Author Topic: Chant  (Read 26921 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #220 on: June 19, 2019, 05:43:40 AM »
My belief is that your first #3 [3. They have not tried to perform in a holy way, they don’t agree with you that it should sound holy ] is what is going on.






This is what he says he's up to.

What I find so impressive about what you say is that you are able to tell what is holy and what is not.

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Les Paraphonistes

This ensemble came into being when its members met and sang through the score of the Messe des Morts (1840) in the silence of the small Cistercian abbey of Leoncel in the Vercors. The deep emotion aroused by this first reading of the requiem traced the aims of the ensemble.

 These are to restore the extraordinary evocative force of Gregorian plain-song ; to present church song in its different performance modes as a locus of intense emotion apt to lead the listener to a certain kind of interior experience (" ut per oblectamenta dulcedinis, animos incitent audientium ", Council of Aix, 816); to give the best possible performances of all kinds of texts drawn from the Holy Scriptures with a view to enabling audiences to absorb and contemplate the words in their " flesh " of sound; and to give justice to a repertoire on the brink of extinction after fifteen centuries of use for prayer throughout the Latin West.

These general objectives guide the ensembles decisions when seeking the necessary but delicate balance between historical authenticity and contempo-rary sensibilities. With regard to the Funeral Service, restoring peace of mind through the acceptance of bereavement, inspiring serenity in the face of death, and providing a dignified departure from this world for the deceased were at least as important as the pursuit of fine singing. In fact, these non-musical objectives were the main concerns of chanters in bygone ages.

Les Paraphonistes are experienced performers of early church music and share a common enthusiasm for restoring the incomparable appeal of this astoni-shingly sober, yet extremely powerful, form of song.

Damien Poisblaud
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #221 on: June 19, 2019, 05:54:47 AM »




An essay by Jean-Yves Hameline on The Solemn Requiem Mass Plainsong Et faux-bourdon for four parts (Cambrai, 1840)

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What is today known in France as chant gregorien, a chant repertoire with monastic origins, came about in the late 19th century as the result of a long campaign by musicians and churchmen to reform church singing, the current practice of which they considered unworthy of their attempts to renew the historical foundations and " artistic " criteria of the liturgy. The Vatican Edition of Gregorian Chant commissioned by Pope St Pius X made the new reper-toire widely known, despite the fact that it was not always properly performed. This widespread adoption of Gregorian chant unfortunately masked, indeed ous-ted completely, the forms of chant previously in use in some of the older Catholic countries. This was unfortunate, because the older forms constituted a large reservoir of custom and inherited competence combining learned and popular elements passed down orally from one generation of chanters to the next over many centuries.

This recording contains excerpts from the plainsong Requiem Mass and Funeral Service. Plainsong was the result of a thousand years of continuous trans-formation and adaptation of ancient Roman-Gregorian chant. In 1840, when the Cambrai chantbooks used here were printed, plainsong was generally performed slowly and gravely, with variations of tempo depending on the degree of solem-nity of particular church feasts. This kind of chant was " ritual " rather than " artistic ". However, it could be extremely moving, more on account of its appropriateness to situation than owing to any expressive intention. Depending on local resources, it involved the participation of priest, chanter and congrega-tion. In larger churches, it was common to add a choir of clerics and (when requi-
red by the ceremonial) an organ which alternated with the chanters and congre-gation and accompanied the passages sung by all. The chanters robed in cassock or surplice stood at the lectern, generally placed between altar and nave to underline their role as intermediaries between the congregation and the clergy. They performed the plainsong from the old square and diamond notation contai-ned in large songbooks or smaller manuals which could be carried in processions and at the cemetery. Gustave Courbet's famous painting " Enterrement Ornans " shows them standing on the brink of the grave, stiff yet familiar, confi-dent in their function and appearance, suggesting a robust and firm style of sin-ging. In town churches with sufficient financial resources, the chanters, never numerous, were sometimes joined by a few choirboys. Occasionally, the singing at the lectern was supported by an ophicleide, serpent or double-bass, though these instruments were superseded later in the century by a harmonium or small pipe organ. Depending on the degree of particular feasts, the nature of particular services and the resources available, different kinds of plainsong performance were found. Faux-bourdon is one of the most ancient and most prestigious of these.


