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Re: [greekorthodoxmusic] Re: Multi-topic discussion opener.

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  • Louie Quintana
    Greetings to everyone! I am very interested in this discussion, and have following it from the beginning, Stan. And I PROMISE to contribute as weakly as I am
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 14, 2005
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      Greetings to everyone!
       
      I am very interested in this discussion, and have following it from the beginning, Stan.  And I PROMISE to contribute as weakly as I am able in a few days.
       
      Unfortunately, the discussion began as I was preparing to attend the Sacred Music Institue at Antiochian Village in PA, which is where I am now.  (Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis taught the basic Byzantine Modes into course, which was very good.)  Anyway, I wanted you to know that there is at least one other person interested in this discussion and following it closely, just not ready to respond (due to time) until the middle of next week.
       
      Thanks.  This is a very interesting discussion, especially since I'm new to the GOA (three years now,) but I feel like I've got a decent handle on the threads of the discussion.
       
      Everyone have a blessed evening/day.
       
      the unworthy servant of God,
       
      Rdr. Moses


      Stan Takis <takistan@...> escribió:
      Dear Justin and Fr. Ephraim:

      Well, OK. We can discuss the opening comments as well. I'm sure the
      discussion will take a flow of its own.

      >Sakellarides and his musical descendants,
      >from what I can tell, had the blessings and
      >encouragements of the Archbishops. If they were
      >Westernizing the original Eastern Byzantine chant,
      >then why was this moving away from tradition supported
      >and embraced? Was it simply the case of a new
      >immigrant group trying to blend in and assimilate into
      >the American culture?

      I think that was a lot of it. Athanagoras, the American archbishop in
      the 30's and 40's, who later became patriarch, actively encouraged
      assimilation into the American culture. Priests were instructed to
      shave and wear Western-style clerical clothing. Pews and organs were
      installed in churches and harmonized music sung by choirs, similar to
      American Protestant and Catholic churches, was encouraged. This
      stemmed, I believe, not for a disregard of tradition, but because of
      the zeitgeist of the world. The Industrial Revolution had created not
      only a new world culture, but a new attitude as well. Suddenly, we had
      railroads, steamboats, flying machines, automobiles, electric lights
      and appliances, telegraph and telephones, moving pictures, radio,
      television, and computers. It was a very pragmatic time. We were in a
      new modernistic age and we were responding to that. Coming up in the
      church, I was taught that there were two traditions, one with a
      capital T that had to do with the doctrines necessary for salvation,
      and one with a lower-case t, that changed with the times. As music
      became more standardized throughout the world on the Western European
      model, perhaps ecclesiastical music was seen as one of those small t
      traditions. The Westernization of chant began in Greece and was
      imported to America, where it took off in an environment fertile to
      change and adaptation to the modern world.

      I don't think your other speculations were more important than simply
      this. The adaptation to English was inevitable and is occurring now as
      we speak. In some ways, the switch to Western music has made the
      change to English easier, since the adapters did not have to follow
      Byzantine musical rubrics, but there has been a price to pay for that,
      because in Western music, melodies are more important than texts and
      in the preservation of melodies created by the old rubrics as applied
      to Greek, English is twisted and skewed. This is why I favor applying
      the rubrics of chant to the language and the creation of new melodies.

      >I guess my question would be...: how does something become an "official"
      >tradition of the church? Does a council have to meet
      >about it? Does it just gradually develop?...if fasting rules are laid
      out in the
      >church canons, who are we to alter them? Similarly,
      >if the church canons, of which I am ashamed to admit
      >almost complete ignorance, specify certain musical
      >forms as appropriate, then who are we to change things?

      I think for the capital T Tradition, a council has to decide. The
      other rules which may come from synods and other heirarchical means
      are usually a response to practical matters that come up over time.
      So, then, who are we to do this? We are the ones who are living in the
      world now and have to deal with the world as it is. In my opinion, the
      Church has two existences, one is apart from the world and the other
      is in the world. Let us not forget that the world is a part of the
      Creation of God, and all that happens in it is a result of what he has
      allowed.

      >At the same time, there is the well know Psalm that
      >says, "Make a joyful noise to God," (Psalm 66:1, RSV).
      >Psalm 33:1-3 talks about shouting praises to God
      >accompanied by a lyre. Other similar Psalms that make
      >reference to using various instruments in praising God
      >include Psalm 81 and Psalm 98.
      >So what is the Orthodox understanding of these Psalms
      >as they relate to...
      >A) Church cannons
      >B) Worship music generally
      >and C) the Divine Liturgy specifically?

