Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

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VML
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by VML » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:38 pm

Hello HP and Q.
HP, you are very welcome to this forum, and it is good to see someone who is working hard to keep a music group going posting here and asking for input.
You say you have no formal musical training, which probably goes for a majority of liturgical guitar players. However you clearly have the sensibility to recognise that strumming is not a good idea for much Mass music, and many hymns. I thought perhaps you were a young leader, then you mentioned the 80s.
Do you have practices, and if so, how many of your group attend, and how often?

Q. I would love to know where and how you are involved in folk music. I intended to raise the question of Church musicians who are folkies, and also, how many active folk musicians are also active Catholics. I was prompted partly by the piece in the Catholic Herald about Ciaran Algar, winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Breakthrough artist, which mentioned his father Chris, who sells rare concertinas.

This is really two whole new threads.

High Peak
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by High Peak » Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:56 pm

VML wrote:Hello HP and Q.
HP, you are very welcome to this forum, and it is good to see someone who is working hard to keep a music group going posting here and asking for input.
You say you have no formal musical training, which probably goes for a majority of liturgical guitar players. However you clearly have the sensibility to recognise that strumming is not a good idea for much Mass music, and many hymns. I thought perhaps you were a young leader, then you mentioned the 80s.
Do you have practices, and if so, how many of your group attend, and how often?

Q. I would love to know where and how you are involved in folk music. I intended to raise the question of Church musicians who are folkies, and also, how many active folk musicians are also active Catholics. I was prompted partly by the piece in the Catholic Herald about Ciaran Algar, winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Breakthrough artist, which mentioned his father Chris, who sells rare concertinas.

This is really two whole new threads.


Indeed, I hardly qualify as young - a child of the 60s, am I. I taught myself guitar as my Uni Chaplaincy was desparately short of musicians. I am also almost as familiar with folk, having been in an Irish folk band for several years.

Our parish music group plays the Vigil every fortnight and we meet an hour before Mass to tune-up and rehearse. (In reality, this gives us up to 40 minutes rehearsal, as I don't like to be still rehearsing as the assembly gathers.) I was asked to start the group with one specific aim being to get young people involved in the life of the Church; three or four of our musicians are of school age. Although not everyone makes every Mass (which is quite reasonable, given family commitments, etc.) everyone who is available for a given weekend makes the tuning-up/rehearsal. In the 16 or so months that we have been playing, I don't think a Mass has gone by where we haven't introduced a new hymn or Mass setting (a steep learning-curve) but we have had nothing but positive feed-back from parishioners. Indeed, there are those who change their Mass times in order to attend when we are playing - a positive sign.

In the 90s and early 00s I assisted a nationally-renowned "folk"-liturgist/composer from whom I gained some valuable insights. However, my liturgical "tastes" are broader and, as I have alluded to in another thread, I occasionally get to Ampleforth - the beauty and skill demonstrated in their liturgies are a distant dream for my group but is still something that inspires and influences what I attempt to do.

It is only in the last four or five months that I have begun to read about "liturgy" and have been pleased to discover that some of my sensibilities are echoed in what is "decreed from above". But, we do what we can in the situation in which we find ourselves. To paraphrase: "If you start it they will come" and our little group has grown substantially in the short time that we have been playing.

So.....what did you think of our Palm Sunday efforts?

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VML
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by VML » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:05 pm

Your Palm Sunday looks very good, particularly using only flutes outside.

At Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Churchdown, near Gloucester, we sang:

Palm Sunday 13th April
(outside) Hosanna, loud hosanna, to the tune The day of Resurrection,
unaccompanied, but rousingly sung.
Psalm: Dom Gregory Murray, from McCrimmon Psalm book
Gospel Acc: Stephen Dean "
Off : Glory be to Jesus, Organ
Sanctus Acc,of day. Chant
Lamb of God: Chant
Comm.1: Ubi caritas, Taize, Guitar, recorder, solo verses
Comm.2: O sacred head Organ
End: The servant King, Instruments

We used to leave in silence on Palm Sunday, but I have relaxed this as I seemed to be the only one who cared about it.

JW
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by JW » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:11 pm

As this thread has turned a bit folksy and the link to Palm Sunday has got a bit tenuous, I'll share the following.

Mrs JW and I attended "an evening with Graham Kendrick" the Friday before Palm Sunday in Plaxtol Parish Church (candelabras with real candles burning!). I was impressed by how, with the right instruments and amplification, singing by the large congregation was easily supported by just 3 musicians:

Graham Kendrick: vocals, guitars (at least 3 of them plus a ukulele)
David Fitzgerald: flute & saxophone
Simon Dennis: bass guitar, double bass, backing vocals.

If there are good musicians and proper amplification, you don't necessarily need loads of resources.

However, getting people to sing outside and together is more difficult - I understand that our Palm Sunday procession didn't go that well, possibly due to the congregation being unfamiliar with the Carl Tuttle Hosanna and the musicians being at the front of the procession. There was also a lack of strong voices - see John Ainslie's post. It's interesting to see that so many others here experienced rousing singing during the procession - perhaps it's just us!

By the way, JW junior ran 2.35 on Palm Sunday (London Marathon) - though he's not as quick as his Dad used to be :wink:
JW

Peter
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by Peter » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:07 am

High Peak wrote:So.....what did you think of our Palm Sunday efforts?

