'm thinking of an R and A antiphon that says "Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations." The music gets you through the words but it doesn't go with the words. Not at all.

    I suppose a very simplistic rationale could be given for some things: the "deeds," which are the central message of the antiphon (not really, God is, but okay), are given a peak kind of note and drawn out. I don't think the intention is wrong but the way it is carried out is musically literalistic or overly simplified. (When I think of "deeds" I think of a sol-la-sol torculus with a horizontal emphesema, which isn't wondrously sophisticated but at least isn't, "Here's an important word, let's give it a dotted half note!")

    Antiphons should be melismatic. Does "congregational" mean "no melismas?" R and A takes it that way.

    Here is the virtue of R and A in a parish: No copies. No printing. No fuss. You hand the book to your choir, cantors and organists and say, Here, learn this for every weekend, ok? You buy it once and give it once and the whole entire YEAR is solved. Very easy, not expensive, and not time-consuming. (Let lightning strike me now.) I don't think they are a model of musicianship but they are very very very easy to use.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Kathy, very well said.

    I have one question, though: "Antiphons should be melismatic"?

    I don't think this is right, unless you mean that a melisma here or there is ok. Many antiphons from the Divine Office are ultra-simple, and based on what Paul Ford stated above, perhaps that is where OA got the idea.

    But maybe you mean a few syllables with 2 or 3 notes, instead of 10 or 11 (which is what I think of when I see the word "melismatic").
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    dws, thank you, you are right. I should have said, more melismatic than a Psalm. At least somewhat melismatic.

    Otoh, the Responsorial Psalm replaces the Gradual, which is thoroughly melismatic, so it would be interesting to think through whether the Office antiphon or the Gradual is the more direct model.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I was thinking the same thing about the Gradual as soon as I posted my message!
  • And, of course, this raises the question:

    Why does the resp psalm not have a progressive form:

    !. The responsorial psalm may be sung by the choir or sung by a cantor or the antiphon by the people and the verses by a choir or cantor or read by the people.

    The Alleluia does....sing it or don't do it.

    Who was behind this sung psalm form being the norm? What was their rationale.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Frogman, I agree. There are a lot of rules about, many of which seem to have come from nowhere.
  • At this point this discussion might better be moved to:

    and further comments appended there to further explore?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    why they are bad?

    Regardless of composer (Alstott, Gelineau, Guimont, ...)
    --all have Refrain music that is similar (metered)
    --all have Verse music that is similar (psalm-tone-like)

    The big question for all of them is:
    why are there different styles for Refrain versus Verse?

    Here are the problems I see ...
    --the style difference is jarring:
    like alternating between two different radio buttons;
    --the competency requirements are inverted:
    the less-competent congregation is given the more complex music,
    while the supposedly more-competent cantor/choir is given the simpler music;
    --it is an exercise in congregation concentration, not meditation:
    congregation hears and repeats Refrain,
    then supposedly meditates on the choir text presented
    in a different style and
    of a longer duration,
    while they are trying to hold on to their own melody and text for their return contribution.

    This is the reason why the congregation sings best
    the Refrain after the third (and very rare later) Verses:
    they are beginning to win the Concentration battle.
    It may explain why they like it:
    it was a hard-won little melody.

    My suggestion to composers is:
    --use the same STYLE for Refrain and Verses
    --use the same MELODY for Refrain and Verses.

    For clarity, try this:
    sing Mass of Creation Kyrie phrase, sing chant Kyrie phrase,
    sing MOC Christe phrase, sing chant Christe phrase,
    Can you make the style transition with no warning or preparation?
    Why demand this behavior from the congregation?

    At least with the Graduale Simplex and By Flowing Waters,
    --the music is real chant,
    --the Refrain and Verse styles are the same,
    --there are many more verses which might result in meditation for verse four and onward.
    --the texts and melodies are seasonal
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I'm assuming that R&A are typical metered music, pounding the tonic accent, using Major-minor tonality, and Major-minor harmonies (including the Dominant 7th), but I would be very interested to see samples. Is anyone willing to post examples??
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    EFT, I don't see how you can say that the verse and refrain "styles" are the same in BFW.

    There is a huge stylistic difference between music with melodic movement/interest and a recitation tone!