Castil-Blaze's Dictionnaire de Musique moderne (1825) describes faux-bour-don as " a form of plainsong composition written note-for-note, in which the plainsong is generally placed in the tenor against a bass proceeding in perfect chords ". Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Dictionnaire de Musique (1768) saw it as " a simple and measureless form of chant with almost equal notes and constantly syl-labic harmony ". Clearly, no one saw faux-bourdon as a musical genre in itself, rather as a sub-species of plainsong to which it owed its melodic implementation of text, its slow sustained tempo and its simultaneous declamation of the same syllables of the text by all the voices. In addition, its balanced use of the four parts, the fact that it placed the plainsong inside this vocal envelope rather than at the top as in accompanied chant, and its clear round progression of perfect chords made it admirable spatial music, a second sanctuary of sound investing the place of performance and allowing those present to harken close, drawn to the majesty of the church, the sacred ceremony and the solemn circumstances. The allure both familiar and hieratic of church faux-bourdon made it particularly appropriate to express the grave solemnity of the requiem mass and funeral service. However, the municipal undertakers' tariffs in Paris made it expensive. In the early 1850s, a third class funeral (there were nine classes in all) involved four chanters at 2 francs apiece, two serpents at 2 francs apiece, four clerics at 1 franc apiece, six choirboys at 75 centimes apiece plus 60 francs as " extra fee for chanting in counterpoint with faux-bourdon or faux-bourdon alone ". Even so, this was only half the cost of the hearse with its " bronze gallery, plummets, black drapes with silver stars, fringes and tassles, and pair of plummeted horses". In smaller country towns, however, it was probably more common for just one chanter, one choirboy, one serpent player and the officiant priest to perform the universally known and expected faux-bourdon of the Dies irae and De profundis, presumably at less cost.

This recording may be heard as a revelation of a widespread and highly convincing form of church singing, which it would have been unfair to commit to oblivion.


Jean-Yves Hameline Translated by Roger Greaves
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #222 on: June 19, 2019, 07:59:49 AM »
What I find so impressive about what you say is that you are able to tell what is holy and what is not.

It is very simple, IMO, chant divorced from a celebration of the mass is not "holy" since the context is secular, i.e. sung (however emotionally or expressively) for a recording to be marketed commercially.  There is nothing wrong with making a commercial recording of chant, but it is entirely different than chant sung as part of the mass, which is first and foremost a worship service whose primary function is to glorify and praise God and is an example of Catholic religious practice.  A recording made of that service does not negate its religious context, which is the holy environment.

I do not know why that appears to be hard for you to grasp.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #223 on: June 19, 2019, 08:31:35 AM »
It is very simple, IMO, chant divorced from a celebration of the mass is not "holy" since the context is secular, i.e. sung (however emotionally or expressively) for a recording to be marketed commercially.  There is nothing wrong with making a commercial recording of chant, but it is entirely different than chant sung as part of the mass, which is first and foremost a worship service whose primary function is to glorify and praise God and is an example of Catholic religious practice.  A recording made of that service does not negate its religious context, which is the holy environment.

I do not know why that appears to be hard for you to grasp.


Ah. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a holy recording, in your terms. If I understand you correctly,  a recording isn’t holy in your terms even if the people singing it do so in a way which is entirely indistinguishable from the way they would do it if they were doing it for a real mass. It’s not really a property of how the music sounds, it’s a property of the context in which the music was made.

It also, I guess, stops non-Christians (catholics?) from ever singing holily.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 08:39:59 AM by Mandryka »
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Marc

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Re: Chant
« Reply #224 on: June 19, 2019, 08:40:17 AM »
Here's a magnificent thing from the point of view of expressiveness, Collegerunt pontifices

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/mfs5WmYl694" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/mfs5WmYl694</a>


Thanks for this... I liked it much.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #225 on: June 19, 2019, 08:48:01 AM »
Thanks for this... I liked it much.
I see I wrote exactly the opposite of what I meant to write in my comment about it (left out a
not) I’ve now changed it. It would be nice to know who’s singing there.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #226 on: June 19, 2019, 09:08:04 AM »

Ah. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a holy recording, in your terms. If I understand you correctly,  a recording isn’t holy in your terms even if the people singing it do so in a way which is entirely indistinguishable from the way they would do it if they were doing it for a real mass. It’s not really a property of how the music sounds, it’s a property of the context in which the music was made.

