Music Animator required

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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justMary
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:53 pm
Parish / Diocese: Republic of Ireland

Re: Music Animator required

Post by justMary » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:58 pm

Hare wrote:Hmm. Not wishing to be negative, but I would like to think that the clentele at this mass got a more varied diet than can be provided by a guitar-playing animator.....


What specifically do think will be missing from their diet?

Without a job-description (or some inside information) we cannot know if the musical leader being hired will be the only musician, or part of a team with varied skills. We cannot know what musical styles they will be asked to play, how often they will be playing, or what role they will have at parish-wide events (Easter Triduum etc).

Your experience may be different, but personally, I've found that a person with an understanding of liturgy, good guitar skills and a willingness to work co-operatively with both the boss (ie PP) and other musicians can provide a very wide range of material. In fact probably a wider range of material than some organists can.

Hare
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by Hare » Wed Jul 15, 2015 9:22 pm

justMary wrote:
Hare wrote:Hmm. Not wishing to be negative, but I would like to think that the clentele at this mass got a more varied diet than can be provided by a guitar-playing animator.....


What specifically do think will be missing from their diet?

Without a job-description (or some inside information) we cannot know if the musical leader being hired will be the only musician, or part of a team with varied skills. We cannot know what musical styles they will be asked to play, how often they will be playing, or what role they will have at parish-wide events (Easter Triduum etc).

Your experience may be different, but personally, I've found that a person with an understanding of liturgy, good guitar skills and a willingness to work co-operatively with both the boss (ie PP) and other musicians can provide a very wide range of material. In fact probably a wider range of material than some organists can.


Thanks for the slap in the face - i've been organist in my parish for over 20 years, playing 3 masses per weekend. The odd guitarist has come and gone during this time, and while they were here they were able to commit themselves to perhaps one mass per month.

alan29
Posts: 1062
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Location: Wirral

Re: Music Animator required

Post by alan29 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:33 pm

I wonder if there has been any sort of research on the proportion of parishes using mainly organ or guitar or nowt.
That sort of data might be useful if only the national situation weren't so ad hoc.

Ephrem Feeley
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by Ephrem Feeley » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:46 am

Some of us have neither an organ, nor a place to put one. Guitars, instruments and keyboard are the order of the day.


Granted, a pipe organ does take up a fair bit of room, albeit mostly vertically. A good digital organ takes up around four square metres, with speakers mounted on the wall, so unless the church is particularly small, there should be room somewhere for this. I'm seeing more and more that churches do not allocate room for an organ, with the mindset that i) good organists are hard to find, so no need for an organ, and ii) a keyboard or guitar will do. Neither is the case. There are plenty of good organists out there - and churches with a reasonable instrument stand a much better chance of getting (or hiring) one than those without. All the documents on sacred music speak of the organ (and voice, of course) being the primary instruments in liturgy. An organ can probably support assembly singing better than guitar or keyboard. Of course, the original post speaks of a family/children's mass, so perhaps the guitar would work in this setting. Good that one of the conditions is "an understanding of the mass". All else is secondary really!

IncenseTom
Posts: 194
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Leeds

Re: Music Animator required

Post by IncenseTom » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:51 am

I wonder what it is that makes people think a guitar, keyboard or other instruments are what's required for a family Mass. Presumably they've decided the organ would not be appropriate?
Personally, I can't see why the organ might be considered inappropriate for a family Mass.

Then again, I would rather parishes didn't list different Masses as 'family', 'folk', 'sung', 'said', whatever. Holy Mass is Holy Mass.

High Peak
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Nottingham
Location: Derbyshire

Re: Music Animator required

Post by High Peak » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:59 am

For those who fear what sort of musical diet is provided by music groups with guitar(s), allow me to illustrate what is possible:

At full strength we have two or three guitars, three flutes and a mandolin, as well as up to a dozen singers. For the 12 Sunday of Ordinary Time we had the following:-
# Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us.
# You shall cross the barren desert.
# Be still, my soul.
# Walk with me, O my Lord (not my favourite - though appropriate for the theme of the Mass - but there were "pastoral" reasons for including this hymn).
# We used the Belmont Mass setting (guitar playing arpeggio chords and flutes playing sustained notes in harmony based on the organ part).
# The Psalm verses were sung in plainchant modes, with the guitar again playing arpeggio chords, with a more "rhythmic" response for the congregation.
# The Gospel Acclamation was the common one (is it called the "Easter" Alleluia?) with a bit of a fanfare introduction from the flutes.
# Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen were sung to Missal tones.