    Sing antiphons to a psalm tone: then the style will be the same. Is that what you are suggesting?
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    On a slightly different subject, I would add that the verse portions of any psalm setting should more or less mimic speech, rather than "music." This is why it's called a reciting tone! If a singer grasps this, "making the transition" of styles isn't a big deal. It's as easy as going from singing to speaking.

    (And it's the same transition from chanting an antiphon to "chanting" a psalm verse.)
  • Stylistically, BFW follows the tonal rules for the composition of gregorian chant consistently, R&A wanders around the tonal palette.
  • This Sunday's (Assumption) R&A, to me,
    "The Queen stands....and Your right hand......array-ay-ayed in gold."

    presents an example of "less than ideal" Alstott.
    Doing a "Ben Franklin/+ to -" assessment:

    +the 3/2 metered melody is instantaneously accessible to PIPs; the "stands" to "hand" motive has a repeating hook, and then cadences uses a quasi plagal progression, with the scale degree 1/6-5-6-1/1. The accompaniment is classic "Heart and Soul" I-vi-ii-IV (for V) -I. Eminently basic, perfectly forgetable after its conclusion.

    - same melody, IMO, suffers from the "this is so precious....isn't she just lovely next to King Jesus, ooh!"
    I can't describe it further, as I said before: some things don't require deconstruction.

    14th Sunday C, "Our eyes are fixed on the Lord....pleading for His mercy."

    +The melody of the first phrase above, starting on the tonic, rises 3 to 5, and then 5-6-8 (1) on "Lord"- is some very lovely text painting, and then "pleading" drops to 6-5-4-6-5-5 (held), which also cadences on the Dominant chord, as if the outcome of "pleading for His mercy" will remain unresolved for the moment. That's not poor thinking, in my book.

    - the same brief motion of 5-6-8 on "Lord" could be regarded as challenging the endurance of the congregation. But, I don't put too much stock in that debit, as the good support of a strong choir provides the inspiration (literally) for them to blow through the phrase.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Perhaps the Chabanel Psalm Project, which I admire, could benefit from the user-friendly format of Respond and Acclaim.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Uhoh, I rather lilke the R&A Assumption setting. I used it for years, and the congregation grew to love it too. Even now I can sing it from memory. Surely no one would want to use them every week, but a judicious use, along with Gelineau, and others is fitting. And I think Guimont's settings are much 'jazzier' than Alstott's.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592

    If you want to hear a GORGEOUS and inspired Responsorial psalm for the Feast of the Assumption, Check our Richard Rice's setting for the Assumption (among others).

    Richard's setting is modal, elegantly written, based on chant, inspired (in my view), DIGNIFIED, and "moves." His Refrain would not be mistaken for a folk tune.

    I, personally, find the R&A setting to be Major-minor tonality, similar to folk music, has large skips, boring (rhythmically), not based on chant (at the least the Refrain), and uninspired.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181

  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592


  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181

  • DougS
    Posts: 793

    Do you really hear that big of a difference between the R+A and the Richard RIce refrains? Disclaimer: the following observations are made with full knowledge that the Rice is "modal" (but still has a tonal center of D).

    1) The rhythm and melodic profile of the openings are virtually identical;
    2) The bass line is a little less so, but still moves stepwise from 1 to 6 at almost the same point;
    3) The ii7-I ending of the R+A is functionally the same as the G-D in Rice;
    4) They both have little melismata on the word "arrayed" followed by a short anacrusis on "in;"
    5) They both have a 4-3 suspension at the end.

    If you ask me, it's almost as if they were looking at the same playbook. It's just one chose F major and the other chose D Mixolydian.

    I hope you don't feel like I'm attacking you, but I just don't see how one could feel so passionately different about these very similar settings.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,338
    I thought that same thing the first time I heard a Chabanel Psalm... I even made a comment to that affect at the NLM blog post where I learned about them:
    Didn't seem remarkably different than Respond and Acclaim.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592

    For myself, I do hear a big difference (i.e. fundamental differences) in the two approaches.


    1. Modal vs. Major-Minor (for me, huge)

    2. Regular rhythm Refrain vs. "Free" Rhythm Refrain (for me, huge)

    3. I find the R&A refrain motives and patterns much more "predictable" than Richard's (I'm afraid I have not time to go into why I think that is bad in this instance, and why I feel it makes it quite trite).

