Instruments: Which and where?

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VML
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Instruments: Which and where?

Post by VML »

Two questions about 'suitable' instruments:
Have you ever used free reed instruments in church, or seen or heard them used? We had an accordion player for a while years ago, for a couple of youth Masses. -I wasn't keen. We had a melodeon and hurdy-gurdy for a wedding once: rather good.
I ask because I play a small old, so brass reed and not too loud, English concertina, fully chromatic, and it's useful for practice. Not sure I'd play it for Mass though.

Second question: Playing a guitar while singing from the ambo? I have usually only done it for the Christmas Eve Family Mass, but we now have a music leader who regularly accompanies himself from the altar, and PP is very keen. I'll give it a go this Sunday, and there is a precedent in that in a Christmas Day televised Mass from Clifton a few years ago, they even had Graham Kendrick on the altar with guitar. That was really giving a performance of one of his own songs though, not acting as cantor.

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Gwyn
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by Gwyn »

We had an accordion player for a while years ago, for a couple of youth Masses. - I wasn't keen.

I shouldn't think the youth were overjoyed either.

. . . we now have a music leader who regularly accompanies himself from the altar,

From the altar? Really?

My simple logic would lead me to think that if any instrument is played well and with sensitivity than go for it.
Trouble is, whether free-reed, organ (pipe or didgy) piano, guitar, whatever, they can all be played badly and coldly.

I went to mass once where a chap played the harmonica in the so called folk group (Ah the 70s), It was excruciating, not the instrument itself, but the way it was played. Had I been able uncurl my toes I'd have hit him with an altar candle.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is . . ." Ps 133:1

alan29
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by alan29 »

Gwyn wrote:
We had an accordion player for a while years ago, for a couple of youth Masses. - I wasn't keen.

I shouldn't think the youth were overjoyed either.

. . . we now have a music leader who regularly accompanies himself from the altar,

From the altar? Really?

I went to mass once where a chap played the harmonica in the so called folk group (Ah the 70s), It was excruciating, not the instrument itself, but the way it was played. Had I been able uncurl my toes I'd have hit him with an altar candle.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is . . ." Ps 133:1


I take it he was lonely and depressed and his horse was tied up outside somewhere.
Sorry.

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Gwyn
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by Gwyn »

Alan29 mused,
I take it he was lonely and depressed and his horse was tied up outside somewhere.

Sadly the wrong one was tied up outside. :lol:

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musicus
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by musicus »

Gwyn wrote:Alan29 mused,
I take it he was lonely and depressed and his horse was tied up outside somewhere.

Sadly the wrong one was tied up outside. :lol:

On topic, too :D
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
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JW
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by JW »

Concerning VML's question about playing guitar while singing from the ambo.

Where a psalm was to be accompanied by guitar we sometimes used a guitar located with the choir in the west gallery. However, the distance and lack of communication seemed worse than if the organ was accompanying, so we now have the guitarist standing with the cantor at the ambo. The accompaniment could be considered to be part of the proclamation. GIRM envisages acolytes and thurifers standing near the priest/deacon during proclamation of the Gospel but makes no mention of music ministers. 'Celebrating the Mass' states that only a minister of the Word should make use of the ambo (para.98).

The only viable alternative would seem to be to accompany all psalms on the organ. However, most psalm settings contain guitar chords, so how should the psalm be accompanied where there is no space for musicians on the sanctuary and the church pews are too cramped for instrumentalists?
JW

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Benevenio
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by Benevenio »

VML, when I am leading the music group on the guitar and co-ordinating a couple of melody instruments whilst cantoring the psalm, I chose not to go to the ambo but to sing from the place where the music group is, which also allows for the guitar to be plugged into the amplifier. The responsorial psalm can be sung "from another suitable place", if I recall GIRM correctly. In this instance and in our building, the suitable place happens to be at the front of the church facing the assembly. The distance to the ambo, whilst not great, is sufficient that I could not communicate effectively with the young instrumentalists, so I moved... and the habit has stuck, many years later, even with a wireless connection to the amp (so there really is no excuse now, but old habits die hard). In an ideal world, I would use another cantor, from the ambo, and simply accompany, or have another accompany while I sing. If there were one thing I could change in our liturgy here in Lillington, it would not be this practice though - I'd prefer that the priest did not use the silence after communion to announce the entire contents of the newsletter before the post-communion prayer. Grr... None of us is perfect. :roll:

Part of the problem with instruments which people might deem unsuitable is how they perceive the instrument. When I hear an accordion, I think sleezy French bar (or cheesy 'Allo 'Allo theme tune) - possibly not the most suitable mindset for the liturgy. But that's my problem, not the instrument's, and I need recall that Christ would, no doubt, have been found with the sinners and low-life in the bar; his chosen way of working often turns our sensibilities on their head.
Benevenio.

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TimSharrock
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by TimSharrock »

back to the first question
VML wrote:Have you ever used free reed instruments in church, or seen or heard them used? We had an accordion player for a while years ago, for a couple of youth Masses. -I wasn't keen. We had a melodeon and hurdy-gurdy for a wedding once: rather good.


We let our son play a melodeon for a carol or two at Christmas - it was fine

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VML
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Re: Instruments: Which and where?

Post by VML »

And that's the time it would work Tim, just as the hurdy gurdy and melodeon with recorders worked here at a wedding where the musicians were the bride's family, and the groom made his living making Northumbrian pipes.

Sorry I stirred up a can of worms: The question was theoretical rather than actual.
The accordion was some years ago and only because a 14 year old volunteered to play at a youth Mass. Not likely to be repeated!
And I would not use a melodeon or anglo concertina for Mass either. Harmonica comes into this group too: All could be quite offensive to ears in the context of the liturgy. But it is less than 50 years since guitars sounded just as unsuitable to Mass goers.

My question about playing guitar as a cantor is more immediate. I have only done it when crowd control was called for: Family Christmas Eve Mass, and traveller Confirmation. These were not choir situations. But we have a new younger singer/cantor/ guitarist who is an experienced youth leader, Church Summer Camps, retreats etc., and he sings improvised psalm settings from the missal, with 12 (10) string guitar, from the lectern.

I am rather relieved that all your replies here seem to say it is not really appropriate. That is what I felt when, after 20+ years of unaccompanied psalms at the Easter Vigil, the new team decided things would change, so our new guitar player spoke his psalm over strummed chords, talking blues style. He is actually very sound liturgically, which is the only way he got away with singing only his own tunes, as he reads them staight from his Sunday Missal. PP says everyone loves the new style. (He works in the parish school so is a huge asset in that he has brought more children into singing at Mass, they will now have a chance to sing some Mass parts at school Masses, and he is leading the Family Mass on Christmas Eve.)

PP is also rather fed up with the chant Mass setting, and I have to agree when he says it sounds like a funeral...,(it is after all the old Requiem Mass,) or Lent.
So this Sunday we will have simple slightly upbeat call and response Acclamations, but they need the guitar, so I shall sing from the choir space beside the altar, classical guitar, no amp.

Thanks for all your replies.

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