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Re: Western Musicians

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  • Stan Takis
    ... Dear Taso: Quite so. There ARE characteristics that unite all artists. But Byzantine music is very, very different than Western music. Yes, there is
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 22, 2006
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      --- In byzantinechant@yahoogroups.com, "tasosnassis" <tasosnassis@...>
      wrote:

      > again, music is music, art is art, movies are movies, and literature
      > is literature. every human being can have an opinion on these
      > topics. and i believe that professional critics (western or other)
      > who devote their lives to a particular area of culture hopefully have
      > the skill, experience, and judgement to give us insights into these
      > areas. and the two people i mentioned defintely have huge
      > credibility...there's certain
      > characteristics that unite ALL artists.

      Dear Taso:

      Quite so. There ARE characteristics that unite all artists. But
      Byzantine music is very, very different than Western music. Yes, there
      is theory; there are scales and melodies and ornaments. But the main
      difference is in the interval tunings, ornaments, and the yphos. In my
      opinion, this puts Byzantine music on a completely different plain. It
      is not easy for American church goers, who usually do not attend
      Orthros, and even if they do, do not have a chanter to hear who knows
      the psaltic art, to understand Byzantine music or appreciate its
      edifying qualities. The result is they have basically shunned it in
      the services that they sing and have replaced it with the polyphonic
      Western music that they are more comfortable with.

      I know that Byzantine purists revile Sakellarides as a destroyer of
      Byzantine chant, but one thing he did in altering the melodies to fit
      Western notation and singing them in a Western, bel canto style, is he
      made them more accessible to American and Western European ears. One
      can certainly criticize this as creating a bastardized chant halfway
      between Byzantine and Gregorian, with none of the artistic qualities
      of either. One can also criticize his crude attempts at harmonization
      as not being artistic and leading more accomplished Western composers
      to harmonize in a more sophisticated way, thus creating a music even
      farther removed from the Byzantine tradition.

      On the other hand, it seems to me that Sakellarides' chant melodies,
      and others like it, if harmonized only by ison according to the rules
      of Byzantine musical theory, create a kind of chant easily adapted to
      and accepted by American and other English-speaking Orthodox
      worshipers. Byzantine music can be set to Western notation. The
      melodic formulas, the scales, the modes, and the isons can all be
      followed. What is lost are the microtunings and the yphos, which are
      not understandable to the average American. However, what is left,
      while not being pure, classical psaltiki, is useful for church
      worship. This is the kind of music we have introduced into two
      American churches, and after a few months of adapting to it, I have
      received countless comments from people who say they find it more
      spiritual and that it makes church-attending a more meaningful
      experience. This simplified chant also has the advantage of adapting
      to the English language easier than pure Byzantine music.

      To me, this means that simplified chant can't be all bad. I like to
      call it "New Byzantine Chant," because it employs the melodic
      formulas, scales, and isons of Byzantine, perhaps without the exact
      classical melodies, but to the exclusion of harmony, polyphony, and
      other Western musical conventions. This makes it quite effective for
      amplifying and illuminating the liturgical texts of worship. That
      can't be all bad.

      The needs of Orthodox people who grew up in a culture of English and
      Western music have to be addressed. It's easy to take a hard line and
      say just use pure Byzantine chant. It gives one the integrity of not
      being a compromiser in the matter of Orthodox tradition. It puts
      people on a high moral platform where they have license to criticize
      others for not being obedient to the received traditions and dogmas of
      the Orthodox Church. But in my view, a little dispensation is a good
      thing when it is needed to reach those of a different culture, and it
      is not unprecendented in the history of the living organism that is
      the Orthodox Church.

      Stan
    • Father Ephraim
      Dear Stan, I don t want to bore people by repeating the arguments we had last year about Sakellaridis. I just want to point out a few things in your post that
      Message 2 of 9 , Jun 22, 2006
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        Dear Stan,
         
        I don't want to bore people by repeating the arguments we had last year about Sakellaridis. I just want to point out a few things in your post that I believe are inaccurate:
         
        1. You said, "Byzantine music can be set to Western notation. The melodic formulas, the scales, the modes, and the isons can all be followed." Yes, theoretically they can be followed, but in reality we see that Sakellaridis and his successors preserved none of these things.
         
        2. You also said, "This simplified chant also has the advantage of adapting to the English language easier than pure Byzantine music." I have found time and time again that pure Byzantine music has plenty of versatility to be applied to English texts. Of course, it is a challenge to follow the formulaic rules since there are thousands of them, but it is not at all impossible, as your wife knows. I think you should have said something like: "This simplified chant also has the advantage that it requires minimal knowledge of the fine art of traditional Byzantine chant, and thus many composers who have little respect and/or knowledge of Greek Orthodox musical traditions have found few difficulties in adapting hymns in English, whereas composers who strive to preserve the purity of Byzantine music when adapting hymns in English are faced by a great yet not insurmountable challenge."
         
