Author Topic: Chant  (Read 29302 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #120 on: June 05, 2019, 08:28:29 PM »

But we are not so removed from Medieval thought.  There are ample numbers of documents which in the majority say the same thing: the music used in church worship should be done differently than the kind of music sung outside of church. 

Are there any documents that say it must be done without ornamentation and without microtones?

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #121 on: June 05, 2019, 08:30:55 PM »
Just to emphasize my general point, here's a couple of quotes from Dom Eugene Cardine: "All pontifical documents, including the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Second Vatican Council, December 4, 1963) recognize Gregorian Chant as 'specially suited to the Roman Liturgy' (CSL Article 116). Not so much certainly, because of its musical quality, but much more for its incomparable power to express prayer."

"To obtain the spiritual effect, and even more, the musical effect of Gregorian Chant, a certain degree of perfection is required:

  -- in understanding
  -- in execution: to strive for a technique as worthy as possible of both the subject matter and its aim, which is nothing less than the praise of God.  Experience proves that there is no choir or congregation, even of
      modest capacity, that could not be sufficiently trained to appreciate Gregorian Chant, and sing properly the part assigned to them and to reach an interpretation that becomes prayer." (Emphasis in the original)

Chant was expected to be sung by non-professionals, as should be obvious from the quote.

How do I know whether an interpretation has become the expression of a  prayer?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #122 on: June 05, 2019, 08:34:17 PM »


Exactly. But I think that can also be said of Peres.

I just note that Angelopoulos was part of a confrérie which had an ancient oral tradition. It was a Byzantine one, and what he does sounds Byzantine. Peres denies that this is an inappropriate contamination of the music he interprets.

Vellard also takes some inspiration from eastern oral traditions, but his chant sounds much less Byzantine, for better or for worse. There are no microtones, the manner of forming sounds is more traditionally « western »

There has been a lot of talk of Solesmes in this thread. I’m not at all sure  the Solesmes establishment view would be of the singing here

« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 09:09:27 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #123 on: June 05, 2019, 09:31:21 PM »
Can I ask the people who know about this music to do something for me? Have a listen to Assumens Iesus on this CD or Coram Tribus.  Is this singing kosher according to Solesmes? Can you tell from the way it sounds? Unfortunately I don’t have the booklet.



Anne Marie Deschamps is a great find for me, as stimulating as Peres, more so.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 10:18:06 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #124 on: June 06, 2019, 01:56:00 AM »
Are there any documents that say it must be done without ornamentation and without microtones?

See my Reply #113

Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #125 on: June 06, 2019, 01:59:09 AM »
How do I know whether an interpretation has become the expression of a  prayer?

That issue was determined by the Catholic Church authorities.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #126 on: June 06, 2019, 02:42:24 AM »
See my Reply #113

There may indeed be a consensus in the Roman Catholic church.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #127 on: June 06, 2019, 02:42:45 AM »
That issue was determined by the Catholic Church authorities.

Well that’s the end of that then.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #128 on: June 06, 2019, 02:48:42 AM »
Well that’s the end of that then.

Well, prayer is squarely in the province of the church and especially the monks of Solesmes whose lives revolve around several services of daily prayer, involving chant.  I would sooner trust these men to know as opposed to someone like Marcel Peres.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #129 on: June 06, 2019, 04:26:11 AM »
One singer I've taken a great liking to is Damien Poisblaud,  there's samples on youtube, this one chosen pretty randomly by me

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/GvtTnsL20cY" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/GvtTnsL20cY</a>

To some extent this discussion has seemed trapped in an opposition between, to put it crudely, Solesmes on the one hand and Peres/Anne-Marie Deschamps  and indeed Damien Poisblaud on the other. But it may not be fair because the interest that the Peres side of the duel has been focused on areas which, as far as I know, the Solesmes paleographers don't address -- things like polyphonic chant and the archaic "old roman" music.

