Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

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oopsorganist
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by oopsorganist » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:35 pm

Your music sounds marvelous Contra - I was not swiping at you - I love classical music of all sorts including organ recitals and choir performances - I was more thinking of me hammering on a particular pipe organ (with which I had a love hate relationship) on a Christmas Midnight with a congregation of 30 who were not up for singing - too many sessions on a pipe organ without being able to hear anything from the pews - it can be frustrating. And then you forget which verse you are on and it goes pear shaped.

I think Thomas has hit a nail on the head by mentioning publishers. There is something needed for parishes with few resources in terms of musicianship. And I guess it is not an organist. Or pipe organ. Something electronic and very simple. And yes, with Mass parts and Acclamation as the main food.
And a very few hymns for Gathering, Praise, Reflection and Going Out Together. Simple but with the blessing of some harmony parts or rounds and the dots to print out.

I used to feel frustrated that sometimes the only course of action for me when I led a parish , was to use the same old, same old. So as not to outface a tentative and reserved congregation. So All that I Am, Gifts of Bread and Wine and so on and on - they would become the repertoire. And that is what I am hearing as I wander. The standard hymns are emerging. And they are not impressive - the choices for hymn singing in terms of content. When something more traditional pops up like, Lord Accept the Gifts we Offer - the response is not so good. But I guess four good hymns which fit the right places in the Mass are OK. That is OK. They are doing their job.

But SC has often replied in my posts that singing unaccompanied is a way forward for some parishes.
If there was a music resource available for the singing of four good Mass settings on CD/Youtube/Sound Cloud or whatever with the dots for printing off and the parts for some harmony singing - that would make a really project for any parish which is struggling. It is possible to use recorded music to learn a new Mass setting and then go for live renditions. But then a parish would need a brave group with the right ideas (or individual) instead of or in addition to - an organist.

There might also be some parish priests who could do with some guidance in such matters.

And in is not unthinkable that a Diocese could begin to support the clear basics and encouragement for such resources to be used , to be the standard. On the other hand, they could provide amazing choirs and ambitious music programmes, compete in international competitions.......... :shock: That was a swipe.
uh oh!

oopsorganist
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by oopsorganist » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:07 am

And for Contrabundum this...
THE STONING OF THE ORGANIST: ACTS 29

1And it came to pass, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain disciples came upon a mob that was stoning an organist. 2And Paul said unto them, "What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?" 3And the people cried with one voice, "He hath played too loud. 4Yea, in the singing of psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers. 5Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops, the Assyrian trumpet stop and the stop of the ram's horn and the stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths. 6He always tosseth in the variations that confuse us mightily and playeth loud and discordant and always in a militant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing. 7Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chastised." 8Paul, hearing this, had himself picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down and bade the organist come forward. 9He was a narrow man, pale of complexion, dry, flaking thin of hair. 10And Paul said unto him, "Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?" 11And the organist replied, "I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and therefore played the louder so as to encourage them." 12And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, "Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone." 13And they cast stones for awhile until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organist repent and he did. 14And Paul said unto him, "Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit." 15And afterward, they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unaccompanied and then had coffee and were refreshed in the faith.

[source, apparently Prairie Home Companion]
Thanked by 6Gavin chonak CHGiffen Spriggo Ally E_A_Fulhorst
uh oh!

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contrabordun
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by contrabordun » Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:48 pm

Apologies if I went over the top. I wasn't trying to boast, just to say that (as with so much else in the Church) if the local PP wants music, and is willing and able to exercise leadership to get it, then the resources required (be they human or musical) are not huge, and they are out there (although it might take a few years to bring to fruition). Without that overt support, you might just as well give up. Find somewhere that wants what you have to offer.
Paul Hodgetts

Southern Comfort
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by Southern Comfort » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:01 pm

oopsorganist wrote:And for Contrabundum this...
THE STONING OF THE ORGANIST: ACTS 29

1And it came to pass, when Paul was at Corinth, he and certain disciples came upon a mob that was stoning an organist. 2And Paul said unto them, "What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?" 3And the people cried with one voice, "He hath played too loud. 4Yea, in the singing of psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers. 5Behold, he sitteth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be few of us below, he nonetheless playeth with all the stops, the Assyrian trumpet stop and the stop of the ram's horn and the stop that soundeth like the sawing of stone, and we cannot hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths. 6He always tosseth in the variations that confuse us mightily and playeth loud and discordant and always in a militant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing. 7Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chastised." 8Paul, hearing this, had himself picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down and bade the organist come forward. 9He was a narrow man, pale of complexion, dry, flaking thin of hair. 10And Paul said unto him, "Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?" 11And the organist replied, "I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and therefore played the louder so as to encourage them." 12And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, "Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone." 13And they cast stones for awhile until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organist repent and he did. 14And Paul said unto him, "Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit." 15And afterward, they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unaccompanied and then had coffee and were refreshed in the faith.

[source, apparently Prairie Home Companion]
Thanked by 6Gavin chonak CHGiffen Spriggo Ally E_A_Fulhorst


HILARIOUS!

oopsorganist
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by oopsorganist » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:56 am

So. A simple CD. Or a spot on Sound Cloud - but something concrete in the hand is empowering and not everyone does computers....

With four parts for a limited range of core repertoire hymns or songs, and one Mass setting.
A new game could be to list those hymns.
Some good singers to record the parts.
Someone to work the recording equipment.
Some way of distributing it nationally. Permission to copy discs given so that the material can be spread. Around the parish.

Then parishes could begin to find some people who would like to be in a choir (and it is the new black, like growing your own) who could play the CD in their car or on the things that they put in their ears during the week and get together and then suddenly be able to sing like a choir.

It could make funds and it would improve singing.