        3. And you said, "a little dispensation is a good thing when it is needed to reach those of a different culture, and it is not unprecendented..." Of course, you are right, but we have to be careful not to cater to people's laziness. I suspect that a significant reason why Americans have not learned Byzantine music is not because they are intellectually incapable of doing so but because many of them are not willing to put forth the necessary effort. We could say the same thing about fasting: I'd say the majority of Orthodox Christians are healthy enough to keep the fasting rules strictly, but many don't because they are not willing to put forth the necessary effort. When the Roman Catholics saw that people were having difficulty keeping the fast, they decided to lower their standards to the point of nearly abolishing the fasts entirely. We could do the same thing with music and lower our standards, but there is much more to lose than to gain by doing so.
         
        Regarding cultural adaptations, if someone has a deep understanding of Orthodox traditions and respects and loves them, I won't worry if he adapts them to a new culture out of a pastoral need. But I worry when people who neither respect nor fully understand Orthodox traditions discard them simply because it is easier to do away with them.

         
        in Christ,
        +Fr. Ephraim
         


        On 6/22/06, Stan Takis <takistan@...> wrote:

        --- In byzantinechant@yahoogroups.com, "tasosnassis" <tasosnassis@...>
        wrote:

        > again, music is music, art is art, movies are movies, and literature
        > is literature. every human being can have an opinion on these
        > topics. and i believe that professional critics (western or other)
        > who devote their lives to a particular area of culture hopefully have
        > the skill, experience, and judgement to give us insights into these
        > areas. and the two people i mentioned defintely have huge
        > credibility...there's certain
        > characteristics that unite ALL artists.

        Dear Taso:

        Quite so. There ARE characteristics that unite all artists. But
        Byzantine music is very, very different than Western music. Yes, there
        is theory; there are scales and melodies and ornaments. But the main
        difference is in the interval tunings, ornaments, and the yphos. In my
        opinion, this puts Byzantine music on a completely different plain. It
        is not easy for American church goers, who usually do not attend
        Orthros, and even if they do, do not have a chanter to hear who knows
        the psaltic art, to understand Byzantine music or appreciate its
        edifying qualities. The result is they have basically shunned it in
        the services that they sing and have replaced it with the polyphonic
        Western music that they are more comfortable with.

        I know that Byzantine purists revile Sakellarides as a destroyer of
        Byzantine chant, but one thing he did in altering the melodies to fit
        Western notation and singing them in a Western, bel canto style, is he
        made them more accessible to American and Western European ears. One
        can certainly criticize this as creating a bastardized chant halfway
        between Byzantine and Gregorian, with none of the artistic qualities
        of either. One can also criticize his crude attempts at harmonization
        as not being artistic and leading more accomplished Western composers
        to harmonize in a more sophisticated way, thus creating a music even
        farther removed from the Byzantine tradition.

        On the other hand, it seems to me that Sakellarides' chant melodies,
        and others like it, if harmonized only by ison according to the rules
        of Byzantine musical theory, create a kind of chant easily adapted to
        and accepted by American and other English-speaking Orthodox
        worshipers. Byzantine music can be set to Western notation. The
        melodic formulas, the scales, the modes, and the isons can all be
        followed. What is lost are the microtunings and the yphos, which are
        not understandable to the average American. However, what is left,
        while not being pure, classical psaltiki, is useful for church
        worship. This is the kind of music we have introduced into two
        American churches, and after a few months of adapting to it, I have
        received countless comments from people who say they find it more
        spiritual and that it makes church-attending a more meaningful
        experience. This simplified chant also has the advantage of adapting
        to the English language easier than pure Byzantine music.

        To me, this means that simplified chant can't be all bad. I like to
        call it "New Byzantine Chant," because it employs the melodic
        formulas, scales, and isons of Byzantine, perhaps without the exact
        classical melodies, but to the exclusion of harmony, polyphony, and
        other Western musical conventions. This makes it quite effective for
        amplifying and illuminating the liturgical texts of worship. That
        can't be all bad.

        The needs of Orthodox people who grew up in a culture of English and
        Western music have to be addressed. It's easy to take a hard line and
        say just use pure Byzantine chant. It gives one the integrity of not
        being a compromiser in the matter of Orthodox tradition. It puts
        people on a high moral platform where they have license to criticize
        others for not being obedient to the received traditions and dogmas of
        the Orthodox Church. But in my view, a little dispensation is a good
        thing when it is needed to reach those of a different culture, and it
        is not unprecendented in the history of the living organism that is
        the Orthodox Church.

        Stan


      • Stan Takis
        Dear Papa Ephraim: While I certainly understand your arguments and respect your reasoning, I don t think this a problem of laziness. I never said Americans
        Message 3 of 9 , Jun 22, 2006
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          Dear Papa Ephraim:

          While I certainly understand your arguments and respect your
          reasoning, I don't think this a problem of "laziness." I never said
          Americans were intellectually incapable of understanding or
          appreciating Byzantine music. They can, and many do, and I would not
          want that to stop. What I believe is that to the overall population,
          it is extremely foreign to their upbringing, and generally, they have
          neither adopted it nor adapted to it, and they have a hard time doing
          so. It's not that they cannot, but in general, they don't understand
          why they should have to when they have a perfectly understandable form
          of music in their own culture. (I emphasize the "in general" part of
          this.)

