Author Topic: Chant  (Read 29347 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #180 on: June 15, 2019, 03:44:39 AM »
And here's Dirigatur oratio mea

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


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Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense: and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice

Is it just me who hears in the structure of this melody an image of clouds of incense wafting up to heaven?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #181 on: June 15, 2019, 07:15:10 AM »
And here's one which actually seems to use onomatopoeia, a turtle dove cooing in the melody


<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/gw4Tf3ZAhUE" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/gw4Tf3ZAhUE</a>


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The sparrow has found herself a home,
and the turtle dove a nest where she may keep her young:
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #182 on: June 15, 2019, 07:29:01 AM »
And yet, what can you make of a setting like this, of Deus Deus Meus?

If you look at the words, it's like the most expressive stuff in the world


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1. O God, my God, look upon me; why hast Thou forsaken me?
2. Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
3. O my God, I shall cry by day, and Thou wilt not hear; and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.
4. But Thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.
5. In Thee have our fathers hoped; they have hoped, and Thou hast delivered them.
6. They cried to Thee, and they were saved; they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.
7. But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men and the outcast of the people.
8. All they that saw Me have laughed Me to scorn; they have spoken with the lips and wagged the head.
9. He hoped in the Lord, let Him deliver Him; let Him save Him, seeing He delighteth in Him.
10. But they have looked and stared upon Me; they parted My garments amongst them, and upon My vesture they cast lots.
11. Deliver me from the lion's mouth, and my lowness from the horns of the unicorns.
12. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him.
13. There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come; and the heavens shall show forth His justice.
14. To a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

but if you listen to the way it's sung in the Solesmes style, you'd say that the singer doesn't give a damn about the suffering expressed in the poem, he's reprehensibly indifferent to it, and as music it is irredeemably boring

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Ztm_vLGh2zA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Ztm_vLGh2zA</a>

Well that's how it looks to me. Even as a prayer, I don't see how this can work, but maybe I don't understand prayer. It makes me think of Claudius in Hamlet

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“My words fly up, My thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go”

This is the sort of thing which makes me  think that the Solesmes way isn't the best way. How anyone can think that that interpretation of Deus Deus Meus has an "incomparable power to express prayer" and has a "spiritual effect" or that the singers manifest, indeed can manifest if they sing like that, "perfection . . . in understanding" is a mystery to me and I suspect it's nonsense.


« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 07:50:20 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #183 on: June 15, 2019, 10:34:05 AM »
And yet, what can you make of a setting like this, of Deus Deus Meus?

If you look at the words, it's like the most expressive stuff in the world


but if you listen to the way it's sung in the Solesmes style, you'd say that the singer doesn't give a damn about the suffering expressed in the poem, he's reprehensibly indifferent to it, and as music it is irredeemably boring

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/Ztm_vLGh2zA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/Ztm_vLGh2zA</a>

Well that's how it looks to me. Even as a prayer, I don't see how this can work, but maybe I don't understand prayer. It makes me think of Claudius in Hamlet

This is the sort of thing which makes me  think that the Solesmes way isn't the best way. How anyone can think that that interpretation of Deus Deus Meus has an "incomparable power to express prayer" and has a "spiritual effect" or that the singers manifest, indeed can manifest if they sing like that, "perfection . . . in understanding" is a mystery to me and I suspect it's nonsense.

After reading your posts in this thread for a while I cannot help but think that at a fundamental level you do not understand chant, nor its purpose.  You seem to want it to be theatrical, which it most definitely should not be. What you find boring I hear as a decent rendition of the chant: expressive but not drawing attention to the singer.  But why a solo?  It ought to be sung by the choir.

Anyway, that's just my thought after reading your most recent post.

Here's Solesmes doing it - much better all round.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ZJjv9I-VqiY" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ZJjv9I-VqiY</a>
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 10:37:11 AM by San Antone »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #184 on: June 15, 2019, 12:33:12 PM »
I think my real problem is that I don't know what prayer is.

Here's a better one, solo and longer.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/g-3tgsbowUA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/g-3tgsbowUA</a>

You seem to want it to be theatrical, which it most definitely should not be.

 I intend to explore this, as there clearly was in medieval times a close connection between liturgy and drama. There's a whole bunch of things on record with very large chanted sections, which I'd like to get to know better, this is something I dip in to from time to time



and this is something I very much enjoy

« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 12:41:35 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #185 on: June 15, 2019, 12:50:25 PM »
I think my real problem is that I don't know what prayer is.

Here's a better one, solo and longer.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/g-3tgsbowUA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/g-3tgsbowUA</a>

 I intend to explore this, as there clearly was in medieval times a close connection between liturgy and drama. There's a whole bunch of things on record with very large chanted sections, which I'd like to get to know better, this is something I dip in to from time to time



and this is something I very much enjoy



There were things like passion plays and music drams such as the Play of Daniel, but regarding theatrical effects entering the worship service, that was strictly frowned upon if not prohibited outright.  As late as the Baroque church authorities were strongly critical of secular styles "infecting" the mass settings. 

