Chant in 45 minutes
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Hypothetically you have 45 minutes in front of a secular university Music History class to give students a complete introduction to the genre and singing of chant.

    What do you make sure not to leave out? Hypothetically I might need this information tomorrow.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    You can either give an introduction to singing chant or to its history, but I'm not sure you can do both. If singing is really an objective (should it be in a history class?), I would choose examples, in order of difficulty, that would form a varied repertoire. What not to leave out? Things that they never teach in conservatory:

    1) Solfege comes from chant (Ut queant laxis is a must), and it was not designed to be "fixed" to any one pitch, as it often is in musicianship classes.
    2) Our symbols for the flat and the natural (and later, the sharp) come from the letter "b," representing "ti" ("si") and "te" of Gregorian chants.
    3) the established church modes are Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian (along with their plagal counterparts). Since each of the modes can take a ti-flat, the idea of Ionian and Aeolean modes (taught in theory classes) does not apply to the chant.
  • I teach a 30' class based on "A Beginner's Guide to Reading Gregorian Chant Notation" that seems to be well-received....and it does help them understand modern notation when it comes along. It, the book not the understanding, will shortly be available at Aquinas & More....and is on now. Go there and enter the title or 1438257481 to search for it...It's climbing higher and higher on the sales charts headed to #1...

    It's up to Sales Rank: #359,676 already!

    And that gives you 15' to get them to sing some chant as well...
  • Most important thing about the music itself is that it is old but not time bound. It remained constantly in use since its inception, a part of the structure of life itself longer and more than any other music. Even music based on chant from 1000 forward did not displace the chant itself. No other form of music has this feature. Fr. Ruff writes about this point at length in his book. What is significant about this from a musical point of view? It permitted the chant to take very deep root in the culture across many countries and centuries, and gave musicians a common language across time and space. This is what provided the basis for the incredible progress that took place during and after the advent of polyphony.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Right Jeff. This stemmed from a discussion I started when the prof said that the Church banned Latin and chant in the 60s. I definitely want to touch upon the timeless qualities of chant to combat this notion. My main goal, as I suggested to the prof, is to give my fellow students something to help them see chant as something fun an interesting rather than some boring stuff people did years ago that we have to memorize to get into grad school. Perhaps a bow tie would help?
  • You may challenge him. The US Bishops voted to ban Latin from the Mass, I believe it was in the early 1970's, so that all Masses in the US would be in the vernacular and Latin officially banned. This was sent to the Vatican for approval AND DENIED.
  • Oh I see! Nothing works like an audible demonstration of something really groovy.

    A bow tie might just make you look stuffy!
  • Sing a Kyrie as Syllabic, then Melismatic

    Sing chant/organum/polyphony... at
  • The bow tie would be an effective, disarming ploy....whoa, dude, this guy's an out of touch geek. Boring....

    And then, like Jeffrey, you surprise the heck out of them....and they leave the classroom, following you into a nirvana of chant and incense.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I have my outline planned and am now running off several copies of "Idiot's Guide" in case someone should want to pursue it further. I'll try to record the lecture, in case anyone's interested. Thanks for the help!
  • Gavin,

    You have a mighty force of friends and supporters here, no matter how much we challenge each other....take them ON with our support!

    A bow tie wouldn't hurt, though
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    All: the presentation went well. I even counted one possible convert (a Catholic in fact!) grabbing a copy of "Idiot's Guide". I led them through a couple practices, such as the ison and alternatim and gave them a brief history and a primer on reading chant. All in all, a great success!
  • Gavin, let me be the first to congratulate you and [kneel and prepare to receive the tap fo the sword] confer upon you the title of Chant Proponere.
  • Very cool!

    Jeffrey Morse told me yesterday that Mary Berry used to say the following to her students. I think we should all carry this message forward: "Take what you've learned here and go out and sing the Chant and teach the Chant to all who would receive it... be missionary about it, be always cheerful and never, never become downcast. Live the Chant!"
  • Gavin,

    Were you able to charitably inform the prof that the Church had indeed not banned chant and Latin in the '60's?

    How did the prof respond to your presentation?