          You say they do not respect or fully understand Orthodox traditions so
          they discard them. Perhaps you're right that the traditions you speak
          of are misunderstood, but this is NOT a situation where they
          disrespect Orthodox traditions. Sakellarides' melodies and harmonized
          music ARE their Orthodox tradition, and contrary to disrespect, they
          faithfully respect this tradition and work diligently to preserve it.
          You may say it is a false tradition or un-Orthodox, but don't try to
          tell them that. They say their Westernized musical tradition is just
          as legitimate as the Byzantine, so one cannot hold that they are
          disrespectful, and they cannot discard anything they never had. If
          anyone discarded it, it was in an earlier generation that knew the
          tradition. There will always be spiritually lazy people who don't put
          the effort into their faith, but this is true of all dogmas and for
          all time periods. I don't believe this is what we're talking about here.

          The Orthodox Church has always advocated the use of the vernacular
          language in its services. Why? Because of the need to understand the
          soul-saving words of the faith. They don't say to people, learn it in
          Greek and don't be lazy about it. Music is very much like a language.
          A foreign musical language is just as incomprehensible as a spoken
          language. Perhaps many will take the time to learn the Greek words and
          by doing so, will be spiritually enriched to understand the faith in
          the ancient language. But the majority will not, so a very careful
          rendering in the vernacular must be continued. The same thing applies
          to the musical vernacular.

          I have often said that some harmonized music can be appropriate for
          worship and some cannot--that music which is too worldly or
          theatrical. Similarly, I've heard Byzantine chant that was taken to
          the extreme and was more of a vehicle for the chanter to "show off"
          than to assist prayer. I believe that we can apply some Byzantine
          rules to the Westernized music and come up with a spiritual chant that
          Americans and other Western peoples can naturally grasp and be aided
          by, without theatricality and sensation.

          It may be true that pure Byzantine music has the versatility to be
          applied to English texts, but to the Western ear, does this enhance
          those texts or distract from them if it still sounds like a music they
          do not comprehend? I definitely agree that it's worth the effort to
          learn it, but that can be said of any worthy art or religious concept.
          But the religious efforts of most people are often directed a
          different way, or because we are humans, we are weak and our effort is
          feeble. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs shall be the
          kingdom of heaven." The entire reason music was introduced into the
          Church in the first place was because hymn-singing in heretical
          churches was drawing people out of the faith. The music shouldn't be a
          struggle for worshipers; it should be something accessible to THEM.

          No, Sakallarides did not "preserve" Byzantine music, but he did use
          the scales, isons, and formulas of Western music that are the CLOSEST
          to Byzantine music. That is something we can do to create a Western
          Orthodox chant that is easily learned. We don't HAVE to richly
          harmonize and add counterpoint all the time. A simple chant that
          combines Western notation, scale intervals, and singing style with
          Byzantine melodic formulas, modes, and ison harmonies, can create a
          very spiritual kind of music that is quickly accepted and appreciated
          by congregations.

          Indeed, pure Byzantine chant has been very rewarding to many, many
          Western Orthodox Christians. That's obvious; I've seen it in my own
          home. There's no reason that cannot continue and spread, and with the
          efforts of people such as you and Fr. Seraphim, it will continue. But
          in the meantime, there are masses of people who can benefit from the
          other that I propose and offer on my website. I really believe that,
          because I have seen it happen.

          Truly yours,

          Stan
        • Father Ephraim
          Dear Stan, My responses are below preceded by **** Dear Papa Ephraim: While I certainly understand your arguments and respect your reasoning, I don t think
          Message 4 of 9 , Jun 22, 2006
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            Dear Stan,

            My responses are below preceded by ****

             

            Dear Papa Ephraim:
            While I certainly understand your arguments and respect your
            reasoning, I don't think this a problem of "laziness." I never said
            Americans were intellectually incapable of understanding or
            appreciating Byzantine music.

             

            **** Neither did I. I suppose "laziness" was too harsh a word. My point was that an average person in America needs to spend a considerable amount of effort in order to be able to chant Byzantine music in the traditional style, whereas opening up "the green book" and singing its simplistic melodies is the path of least resistance. I am saying that this is one of the reasons why it and other such music is used in so many churches in America, but not the only reason.

             

            They can, and many do, and I would not
            want that to stop. What I believe is that to the overall population,
            it is extremely foreign to their upbringing, and generally, they have
            neither adopted it nor adapted to it, and they have a hard time doing
            so. It's not that they cannot, but in general, they don't understand
            why they should have to when they have a perfectly understandable form
            of music in their own culture. (I emphasize the "in general" part of
            this.)

            **** That sounds reasonable, but is there any part of America's music culture that is compatible with Orthodox worship? Besides, having a perfectly understandable form of music is just one of several characteristics that good ecclesiastical music should have. Most music by American pop singers is perfectly understandable, but that doesn't mean that we have found in this a suitable music for churches in America.


