New wine, old skins

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Mithras
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New wine, old skins

Post by Mithras » Sun May 29, 2011 4:52 pm

I have had a chance now to look at some re-workings of previously well-known Mass settings which have been re-crafted to accomodate the new translatins, and, frankly, I am not sure we are going about this in the right way.

The new translations have syntactical and therefore-word stress differences from the current texts, and to weave these into exisitng melodic lines can result in often clumsy word settings where an attempt to retain a familair tune means that important clauses within, say, the Gloria, are sacrificed in favour of familiar material which was originally written precisely to highlight key points in a given text, the emphasis on which key points has now shifted owing to these syntactical changes.

Furhtermore, I have found that it is generally more difficult to "unlearn" (or "un-teach) and then "reteach" than it is to present wholly new material. (How many of us would succeed if we tried to persuade our congregations and even choirs - and probably clergy too - that those redundant pauses in Sweet Sacrament Divine are not in the original tune - nor for that matter that ridicudlous "pray FOORR the wanderer" in Hail Queen of Heaven :) ? Was there ever a more misplaced emphasis? Actually yes but Kendrick and even Immaculate Mary are probably out of this thread's competence!)

One new setting of the texts which is not based on previously sung music that I have looked at is not very interersting but at least it is new and I suspect written (perhaps in haste) simply to introduce the new translation in sung - in this case chant - form.

I have certainly not seen all that has been produced so my fears may be unfounded - but I really think we should be working towards new music to enhance these new texts, and not assuming that congregations will readily and easily adapt the revised texts to established and more familliar music.

Paul Inwood's Orbis Factor setting (featured in last year's Summer School) seems to me to strike the right balance. The Kyrie theme will be familiar but sufficiently fresh in its new treatment, since it is not a slavish re-working of older material but a use of it which invites both security (the "I've heard that before but not quite sure where" syndrome) and a sense of adventure ("this is new but we can sing it").

Mithras

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presbyter
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Re: New wine, old skins

Post by presbyter » Tue May 31, 2011 9:28 pm

Mithras wrote:.......attempt to retain a familair tune means that important clauses within, say, the Gloria, are sacrificed in favour of familiar material........


I know what you mean Mithras but not necessarily. I know of one composer who thinks that his re-write of a certain Gloria is better than the original.

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VML
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Re: New wine, old skins

Post by VML » Tue May 31, 2011 11:14 pm

That is encouraging. I have one of my own to try and update. If I don't manage to make a good effort of it, last Sunday may have been its last outing. :(

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Mithras
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Re: New wine, old skins

Post by Mithras » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:33 am

presbyter wrote:
Mithras wrote:.......attempt to retain a familair tune means that important clauses within, say, the Gloria, are sacrificed in favour of familiar material........


I know what you mean Mithras but not necessarily. I know of one composer who thinks that his re-write of a certain Gloria is better than the original.


If I am right in my identifying this composer, I can say that he has never turned out a duff piece of work, and, given that the Gloria is probably the most difficult of the revised texts to adapt, his treatment of it will be something to which I can forward look, as Newman might have said (via Elgar).

M

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