However I think we've touched on a lot of interesting areas. Whatever may be the just view of the Solesmes research in reconstituting the chant melodies from manuscripts, there seems to be agreement that the Solesmes style of singing those melodies is very influenced a certain conception of prayer -- it would be interesting to explore that more deeply.

And although no-one hear seems very clear about what the Solesmes paleographic methodology involves, not least me, it does seem to be clear that their view wasn't informed by singers who, due to belonging to living oral traditions of chant, have a very concrete idea about how chant should sound, how chanters should make sounds. Whether this is a major weakness of the approach is something I can't say, but a priori  it does sound a weakness (contrast the way our understanding of Homer benefited from research into living Balkan story telling traditions. )
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 04:47:20 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #130 on: June 06, 2019, 04:27:16 AM »
Peres possibly has an anti-Catholic axe to grind.

This may be of interest

Quote
An Interview with Marcel Pérès

By Tom Moore

Marcel Pérès has been exploring a wide variety of chant repertoires for Harmonia Mundi with the Ensemble Organum, which he founded in 1982, including such little-known areas as Mozarabic chant (from Iberia), Corsican chant, and later chant traditions, such as the Gallican chant of Baroque France. His research into these byways is carried out under the auspices of the CERIMM (Centre Européen pour la Recherche et l'Interpretation des Musiques Médiévales), which Pérés directs. His recordings also include polyphony from the Codex Chantilly, and the Ockeghem Requiem. When we met in New York, the Ensemble had just shared a performance of the Machaut Mass in the context of a complete musical Mass.


Q. You have been focusing almost exclusively on music for the Catholic Church. Did you grow up in a Catholic family?

A. Yes. When I was a boy I used to sing in the choir of the Cathedral of Nice, in the south of France. It was here that I discovered chant. The Cathedral of Nice was a very traditional place, and even after the last council continued with the Latin Mass on Sunday, and Latin Vespers also. I was lucky to grow up there. Every time that I work on a new repertoire, I always try to think about the liturgy, its place in the liturgy--I think it's very important for performing this early music.

Q. What did the choir focus on? Did you sing the Gregorian ordinary and propers?

A. Yes. We sang polyphony also, Palestrina and so on. Even though the Gregorian chant was done in the Solesmes way, it was important, because as you know, most of the Catholic places had broken with the tradition. As I was born in 1956, it was just after the council, so for me it was an opportunity to make a link with tradition. Later I studied the history of chant in more detail, chiefly with Michel Huglo in Paris, where I did my scholarly training, manuscript work, and so on.

Q. What musical training or experiences did you have as a child outside the church?

A. I was trained as an organist; I studied at the conservatory in Nice. I am a composer also--I studied composition for seven years. When I started to be involved with medieval music, it was from the point of view of a composer. During the 70s I was wondering a lot about musical notation--what kind of notation to use for this new music--and I realized that I didn't know medieval notation, Renaissance notation, and so I started to study it. My purpose was to reflect on perception of sound. During my training as a composer I used to hear chords with lots of notes and dissonances, and I wanted to go back to another perception of sound, to discover again what the perception of a man from the Middle Ages might be. With this path, I started to have an interest for medieval repertoire, and discovered that this was a huge field--that one could spend years, maybe a lifetime, trying to figure out this music.

Q. When you were studying composition, did you have any notion, before you made the turn, going in the direction you did? So often young composers feel that they must compete with Boulez, with IRCAM--they have to speak that language.