The dots would have to be those in the standard hymnals (unless under copywrite) or could be provided for print out also on computer disc. For example, if the music or arrangement was composed by one of our gifted contemporaries.

And it has to very limited in scope to build that confidence.
The less than amazing hymns that are the bread and butter of most small parishes would be enhanced and the skills would bridge the way to other music.
uh oh!

dmu3tem
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by dmu3tem » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:51 am

Yes, all that Paul says is true. However it should not mean that instrumental resources - assuming they are there - should not be used. Likewise, if you do have a skilled arranger/composer, then there is every reason to use them. Note that with practice such techniques can be developed and improved. In other words parish music can be regarded as an experimental laboratory in which new approaches can be explored. Of particular significance here is the art of combining other instruments with Organs and keyboards of different types. This is one of the most under-developed aspects of church music.

With all arrangement the key aspect is how to maximise the resources at one's disposal. Effective scoring includes the ability to enable every individual musicians to contribute something distinctive to the whole. This is what makes people feel their contribution is valued. All too often music is rated as inadequate due to inappropriate instrumentation and treatment of voices. It is this that has so often given 'folk' music a bad name. Many 'folk' musicians I have dealt with just do not seem to appreciate the importance of exactitude when it comes to scoring, I imagine because in many respects it is an 'oral' rather than a 'written' musical culture and because of the 'hang-loose' atmosphere that people imagine should pervade it. In reality effective 'folk' musicians (like everybody else) do have a fairly tight discipline underneath the casual serface patina.
T.E.Muir

oopsorganist
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by oopsorganist » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:22 am

You know Thomas, you are a hero of mine... you are always willing to give that extra bit for others who are musical but need su Spport.

Many time in our parish, the music hung on a thread due to the inclusion of willing but beginning musicians. Especially guitarists. One would not let me use the keyboard just in case she stopped or got lost and other people notice. Another just well, had to be turned down on the control desk. He played away like billyoh but it really was challenging. My last guitar helper was perfect. Arrived just seconds before mass started, tuned up, plugged in and played whatever was on the board. Gone to be a doctor. But when he brought his saxophone I was stumped because I just don't know how to sort that out. What key do they even play in. That sort of thing.

So including others especially young people who are learning, that is a really big challenge. Again, human resources are a problem. Although there could be a basic hymnal with scores for a limited repertoire. If I could have pulled the notes for a saxophone out of a printer for him for standard fare it would have let my young one enjoy himself more.

So the same thing. A gap in available resources. Non human resources. I also though a classical guitar book for basic hymns and acclamations would have been useful. Not all guitarists want to strum.

Incidentally - the folk repertoire is not always hugely extensive - not in traditional music and folk musicians are good at improvisations and so on. But they have a core repertoire of standard stuff and tunes and what like. So my Oops son says. He does not really need dots, but oh boy, does he practice. At night. Behind my bedhead. And then, I would hazard, that a parish with a small congregation and a lack of this and that, would be looking more to the folk tradition than to any more experimental or advanced music. Back to the "Sacred Harp".
uh oh!

dmu3tem
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by dmu3tem » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:00 pm

Picking up on some previous points and adding some more:

[1] I am not sure whether 'folk' musicians necessarily have a limited repertoire. A key factor here may be that it is very much an oral tradition. However there are plenty of oral traditions with enormous repertoires of music handed down. Even in the 'traditional' Cecil Sharp folk collecting side there is a vast repertoire - perhaps because Sharp and his colleagues collected from so many different communities (who would each might have a limited repertoire but taken together this might get very large with innumerable variations). The same of course would be true with hymn repertoires (whether Folk or otherwise) in different parishes across the country.

[2] A further angle on maximising parish resources of course concerns links between a particular parish and the following:

[a] Other parishes [b] the local Catholic school (assuming there is one) [c] The Cathedral in the diocese [d] Other organisations - SSG etc.
T.E.Muir

dmu3tem
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Re: Parish Music in an age of dwindling resources

Post by dmu3tem » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:32 am

Just a little more development of the ideas I put forward in my last post:

Cooperation between a local parish and (for example) the local diocesan cathedral.

:There tends to be something of a division between the two these days (perhaps there always has been). Yet, if parish resources are to be maximised this needs to be broken down; and it needs to be an equal partnership - not one where the Cathedral musicians instinctively assume they are going to 'teach parish musicians how to do things'.

: Here are some possible avenues for cooperation:

[1] Choirs and other groups of musicians swopping venues: some cathedral musicians perform at a parish mass and vice versa. An exchange of 'concerts' too would be a good idea as a fund raiser (I have done this using the Blackburn Cathedral choral scholars at Gisburn Parish church this year).

[2] Exchange of arrangements and new compositions. For example if a parish musician composes (or arranges) a new piece of music, a copy could be sent to the cathedral and it gets performed there, further copies are made and distributed from the cathedral to other parishes that might be interested.

[3] Likewise an exchange of skills (perhaps through training courses). Some cathedrals already do this with 'outreach programmes' to schools (Blackburn Anglican Cathedral does this), but more of the same could be done for parishes. Likewise some Cathedral musical establishments might have something to learn form musicians with particular expertise in a given parish. These are some of the areas that could be explored (but there are m any others): Organ playing, singing training, playing different types of keyboard, revealing the potential inherent in the guitar, electronic musical sounds, developing skills in composition and arrangement - especially involving instruments other than the pipe organ (In this field 'traditional' Cathedral musicians are often deficient).

[4] Interchange of personel: e.g. a promising young singer at parish level is recommended to the local cathedral establishment for further training. In reverse a cathedral choral scholar is 'farmed out' for a few weeks to a parish to get practical experience as a cantor (finds out what it really is like 'in the sticks')

I am sure such themes could be developed further by those with more creative imagination
than myself.

Thomas (Muir)
T.E.Muir

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