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Chant
« Reply #186 on: June 15, 2019, 01:01:41 PM »
I think my real problem is that I don't know what prayer is.

This is probably even my problem, and has probably prevented me from getting any serious interest in chant.

Quote from: Mandryka


and this is something I very much enjoy



But these two I have enjoyed too, along with recordings of the play of Daniel.

What I have heard of the Solesmes  I have found conventional and boring. They really make chant seem endless, which is not the same as timeless.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #187 on: June 15, 2019, 02:11:59 PM »
This is probably even my problem, and has probably prevented me from getting any serious interest in chant.

What I have heard of the Solesmes  I have found conventional and boring. They really make chant seem endless, which is not the same as timeless.

Since you admit to not having any serious interest in chant, I take your criticism of Solesmes with a grain of salt.  I have said more than once, they are the reference model, IMO, of how chant ought to be done. 

Chant is sacred music of the most sublime quality, and I consider it highly inappropriate to look for dramatic or theatrical performance aspects, or even to stress solo performance.  Except for short isolated sections sung by the celebrant, the majority of chant is performed by a male choir. 

I suspect Mandryka and, to a lesser extent, yourself are expecting chant to offer attributes that are not native to it.  Separated from the mass experience, chant has become viewed as just another genre of Classical music.  But that is not correct, in my view; it should never be seen as anything but sacred liturgical music, and not to be experienced from a secular perspective.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #188 on: June 15, 2019, 08:02:49 PM »
Since you admit to not having any serious interest in chant, I take your criticism of Solesmes with a grain of salt.  I have said more than once, they are the reference model, IMO, of how chant ought to be done. 

Chant is sacred music of the most sublime quality, and I consider it highly inappropriate to look for dramatic or theatrical performance aspects, or even to stress solo performance.  Except for short isolated sections sung by the celebrant, the majority of chant is performed by a male choir. 

I suspect Mandryka and, to a lesser extent, yourself are expecting chant to offer attributes that are not native to it.  Separated from the mass experience, chant has become viewed as just another genre of Classical music.  But that is not correct, in my view; it should never be seen as anything but sacred liturgical music, and not to be experienced from a secular perspective.


It looks to me as though you believe Solesmes style chanting of deus deus meus is sublime  (= beautiful?)  but I can’t see this because I’m not a Catholic and I’m not participating in a mass.

« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 09:20:55 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #189 on: June 15, 2019, 09:29:15 PM »
Interpretations of Deus Deus Meus which find a closer link between music and words are  in these CDs, the Joppich is particularly moving in fact -  he’s here and elsewhere  the best discovery I’ve made since starting this little exploration of chant.

 



« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 09:48:12 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #190 on: June 15, 2019, 10:44:45 PM »

It looks to me as though you believe Solesmes style chanting of deus deus meus is sublime  (= beautiful?)  but I can’t see this because I’m not a Catholic and I’m not participating in a mass.

Just by your use of the adjective "beautiful" you expose your value system as it pertains to chant.  One need not be participating in a mass to listen to chant as I suggest, one need only listen to it without the same aesthetic expectations one might have when listening to Chopin, or Schubert.

The word I used was sublime, which is not synonymous with beautiful in my mind. 

I was taught that the Hebrew the word for holy is etymologically related to the word for separate, the idea is that the holy is distinct from the profane, or more softly, the secular.   This idea is what I am thinking of when I evaluate a chant recording: Does it seem like a holy performance or is it more secular.

I think you should be able to guess which manner of singing I prefer, and not only that, the manner I think is appropriate.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #191 on: June 16, 2019, 12:06:52 AM »

This idea is what I am thinking of when I evaluate a chant recording: Does it seem like a holy performance or is it more secular.


Godehard Joppich was a Christian and so is Damien Poisblaud, I'd be surprised if Anne-Marie Deschamps and Lykourgos Angelopoulos weren't and we know that Marcel Peres has his roots in the church.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 12:19:20 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Chant
« Reply #192 on: June 16, 2019, 02:09:47 AM »

Chant is sacred music of the most sublime quality, and I consider it highly inappropriate to look for dramatic or theatrical performance aspects, or even to stress solo performance.  Except for short isolated sections sung by the celebrant, the majority of chant is performed by a male choir. 

I suspect Mandryka and, to a lesser extent, yourself are expecting chant to offer attributes that are not native to it.  Separated from the mass experience, chant has become viewed as just another genre of Classical music.  But that is not correct, in my view; it should never be seen as anything but sacred liturgical music, and not to be experienced from a secular perspective.

There are many other kinds of sacred liturgical music. Take f.i. Machaut's messe, which many newer recordings incorporate into a complete service including chant. I can not say, that I look - or listen - for dramatic or theatrical performance neither in the Machaut messe nor in the chant. What I look for is expressivity and not harmless celestial beauty.

BTW which elements in a performance are required in order to indicate it as being holy?
 