It also, I guess, stops non-Christians (catholics?) from ever singing holily.

For me, the holy aspect is a part of the holy experience of the mass.  As I've posted previously, something is holy to the extent it is separate from the secular.  It is impossible to have that happen from within a secular event.

Now, it would be possible for a choir (Christian, Atheist, or Buddhist, etc.) to make a chant recording in which many the same attributes might be present, i.e. ego-less singing - but divorced the context of religious service, it would not be "holy" but could still be very good.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #227 on: June 19, 2019, 09:32:34 AM »
How do you know if it's ego-less?
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #228 on: June 19, 2019, 09:45:23 AM »
How do you know if it's ego-less?

For myself, things that appear to be ego driven would include performance by a solo singer (for me chant is almost always sung by a choir, not a solo singer), bringing attention to himself, treating the chant as if it were art song. 

It may seem that I am expressing a very limited, conservative idea of how chant should be performed.  If so, it is because I refuse to ignore the history of chant, how it is intrinsic to the Catholic liturgy, and did not develop outside of the mass or office services.  In our time, the age of recordings, chant has been treated like any other style of Classical music and removed from its native environment.  This has produced the kind of artistic, performer oriented, ego-driven performance I am thinking of.

Now, I am not saying that these performances are wrong, or in any way bad.  Often they are extremely beautiful and expressive.  Chant melodies are very evocative and lend themselves to expressive singing.  All I am saying is that, for me, the best chant performances and recordings are those done as part of a religious service, e.g. the mass, and not sung as if the chant were just another form of vocal music.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #229 on: June 19, 2019, 10:34:04 AM »
For myself, things that appear to be ego driven would include performance by a solo singer (for me chant is almost always sung by a choir, not a solo singer), bringing attention to himself, treating the chant as if it were art song. 


Does the celebrant draw attention to himself in an egotistical way when he reads?





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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #230 on: June 19, 2019, 11:39:52 AM »
Does the celebrant draw attention to himself in an egotistical way when he reads?

No.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #231 on: June 19, 2019, 07:57:19 PM »
No.

So solo rendition is egotistic when it’s following a melody, but not when it’s not. I wonder if that makes your point of view incoherent and contradictory.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 08:12:26 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #232 on: June 19, 2019, 08:00:05 PM »
treating the chant as if it were art song. 




There are many ways to sing a song, is your point that they are all egotistical and hence inappropriate for chanting the mass?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 12:22:41 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #233 on: June 20, 2019, 03:29:22 AM »
So solo rendition is egotistic when it’s following a melody, but not when it’s not. I wonder if that makes your point of view incoherent and contradictory.

I wonder if this discussion has run its course.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #234 on: June 20, 2019, 04:31:16 AM »
Sure, I was thinking the same thing.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Chant
« Reply #235 on: June 23, 2019, 04:41:02 AM »
This may be of interest to people who are interested in Mary Berry 

Quote from: Amy Daniel Waddle in Sacred Music Vol. 137 Number 3, page 11f
Mary Berry went to Cambridge to work on her doctorate in 1964 when she was forty-seven years old. The thesis that she presented five years later in 1969 was titled The Performance of Plainsong in the Later Middle Ages and the Sixteenth Century, and she gave a lecture with the same title in 1965 for the Royal Musical Association. In it, she poses the questions that are often asked about the authen- tic performance of early chant, “did they measure parts of the chant? At what tempo was it per- formed? Were there variations of tempo?”64 Mary Berry responded:
“on registering the answers, we might discover that it was not so
easy as we had hoped to get a single, clear, overall picture.”65 That
is, there is no one picture. Providing many examples of ancient
records and manuscripts, she showed the diversity of chants and
chant practice goes back to the time of even our earliest sources.
Speaking as a scholar who was once merely a practicing musician,
she acknowledged, “Perhaps we are too inclined to generalize when
we think even of medieval plainsong. We may forget that the reper-
toire contains different types of pieces, different styles, sung in
many different countries over a huge period of time.”66 She con-
cluded by saying that “there seems no reason why all these styles,
however divergent, should not form, together, part of a complex
whole. . .