Don't get me wrong - I would LOVE to have access to an organist; but none is available for the Vigil Mass. Also, I assure you that the strumming/picking patterns used by the guitarists for hymns such as Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us are VERY different to those employed for hymns like Walk with me, O my Lord. I have endured lowest-common-denominator, strummy-strummy Masses and do all that I can not to mirror those. And, much as I would value having an organist in the group I am assured by one of our singers (who for years worked with the BBC on programmes such as Songs of Praise) that, even with the "traditional hymns", 90% of the time the organ is not missed.

It does take quite a bit of work, planning and sensitivity but a varied musical diet can be achieved with such a setup.

alan29
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Location: Wirral

Re: Music Animator required

Post by alan29 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:36 pm

IncenseTom wrote:I wonder what it is that makes people think a guitar, keyboard or other instruments are what's required for a family Mass. Presumably they've decided the organ would not be appropriate?
Personally, I can't see why the organ might be considered inappropriate for a family Mass.

Then again, I would rather parishes didn't list different Masses as 'family', 'folk', 'sung', 'said', whatever. Holy Mass is Holy Mass.


Maybe its because the organ directs music planners to a certain style of repertoire.
Agreed that Mass is Mass. However in our parish, families tend to come to the 11.00 on a Sunday because that is where catechists do the Childrens' Liturgy of the Word and sacramental preparation. So those who chose the music are sensitive to the needs of that congregation. Conversely heaven help anyone who tried to introduce singing of any kind at the earlier Mass.

Hare
Posts: 572
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by Hare » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:48 pm

IncenseTom wrote:I wonder what it is that makes people think a guitar, keyboard or other instruments are what's required for a family Mass. Presumably they've decided the organ would not be appropriate?
Personally, I can't see why the organ might be considered inappropriate for a family Mass.

Then again, I would rather parishes didn't list different Masses as 'family', 'folk', 'sung', 'said', whatever. Holy Mass is Holy Mass.


HEAR, HEAR!! Best comment yet!! :D

IncenseTom
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Parish / Diocese: Diocese of Leeds

Re: Music Animator required

Post by IncenseTom » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:32 pm

Hare wrote:HEAR, HEAR!! Best comment yet!! :D


Haha - many thanks! :D

oopsorganist
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by oopsorganist » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:12 pm

Ephrem F. alluded to the church's guidance

"All the documents on sacred music speak of the organ (and voice, of course) being the primary instruments in liturgy. An organ can probably support assembly singing better than guitar or keyboard."

I was just musing around that, as you do, whilst making jam. The priority given to the use of the pipe organ at Mass - it's only a recent thing though, isn't it? The instrument has not really been around all that long. In the scale of things.

Also, taking a slight interest in the instrument, I sometimes ponder the general availability of the pipe organ, all those big Victorian buses, and their fates in general. Some are still going strong. Some people like to go and hear them. Some people prefer them at Mass because they a) cover up the fact that Catholics aren't really singing much and b) are a bit awe inspiring...
Some are in bits at reclamation yards. And some are in a range of denominational churches that are not engaging with a lot of people.

The best bit in ours was the graffiti inside the case. JC had carved his initials. All that is gone with the smart new case. Sigh.

Surely a keyboard is better investment. They are cheap as chips and can have organ voices to play through the PA. I like a piano though. Not enough of those in Catholic churches. You can get a high quality piano much cheaper than a digital organ. And still have change to bless the poor.

We are not likely to know who is using what where. A Summer School survey might be some data to use. But since I was making jam I did look up Mass attendance in Balham. Southwark and Westminster Diocesesese both buck the trend by having increases in Mass attendance.

