Traditional or Contemporary?

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mcb
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by mcb »

Southern Comfort wrote:It is important to remember that the original SC statement was issued in a context where it could be assumed that all celebrations of the Mass would be in Latin. That is no longer true today — one "other thing" that is certainly not equal. In fact there is a case for saying that Gregorian chant only has pride of place in celebrations which are predominantly in Latin.

It's made even clearer in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours:
274. For liturgical celebrations sung in Latin, Gregorian chant, as the music proper to the Roman liturgy, should have pride of place, all other things being equal. [See SC 116.] Nevertheless, “the Church does not exclude any type of sacred music from liturgical services as long as the music matches the spirit of the service itself and the character of the individual parts and is not a hindrance to the required active participation of the people.” [Musicam Sacram 9. See also SC 116.]

blackthorn fairy
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by blackthorn fairy »

Re Gregorian chant and Latin - the two are not inseparable. There is some very good English Sarum chant in the New English Hymnal. I know because I use it.

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musicus
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus »

blackthorn fairy wrote:Re Gregorian chant and Latin - the two are not inseparable. There is some very good English Sarum chant in the New English Hymnal. I know because I use it.

Quite so. And in the 1933 edition too, of course (which is probably the one that most of us have).
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IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom »

I wonder if it's worth considering a different aspect of 'Traditional or Contemporary'?

Does the architecture/ style of your church affect/ govern/ influence the style of worship, especially music?

The parish church where I grew up, St. Bede's in Bedlington, Northumberland, was rebuilt in 1992. Architect was Fenwick Lawson, and the church is very similar to his others (St, Benedicts, Garforth, St. Francis, Hull, and St. Joseph's, Wetherby). For a modern church, I like it very much. Generally, I would say that the music over the years has come down on the modern side. Now that I am not there on the organ the only live music is provided by the music group who like things like, Sing it in the Valleys, Sing of the Lord's goodness, a lot of Bernadette Farrell, etc.....but it has always been fairly 70s 80s type stuff there with one or two 'old classics'.

The parish of St. Anne's, Keighley, where I currently play the organ is a very large, long, narrow, Pugin church with some beautiful reredos - very elaborate (some might say fussy).
I have only played there for 3 years but the music does seem to be more traditional - lots of golden oldies with only a smattering of modern hymns, and no hymns which anyone might describe as 'happy-clappy' (NB This was the case before I got hold of the reigns!!!)

Anyway, leaving aside issues of how good certain music is, does our church building/ worship space/ the architecture/ the art within, etc have any impact on the music we sing? Does this musically impoverish or enrich the congregation (or neither)?

I think this could be quite interesting to think about. Alternatively, it could be a non-issue.

JW
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by JW »

Thinking about the churches in Medway, it has more to do with the views of clergy, congregation and available musicians. than church architecture.

Our church, St Thomas of Canterbury, Rainham, was built in the late 1950's and was considered modern, but that didn't stop us having Nicholas Danby as our first DOM, with a proper 4-part choir (he would have been in his 20's). The main Sunday Mass was Sunday evening as Danby played in London in the morning. I recently threw out loads of Latin motets etc. from his time that were going mouldy.

Now, our musical repertoire tends towards 1980's OCP, Decani and Mayhew / McCrimmon stable output, with Mass settings alternating between Glendalough, New Celtic Litugury and St Rita. Attempts 2 years ago to introduce the Missal chants and to reintroduce 'De Angelis' failed miserably, with virtually no participation and complaints from the congregation and rebellion in the choir. Latin at Sunday Mass would now probably be a resignation issue for me as I couldn't go through that again unless the priest were to lead from the front and not back down when the going gets tough.

But the church community does alter the ordering of the church. The mindset of a particular priest / community, whether traditional or contemporary will alter the inside of the church. A traditionally minded community may change the ordering of a modern church, e.g. by moving the altar to the back, by installing communion rails, extra statues and different artwork in their church but these things cost money and are usually done over a period of years. A more contemporary community will re-order a church that has communion rails etc.

I suppose the architecture of a church influences bishops and priests when deciding on appointments, but again I suspect that the tradition in a particular community is likely to be the deciding factor and this is something that has built up over tens, if not hundreds, of years. However, newly ordained priests, as well as missionaries to Britain appear to be more traditional, so I guess that is the way the British church will go over the next 20 or 30 years. Not my particular cup of tea but I respect and try to work with those who hold those views.
JW

dmu3tem
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by dmu3tem »

musicus wrote:I really don't see why a new translation of the same Latin text should imply or require musical stylistic innovation. .


Logically this observation might be true. However, in practice major changes to text usually do result in stylistic shifts, especially if there has been a time gap of a decade or more from the previous one.

The basic reasoning behind this is as follows: New texts encourage composers to write new compositions. In turn this encourages them to take a fresh look at how to treat texts. Also, if there has been a time gap since the last set of textual changes, then new composers might be attempting to write new settings suffused of course with their own stylistic approach. Such attitudes have maximum effect with composers who are interested in 'word painting'.

Against this, though, is the undoubted fact that new texts also encourage musicians to adapt existing repertoire to suit the new situation. Moreover much church music, because it is functional, has a tendency to be anodyne, because people do not want it to intrude too much on the act of worship through a liturgy. In this atmosphere musical 'word painting' can stand at a discount. Music that is anodyne is therefore likely to show less abrupt changes in style, though of course this can happen.

In this context the following points might be noted:

[1] The introduction of vernacular liturgies in the late 1960s and early 1970s certainly coincided with a vast surge in new compositional output accompanied by the introduction of new styles.