I thought it an appropriate selection, with sensitive use of the instruments available to you, HP (e.g. the plucked accompaniment to the Offertory hymn). Some contributors have already queried whether it's appropriate to have a recessional hymn on Palm Sunday (we don't at my church) and I can think of one regular contributor to this forum who tends to have rather strong views on the particular piece chosen.

However, from your description of the group you lead and the way you lead them, you seem to me to be working on the right lines. If you wanted any advice, mine would be: come to Summer School, where you'll meet a lot of people trying to cope with the problems of week-by-week liturgies with a variety of resources available. You're bound to find someone facing similar problems to yours, and the talks, liturgies and workshops are worth going to as well!

High Peak
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by High Peak » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:53 am

Peter wrote:
High Peak wrote:So.....what did you think of our Palm Sunday efforts?

I thought it an appropriate selection, with sensitive use of the instruments available to you, HP (e.g. the plucked accompaniment to the Offertory hymn). Some contributors have already queried whether it's appropriate to have a recessional hymn on Palm Sunday (we don't at my church) and I can think of one regular contributor to this forum who tends to have rather strong views on the particular piece chosen.

However, from your description of the group you lead and the way you lead them, you seem to me to be working on the right lines. If you wanted any advice, mine would be: come to Summer School, where you'll meet a lot of people trying to cope with the problems of week-by-week liturgies with a variety of resources available. You're bound to find someone facing similar problems to yours, and the talks, liturgies and workshops are worth going to as well!


Thank you for the feed-back; much appreciated.

For one year in the mid 1980s I lived in Manchester and went to the University Chaplaincy Sunday evening Mass at the Holy Name. We used to refer to it as the "pop concert" as it was all a bit "crash, bang, wallop" and, even then (in my youth, with little liturgical awareness), I found it all a little relentless. So I make sure that we don't "thrash" all our hymns/Mass settings.

I can appreciate the reservations of having a recessional hymn. (Heck, it's only in the last few months, when I have been reading about such things, that I came to realise just how recent a phenomenom the "hymn sandwhich" is - in my childhood the Mass was never sung; only the hymns.) However, ours is a conservative little town and there are short-term goals, medium-term goals and long-term goals.

What would be the specific reservations on "Servant King"?

It is very much my hope to attend the Summer School; but (a) I am not yet a paid-up member of SSG, and (b) I am presently unemployed and the fees are not insignificant!!!

alan29
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by alan29 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:55 am

RE Recessional hymns
I was at St Davids Cathedral for the Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist. They sang a recessional hymn before the dismissal which was announced from the back of the church at the end. It seemed to work very well.
They sang the Langlais Messe Solonelle, which seemed a strange choice for such a celebration.
Incidentally it was wonderful to hear Welsh declaimed in parts of the liturgy - its a language that suits high oratory very well.

justMary
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by justMary » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:53 pm

VML wrote:I often think it would be good if church singers also sang in other situations and genres. My other genre is traditional folk song and I know there are some songs guaranteed to bring in a roomful of people to raise the roof in unaccompanied spontaneous harmony. A bit ironic that it is 'a cappella.'


I'm a child of the 70s, with no formal music education as a child or young adult. My church music tastes are decidedly low-brow / folky compared to most people here - and I firmly believe that the goal of most (not quite all) church music is to engage the assembly in full, active participation, not just listening. (yet another thread!)

When I finally found an all-comers community choir, it was one that did a range of music including more ambitious classical works and Masses. It's through this choir that I finally understand what on earth the talk about "singing the mass" meant, and that it could be possible to have a musically interesting set of Mass parts. Officially this choir was secular - though it was run by a former music teacher Baptist missionary, whose personal retirement mission was to bring music to the community. So it's rather ironic that it was the vehicle through which I learned some basics of traditional Catholic church music - as well as the skills to sing the folk-genre music more skilfully!

And now in middle adulthood, I've become fascinated by Irish traditional music. And it's the focus of rhythm there which has given me some glimpses into the ideas of what chant might be able to achieve. (Don't ask me to explain this - I just don't have the vocabulary, theory or musical sensibility. But it's something to do with the gaps between the notes being equally important.)

So yes - I'd totally agree that being involved in other genres is good for people who are involved in church music.

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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by musicus » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:24 pm

High Peak wrote:It is very much my hope to attend the Summer School; but (a) I am not yet a paid-up member of SSG, and (b) I am presently unemployed and the fees are not insignificant!!!

The SSG's McElligott Fund may be able to help here. I would suggest that you contact the Summer School team (see the main SSG website) and enquire in confidence.
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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by Ephrem Feeley » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:09 pm

musicus wrote:
High Peak wrote:It is very much my hope to attend the Summer School; but (a) I am not yet a paid-up member of SSG, and (b) I am presently unemployed and the fees are not insignificant!!!

The SSG's McElligott Fund may be able to help here. I would suggest that you contact the Summer School team (see the main SSG website) and enquire in confidence.


The Irish Church Music Association runs a Summer School which is probably similar to the SSG one, and the issue of cost is raised from time to time. In giving workshops in my own diocese I always include the question "Did you receive financial assistance from your parish to attend this workshop" on the evaluation/comment form. Slightly less than 50% receive funding - some participants stated that they didn't feel that they could approach the parish for assistance. And yet, musicians are expected to turn up Sunday after Sunday, rehearse weekly and maintain an appropriate and varied repertoire. Parishes should support and encourage their musicians in regular training if they want quality music in return. Don't be afraid to ask!

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Re: Palm Sunday for guitars and flute

Post by musicus » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:30 pm

Yes - I strongly agree with this. (But try the McElligott Fund too!!)
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