I have to go and clean a burnt jam pan now.
uh oh!

Hare
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by Hare » Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:51 am

The pipe v digital organ debate will always rage. The organ v guitar debate ditto. Personally, I have NOTHING against guitars in church, and have used them on many occasions - and still would were there a guitarist in the parish. The organ is a logical instrument to use in church, as it can fill a large space with the sound necessary to support singing.

I hope Balham find what they are looking for - it is a popular, well-attended church, (my granddaughter was baptized there, with me at the organ) so what they do obviously works - but I do have a big problem with polarizing musical styles by the timing of the mass

A proficient organist can encourage singing by their style of playing and handling of the instrument. If people seem to be struggling with a tune, the tune can be "soloed out" for a verse or so. a detached style in the right hand (and / or pedal line) can sort out wayward tempo. I struggle to see how a group of individuals on different instruments can sense such needs unanimously and act as one to rectify things. That is all!

My own parish has seen an upturn in attendance. We have many more baptisms than in recent years. The organ is the only instrument used - although it is a good quality digital with some good non-organ voices, which I employ when appropriate - eg Sunday's psalm will be in "piano" mode. The Communion hymn, guitar plus alto sax!

alan29
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Location: Wirral

Re: Music Animator required

Post by alan29 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:44 am

Most music groups have a leader who sings and sets tempi etc. Thats our situation. We have a decent digi piano with reasonable organ samples, so I am able to accompany traditional hymns and provide suitable music for funerals ...... best of both worlds. As for filling the church, sensitive amplification is the answer.
Happily we too are expanding and are bringing out chairs that had been stored.

oopsorganist
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Location: Leeds

Re: Music Animator required

Post by oopsorganist » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:42 am

Ah that is just it Alan!

The organ voices on your digital are appropriate for funerals! A lot of metaphorical ammo there :evil:

But it would seem that a digital keyboard can meet a range of needs. I have one next to me that does all sorts of things, linking up with computers and stuff I know not what. The keys are a bit yacky but otherwise it does pretty much everything including entertain small grandchildren who particularly like messing with the volume. And they are very inexpensive.

I think it was Hare who said that a good organ would attract an organist. But all of that is a bit aspirational. While there are not a lot of organists and good ones scarcer still maybe? there are many many keyboard players who could tackle a few hymns and a core repertoire. And guitarists too. And Balham are exploring this to meet the needs of their parish. Add the incentive of a small fee then most parishes could have access to musical skills, instead of waiting to see what the tide brings in.

And while there are people who prefer an organ and a tradition of Victorian hymnody and classical repertoire etc, there must be many people who would feel more comfortable with the less formal and more inclusive styles of music which guitars (and keyboards) can produce. And this surely needs to be taken into account when planning all things. Repertoire, Inclusion and Mission.

And guitars are useful when small children are present because little fingers cannot raid and add to the keyboard work. They can run fast, those little legs can.
uh oh!

Southern Comfort
Posts: 1792
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Re: Music Animator required

Post by Southern Comfort » Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:27 am

Just to be clear, most digital keyboards have only one or two organ "voices" and these are mostly unattractive. Some makes (e.g. Roland) have a few more, but they are still very limited in number and scope. Nothing like a real electronic or pipe organ. The smaller speakers make a difference, too (even if you have the keyboard hooked up to an amplifier) — think tinny reproduction on a small CD player.

oopsorganist wrote:The best bit in ours was the graffiti inside the case. JC had carved his initials. All that is gone with the smart new case. Sigh.


Who is JC? My first thought was Jesus Christ!

Hare
Posts: 572
Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2004 12:12 pm
Parish / Diocese: Home Counties

Re: Music Animator required

Post by Hare » Fri Jul 17, 2015 11:21 am

oopsorganist wrote:
I think it was Hare who said that a good organ would attract an organist. But all of that is a bit aspirational..


No - that wasn't me. I agree - that is "aspirational" (Hate the term!!) In theory, it should be true, but.........

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