A. I wanted to create my own path, and from the beginning I didn't like Boulez, really. For me he is a good musician and conductor, but what I didn't like was his dogmatic point of view. Now things are different, but during the 70s it was a sort of diktatura --if you didn't do music this way, you were really nothing. I didn't like dictators. When I studied, I studied serial music, because you have to do that, and I composed a number of pieces of this type. But I really wanted to go further, and chiefly to work deeply on the historical references I had in my mind. If you look at writing on music from the beginning of this century, the references to composers don't go further than the eighteenth century, even if from time to time, you meet someone talking about Machaut, for instance, and amazed by the incredible rhythmic and harmonic freedom of the music. It's one thing to be astonished by the music in relation to modern transcription, and another thing to see how it really sounds. It's a bit like the increasing movement over the last thirty years toward old instruments--we have discovered that the sound is different according to the way you build the instrument, for a specific music you must have a specific instrument. It's the same thing for singing--for a specific repertoire you must try to figure out which way the voice production works. I really wanted to increase the background for the composer's intentions, going back to old notation, because each notation is a different way of getting in touch with the music, the sound. I wanted to do some new experiments.

Q. Can you tell us about your perceptions of the effect of Vatican II in France?

A. It was a disaster. It was a disaster because the result was a reform that was not the sort of reform wanted by the texts of the council, because the texts said that Latin remained the language of the church, and national languages were simply authorized, but not the rule. Vatican II also said that Gregorian chant remained the repertoire of the Latin church. But in spite of that the bishops wanted to really break with any reference to the past, and now you have this situation where you have Roman Catholic priests who are not able to say a Mass in Latin, and even people who grew up in a very religious environment are unable to understand a word of the Latin liturgy. It's really a disaster, not only in the field of religion, but also in the area of scholarship. When you study the Middle Ages, whether history or music or something else, you must have references to the medieval liturgy, medieval Latin; but now when you start your graduate studies at twenty-one or twenty-two, you must learn everything, the texts of the liturgy, and there is a drop in the level of studies because of that. Now there is maybe a tiny change in the mentalities for some young priests who realize that there is something missing in their education; maybe something is changing, and in the next ten or twenty years we will have a more reasonable attitude. Presently in France most of the clergy is allergic to Latin--it's not a reasonable attitude. So everything has to be rebuilt.

Q. In some sense Vatican II was as revolutionary for French culture as the events of 1968. Can the two be linked?

A. It's very complex. It's a constant in the history of France that the people who have the power do not realize that things must change, and so they always wait till the last moment. The French revolution was typical of that--they wanted to hold onto things until they burst. The decolonization of the French empire was the same thing--they wanted to negate the problem. English people have a more fair way to manage these things.
In the early 60s in France, on one side, you have this political power, with DeGaulle, who didn't want to change anything of what existed, and with the church, it's true that the Catholics had not seen what was going on in the 50s. ...

Everything started with the first Vatican council in 1870. At this time the Catholic Church wanted to make the rites, the chant uniform. It's from this time that you have the idea of one edition of chant, the Vatican Edition. The aim was to have the same liturgy and the same chant in all the Catholic churches throughout the world. It was artificial, since every country had its own tradition, even if more or less every one was singing a sort of Gregorian or Latin vocal tradition. This only really came into practice in the 20s, after the First World War. That created a new aesthetic of Catholic liturgy, Catholic music also, and the way of singing chant that is common now is an aesthetic that comes from this time.

Q. Is this the sort of aesthetic that the chant-based pieces of Duruflé or Poulenc represent?

A. Yes. The model for Catholic music was Gregorian chant and Palestrina; composers tried to compose according to plainsong. At the same time the chant was accompanied. It was a mixture of will to return to antiquity, but also a desire to arrange this antiquity with what was necessary for modern good taste. This aesthetic was triumphant from the 20s through the second World War.
At this point in France there was a breakdown in the Catholic world, because the Catholics had believed in the values of Petain during the war, and they had to think it over. That's why in the 60s the reform of Vatican II was an occasion for the collective unconscious to break with this Catholic style linked with the war. They wanted to do something new.
This is how you can explain why some priests are so pathologically against Latin, against what was real Catholic tradition--in their minds, it was a real way to break with the past. There you have in a few words a psychoanalysis of French attitudes.