      And Psalm 150 that mentions trumpets, psaltery, harp, and stringed
      instruments. Of course these psalms pre-dated the Divine Liturgy, and
      even though the liturgy employs the psalms librally, its work has a
      specific purpose for Christians. Outside of the liturgy, we can break
      out the drums and the guitars and make the joyful noise, but within
      the liturgy, music is a tool which facilitates prayer of living
      humans, and thus is subject to different constraints.

      >I've noticed a sort of animosity between chanters and
      >choirs in many different parishes.

      Sort of? I definitely think some chanters resent choirs for usurping
      their place in the liturgy, and some choirs definitely don't
      understand chanters and chanting, and some see them as a nuisance. (I
      emphasize the word "some" because the enmity is not universal and I
      think things are improving.)

      >As a convert, one of the things that drew me to
      >Orthodoxy was the beauty and simplicity of Byzantine
      >chant. As I enter the sanctuary during Orthros
      >(usually after the chanters have already started
      >because although a non-Greek I have innate "Greek
      >time"!), and I hear (good) chanting, I feel like I am
      >not only stepping into a holy place, but I also feel
      >like I am stepping back into history.

      The key for you was hearing GOOD chanting. I've been in churches where
      there is very bad chanting and this is a turn-off for many Westerners.

      >Contrast this to my parents' Southern Baptist church
      >in Kentucky. Growing up we had instrumental
      >music--piano and organ--and a choir of men and women.
      >Today, the Sunday worship service is usually led by a
      >youth praise band standing in front of the
      >congregation (where our iconostasis and alter would
      >be) playing guitars and drums.

      This brings up an important point. The assimilation of Greek Orthodox
      music occurred in an environment where choral singing accompanied by
      an organ or piano was the norm in Western Christian churches. So, now
      that the modern Western churches are abandoning their hymnbooks,
      choirs, and organs in favor of rock bands and projected lyrics, we
      Greek Orthodox are now perpetuating an OBSOLETE Western tradition.
      We've lost the pragmatism and forward-thinking of the Industrial Age
      and are reduced to perpetuating a lost musical tradition of the West.
      To me, a return to an earlier Orthodox tradition based on human and
      religious truths, in other words a timeless, always-relevant
      tradition, would be a good thing.

      >I wonder
      >which icon in the iconostasis they will place the drum
      >set in front of?

      My vote is St. John the Forerunner. He's the one who looks most like a
      hippie, and besides, he was a Baptist.

      >My alternative hope for the future would be a Divine
      >Liturgy with an actively participating congregation
      >(reading and chanting along with the chanters) and a
      >group of male chanters on one side of the iconostasis
      >and a group of female chanters on the other side of
      >the iconostasis. During the liturgy, particularly
      >during the Antiphons, they would alternate responses.

      I love this vision, Justin. This is my vision as well! There are two
      modern situations that are here to stay and we must be responsive to,
      that is, we have to embrace the idea of women at the psalterion, and
      we have to involve the congregation. I would love for the arrangement
      you describe to become a standard model in our churches.

      Stan


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    • Stan Takis
      ... the beginning, Stan. And I PROMISE to contribute as weakly as I am able in a few days. That s OK, Louie. I have been limited in time myself, as my
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 14, 2005
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        > I am very interested in this discussion, and have following it from
        the beginning, Stan. And I PROMISE to contribute as weakly as I am
        able in a few days.

        That's OK, Louie. I have been limited in time myself, as my
        84-year-old mother underwent an operation Tuesday for the removal of a
        large, benign tumor on her spine. I've been caring for my dad since
        she's been in the hospital, and I've had less time than I thought I'd
        have. I have more comments coming later as well.

        **************

        Justin, I think your comments are worth a lot and show a lot of
        maturity and wisdom for one as young as you. I'm a latecomer to church
        music, relatively, and I don't know how much I can contribute, but,
        God-willing, you will be able to be fruitful for many years.

        I want to comment on one thing you said about how Gregorian chant
        appeals to you. I'm not (yet) a militant for one kind of chant. I
        think the liturgy should be chanted, but so far Byzantine, Znammeny,
        or Gregorian are all legitimate forms of Christian chant to me, and I
        also feel the simplified chant of Sakallarides and others can assist
        appropriately in prayer. I'm thinking that a derivative form of
        Byzantine-influenced chanting might emerge as the most appropriate
        chant for the English language and the sensibilities of Americans and
        other Western, English-speaking nations.