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 02:21:39 AM by (: premont :) »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #193 on: June 16, 2019, 02:49:16 AM »
BTW which elements in a performance are required in order to indicate it as being holy?

A selfless performance, one where the performers are not exercising their ego.  This is why choirs are more often used as opposed to solo singers, and why ornamentation is subdued if used at all.

I hear plenty of expressive singing in the Solesmes performances.

Godehard Joppich was a Christian and so is Damien Poisblaud, I'd be surprised if Anne-Marie Deschamps and Lykourgos Angelopoulos weren't and we know that Marcel Peres has his roots in the church.

So? 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #194 on: June 16, 2019, 02:58:34 AM »

So?

Just thinking of Deus Deus meus, one of these must be true I think   

1. Their performances are holy and you recognise it 
2. They have tried to perform in a holy way and have failed
3. They have not tried to perform in a holy way, they don’t agree with you that it should sound holy
3. Their performances are holy and you don’t see it
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #195 on: June 16, 2019, 03:02:47 AM »

I hear plenty of expressive singing in the Solesmes performances.



Absolutely, all those examples I posted yesterday!

But NOT in Deus Deus Meus, unless you identify indifference with holiness.  Or identify the absence of any sense of connection with the meaning of the text, with rendering the meaning of the text universal.

 I conclude that not all chant performances are equal in this respect, and I see the expressive flatness of the Solesmes Deus Deus Meus as bad, bad, baddy bad - given the meaning of the text.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 03:10:18 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #196 on: June 16, 2019, 03:22:18 AM »
Note two senses of expression in music

1. Intrinsic - the harmonies or the rhythms or some other structural aspect of the score reflects some semantic aspect of the text.
2. Extrinsic - the way the singer creates sounds is designed to elicit a response from the listener, a response which reflects some semantic aspect of the text.

There’s no dispute here (yet!) that Deus Deus Meus is not intrinsically expressive. My beef is with a style of singing which deprives it of extrinsic expressiveness.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #197 on: June 16, 2019, 04:26:11 AM »
Just thinking of Deus Deus meus, one of these must be true I think   

1. Their performances are holy and you recognize it 
2. They have tried to perform in a holy way and have failed
3. They have not tried to perform in a holy way, they don’t agree with you that it should sound holy
3. Their performances are holy and you don’t see it

My belief is that your first #3 is what is going on.

Note two senses of expression in music

1. Intrinsic - the harmonies or the rhythms or some other structural aspect of the score reflects some semantic aspect of the text.
2. Extrinsic - the way the singer creates sounds is designed to elicit a response from the listener, a response which reflects some semantic aspect of the text.

There’s no dispute here (yet!) that Deus Deus Meus is not intrinsically expressive. My beef is with a style of singing which deprives it of extrinsic expressiveness.

I would disagree that either of those descriptions of expression in music is appropriate to chant.  "Reflecting the semantic aspects of a text" is a dramatic rendition of it.  A sacred performance is not dramatic or theatrical.  A sacred or holy performance expresses the singer's faith and devout reverence for the text as an artifact of God and to celebrate the glory of God as a form of worship.

These texts are canonical, and the performance is part of a ritual.  The last thing that should happen is for the performer to treat it almost operatically, drawing attention to himself and away from the purpose of the chant in the first place, which is to point to God.

To the extent the ego is evident, God is withdrawn.

Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #198 on: June 16, 2019, 04:33:22 AM »
Performing/recording chant outside of a liturgical service already puts it outside the realm of the holy.  Entertainment is the purpose of all commercial recordings, but chant has nothing to do with entertainment.

Solesmes recordings are made during a liturgical service and are meant for instruction, not entertainment.  There might be other choirs who do the same thing, but any serious sacred music performed outside of a worship service is being treated inappropriately, IMO.  This why my preferred recordings of the Machaut Messe incorporate all of the liturgical aspects, and in a couple of cases (Parrott's and Mary Berry's, I think) they were, in actual fact, recorded during a service.  Those recordings which strip Machaut music from its liturgical context and offer just the composed sections are 100% wrong-headed.

Of course there are works, e.g. the Brahms Requiem, which are routinely performed at concerts, but I do not think Brahms imagined his work as functional liturgical music.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2019, 04:37:39 AM by San Antone »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #199 on: June 16, 2019, 04:52:42 AM »
A sacred performance is not dramatic or theatrical.

But San Antone, the liturgy is a Middle Ages drama.

Quote from: Hornorius of Autun, Gemma Anime, c.1100, describing the mass
Thus our tragic actor [i.e. the celebrant] represents by his gestures in the theatre of the Church before the Christian people the struggle of Christ and teaches to them the victory of His redemption. Thus when the celebrant says the fratres he expresses Christ placed for us in agony, when he commanded his disciples to pray. By the silence of the Secreta he expresses Christ as a lamb without voice being led to the sacrifice. By the spreading out of his hands he represents the extesion of Christ on the Cross. By the chant of the Preface he expresses the cry of Christ hanging on the cross.

I repeat

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By the chant of the Preface he expresses the cry of Christ hanging on the cross.
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