Q. Can you tell us a little about how you perceive the interactions between Eastern and Western chant?

A. It's a matter of history, since all this repertoire has a common root, which is the liturgy of Jerusalem. Very quickly the Christian liturgy became Greek. Christianity came to the Latin world in the form of Greek culture. The liturgy in Rome itself was in Greek until the fourth century--it's only in the fifth century that they started to translate from Greek to Latin. When we are thinking of Roman chant, we must always have in mind that in the early centuries there was not a distinction between Roman and Greek culture; since two centuries before Christ these cultures were completely linked. It's very significant that when Roman music theoreticians write of music it's always with Greek terms--the very last great theoretician of music from antiquity, Boethius, is talking of Greek music, and in his mind there is no distinction between Roman music and Greek music. The theory is Greek.

I emphasize that because from time to time I read some article that discusses Greek influence in the Roman liturgy. That's wrong--it's not Greek influence. It's a community. After the fifth or sixth century, Rome and Constantinople start to diverge, but still with many things in common. In fact in Rome until the thirteenth century they used to sing some pieces in Greek. In the seventh and eight centuries in Rome they had fourteen popes of Greek origin, but let us note that most of them were Greeks from Sicily--southern Italy and Sicily in antiquity were Magna Graecia--it was a Greek world, not a Latin world. So when I started to study Old Roman chant, I wanted to put in the perspective of these common roots. There were still in the twelfth century in Roman chant seven alleluia verses in Greek. I thought it would be good to ask Greek singers what they made of that. With my Western education, I wasn't able to see how this music was working--it was very repetitive, it was very obvious from the notation that there was a lot of ornamentation, for instance, but how to do it. ...?

Q. Could you elaborate on the sorts of ornaments?

A. The difficulty is that when we talk of notation, we must bear in mind that the words we are using to name the neumes (like clivis, pes, oriscus) are mostly, except for the quilisma, from the thirteenth century. It was a vocabulary intended for square notation. For the tenth century, the eleventh century, we don't know how they were naming these figures, or even if they were naming them. When we say, for instance, this neume is an oriscus--oriscus is a word from the thirteenth century--it comes from Greek. Maybe it was of old use, but we don't know. It means a little hill--it's on the note, an ornament, but we don't know exactly what. In fact I think the vocabulary was settled on because the square notation was no longer representing the picture of the sound. When you see the older notation, you see that there is a vibration. Square notation is a symbolic notation, so you must have a vocabulary to say that a pes, a two-note neume, is (for instance) a pes quassus, i.e., with a special vocal effect, a strong quaver on the first note.

Q. In a sense the staff notation is clearer in fixing pitches, but less clear in showing the details of the performance.

A. Yes. You must bear in mind also that at this time there was a very important change in performance. They began to sing from the music on the music stand. Square notation is intended for reading from a distance, with a larger group of singers. What you lost from a graphic point of view was supplied by a vocabulary which explained what to do on which note.
Today in most music history they say that square notation is linked to a loss of subtlety--that's absolutely wrong. I think that the way of singing didn't change, just the notation. You don't have the quilisma in square notation, so some scholars say the quilisma was not done anymore. Maybe they were doing more quilismas. Hieronymus of Moravia, a thirteenth-century theoretician, explains that in a specific style, for great solemnities, you must fill all the intervals--when you have a third or a fourth, for instance. Let us note that he describes different ways of singing according to different traditions and different liturgical purposes.
We translated this treatise of Hieronymus--we're going to publish it next year. I worked for ten years on this treatise.  The problem with the performance of chant is that you have very few texts. You have the Qatuor principalia , an anonymous treatise from the fourteenth century, less clear than Hieronymus, but discussing mostly the same phenomena, some authors like Guido d'Arezzo, Johannes Afflighemensis ... one thing is certain about chant, that no one agreed--that is a constant in the history of chant. In the thirteenth century, the Dominicans spent at least thirty years arguing.

Q. Something I have found fascinating in your work is the exploration of later chant traditions. Later chant has not been a topic of research for musicology.