            You say they do not respect or fully understand Orthodox traditions so
            they discard them. Perhaps you're right that the traditions you speak
            of are misunderstood, but this is NOT a situation where they
            disrespect Orthodox traditions. Sakellarides' melodies and harmonized
            music ARE their Orthodox tradition, and contrary to disrespect, they
            faithfully respect this tradition and work diligently to preserve it.

            **** I sympathize with the plight of contemporary Greek Orthodox Americans who equate the traditional music of the Orthodox Church with "the green book." They are not to blame. I am pointing the finger at the composers who decades earlier knowingly and willfully broke away from mainstream Greek Orthodox musical traditions. Breaking away from well-established Orthodox traditions is dangerous, especially when it is done by people who don't respect and fully understand these traditions.

             

            You may say it is a false tradition or un-Orthodox, but don't try to
            tell them that.

             

            **** By all means I will tell them that! I will fearlessly tell them the facts about traditions of Orthodox music in the same way I would tell a Roman Catholic that some of his traditions are heretical. Of course, I would try to do so in a spirit of love and humility. The fact that Sakellaridis' music has been around for a century and that Roman Catholic heresies have been around for a millennium doesn't make them any more valid.

             

            ...The Orthodox Church has always advocated the use of the vernacular
            language in its services. Why? Because of the need to understand the
            soul-saving words of the faith. They don't say to people, learn it in
            Greek and don't be lazy about it. Music is very much like a language.
            A foreign musical language is just as incomprehensible as a spoken
            language. Perhaps many will take the time to learn the Greek words and
            by doing so, will be spiritually enriched to understand the faith in
            the ancient language. But the majority will not, so a very careful
            rendering in the vernacular must be continued. The same thing applies
            to the musical vernacular.

            **** This argument seems to make sense, but let me ask you this: Orthodox iconography in the Greek style or in the genuine (i.e., pre-Renaissance) Russian style is very foreign to American culture. Do you advocate that Orthodox Churches in America should "westernize" this tradition to make it more "understandable" to the average person? In other words, should we make the Church conform to our secular standards, or should we ourselves conform to the holy standards of the Church that have stood the test of time?


            ....The music shouldn't be a struggle for worshipers; it should be something accessible to THEM.

             

            **** So if it's harder to paint an icon in the traditional style and harder for Americans to appreciate such an icon, we should discard that style of iconography?

            Sakallarides did not "preserve" Byzantine music, but he did use
            the scales, isons, and formulas of Western music that are the CLOSEST
            to Byzantine music. That is something we can do to create a Western
            Orthodox chant that is easily learned...

             

            **** I can't agree that his music is the version that is closest to Byzantine music. He didn't have to add three-part harmonies. He didn't have to eliminate eighth notes and even quarter notes all over the place. He didn't have to massacre the formulaic rules, not to mention the orthographical rules. His simplifications reduced the grandeur and beauty of Byzantine chant to something that any fool could sing. If we reduced our iconography to something that any fool could paint, wouldn't it be a shame? Why must we assume that Byzantine music must undergo all these changes and simplications in the first place? In order to be accepted in a foreign country? Yet Byzantine music has flourished not only in the Balkans and in Syria, but even in Australia. Granted, if we were in some mission parish where there was no one talented enough to sing or to paint icons, we would have to be satisfied with whatever "fools" we could find to contribute. So for situations like this, I think it is good that we have simplistic hymnals available. But when we have the ability to offer something much better to God and His Church, I feel it is our duty to do so.
            in Christ,

            +Fr. Ephraim

          • Stan Takis
            Dear Papa Ephraim: ... one of ... in America, but not the only reason. You are right about this in terms of congregational singing. In fact, the Green Book was
            Message 5 of 9 , Jun 23, 2006
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              Dear Papa Ephraim:

              You wrote:

              >opening up "the green book" and singing its simplistic
              > melodies is the path of least resistance. I am saying that this is
              one of
              > the reasons why it and other such music is used in so many churches
              in America, but not the only reason.

              You are right about this in terms of congregational singing. In fact,
              the Green Book was so bad in terms of its English, it is what inspired
              Nancy to work so hard on correct English rendered correctly to the
              formula accent patterns. Most American choirs do not use the Green
              Book because it IS too easy. They use polyphonic versions of
              Sakellarides because it takes more effort and sounds more beautiful.

              >...having a
              > perfectly understandable form of music is just one of several
              > characteristics that good ecclesiastical music should have. Most
              music by
              > American pop singers is perfectly understandable, but that doesn't
              mean that
              > we have found in this a suitable music for churches in America.

              Well, that's why I say we should apply the Octoechos as closely as
              possible to Western scales, notation, language, and vocal style. This
              creates a simple, beautiful, and spiritual chant that can elevate
              worship in American churches.

              > By all means I will tell them that! I will fearlessly tell them the
              > facts about traditions of Orthodox music in the same way I would tell a
              > Roman Catholic that some of his traditions are heretical. Of course,

              Of course! I was using "but don't tell them that" as a figure of
              speech that conveys the idea that people hold fast to their beliefs.