    Correct me if I'm wrong, DougS, but I don't think R&A ends with 4-3 sus, btw, I think has a 6/4 chord, which is not the same (I never use 6/4 chords in my Psalms).

    But I'm sure others will have other opinions!
  • Geez, I thought my little missive pretty much summed up that deconstructing Alstott is hardly worth the time.
    And my sissy Kathy nailed it with this:
    Here is the virtue of R and A in a parish: No copies. No printing. No fuss. You hand the book to your choir, cantors and organists and say, Here, learn this for every weekend, ok? You buy it once and give it once and the whole entire YEAR is solved. Very easy, not expensive, and not time-consuming. (Let lightning strike me now.) I don't think they are a model of musicianship but they are very very very easy to use.

    To which I am compelled to add: if your pastor wants/demands (for whatever reason) that the PIPs are provided the actual version of what is printed in the worship aide, pulp/handout/hymnal/psalter available to them, then that's that. I'm not going to battle over R&A at this point in the wars. One caveat- there are one or two occasions in the year that the R&A is completely vaccuous, ironically Christ the King is one of those occasions for moi. So, I find a better setting with no muss, no fuss.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Hey! Who you calling a sissy?!!!

  • DougS
    Posts: 793

    I respect your opinion, but reasonable people can disagree about the substantiveness of the differences. For me, the biggest one you point out is the potential for rhythmic freedom in the RIce. I also agree that the 6-1 melodic motion at the end of the Alstott is trite (and folksy) but so is the 4-2-3-1 in the Rice.

    I guess the real question is whether a person can write such a short refrain that isn't trite! Maybe all creative musical resources have simply been used up! And maybe this is partly why deconstructing one to boost another seems pointless, as Charles points out.

    (The figure at the end of the Alstott is a 6-5, 4-3 double suspension, not a full 6/4 chord, because it has no functionality--though reasonable people could probably disagree about that, too!)

    BTW, Charles, I totally agree about the practicality of R+A--extremely easy to use as a consumer.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Peter Latona's Psalm refrains are very good. They aren't as easily grasped as Alstott's, which is fine. They explicate the meaning of the text subtly, and very well, in a small musical space.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,338
    My issue with R&A is that I think it embodies a "worst of both worlds" musical compromise.
    It isn't as musically interesting or "entertaining" (gawd!) as composed-through settings in an identifiable style (folk, pop, calypso...), so I don't see how it makes contemporary-music people happy.
    It isn't as solemn, musical, or (even!) entertaining as actual chant (in Latin or English) so it (clearly, from this board) doesn't make traditional-music people happy.

    It makes me wonder (like so much music does), "Why did anyone bother to take the time to compose this?"

    But, as was pointed out, it does make life a tiny bit easier for an over-worked music director, which does make them happy (and willing to buy), so- There you have a reason for it's existence.

    My comparison of R&A to Chabanel was not a favorable assessment of R&A. It was a (don't hate me, please) somewhat "so what" response to Chabanel.
    I just don't see the differences to be substantive:
    The refrain is somewhat metered and somewhat not in both. Both are scored for organ or SATB choir. Both have the same composed-through refrain and chanted verses structure. The transition between the two sections is equally awkward (or not). Both are a but slow and dreary in a way that annoys contemporary-music people, but neither one is really honest to goodness chant. Even the tonality issue I don't see as a big deal: sure, Chabanel is modal, but that hardly seems to matter since the harmonization is still four-part homophony. And, considering it will be played on a tempered instrument, I think the aural effect is largely the same (especially from the standpoint of a non-musician listener).

    It might be the case that any particular Chabanel setting might be of a higher quality than any particular R&A setting- but that has to do with specific implementation, not overall scope/style/purpose of either enterprise. And, that quality judgment would certainly be subjective, and would undoubtedly be colored by the judger's preconceptions about the source of the material.