A. You still don't have a history of chant, because of an ideology that comes from the first Vatican Council. They wanted to promote the idea of a uniform chant repertoire, a uniform way of singing, and so they wanted to negate everything that happened between the eleventh and the nineteenth century--most of the history of chant, they say, is ''decadent.'' And so all the scholars have focused on the first manuscripts of chant. Now studies of later centuries are beginning, but we have lost one century, because these studies should have begun a century ago.
The common idea that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chant is decadent is ideological, because the reform of Solesmes wanted to break with the Gallican tradition, with the affirmation of the specificity of French culture, with the idea ''that we can be Catholic without having the same liturgy of Rome.'' They wanted to destroy that in the nineteenth century, and so they wanted to go back to St. Gregory.

Q. Which goes together with the infallibility of the pope. ...

A. Yes, yes. One liturgy, one infallible pope, one chant, one history of liturgy which is Roman and negated all other liturgies.
When we look at the chant of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it's very good music, as good as Baroque music. If you think about it, why shouldn't this chant have been refined? And so you have a huge repertoire to be discovered. I've tried to show some defects in the ideology, and with the records to show to scholars that they should study this, and in fact you can understand some medieval practices through studying seventeenth- and eighteenth-century sources. They had a continuous tradition--the medieval aesthetic was still living. You find some fauxbourdon in parallel fifths in the eighteenth century--a language completely separate from that of the time.In eighteenth century, at the Cathedral of Sens, they were still using thirteenth-century manuscripts. Sens is now a little city, but until the seventeenth century the archbishop had the title of Primate of Gaul and Germany. The decadence of Sens began with the growth of Paris, but until 1620 or so the Bishop of Paris was under the authority of Sens.

Q. Are you intending to explore other Orthodox traditions?

A. In the next few years, we will try to make a sort of federation of centers for study of Orthodox music, having in mind that scholars who work in Western chant must be in contact with scholars of Eastern chant. We need to have a standardization of terminology and methodology.
Another field in which we will work is the tradition of Syriac chant. Next year there will be a meeting in Aleppo for all the world Syriac churches. We must do this because the Syriac tradition is imperiled, because most of the Christians in the Middle East are emigrating. Some Syriac churches are translating from Syriac to Arabic. Everything is in the oral tradition.
Also here we have lost one century. Dom Jeanin a century ago had the intuition that to understand Gregorian chant we must go back to Syriac chant. He had a scholarship from the Vatican to study in Syria, but he had no disciple. He died at the beginning of the century. It's a pity, because a century ago the Syriac tradition was stronger than it is now. But because of the Solesmes ideology it was inconceivable to go to the Middle East to study Gregorian chant. What we must do to improve scholarship is to create tools so that information from Syriac and Byzantine studies comes to Western scholars.

Q. Even if Solesmes was a reinforcement of Roman chant, it also looked back to Charlemagne as a national French figure.

A. We have some funny letters between Napoleon III and the pope in which he presents himself as a new Charlemagne.

Q. Tell us about the singers with whom you're working.

A. I always try to break preconceptions about repertoires. Often it's very useful to approach music with people who don't have an idea about this music, but who have a tradition which contains some elements that can help you to understand the aesthetic you're looking for. This is what I've done with Lycourgos Angelopoulos, with Marie Keyrouz. In Corsica they have a tradition of oral singing of polyphony, polyphonic singing with ornaments. For me that's the next step, to figure out how ornaments work in polyphony. Medieval and Renaissance music was highly ornamented, but nowadays all the standard groups just sing the skeleton of this music. I started to work in Corsica twelve years ago. We are doing a catalog of all the music books in Corsica. Now we have started making the recension of the repertoire of the lay confraternities. When I started to work on the Corsican manuscript, I realized that there were musical activities much wider than are conserved now, and I wanted to perform this music with Corsican singers, because they have the style, the key to the performance. It was a very long project, because I had to find singers who were willing to do it, to learn to read music. Most of them didn't want to bother to learn to read music. The first result was the record we did two years ago on the Franciscan manuscripts from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That was the first step. After these musicians started to be able to read music, I thought maybe I could use them in other repertoire, which is what I've done for the Notre Dame repertoire, and for the Machaut Mass we did yesterday in New York.