. . . Her research of the chants of the Middle Ages uncovered evidence of practice contrary to the Solesmes method that she practiced, but Mary Berry was not afraid to incorporate new developments in research and was excited at the possibilities that paleography continued to open up. Using her new- found scholarship, she went on to found the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, which spread her practice of chant all over the world with recordings.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #236 on: June 23, 2019, 06:19:01 AM »
Quote
" ... we might discover that it was not so easy as we had hoped to get a single, clear, overall picture.” That is, there is no one picture. Providing many examples of ancient records and manuscripts, she showed the diversity of chants and chant practice goes back to the time of even our earliest sources.

To be honest, I am not a musicologist and have no desire to be, so these kinds of issues are of little interest to me (I do like Mary Berry's recordings).  How chant was performed in the earliest periods would seem to be a dead question since we cannot really know with any confidence. Nevertheless, it is a question which continues attract much controversy and debate between sometimes very opinionated musicians (often with self-serving agendas).  That entire enterprise is a huge turn-off to me.

On the contrary, what I am mainly interested in is hearing chant done in a sacred setting, i.e. as a part of the mass, for the exclusive purpose of enhancing the celebration of the mass - as chant performance is understood by the Catholic church during my lifetime.  This is why I rely so much on the Solesmes approach (which has its own scholarship underpinnings), since for about two centuries it has been the standard recommended by the church.  But I also consider it a very compelling way to sing chant.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Chant
« Reply #237 on: June 23, 2019, 06:35:59 AM »
what I am mainly interested in is hearing chant done in a sacred setting, i.e. as a part of the mass, for the exclusive purpose of enhancing the celebration of the mass - as chant performance is understood by the Catholic church during my lifetime

The big problem is that after the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church seemed to have lost any faith (pun) and interest in preserving one of its most sacred (pun again) traditions, namely the Mass itself, chant included. I have said it elsewhere but it bears repeating it here: officially renouncing the traditional Latin Mass was not only a theological error but also a cultural crime.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline San Antone

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Re: Chant
« Reply #238 on: June 23, 2019, 06:43:00 AM »
The big problem is that after the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church seemed to have lost any faith (pun) and interest in preserving one of its most sacred (pun again) traditions, namely the Mass itself, chant included. I have said it elsewhere but it bears repeating it here: officially renouncing the traditional Latin Mass was not only a theological error but also a cultural crime.

Yes, that is true in general and for the vast majority of Catholic churches across the world.  However, the chant tradition I am talking about has survived in monasteries.  You can find them, and the mass is said in Latin and chant is sung as it is taught by the Solesmes monks.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Chant
« Reply #239 on: June 23, 2019, 06:57:25 AM »
the chant tradition I am talking about has survived in monasteries.  You can find them, and the mass is said in Latin and chant is sung as it is taught by the Solesmes monks.

That's true.

Plus, chant is not limited to the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches have a long tradition as well. Actually, chant is the only form of church music accepted by Eastern Orthodoxy --- and if sung properly by a good choir it's a goosebumping experience, but one best experienced as a whole, ie in conjunction with the liturgy proper, the priest's actions and gestures, the smell of the incense and the church's environment, full of icons and painted walls. In this respect I'm all the way with San Antone: listening to chant in the privacy of one's home might be an interesting and pleasant aesthetic experience but it misses completely its original meaning and sole function, which is to accompany the celebration of the Mass in a communal sharing of faith.

With respect to "classical music", the best-known examples of Orthodox chant were composed by Tchaikovsky (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) and Rachmaninoff (All-Night Vigils).
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 07:31:33 AM by Florestan »
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff