I was perusing some of the posts over at the discussion forums at rpinet.com, and one thread dealt with the concept of modern "parody" masses. The composer had written a "Morning Has Broken" Mass which makes me wince in pain to even think of it.
Someone then responded that the use of a familiar tune as the basis of an Ordinary setting usually wound up to be a bit tedious in practice. I must agree.
Though this was a common practice in the Renaissance era, the treatment of the melodies were much different than how they are done now. Now, the melodies are not placed within the context of an imitative technique that treated the tune with reverence and care. Now, we get the exact tune, nearly note-for-note, on which the text of the Ordinary is grafted. It has an air of artificiality and manipulation about it if you ask me.
Two of the most obvious settings are Proulx's "Missa Emmanuel" and his "Corpus Christi Mass", the former using "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and the latter using "Adoro Te Devote." Though both of the melodies are strikingly beautiful, and the settings well-composed (as is most of his music), the practical effect is less than desirable. If you use the "Missa Emmanuel" throughout Advent, what happens on the 4th Sunday of Advent when you actually want to use "O Come" ? I'd be so sick of that melody that the original tune would be ruined for me. It's just overkill.
I wonder though if you could pull off the parody technique in a way that the effect isn't so overwhelming. For instance, what about a mass setting that uses a number of different familiar tunes. Such as an Advent setting that uses a chant Kyrie traditionally associated with Advent (Mass XVII, perhaps), an Alleuia from "O Come", NUN KOMM DER HEILAND HEIDEN for the Sanctus, etc. . . Is this too contrived?
Am I missing anything in this discussion? Would anyone like to stick up for the Proulx parody masses?