Friday, July 29, 2011

Sound is the by-product of Awe and Wonder

Awe and wonder are the only true vehicles for music making. Great music, by its very composition, is infused with awe and wonder. But its sonic beauty will never be realized unless the choir sings through the door of awe and wonder. Arrival into and at the state of aesthetic fantasy, and ultimately a heightened state of aesthetic reality, should be one of the over-riding and compelling objectives of any warm-ups or rehearsal. Sound is the by product of awe and wonder.

James Jordan, from 'Evoking Sound'

Chant Notation: Its Advantage

When an infant learns to walk, you can often see him kind of leering down at his feet, thinking, "Okay, now I need to move this foot right here, on to that spot on the ground right there." And then he does that, and then he pauses, and says, "Okay, now I need to move this other foot here, on to that other spot right there." And his mind is always on one foot at a time, and knowing exactly where it's going to be placed.

But when an adult walks, he doesn't even care where exactly his feet are going, only that both feet are somewhere under him, and that his weight is distributed over them, and that they are propelling his weight forward without toppling him. So his mind is actually conscious of much more about the relationship between his two feet and how they affect his movement, but he doesn't always know or even much care about which foot he moves or where exactly it lands.

Like learning to walk, modern notation is concerned with the real value of where you are pitchwise at any moment. "Right now I'm singing an A, and now a B-flat, and now a G, and now..." You lose sight of how any one note is actually related to the next. If you get all the pitches right, then the melody will be right.

But like walking, chant notation is ultimately most concerned with moving the phrase forward. It is defined in terms of making the melody. If modern notation is constantly saying, "and now, and now," then chant notation is always saying, "and next, and next." And next I'll be going up a fourth. And next I'll be going down a second. And next I'll sing to pitches right where I'm at."

I like the feeling of knowing that I'm shaping a phrase, not just singing a note. And that's why, even though people may be resistant to neumes, I think it's highly important that people accept that modern notation isn't in the cards for learning to chant. I suspect that if this aspect of chant notation is made clear to people, they'll actually be less resistant to it.

There is a certain strike against your pride in being well educated musically and suddenly finding yourself unknowledgeable about what you're trying to sing, but ultimately I, for one, have found it very rewarding. I just wish I could have seen the reward coming. I hope that people teaching others the neumes make it clear to them why chant notation is important and what they'll gain from it, and how to conceptualize why it works.

Seth G

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Schola: August Calendar

At St. William of York

Feast of St. Dominic
August 4, Thursday, 7 AM (warm -up 6:45 AM)

Introit: Os justi
Gradual: Justus ut palma florebit
Alleluia: Justus germinabit
Offertory: Veritas mea
Communio: Fidelis servus
Motet: O Bone Jesu
Recessional hymn: Salve Regina

Ordinaries: setting VIII, credo I


The Trasnfiguration of the Lord
August 6, Saturday, 8:15 AM

Introit (Entrance Proper from Graduale Romanum) : (schola)
My heart declared to you:
Your countenance have I sought:
I shall ever seek your countenance, O Lord:
do not turn your face from me.

Kyrie (363-A)

Gloria (364)

Responsorial Psalm:
The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth

Gospel Acclamation:
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,
listen to him.

Sanctus (370-A)

Mysterium Fidei (371-A)
Mortem tuam annuntiamus Domine,
et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias

(We proclaim Thy death, O Lord, and we confess
Thy resurrection, until Thou comest.)

Doxology: Amen

Agnus Dei (375-A)

Communio (Communion Proper from Graduale Romanum): (schola)
Tell no one about the vision you have seen
until the Son of Mas has risen from the dead.

Communion Motet: O Bone Jesu
O good Jesus, have mercy upon us,
for thou hast created us.
Thou hast redeemed us by thy most precious blood

Recessional Hymn: Salve Regina (894)

Saturday Mass (8:15AM) (Warm - up at 7:40)
August 20

Kyrie XI
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Aima Christi
Salve Regina

At Resurrection Church
Saturday Mass (9AM) (Warm-up starts at 8:30)
August 13, 27

Kyrie XI
Gospel Accl.
Sanctus XVIII
Mysterium Fidei and Amen
Agnus Dei XVIII
Anioma Christi
Salve Regina

At St. Martin's (Little Sisters of the Poor)
Twenty-first Sunday Ordinary Time
August 21, 10:30 AM (warm-up at 10AM)

Introit (Entrance Proper) : (schola)
Listen, Lord, and answer me. Save your servant who trusts you.
I call to you all day long.
have mercy on me, O Lord.

Kyrie (857)

Gloria (858)

Responsorial Psalm:
Lord, your love is eternal;
do not forsake the work of you hands.

Gospel Acclamation:

Offertory Proper: (schola)
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.

Sanctus (859)

Mysterium Fidei (priest)
Mortem tuam annuntiamus Domine,
et tuam resurrectionem confitemur, donec venias
(We proclaim Thy death, O Lord, and we confess
Thy resurrection, until Thou comest.)

Doxology: Amen

Agnus Dei (862)

Communion Proper: (schola)
Lord, the earth is filled with your gift from heaven;
man grows bread fron earth, and wine to cheer his heart

Communion Hymn: Be Thou My Vision (391)

Recessional Hymn: Salve Regina (708)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Norwalk student singing group bound for Madrid

While many kids these days are listening to Justin Bieber on their iPods, there is one group of Fairfield County youth who are gearing up to sing Gregorian chant at the 2011World Youth Day in Madrid this August, the gathering of the world’s Catholic youth, for prayer, adoration, catechism, and entertainment with Pope Benedict XVI.

This unique group of young adults, ages 9 to 18 from St. Mary Parish in Norwalk, Connecticut, has been singing together for nearly three years as the St. Mary’s Student Schola , formed by organist and choirmaster David J. Hughes. A schola differs from a church choir, in that they are dedicated to the teaching and practice of chant, the music Pope Benedict calls the “supreme model of sacred music.”

Chant is a form of music that is making a comeback in the Catholic Church. With Pope Benedict’s recent lifting of restrictions in the celebration of the 1962 Traditional Latin Mass, churches in Connecticut , and nationwide have begun to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, including the music that is specific to it, Gregorian chant, with its unmatched purity and timeless beauty. While chant is making a slow turn toward mainstream, David Hughes admits it is not something that the youth at World Youth Day may readily recognize. Then why sing it?

Hughes believes, as many popes including John Paul II and Benedict XVI have written, that chant, unlike any other genre, aids in the spiritual formation of all Catholics. “Chant is prayer taking shape in the form of song,” he says. “Chant is not a sonic overlay to prayer, but rather is prayer itself.” Hughes is certain it will reach the youth at World Youth Day, and lead them deeper into praying the Mass. "I have every confidence that the intrinsic prayerfulness of chant… will be experienced by the youth that hear these children sing."

Continue reading on Norwalk student singing group bound for Madrid - Hartford Catholic |

Friday, July 15, 2011

“If I kneel before God I can stand before any man.”

At one level “human respect” seems a good thing. After all we ought to respect, honor and appreciate one another. What then is meant by the “sin of human respect?”