These singers bring first, an art of ornamentation in polyphony, secondly, a different way of approaching the music, since they're used to working only by ear. I love working with them. I think it's now an open field. It doesn't mean that the sound is that of the fourteenth century, but it's something different from the standard tradition that we're used to hearing nowadays. Very quickly we go back into our usual routine preconceptions. We are so used to hearing these English singers doing very good musical things, like the Hilliard Ensemble, Gothic Voices--it's a preconception of vocal production that works, but it's not all sure that this was the sound of the Middle Ages. It's important to break the preconceptions. The way to perform this music was a hearing way--we're much too linked to the scores, now. When you look at the scores from the fourteenth century, there are plenty of errors. That means the singers were not really reading, they were correcting the mistakes by ear. Working with singers who are used to working by ear brings you a new approach to this repertoire, even if it's more tedious.

We're going to record the Machaut Mass in two weeks. It will be a step in our research--maybe in ten years it will different.
In musicology, like in the sciences, we must have experiments. Too many people are looking for the truth. The truth is not possible, but we can try to see our preconceptions and go further in our reflections. All the performances you can hear are only what the musician have been able to imagine about the aesthetic of the music they are doing. That's why it is so important to get as much information as we can about a specific time, always bearing in mind that what we present is only the fruit of our imagination.


« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 04:30:38 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #131 on: June 06, 2019, 05:05:33 AM »
I agree with him that the Vatican II was a disaster for music in the Catholic mass; it ended up producing the "folk mass" and abandoning Latin liturgy.  He overstates the case concerning neume notation.  Those marks are not nearly so clear in their meaning, and almost any melodic interpretation can be arrived at, but the Solesmes tradition has been based on solid scholarly work over hundreds of years and represents, IMO, the best and most reliable translation of neumes to square note/four line notation.

Peres, Poisblaud and Schmelzer (as well as most in the early music genre) often create compelling music, and their recordings are valuable as entertainment.  But I draw a distinction between what they are doing, the motivations behind what they hope to accomplish, and the monks of Solesmes and other monasteries whose prime motivation is not producing commercial recordings but singing chant as part of a prayer service.  Yes, they have captured these services on recordings, and do sell them, but mainly for educational purposes and to document the style of singing chant and the liturgy.

I was raised Catholic and lived through the years of reform in the 1960s. I had been taught the Latin liturgy as an altar boy and learned some chant and clearly remember thinking that changing to English and using newly composed songs much was lost. It was only when my sister described the church she attended (in a monastery in Dallas) that I learned most cities of any size have had at least one church all along where the old liturgy is used and chant is sung. 

It is for these churches that the monks of Solesmes provide a valuable service.

Offline Pat B

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Re: Chant
« Reply #132 on: June 06, 2019, 09:45:40 AM »
...one thing is certain about chant, that no one agreed--that is a constant in the history of chant…
It doesn't mean that the sound is that of the fourteenth century, but it's something different from the standard tradition that we're used to hearing nowadays…
In musicology, like in the sciences, we must have experiments. Too many people are looking for the truth. The truth is not possible, but we can try to see our preconceptions and go further in our reflections. All the performances you can hear are only what the musician have been able to imagine about the aesthetic of the music they are doing. That's why it is so important to get as much information as we can about a specific time, always bearing in mind that what we present is only the fruit of our imagination.

Thanks for posting this.

Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #133 on: June 06, 2019, 03:46:21 PM »
Another quote from Dom Eugene Cardine about the nature of chant:

Gregorian Chant is vocal music which is, above all, absolutely bound to its text.  The text is uppermost.  The task of the melody is to decorate the text, to interpret it and to help the hearer assimilate it.  For this chant, this song, is a liturgical act - a prayer to, and a praising of Almighty God.  Its words are sacred, for they are nearly all taken from the Bible - from the Psalter in particular.  The structure and inflections of the melody are patterned on the divisions of the text they punctuate, and generally speaking, on the accents of the words themselves."

