Monday, July 17, 2006

Nice idea for Marian chant/polyphony

As many readers of this blog are probably aware, Pope Paul VI published a collection of chants in 1974 called “Jubilate Deo” that he asked all the world’s bishops to make known to all Catholics.

Included in this collection was the Marian hymn “Ave maris stella”. I happened upon this polyphonic version by Felice Anerio a few days back. (FYI, Anerio also has a great setting of the Gradual for Good Friday.) It occurred to me that a neat idea would be to alternate between chant and polyphony - this actually is how I first encountered this hymn in a choral lit class (Dufay and Dunstable, I believe, did this):

Verse 1: chant
Verse 2: polyphony
Verse 3: chant
Verse 4: polyphony

The actual polyphony is kinda cute: Palestrina meets early Baroque chromaticism.


At Monday, July 17, 2006 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous moconnor said...

Actually this alternatim style of hymn composition was quite widespread during the Renaissance. Alternatim settings of Ave maris stell and other hymns outnumber full-text settings by quite a large margin. These are great ways to start polyphonic singing, since the polyphony is usually quite simple in hymns. Other alternatim types include the Magnificat and the Salve Regina.


At Monday, July 17, 2006 10:22:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

moconnor: Interesting - I’ve not run into alternatim settings of the Mag or Salve. Would this tie into the verse-anthem type settings such as in the Mag/Nunc of the Byrd Great Service?

I wonder if this is what was envisioned when Musicam sacram et al spoke of alternating between choir and congregation for the Creed.

At Tuesday, July 18, 2006 4:38:00 PM, Anonymous moconnor said...

Actually during the Renaissance most Salve Regina settings were alternatim. The bulk of the settings had polyphony for the even verses, but there were some settings of the odd ones too. Josquin wrote a fabulous full-text version that influenced a lot of composers. By 1600 only the Italians and Spanish were singing alternatim versions. The Magnificat was generally set in alternatim during the Renaissance. Of course all of this goes back to the antiphonal style of singing these texts in chant. I think that's what MS had in mind for the Credo (choir on one verse, then the congregation on the next). That never worked out since it disturbs the text too much. No Renaissance composer ever set the Credo in that fashion either.



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