              > but let me ask you this: Orthodox
              > iconography in the Greek style or in the genuine (i.e., pre-Renaissance)
              > Russian style is very foreign to American culture. Do you advocate that
              > Orthodox Churches in America should "westernize" this tradition to
              make it
              > more "understandable" to the average person? In other words, should
              we make
              > the Church conform to our secular standards, or should we ourselves
              conform
              > to the holy standards of the Church that have stood the test of time?

              I don't really see simplified chant as secular. Perhaps if we added a
              drumset and an electric guitar, it would be.

              One of our Greek ladies once told me that she did not like Byzantine
              iconography because as a little girl, the pictures scared her. At the
              time, our church had the Romanticized icons of the early 20th Century,
              and she wanted them left alone. Personally, I like Byzantine
              iconography, and I agree that if people learn about it, they will see
              its logic and stark beauty, as they would if they studied the chant.

              > So if it's harder to paint an icon in the traditional style and harder
              > for Americans to appreciate such an icon, we should discard that
              style of
              > iconography?...If we reduced our iconography to something that any >
              fool could paint, wouldn't it be a shame?

              I think we can take the analogy between icons and music too far. They
              are different in many ways. A person in the congregation only has to
              look upon icons, but he can take an active part in creating music by
              chanting responses and hymns. Hopefully, those who chant this
              "foolish" music are fools for Christ.

              > I can't agree that his music is the version that is closest to
              > Byzantine music. He didn't have to add three-part harmonies. He
              didn't have
              > to eliminate eighth notes and even quarter notes all over the place. He
              > didn't have to massacre the formulaic rules, not to mention the
              > orthographical rules.

              OK. "Closest" was a bad word to use. Right now, I think Nancy's
              simplified chant is the closest Western music to the Byzantine. She
              has always tried to correct Sakellarides' music when it strays from
              Byzantine rules.

              > Why must we assume that Byzantine music must undergo all these
              changes and
              > simplications in the first place?

              I tried to explain that in my last post as best I could.

              > Yet Byzantine music has flourished not only in the Balkans and in
              > Syria, but even in Australia.

              I hope it does flourish and flourish here as well. But we need music
              that speaks to the local culture in whatever country the Church takes
              root.

              Stan
            • Samuel Herron
              ... **** So this would show they are willing and capable to take on something more challenging and difficult than simplified, boring chant. Now it is up to
              Message 6 of 9 , Jun 23, 2006
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                Stan Takis wrote:

                Dear Papa Ephraim:

                You wrote:

                >opening up "the green book" and singing its simplistic
                > melodies is the path of least resistance. I am saying that this is
                one of
                > the reasons why it and other such music is used in so many churches
                in America, but not the only reason.

                You are right about this in terms of congregational singing. In fact,
                the Green Book was so bad in terms of its English, it is what inspired
                Nancy to work so hard on correct English rendered correctly to the
                formula accent patterns. Most American choirs do not use the Green
                Book because it IS too easy. They use polyphonic versions of
                Sakellarides because it takes more effort and sounds more beautiful.


                **** So this would show they are willing and capable to take on something more challenging and difficult than simplified, boring chant. Now it is up to those educated in Byzantine Music to direct that energy to learning correct Byzantine Music. Support from the hierarchs in this direction would also be ideal, but that isn't going to happen any time soon.


                >...having a
                > perfectly understandable form of music is just one of several
                > characteristics that good ecclesiastical music should have. Most
                music by
                > American pop singers is perfectly understandable, but that doesn't
                mean that
                > we have found in this a suitable music for churches in America.

                Well, that's why I say we should apply the Octoechos as closely as
                possible to Western scales, notation, language, and vocal style. This
                creates a simple, beautiful, and spiritual chant that can elevate
                worship in American churches.

                **** I understand why you want that, but Stan my question would be what is the proof it creates a simple, beautiful, and spiritual chant? That sounds more like conjecture. BM on the other hand is already established and ready to be taught, and there is proof that it is a simple, beautiful and spiritual chant.




                > but let me ask you this: Orthodox
                > iconography in the Greek style or in the genuine (i.e., pre-Renaissance)
                > Russian style is very foreign to American culture. Do you advocate that
                > Orthodox Churches in America should "westernize" this tradition to
                make it
                > more "understandable" to the average person? In other words, should
                we make
                > the Church conform to our secular standards, or should we ourselves
                conform
                > to the holy standards of the Church that have stood the test of time?

                I don't really see simplified chant as secular. Perhaps if we added a
                drumset and an electric guitar, it would be.

                One of our Greek ladies once told me that she did not like Byzantine
                iconography because as a little girl, the pictures scared her. At the
                time, our church had the Romanticized icons of the early 20th Century,
                and she wanted them left alone. Personally, I like Byzantine
                iconography, and I agree that if people learn about it, they will see
                its logic and stark beauty, as they would if they studied the chant.

                **** This seems to me more like an argument for BM. If the people listen and learn then eventually they will appreciate BM.