This prioritization of the text would seem to imply that excessive ornamentation would be inappropriate.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #134 on: June 06, 2019, 08:09:10 PM »
Well no one would say that excessive anything is appropriate!
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #135 on: June 06, 2019, 10:29:22 PM »
Well no one would say that excessive anything is appropriate!

There are some short melismatic phrases indicated in the neume notation, almost always at certain cadences.  So, what I am saying is anything improvised beyond what is indicated in the existing notation would be "excessive".  Just because there is a Cypriot chant tradition does not mean that ornamentation improvised by a singer trained in that tradition would be appropriate for Gregorian chant.  After all adding ornamentation, any ornamentation, just to do so because a director feels that it renders the chant more expressive would be an act of individual interpretation and not representative of historical chant performance.  A leap of the imagination without solid evidentiary basis.

Nothing wrong with that as long as the director/performers are honest about what they are doing and do not attempt to make a case that those groups who take a conservative approach are wrong not to embrace that same leap of the imagination.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #136 on: June 06, 2019, 10:57:52 PM »


Thoronet is an interesting place. It's a C12 cathedral. if you sing in it, the sound reverberates for 13 seconds and harmonics become very audible. This inspired David Hykes to record his recording of Mongolian Throat chanting there, Hearing Solar Winds.

My own favourite chanter, Damien Poisblaud, works there often and has produced several recordings there, including this fabulous recording of the offertory anthem



Thoronet is Cistercian, and it seems that Cistercian cathedrals were built with this sort of extraordinary acoustic. Look how visually austere the interior is, quite a contrast from its acoustic richness.




The abbey at Fontfroide is also very resonant, though my impression is that it's less so than Thoronet.  Marcel Peres also was inspired by the acoustic properties of Cistercian locations, and experimented with approaches to Cistercian music there.




This is, if I remember correctly, one of his recordings where the influence of Byzantine and Corsican singing is very subtle if present at all.




« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 11:15:10 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #137 on: June 07, 2019, 08:05:53 AM »
There are some short melismatic phrases indicated in the neume notation, almost always at certain cadences.  So, what I am saying is anything improvised beyond what is indicated in the existing notation would be "excessive".  Just because there is a Cypriot chant tradition does not mean that ornamentation improvised by a singer trained in that tradition would be appropriate for Gregorian chant.

I don't know about cypriot, Byzantine is a bit more to the point. Someone who's been trained in the Byzantine tradition may have a very good feeling for how to turn the score into music.

a case that those groups who take a conservative approach are wrong not to embrace that same leap of the imagination.

I think conservatives confuse the score and the music.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #138 on: June 07, 2019, 08:17:46 AM »
I don't know about cypriot, Byzantine is a bit more to the point. Someone who's been trained in the Byzantine tradition may have a very good feeling for how to turn the score into music.

Neume notation was deciphered long ago, which brought about translating the nuemes into four line square note notation.  It is highly speculative that any singer from Corsican, Byzantine, Cypriot, Greek or any other background could with any certainty claim that their ornamentation is related in any way to how chant was sung in the 8th century.

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I think conservatives confuse the score and the music.

I disagree; I hear plenty of music in a performance of chant by Solesmes.  I think revisionists confuse their taste with tradition.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #139 on: June 07, 2019, 08:27:14 AM »
I’ll tell you one thing that really surprised me about this discussion, San Antone, I somehow had the idea that you were an Orthodox Jew, I don’t know how - I vaguely remember wishing you a happy Christmas and you replied saying happy Chanukah, but maybe I’m mixing you up with someone. Anyway for all I know you are Jewish now - it’s just that I was was kind of stunned when you said that you were brought up a Catholic.
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