        English is a rich, diverse, and expressive language that needs very
        little musical ornamentation to derive added expression and emphasis.
        Anyone who doubts this should become familiar with Shakespeare. One
        reason I like the King James text, despite its Protestant (for some
        heretical) origin, is that it is in the same English as the Bard.
        English, in my opinion, has not fared very well to highly ornamented
        and melismatic music. (Despite Handel's oratorios, where actually the
        music itself is the star, not the texts. Handel was German with an
        Italian influence. Even the Hallelujah chorus had its beginning in one
        of his Italian pieces.)

        I think the English language fares best in a simple unadorned chant.
        Because of its Germanic origin, English has mostly one and
        two-syllable words. Greek has many multi-syllable words and certain
        syllables must be emphasized more than others to bring out the full
        meaning of the words. English has less need for this. E.g. Kyrie/Lord,
        Kardhia/heart, Pnevmatos/Ghost (from geist, spirit is from Latin). As
        a linguist, you can probably get what I'm saying here.

        *******************

        Fr. Ephraim, I echo Justin's thanks for the book titles. I want those
        books as well.

        Since everyone is using their Orthodox Chrismation names to sign off,
        this time I will remain yours,

        Stylianos
      • Justin Bates
        Louie, Whenever you have the time, please join in. How was the Antiochian Village? I wanted to go, but I didn t have the time or money for it. Which region
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 14, 2005
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          Louie,

          Whenever you have the time, please join in. How was
          the Antiochian Village? I wanted to go, but I didn't
          have the time or money for it. Which region of the
          country are you from? Do you know if Dr. Jessica
          Suchy-Pilalis is planning on producing any chanting
          materials? How was Fr. Elias Bitar as a teacher?

          Stan, hope your mother gets well soon.

          Best wishes,

          Justin "Chrysostomos"
        • Louie Quintana
          Chrysostomos, The teaching and exposure to various origins of music has been excellent here at the Sacred Music Institute (e.g., Byzantine Chant, Choral
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 15, 2005
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            Chrysostomos,
             
            The teaching and exposure to various 'origins' of music has been excellent here at the Sacred Music Institute (e.g., Byzantine Chant, Choral works of Arabic, Russian, 'Slavic', Carpathian, Serbian origins--though the choral stuff is very new to me.)  The Institute goes on through this Sunday the 17th.  Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis is an incredible teacher.  Her knowledge is vast, to say the least, and she can take quite a diverse group of folks with a variety of levels of experience and teach them all at the same time.  ANY opportunity for you to learn directly from her I would recommend seeking out at any expense.  Fr. Elias Bitar's voice is incredible, and the Arabic influence in his voice is always inspiring to me.  He is genuinely nice, and we will have a brief 'Bird's Eye of Byzantine Music Theory" class from him today.  If you want my notes and Dr. Suchy-Pilasis' notes for us for your private use, I would gladly mail them to you.  Just send me your address offline.  I have some good contacts from here to find out in the future who will be teaching at these Institutes (especially as it involves my interest, Byzantine Chant specifically) and I will gladly pass that onto you in the future, as well.
             
            To answer your question, I am in Boise, Idaho, and which is in the Metropolis of Denver (GOA) under the spiritual direction of His Eminence, Metropolitan ISAIAH.
             
             
            Stan,
             
            I will keep your mother in my prayers, and may her recovery go well.  By day, (when I'm not wearing my 'Superman' Reader's garb, I'm a physical therapist specializing in both home health and hospice care for mainly older folks.  If you have specific questions about your mother's rehab/recovery that I might be able to address, please email me offline.  I'd be glad to offer anything I can in terms of guidance, direction or support.
             
            Everyone, I would appreciate your prayers, as well, on my behalf.  Learning all I have thus far in my time here, my heart aches for a more and more authentic spiritual journey 'amongst the Greeks.'  Every place has it's challenges and its blessings, of course; considering the variety of responsibilities that I have the blessing of undertaking through the guidance and direction of my parish priest and spiritual father, I feel the weight of service at times, even as a lowly Reader.  But, may everything be done according to God's will and purpose. 
             
            Well, time to focus on the Liturgy for this morning.  Please forgive my ramblings.
             
            Rdr. Moses


            Justin Bates <justinraybates@...> escribió:
            Louie,

            Whenever you have the time, please join in.  How was
            the Antiochian Village?  I wanted to go, but I didn't
            have the time or money for it.  Which region of the
            country are you from?  Do you know if Dr. Jessica
            Suchy-Pilalis is planning on producing any chanting
            materials?  How was Fr. Elias Bitar as a teacher?

            Stan, hope your mother gets well soon.

            Best wishes,

            Justin "Chrysostomos"

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