                > So if it's harder to paint an icon in the traditional style and harder
                > for Americans to appreciate such an icon, we should discard that
                style of
                > iconography? ...If we reduced our iconography to something that any >
                fool could paint, wouldn't it be a shame?

                I think we can take the analogy between icons and music too far. They
                are different in many ways. A person in the congregation only has to
                look upon icons, but he can take an active part in creating music by
                chanting responses and hymns. Hopefully, those who chant this
                "foolish" music are fools for Christ.

                **** They don't only look upon icons. They pray in front of them, ask the Saint in the icon for intercession etc., etc. Just like the music, the icons are more than to look pretty, as you know (I do not want this to come across as me enlightening you on something you didn't know :)). I also do want to say that I have visited many parishes and I do not find active, loud, or joyous congregational singing where these Polyphonic, Western choirs are. I guess I just don't see the singing along argument as valid because I don't think congregational participation is very widespread.


                > I can't agree that his music is the version that is closest to
                > Byzantine music. He didn't have to add three-part harmonies. He
                didn't have
                > to eliminate eighth notes and even quarter notes all over the place. He
                > didn't have to massacre the formulaic rules, not to mention the
                > orthographical rules.

                OK. "Closest" was a bad word to use. Right now, I think Nancy's
                simplified chant is the closest Western music to the Byzantine. She
                has always tried to correct Sakellarides' music when it strays from
                Byzantine rules.

                **** If Nancy's work was the widespread and most commonly used music in the GOA then I would be extremely happy. Hers is much more traditional than what is being used, but her work, unfortunately, is not in great circulation. I really wish it was because it is much more traditional and it would make a jump to real BM a very small jump, not a great leap. I admire her work very much.




                > Yet Byzantine music has flourished not only in the Balkans and in
                > Syria, but even in Australia.

                I hope it does flourish and flourish here as well. But we need music
                that speaks to the local culture in whatever country the Church takes
                root.


                **** I guess I just dont see how  simplified chant speaks to Americans better than BM done correctly in English. I guarantee the polyphonic music used now doesn't speak to American culture any better than BM because it is in Greek most of the time itself. That is what frustrates me and I think proves that the origins of this music is not evangelism to English speaking Americans, because doing the Doxology of Sakellerides in Tone 3 with organ accompaniment in Greek doesn't appeal to American culture or English Speakers in general at all.

                ~Sam


                Stan

              • Stan Takis
                Dear Samuel: When you talk about proof vs. conjecture, it is certainly NOT conjecture. My proof is my experience and insight. I have about 20 years in dealing
                Message 7 of 9 , Jun 23, 2006
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                  Dear Samuel:

                  When you talk about proof vs. conjecture, it is certainly NOT
                  conjecture. My proof is my experience and insight. I have about 20
                  years in dealing with all of this, and the statements I make are based
                  upon events and situation I have observed over that time. That may not
                  be proof enough for many, but sometimes that's all we have to go on as
                  we try to understand this life.

                  You wrote:

                  > So this would show they are willing and capable to take on
                  > something more challenging and difficult than simplified, boring chant.
                  > Now it is up to those educated in Byzantine Music to direct that energy
                  > to learning correct Byzantine Music. Support from the hierarchs in this
                  > direction would also be ideal, but that isn't going to happen any time
                  > soon.

                  I'm going to have to stop calling it simplified chant. I certainly
                  don't want to imply that it's boring! Really, the only thing simple
                  about it is that it has two parts instead of four, in regards to
                  polyphonic music, and in regards to Byzantine music, it is not as
                  ornamented, the yphos is different, and it doesn't have the
                  micro-tunings.

                  The latter two are the biggest problem for American choirs. I'm not
                  saying that they could not learn the microtunings and yphos, but it
                  would take a Herculean effort, much greater than learning polyphony.
                  And it's more complicated than that. In my experience, many Americans
                  are uncomfortable with the yphos and microtunings. They complain about
                  it, not only in general but to the priest. It bothers them. I have to
                  admit that this was the hardest thing I had to adjust to in listening
                  to chant. It always sounded unmusical and out of tune to my
                  Western-trained ears. Over the years, I have come to understand the
                  flavor the tunings and vocal quality give to the different modes, and
                  how something is lost when you use Western scales. But I have to
                  admit, I still don't appreciate it the way an experienced psalti does.
                  Most Westerners would not be motivated to take the time and effort to
                  learn to understand it in this way. And that's not out of laziness,
                  but out of a sense that they would not find it necessary.

                  > If the people listen
                  > and learn then eventually they will appreciate BM.

                  Some will, but most won't, in my opinion.

                  > They don't only look upon icons. They pray in front of them, ask
                  > the Saint in the icon for intercession etc., etc. Just like the music,
                  > the icons are more than to look pretty, as you know (I do not want this
                  > to come across as me enlightening you on something you didn't know :)).

                  Of course. When I said they only have to look upon icons, I meant they
                  didn't have to paint them.

                  > I also do want to say that I have visited many parishes and I do not
                  > find active, loud, or joyous congregational singing where these
                  > Polyphonic, Western choirs are. I guess I just don't see the singing
                  > along argument as valid because I don't think congregational
                  > participation is very widespread.

