Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nice Epiphany motet

J. Clemens non Papa “Magi videntes stellam”

I love CPDL. :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

21 OT

21 OT--2007

Processional: Incline Your Ear (RHOSYMEDRE) (Introit Hymns for the Church Year--Tietze)

Kyrie: Community Mass

Gloria: Comm. Mass

Psalm: Gelineau

Gospel Acclamation: Chant

Offertory: Exspectans Exspectavi (chant--cantor)

Sanctus: Comm. Mass

Memorial Acclamation: Comm. Mass

Amen: Comm. Mass

Our Father: chant (Snow)

Agnus Dei: Comm. Mass

Communion: De fructu
Ave Verum

Recessional: To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King

I was very excited to start another with my choir. All the students are back, classes are in full swing, and I have a fine group to start the year with. It's always tricky, though, at the beginning of the year before any new recruits come in: you've lost people to graduation so you're trying to recruit with smaller ranks. My group did a fine job though. I'm very fortunate.

We're going to give the Tietze hymns another go; we're not to the point where we can do a non-congregational Introit (at least outside of Advent/Lent), and I like to remain pseudo-faithful to the Proper texts if at all possible. We sing the doxology acappella with the choir alone; it's important to let the congregation know that we're up there!

De fructu is not the ideal communio with which to begin the year. It's long, and has a few tricky spots near the end. We did it mixed (which I don't like) for security, but we'll drop that practice in the next few weeks when we grow a little (fingers crossed) and the choir re-familiarizes itself with the chant notation. They actually did a great job with it, but we really spent quite a bit of time with it in rehearsal . . . I'm going to try to give a little more time to the chants this year, as we sometimes prepared them in haste before mass last year.

The Elgar went fine; I have a nice core of sopranos to carry those lines and they did a solid job. We'll break out some polyphony in a couple weeks, but I wanted to start out with something easier and familiar to build some confidence.

A very nice article on the Extraordinary Form from NPM

NPM has a good article in the latest Pastoral Music Notebook that describes music in the solemn Mass according to the Missal of 1962. It seems to me quite free of polemical rhetoric; instead, we just have a straightforward description of how music works in the old rite, with a concluding aviso about the differences in the liturgical calendars. Check it out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More on choral harmonies and congregational singing

See, I am not the first one to notice this problem:
A certain number of settings have been
composed, simple in form and low in pitch, so that
the congregation, besides following, can reproduce
the top part when they have succeeded in picking it
up from frequent repetition. This is unsatisfactory
and unfair to the choir-who are an entity in themselves,
and are not only leaders of the congregation because
the trebles and generally the other choralists
are singing in the ineffective range of their respective
voices. It is also inartistic, inasmuch as the treble part
will be doubled in octaves with overwhelming force
if the congregation are doing their duty, and all
pretence of a choral balance will be at an end.
The problem really is how to combine artistically
the voices of a congregation singing in octaves
in the limited range of from about D to D with
the harmony of a choir singing in the effective
range of the respective voice parts. It is now
intended to show how this can be solved.
(S. Royal Shore, “A New Form of Choral Composition”, The Musical Times, 1 June 1919)

The ensuing discourse basically shows unison melodies in alternation with or independent of the choral parts.

I am really looking forward to trying out the Victoria Conditor alme siderum in alternatim with the congregation. I think this may be a nice new direction for my parish music program - heh, now if I can find alternatim settings of all the other congregational hymns we sing. :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Any advice for the chant neophyte?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Colloquium follow-up

1. I have updated this post in response to a concerned e-mailer who thought I was being a bit unjust in my critique. I hope this is a satisfactory conclusion to the discussion. If one of the CMAA folks would like to go a little more in-depth concerning the Chamber Choir situation in the combox, that may be worthwhile.

2. I'm pumped that the Colloquium is moving to Chicago next year! The drive time is cut considerably for me, assuming I can come next year. Great move CMAA!

3. I forgot to mention the best part of the Colloquium in my previous post. During one of the Schola rehearsals, I had to excuse myself to use the restroom. On my way back, I stopped outside in the hallway and heard the most wonderful sound. I heard the melodious singing of the Men's Schola but that was combined with the equally-as-melodious singing of the Women's Schola who was located in the next classroom over. They were singing different chants, in a different mode, in a similar tempo, but it was incredible! The pitch levels were combatible and the mix of consonance and dissonance interweaving throughout those long lines was absolutely breathtaking. I would have given anything to have a recording of it . . .

The moral of the story: That is how liturgical polypony should be. That "piece" was a true outgrowth of our beloved Gregorian chant. No doubt that the polyphony of the Renaissance (which I adore, mind you) grew from the model of chant, but much of that music either uses the chant as a cantus firmus (in unrecognizably long notes), or ignores the chant altogether, using the text and the "spirit" of the chant as a vehicle for their compositional prowess. (I guess I'm speaking more of later renaissance compositions)

So composers, how about some polyphonic writing in this style with chant as the basis. Men singing the chant line, women singing a counter-melody which is thematically related or vice-versa; 4-part writing with voices switching off with the chant melody phrase-by-phrase with voices coming in and out of the texture.

Is anyone writing like this? If not, why not? Any takers?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

“Musical material of itself is neutral.”

I just received a copy of “Sacred Music and Liturgy Reform After Vatican II” (ed. J. Overath) through Amazon Marketplace. Basically what it presents is the proceedings of the Fifth International Church Music Congress in Milwaukee, held in August 1966. It’s interesting to read what many (certainly not all) prominent musicians were saying in the couple of years prior to the promulgation of the Missal of Paul VI.

One particular quote deserves mention, an excerpt from the Resolution on the Use of Profane Music in Worship (183):
Musical material is of itself neutral. The distinguishing mark of music as something profane somes from the use which men make of the musical materials and their connection with certain realms of life. Music is considered profane because of the responsive images and feelings that it evokes from men. Music which readily conjures up in men’s minds a juke-box, a piano bar[,] or frivolous entertainment is not appropriate for the liturgical realm.

That first sentence is key: Musical material is of itself neutral. I find myself wanting to play devil’s advocate here and look for ways by which one could argue that Josquin’s polyphonic works might have an intrinsic liturgical merit that is lacking in the music of Harry Connick Jr., to cite a popular artist whose work I find to be of high artistic caliber.

quick amendment: “Domus mea”

As noted earlier, “Domus mea” is indicated for communion for the 20th Sunday of OT in year A in the Graduale Romanum but not in the Roman Ordo cantus Missæ. I didn’t notice this earlier, but this chant, taken from Matthew 21:13, is also a reference to the Old Testament reading for this day.

I wonder if this and the “Qui vult venire” case, also noted previously, are instances of connections between the chants and readings not being noticed “in time” to make it into the OCM, so Solesmes felt inclined to add these connections.