[2] Note too that this coincided with a change in liturgical philosophy - a shift towards congregational singing away from the 'traditional' SATB-Organ nexus that had hitherto predominated (apart from efforts in the 1930s to promote the congregational singing of plainchant).

[3] The present textual changes to the Mass also coincide with a shift in liturgical philosophy: i.e. the emphasis on an 'authentic liturgy'. Crudely put this means a literal observance of the text. So the use of paraphrases of the text, metricalised versions of the text and other similar practices (e.g. the Peruvian Gloria) all stand at a discount. There have also been signs that 'Traditionalists' have hoped that the new texts will promote their cause by pushing Catholic musical-liturgical culture back towards a pre-Vatican II state.

In this context note the tension between those who hope to use music to heighten and add to the liturgical experience versus those who see it as providing an accompaniment or backdrop to a text that must not be intruded upon or distorted by musical style. The current stress on 'authentic liturgy' weights the balance in favour of the latter group; so church music is likely to become more anodyne.

[4] Even without textual change there have already been building up a number of pressures for stylistic alteration. e.g. The attack on the 'Four Hymn Sandwich', the disparagement in certain circles of 'Folk' styles, a new attempt to revive plainchant - including new adapatations to fit an English text (itself a potentially significant stylistic development), the decline in the use of instruments other than the Organ/keyboard. On a broader musical front Classical musical taste has shifted away from 'modernism' towards modern tonal styles (e.g. Karl Jenkins, Arvo Part, John Taverner) and the 'stock' of late Romantic composers (Elgar, Brahms, Schumann) has risen enormously. There has also been something of choral 'counterattack' with outfits like Army Wives choirs etc. Viewed this way textual change is the excuse for alteration, not its cause.

[5] There is the question of the supply and balance between different sorts of musicians. If this changes then so will the musical style. So, the revival of choral singing and the decline in the supply of competent instrumentalists will to some extent dictate the techniques composers will use as well as determining what items from existing repertoire will be preferred and what will be neglected. In addition the church can (and has in the past) taken steps to adjust the supply of particular sorts of musicians (e.g. the development of the large musical establishment at Leeds Catholic cathedral). The introduction of new texts can therefore act as a 'forcing draught' to speed up the effects of such changes with all the stylistic changes these imply.

So, textual change will very likely produce stylistic alteration, but it can also act simply as the trigger for something that already might happen. In the present climate the trend is likely to be in a 'conservative' direction. We therefore may have the paradox noted earlier: Contemporary music, in the literal sense, will be 'old fashioned' in style. Music written in earlier decades (cf. 1970s, 1980s, 1990s) might seem more 'modern' in style.
T.E.Muir

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom »

Just to show it's not just me, have a read of the following. (I'm not trying to re-ignite the debate!!!)

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/feature ... a-revival/

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Nick Baty
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Nick Baty »

Interesting piece but.....
It might be thought that the restoration of so much music (in the new Missal)
How much more music is there in the present Missal than in its predecessor? Not much. And in the people's editions not one note more than there was before.
When the vernacular was adopted for Mass...there was a shortage of musical settings, not only for the Ordinary...
By 1971 that "shortage" included settings by Timothy Baxter, Laurence Bévenot, Francis Duffy, Dorothy Howell, Paul Inwood, Robert Sherlaw-Johnson, Colin Mawby, Gregory Murray (several), Anthony Milner, Alan Rees, John Rush, Bill Tamblyn, Wilfrid Trotman, Jan Vermulst – and a few others. Whereas before Vatican II we had.... well, we didn't need too many then because there was generally only music at one Mass each week.
...but also the Propers
Only if one ignores the 150 items in The Simple Gradual (1969). In fact, there was actually a shortage of the propers themselves as the old lectionary had a one-year cycle. This were then repeated for years B and C, making the proper the most improper text we have. Hang on, there were quite a few propers in Sing the Mass (1971? Can anyone confirm?)
much of the growth was fostered by people whose professional expertise was not in music
Apart from Bill Tamblyn, Paul Inwood, Philip Duffy.... Do I need to go on?
There is now a procedure for acceptance of music for the Church...It would, however, be useful and potentially more productive if the Committees were to...make public those settings it regards as successful
Presumable the author has not see the list of approved settings published by the Liturgy Office at: http://www.romanmissal.org.uk/Home/Musi ... shed-Music

Granny
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Granny »

'Sing the Mass' ISBN 0 225 65984 0 is copyright 1975 Geoffrey Chapman Publishers, if anyone's really interested

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Nick Baty
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Nick Baty »

Thanks, Granny. Someone's "borrowed" my copy.

alan29
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by alan29 »

Excellent response Nick.
It is a shame that a catholic periodical should be peddling partial truths to those who take its word as authoritative.

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musicus
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus »

Nick Baty wrote:
There is now a procedure for acceptance of music for the Church...It would, however, be useful and potentially more productive if the Committees were to...make public those settings it regards as successful

Presumably the author has not see the list of approved settings published by the Liturgy Office at: http://www.romanmissal.org.uk/Home/Musi ... shed-Music

Strictly speaking, the Liturgy Office's list is of pieces that fulfil the mainly text-related "correctness criteria". It implies nothing about their "success". It would be more useful if it did, but CBCEW isn't about to do that, I reckon.
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Nick Baty
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Nick Baty »

My comment was in response to the author's request for a list of those which had successfully come through the process.

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contrabordun
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by contrabordun »

I think the article is ambiguous: it seems unclear as to whether it means success in passing through the process or in actual use.

It also implies that a musical judgement is being made, which is, I gather from this board, incorrect.

What on earth is subfusc music?
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Nick Baty
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Nick Baty »

I suppose the only people who really know about usage will be Calamus.

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