                  I think the polyphonic music inhibits congregational chanting, which
                  is why I favor chant for petitions, antiphons, apolytikia, and short
                  hymns. Polyphonic music kind of begs to be listened to. Congregational
                  singing is much easier with monophonic music or chant with ison.

                  > I guess I just dont see how simplified chant speaks to Americans
                  > better than BM done correctly in English. I guarantee the polyphonic
                  > music used now doesn't speak to American culture any better than BM
                  > because it is in Greek most of the time itself.

                  When most of the American polyphic music was written, choral music was
                  much more of a tradition in American culture. Even radio commercias
                  and TV comedy theme songs ("I Married Joan" for example, Roger Wagner
                  Chorale) were sung by polyphonic choirs. Today, Protestant and
                  Catholic churches are moving away from it and going to guitars and
                  rock bands. But what remains part of our culture are the Western
                  scales and vocal styles (until hip hop totally kills that as well, I
                  guess).

                  I think Byzantine music done correctly in English DOES speak clearly
                  to Americans, but its on different levels. More people would benefit
                  from it if it sounded like the music that is culturally part of their
                  thinking.

                  (BTW, I obviously appreciate and agree with your comments about
                  Nancy's adaptations.) We are looking forward to meeting you and
                  hearing you chant in Nashville. It will be an interesting contrast
                  against the modernistic Zervos liturgy setting.

                  Stan
                • Samuel Herron
                  Please forgive me for referring to it as boring, that was a sincere mistake of typing fast and trying to finish the email before going to work. Extremely bad
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jun 23, 2006
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                    Please forgive me for referring to it as boring, that was a sincere mistake of typing fast and trying to finish the email before going to work. Extremely bad word choice and truly wasn't meant.

                    Stan Takis wrote:

                    Dear Samuel:

                    When you talk about proof vs. conjecture, it is certainly NOT
                    conjecture. My proof is my experience and insight. I have about 20
                    years in dealing with all of this, and the statements I make are based
                    upon events and situation I have observed over that time. That may not
                    be proof enough for many, but sometimes that's all we have to go on as
                    we try to understand this life.

                    **** That is true, unfortunately I have not had your experience nor heard the simplified chant system you have in mind and have heard Byzantine music, so forgive me for saying it is conjecture. Once again, bad choice of words.


                    You wrote:

                    > So this would show they are willing and capable to take on
                    > something more challenging and difficult than simplified, boring chant.
                    > Now it is up to those educated in Byzantine Music to direct that energy
                    > to learning correct Byzantine Music. Support from the hierarchs in this
                    > direction would also be ideal, but that isn't going to happen any time
                    > soon.

                    I'm going to have to stop calling it simplified chant. I certainly
                    don't want to imply that it's boring! Really, the only thing simple
                    about it is that it has two parts instead of four, in regards to
                    polyphonic music, and in regards to Byzantine music, it is not as
                    ornamented, the yphos is different, and it doesn't have the
                    micro-tunings.

                    The latter two are the biggest problem for American choirs. I'm not
                    saying that they could not learn the microtunings and yphos, but it
                    would take a Herculean effort, much greater than learning polyphony.
                    And it's more complicated than that. In my experience, many Americans
                    are uncomfortable with the yphos and microtunings. They complain about
                    it, not only in general but to the priest. It bothers them. I have to
                    admit that this was the hardest thing I had to adjust to in listening
                    to chant. It always sounded unmusical and out of tune to my
                    Western-trained ears. Over the years, I have come to understand the
                    flavor the tunings and vocal quality give to the different modes, and
                    how something is lost when you use Western scales. But I have to
                    admit, I still don't appreciate it the way an experienced psalti does.
                    Most Westerners would not be motivated to take the time and effort to
                    learn to understand it in this way. And that's not out of laziness,
                    but out of a sense that they would not find it necessary.

                    > If the people listen
                    > and learn then eventually they will appreciate BM.

                    Some will, but most won't, in my opinion.

                    I think I have had a more positive and admittedly less experience in this area than you, so i believe that would explain why we disagree on this.


                    > They don't only look upon icons. They pray in front of them, ask
                    > the Saint in the icon for intercession etc., etc. Just like the music,
                    > the icons are more than to look pretty, as you know (I do not want this
                    > to come across as me enlightening you on something you didn't know :)).

                    Of course. When I said they only have to look upon icons, I meant they
                    didn't have to paint them.

                    **** Understood.


                    > I also do want to say that I have visited many parishes and I do not
                    > find active, loud, or joyous congregational singing where these
                    > Polyphonic, Western choirs are. I guess I just don't see the singing
                    > along argument as valid because I don't think congregational
                    > participation is very widespread.

                    I think the polyphonic music inhibits congregational chanting, which
                    is why I favor chant for petitions, antiphons, apolytikia, and short
                    hymns. Polyphonic music kind of begs to be listened to. Congregational
                    singing is much easier with monophonic music or chant with ison.