    At any rate, well done! I bow to your courage.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Right on, Jeffrey. Chant and sacred polyphony have followed a parallel development, in my opinion also related to the notational conventions of the time. I'm giving a music demonstration in December that will allow the choir and audience to trace the organic development of sacred music from one style period to the next. The conclusion? Sacred music reached a low point (in terms of it being related to the chant) during the classic period with music of Mozart which continued through the 19th century with little exception. With the publication of the Graduale Romanum in 1908 and increased scholarship in paleography came a renaissance of chant based music that has continued to flourish into the the 21st century.

    Here's the program:

    Introit: Gaudete
    from Ordo Virtutum (Hildegard, 12th c)
    Hymn: Gloria, laus (in parallel organum)
    Vexilla Regis (alternatim with organum of Dufay, 15th c)
    Gloire au Seigneur ("Hodie Christus natus est," sung by choeur d'enfants)
    Jerusalem surge (Isaac)
    Ecce virgo concipiet (Isaac)
    Conditor alme siderum (alternatim with polyphony of Praetorius, 16th c)
    Of the Father’s Love Begotten (alternatim with polyphony from Pie Cantiones)
    Communion: Vidimus stellam
    Magi veniunt (Clemens non Papa)
    Hymn : Chantons l’enfant qui nous est né ("Puer natus in Bethlehem")
    In manus tuas (alternatim with polyphony of Pujol, 17th c)
    Ad te levavi (Scarlatti)
    Justitiae (Scarlatti)
    Offertory: Jubilate Deo
    Jubilate Deo (free polyphony of Mozart, 18th c)

    Salvum fac populum tuum (quasi-alternatim, Bruckner 19th c)
    Psaume 150 (psalm tone alternating with polyphony of Milhaud, 20th c)
    O Sacrum convivium (Messiaen)
    Hymn: Pange lingua gloriosi
    Tantum ergo (Duruflé)
    Aujourd'hui dans notre monde le Verbe est ne (Geoffray, in alternatim with "Christe redemptor omnium")
    Maneant in vobis (Rice, 21st c)
    Jesu dulcis memoria (alternatim, Poterack)
  • Incantu -

    Presuming that we align ourselves with the concept that the closer music is to chant the better its quality as sacred music, would it be a proper paraphrase of your conclusion to say that some of the best music ever composed for the Church was some of the worst Church music ever composed?
  • Priorstf...

    I sit here trying to visualize which cheek your tongue is in...if it is! Think of that in Jeffrey's grove of trees.

    And having reread the post cited, I find myself agreeing with him. Mozart music often takes on the character of "look what we can do, pay attention to our cadences. Be taken unawares by a deceptive cadance..."

    Part of this may be because of the Protestant form. In the Mass the music puts the sacred text into the air with pitches. In the Protestant form, everything stops, music is sung or played as a major element of the worship, rather than an enhancement of the worship as it exists. Everything stops. Except when it is the offering.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Prior, absolutely. I am not supporter of "50 classical masterpieces" (all of the German) approach to music appreciation. I think I could go the rest of my life without hearing another Beethoven symphony, and I spend most of my time performing new and recently composed vocal music that may never get sung again (at least in my lifetime). But there's no denying that Mozart wrote some glorious music, as did other composers of his ilk. But the 18th-19th century was the only period of time in the past 1200 years that I had trouble finding music that was really based on the Church's authentic chant. (Someone might want to jump in with other suggestions from this time period). I'm making the argument that even the Messiaen draws from chant in avoiding tonal cadences and in its free rhythm (where other compositions quote actual chant tunes, this one, to my knowledge, does not). Quality alone is not what makes music sacred - although it is a necessity! Looking at the vast variety of musical styles composers used throughout history that were based on chant yet are at the same time modern and true to the individual composer's aethetic, it is clear how insignificant the "Shine Jesus Shine" model of songwriting of the past 40 years is in comparison.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,618
    funny... as time goes on (as i get older), i still find beethoven boring; and while some mozart is fun to play (i perform it in piano concerts on occassion), i also find it generally boring. to me its like the scent of flowers - captivating and very strong when its in the room (air), but has no lasting effect (or affect) after the notes have passed by.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I agree. Haydn wrote more memorable quartets.

    What 18th century composers are most aligned with the ideal of chant? Any?