    And finally:
    My feeling is that either of these options, or a composed through "styled" piece are not the best thing for this purpose. It all seems overdone for the middle of the Liturgy of the Word. My vote is for unaccompanied chant, every time.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Adam, I would just add that many of the Chabanel settings are written in neumes and are meant to be sung as unaccompanied chants (e.g., AOZ's contribution to the Assumption page). There isn't one Chabanel style.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,338
    Yes- and I was just about to come back and mention that.

    There seems to be a prevailing musical style/structure that is as I described (that seems to be the "lead" setting on many Psalm pages)- and my comments are directed at that. (Are those usually the Rice settings?)

    But there are at least a half-dozen settings by different composers on most Sundays. Which is a wonderful thing!
    This makes the music director's job both easier and harder, of course. (Ah! The paradox of choice.)
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    sure, Chabanel is modal, but that hardly seems to matter since the harmonization is still four-part homophony

    Adam, in response to this, I can only speak for myself. I believe, with Niedermeyer, that truly modal accompaniments stand in sharp contrast to Major-minor tonality harmonizations.

    Here is an essay on modal accompaniments I wrote several years ago that might interest you (I hope I still agree with it! . . . or at least most of it . . . .).

    I would also like to repeat that I do believe the difference between Major-minor tonality and modal tonality is a huge difference. I also feel that free rhythm vs. metered rhythm is a huge difference.

    I also do not agree with those who seem to have something against a short Antiphon followed by Psalm tone verses (I think I've heard some say this is "disjunct"). I believe this is a practice which has existed for centuries and centuries. I also do not think short Antiphons present a problem. I really, really do not. As a matter of fact, I believe the Divine Office used to literally TRUNCATE the Antiphons to 1-2 words (I think Pius X ended this). Now, that practice I can, perhaps, see folks objecting to. Again, I feel the Antiphon/Psalm Tone model is "tried and true." And I love it.

    Years ago, I always tried to use metered Refrains, to help the congregation. Eventually, I learned (from my high school students) that they ABSOLUTELY LOVE free-rhythm Refrains, and sing them with gusto. Since that time, I have written free-rhythm Refrains. I no longer believe in metered Refrains, because I noted very carefully for three years which Refrains my high schoolers preferred. They seemed to prefer the free-rhythm Refrains, and sang them with joy and pride.

    By the way, DougS, I do like Richard's 4-2-3-1 ending, and I think this is found in the Gregorian Repertoire. But, as always, I'm sure other folks have their preferences as well !!!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    Preference isn't always the main consideration in a big parish program.

    This is: how shall the guitar-and-piano-group play this beautiful modal free-rhythm antiphon?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,338

    sure, Chabanel is modal, but that hardly seems to matter since the harmonization is still four-part homophony

    Adam, in response to this, I can only speak for myself. I believe, with Niedermeyer, that truly modal accompaniments stand in sharp contrast to Major-minor tonality harmonizations.

    I do not dispute your judgement on Modality vs. Tonality. My preference for unaccompanied chant has a built-in meta-preference for the Church modes over the modern Tonal system.

    My issue is simply that the texture (of those pieces to which I was referring) overtakes the tonality. Especially (I think) to the untrained ear.

    In my mind, the Responsorial Psalm is a unique structural hybrid between congregational prayer and scriptural proclamation. Because of that, of all the possible musical styles in the world (from polyphony to strophic hymns, from Calypso to Gamelan) unaccompanied chant (probably in the vernacular for most congregations) is the most suitable. Based on that, I find that R&A and (some of the settings from) Chabanel vary from that ideal in precisely the same way: by cluttering up the liturgical action with extra sound.

    1. That opinion might be overly influenced by my strong bias against accompanying chant.
    2. I read Jeff's essay. While it didn't convince me that chant accompaniment is good or beautiful generally, I absolutely agree with his final assessment: Great organists who are tuned into the prayer and have a musical imagination well-formed by the Rite itself (that's my addition) are the best "method" for accompanying chant. And if every instance of chant accompaniment sounded like the example from P. Petrus Eder, OSB I wouldn't mind the practice as much as I do.
  • Adam,

    Is there more available of Petrus Eder, OSB? What a lovely accompaniment? Do you have a discography to share?

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,338

    Is there more available of Petrus Eder, OSB? What a lovely accompaniment? Do you have a discography to share?

    It was Jeff's essay, so I wouldn't know...

    Jeff? Anything?