Dunnow the source of this but it fits the tune "Repton

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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Benevenio
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Post by Benevenio » Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:23 am

Tsume Tsuyu wrote:This can be a problem in our parish where the musicians outnumber the singers.

Dot wrote:I feel that the singers should take precedence...

Don't the instrumentalists (organists) support the assembly, not just the choir... and isn't it the assembly who takes precedence, not the singers? If you are stood right by the Bass Amp (or 32' pipes), you are going to get a distorted a picture of the relative sound levels and it will seem that you are not effective against everything else. This judgement call must be left in the hands of the music director to get right - hopefully they'll not only be looking out for the choir and instrumentalists, but also old, deaf Mrs Jones who always sits tucked in the corner, but who always joins in with the singing.

Dot wrote:inappropriate adaptations would add layers, not intended by the composer...

But how, pray, do you know what the composer intended? When was the last time you saw a hymn with performance notes as to how it was to be arranged, what stops to use in which verses, or even how fast to take it? If I write something to go at 60bpm in my lovely echoey church, then you may well think it too slow where you are with those awful plush carpets... What if it sits too high in the voice range of the assembly you have - can you not transpose it so that it can be sung more easily? Please, Dot, do not presume to know what the composer wants - because most often they don't know, or it cannot be expressed in words, and it may well depend upon whether it is raining today, or they had sufficient custard with their jam roly-poly for pudding! :? You're being far too blinkered here, unless, of course, you are the composer concerned - but even then I say you should leave the musical delivery to the music leader. If what results makes you cringe, then learn to pray through that too. Perhaps that is the cross you need to carry...

Contabordon wrote:I've lost count of the number of times I've been solemnly assured that liturgical composers compose only for the glory of God

No way - Give me the money every time! Actually, motives for composition are very complex, but one high factor usually is "Oh dear! What are we going to use for this slot next Sunday...?" I write for my voice range, my instruments and competence, my personal tastes. Not much altruism going on, I'm afraid! But I never lose sight of the ultimate purpose - prayer (whichever form that might take), where appropriate by the whole singing assembly.

There is a difference between theft (photocopying rather than purshace of music) and arrangement of a piece so that it can be used. Q: Is St Etheldreda's-By-The-Gasworks putting its money in the right place - afterall, the Liturgy is the source of our Christian life, so deserves funding! I repeat my earlier opinion: if you are going to arrange music, you should contact the composer wherever possible. But be practical about it too. No composer will complain (and most likely won't want to know) that you wrote out the melody/harmony for (for example) a Bb Clarinet, or that the harmonies are being playing on 4 instruments instead of an organ (because that is what you've got). And in 'performance', if there is a competent player improvising - be that on organ or any other instrument - then there ain't much a composer can do about it - it is a fleeting moment which dies quickly and is forgotten by most the same instant. Just don't write it down. :-) Anyhow, if you try to tie things down too much, you'll end up sounding like Rome... :twisted:

I rather suspect that our (English) legal system, which seems to work on precedent, would have a right old time arguing about whether it was legal or not to improvise in Church - how many hundreds of years has that be going on? Is not writing texts, and the addition of music, itself an improvisational response to the Scriptures? Precedent enough for me. :wink:
Benevenio.

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Tsume Tsuyu
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Post by Tsume Tsuyu » Sat Jul 03, 2004 2:19 pm

Benevenio wrote:Don't the instrumentalists (organists) support the assembly, not just the choir... and isn't it the assembly who takes precedence, not the singers?

You are right. Of course the assembly takes precedence. However, if the singers are swamped, how can they effectively lead the singing? I agree that if there is a good arrangement of a well-known hymn, it doesn't matter whether the choir can be heard because the congregation will join in in any event, but if it is a new piece, or something less well-known, the congregation needs a lead from the singers and so they need to be heard. I think the answer in our parish is to try and encourage a few more singers (or bump off a few instrumentalists! :wink: )

TT

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Vox Americana
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Post by Vox Americana » Sat Jul 03, 2004 2:49 pm

Benevenio wrote:When was the last time you saw a hymn with performance notes...