                    **** Well here we agree 100% then.


                    > I guess I just dont see how simplified chant speaks to Americans
                    > better than BM done correctly in English. I guarantee the polyphonic
                    > music used now doesn't speak to American culture any better than BM
                    > because it is in Greek most of the time itself.

                    When most of the American polyphic music was written, choral music was
                    much more of a tradition in American culture. Even radio commercias
                    and TV comedy theme songs ("I Married Joan" for example, Roger Wagner
                    Chorale) were sung by polyphonic choirs. Today, Protestant and
                    Catholic churches are moving away from it and going to guitars and
                    rock bands. But what remains part of our culture are the Western
                    scales and vocal styles (until hip hop totally kills that as well, I
                    guess).

                    **** I, of course, was not alive during this time nor have a studied it and nor have a studied when and where and why the polyphonic music in use was written so I will defer to you and thank you for the information. The American culture music I grew up with and hear now would find the polyphonic choirs just as foreign as chant.


                    I think Byzantine music done correctly in English DOES speak clearly
                    to Americans, but its on different levels. More people would benefit
                    from it if it sounded like the music that is culturally part of their
                    thinking.

                    **** I would agree with this but for me the cultural part that I want to reach would be English. I, as I stated earlier, have found that current American music doesn't have any elements that could then be used in Orthodoxy and BM really appeals to people who are searching because of its penitent and prayerful nature. If done in English with proper diction BM is the tool to really capture the people in America truly searching for the truth, IMHO. I advocate English constantly to the annoyance of my chanting teacher and priest and others because I find Greek to be useless in American parishes. That, I believe, more than any other issue is the key to bringing Orthodoxy to America and I also truly believe that the lack of good chanting materials in English AND (just as importantly) lack of psalti willing to do English has contributed much to the situation today. As a non Greek American born Orthodox Christian who was born in the Church I believe I have a unique perspective on it. I have no loyalty to the old country or to my ancestors or to the Greek language. I cannot stress enough how important and edifying it feels to hear properly done BM in ones own language. It truly is a unique spiritual experience that truly speaks to ones soul and this is what i have experienced and is why I advocate keeping the Byzantine Musical system but develop English chanting to it and with it.


                    (BTW, I obviously appreciate and agree with your comments about
                    Nancy's adaptations. ) We are looking forward to meeting you and
                    hearing you chant in Nashville. It will be an interesting contrast
                    against the modernistic Zervos liturgy setting.


                    **** It will be nice to meet you also and I look forward to speaking with you in person. I meant every word about your wifes work. I have been working on learning staff notation and have used her work to help me (since it is simpler) and I really do admire it. God bless.

                    ~Sam

                    Stan

                  • Stan Takis
                    ... any ... truly ... (just as ... Sam: I agree with you on the English. The problem is that the GOA had always been a church of immigrants for whom Greek was
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jun 23, 2006
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                      --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, Samuel Herron
                      <herron.samuel@...> wrote:

                      > I, as I stated earlier, have found that current
                      > American music doesn't have any elements that could then be used in
                      > Orthodoxy and BM really appeals to people who are searching because of
                      > its penitent and prayerful nature. If done in English with proper
                      > diction BM is the tool to really capture the people in America truly
                      > searching for the truth, IMHO. I advocate English constantly to the
                      > annoyance of my chanting teacher and priest and others because I find
                      > Greek to be useless in American parishes. That, I believe, more than
                      any
                      > other issue is the key to bringing Orthodoxy to America and I also
                      truly
                      > believe that the lack of good chanting materials in English AND
                      (just as
                      > importantly) lack of psalti willing to do English has contributed much
                      > to the situation today. As a non Greek American born Orthodox Christian
                      > who was born in the Church I believe I have a unique perspective on it.
                      > I have no loyalty to the old country or to my ancestors or to the Greek
                      > language. I cannot stress enough how important and edifying it feels to
                      > hear properly done BM in ones own language. It truly is a unique
                      > spiritual experience that truly speaks to ones soul and this is what i
                      > have experienced and is why I advocate keeping the Byzantine Musical
                      > system but develop English chanting to it and with it.

                      Sam:

                      I agree with you on the English. The problem is that the GOA had
                      always been a church of immigrants for whom Greek was native until the
                      last 30 years or so. Since then they've been exercising a juggling act
                      between the two languages. Bilingual liturgies never made sense to me,
                      since the liturgy is an entire work and if you only know one language,
                      you're only getting disconnected bits and pieces. What we do in St.
                      Clair Shores is alternate Greek and English every other week. Some of
                      the other language creeps in, but only at about 5-10% and mostly in
                      repetitive parts, so you do experience the entire liturgy in a single
                      language.

                      One nice thing about Nancy's music. If you know the Byzantine tunings
                      and formulas and employ them along with the yphos, it sounds just like
                      real Byzantine music. The Western notated score becomes like a jazz
                      chart, and you're not singing it exactly as written. If you don't
                      employ the Byzantine "sound factors," it's the chant I'm talking
                      about, which I like to call "New Byzantine." Sort of like New England
                      as opposed to England. It beats calling it simplified chant.

                      Stan
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