Look at OCP's books. While they don't all have them, many do have Liturgical Notes at the back, and here the composers say much about the pieces. Recommended reading - and a good reason to buy the original books and not just rely on the version in your hymnals.

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musicus
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Post by musicus » Sat Jul 03, 2004 3:50 pm

Welcome to the forum, Vox!

You could well be our first American member. I look forward to reading your trans-Atlantic take on things. :D

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Canonico
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Post by Canonico » Sat Jul 03, 2004 3:59 pm

Welcome Vox. Judging by your avatar, it may not be what Musicus calls, 'your take on things', but rather your 'take off' on things that we will get. How would you like to assist at a liturgical dance workshop at a certain Summer School?:oops:

Dot
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Post by Dot » Sat Jul 03, 2004 8:17 pm

Isn't it strange how the singing assembly is seen as a separate entity from the singers in the music group? By "singers" I inferred a collective group of all who join in the singing. Now, in our parish, that may not include many of the assembly at times, more's the pity.

As for knowing what a composer intended, there are times when one does know enough from the style it is written in, or even from having spoken to the composer, without referring to perfomance notes. What if the decision to re-arrange the piece is made because the arranger simply doesn't like the original (it's not their style) and wants it to conform more to their style to make it work for them?... I provide no answer.

If what is chosen at a planning meeting makes some of us cringe, we don't have to meddle with it, but may learn to pray through it nevertheless (someone else might love it); that is a cross we all have to carry from time to time. Music is very subjective, and very powerful.

Dot

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Vox Americana
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Post by Vox Americana » Sat Jul 03, 2004 10:21 pm

Dot wrote:What if the decision to re-arrange the piece is made because the arranger simply doesn't like the original (it's not their style) and wants it to conform more to their style to make it work for them?...

Jeez, it seems like someone has really upset you. I take it your Music Director has done this to a piece you like? Bear with her - she's probably only doing it for the best intentions. Does she do this all the time? You could get the team to ask her not to, but if you do, you may just be starting out on a search for a new Director... If she's good at what she does, stick with her. If she really gets to you, it may be time to move on. Oh boy - you aren't the Director, are you?

Canonico wrote:How would you like to assist at a liturgical dance workshop at a certain Summer School?

ROFL. Dressed like this? Your Summers are too cold and wet :lol: but thanks for the invite.

Dot
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Post by Dot » Sun Jul 04, 2004 12:20 pm

Yes, it upsets me that what is planned may be subject to changes, particularly if I've already prepared for the planned item before the change takes place. It also upsets me that certain styles are squeezed out by the musical influence that holds sway. I accept that changes are also made for practical reasons, but that is another matter.

We have an amazingly talented leader without whom our musical ministry would be so much poorer, and no one is looking for a new leader. What we possibly lack is a structure that allows for differences in approach or opinion or suggestions from other members of the group to be properly dealt with and not just stifled by strong leadership or by a groundswell of implicit acceptance. No new director needed (and no, it's not me), but perhaps a revision of the planning and preparation process. A subject for discussion within our parish group, perhaps? Could we ask a guy across the pond to mediate?

Dot
Last edited by Dot on Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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contrabordun
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Post by contrabordun » Sun Jul 04, 2004 1:34 pm

Benevenio wrote:There is a difference between theft (photocopying rather than purshace of music) and arrangement of a piece so that it can be used.

I think the comparison I was drawing - and what Dot was talking about too - was the situation in which the arrangement of the piece is done for reasons of personal taste, rather than performance practicality.

But even when done for the latter reason, while I'm not saying don't rewrite the flute part for Bb clarinet, - and while I can see it's hard to draw a line - in my personal opinion, if you ever got to the stage of simplifying eg Stanford's Beati Quorum Vir [from SSA+TBB unacc] to SATB + organ to suit local resources, then perhaps the time and ingenuity would more profitably be spent on investigating music more suited to your resources.

It's a matter of balance, a judgement call - and as you say, if in doubt, contact the composer (not too hard, in these days of email, for most living composers) (who may well have a different version of the piece that might better suit your needs). If you don't ask because you think the answer would be "no", well then that tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?

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