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Re: Polyphony and Instruments in Church

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  • Stan Takis
    Dear Alexandros: First, before I critique this article, let me briefly state my practice on instrumental music and polyphony in the Church. My choir always
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 28, 2006
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      Dear Alexandros:

      First, before I critique this article, let me briefly state my
      practice on instrumental music and polyphony in the Church. My choir
      always chants, unaccompanied, heirmological things, such as litanies,
      antiphons, troparia, and megalynaria. The only time I use harmony with
      my choir is in papadic hymns, such as the Cherubic or Communion. (I
      will also use harmony during the distribution of Communion, even on a
      heirmological hymn such as "Tu Dhipnu Sou.") I only use the organ on
      long hymns where I feel the choir may lose pitch or place. The organ
      is not a feature, is played softly, and is only a support for the
      voices. I never use the organ for petitions, antiphons, or troparia.
      We take our pitch from the intoning of the priest. Most of these are
      either in Plagal Fourth or Second Tone. In Plagal Fourth, our ison is
      a fifth below the priest, and in Second Tone, it is the same pitch as
      the priest. We have two priests. One always hits Dhi on the right
      pitch. The other is usually lower and sometimes modulates unknowingly,
      but we follow him anyway. This creates a seamless dialogue between
      priest and people. We encourage congregational singing, so the choir
      sings simple chant melodies, (mostly those of Sakellarides), and the
      main purpose of our choir is the lead the congregation.

      I use harmony in the papadic hymns as a kind of kalophonia. My singers
      are not skilled enough to do a real Byzantine Cherubic hymn with all
      the long melismas and ornaments, so we ornament it with triads. We are
      able to do this. It also has the added advantage of giving those who
      are used to Western harmony and who favor it, a chance to actually use
      it in the Liturgy. I would say a big majority of American Greek
      Orthodox Christians feel that four-part harmony is their traditional
      Church music and they want to use it.

      We chant in both Greek and English, but since English is the language
      that almost everybody understands, I make sure that apolytikia and
      festal troparia and megalynaria always get an English rendition, even
      if it has to be repeated after the Greek.

      Now, as for the article, the thing I agree with him the most is the
      importance of the text when it comes to prayer and instruction. Most
      of the hymns of the Divine Liturgy fall into one of those two
      categories or incorporate elements of both. There are other hymns that
      are exhorations, e. g. "Let us lay aside all earthly cares," or
      "Praise the Lord in the highest." It is the exhortations that are
      usually found in the Papadic hymns, and for this reason, since they
      are not strictly prayer or instruction, and since they are familiar
      and repeated at every service, these words often do take a subordinate
      role to the music, which is made ornamental and elongated. At these
      times the music itself does take a primary role and there are reasons
      for this and an important place for it as well. The author of the
      article seems to think that music in and of itself has no role in the
      Liturgy, but I would take issue with this.

      Being from the Russian tradition, the author makes no comment on the
      terirems, or wordless chants, of the Byzantines. According to his
      arguments, they would have no place in worship. I also think the
      author treads on dangerous ground when he makes statements such as,
      "In the West, the text plays a subordinate role. This, it seems,
      appeared as a consequence of the ascetics of Roman Catholicism in
      general, and in particular, the spurning of the edifying aspect of
      Divine services." I would think Catholics would take serious offense
      at these statements, and I think they do border on an Orthodox
      condescension and a holier-than-thou attitude. In reality, all
      Catholic music, including contrapuntal polyphony, has a base of unison
      chant. In the Catholic chants, the text takes the predominant role.
      Polyphony, in Catholic churches, is an oramentation of the fundamental
      chant.

      As to pure, wordless instrumental music, it does not play a large role
      in ANY Christian church. If it exists, it is a side show. Even in the
      modern American Protestant "praise" services, the instruments
      accompany songs, in which the words are an important part, along with
      the styles of singing, which are supposed to inspire emotion and
      feelings of praise for God. In other words, it's not worth making an
      argument against it, because it just isn't found in 99.99% of Orthodox
      worship services. There have been plenty of Divine Liturgies written
      for Choir and Orchestra, but they are usually only performed at
      concerts, festivals, or auspicious occasions. They are really no
      threat to common worship.

      In the end, I feel the author goes to great lengths to delve into the
      psychology and anatomy of prayer and then tries to manufacture a
      scenario where instrumental music and polyphony are the antidotes to
      true spirituality and effective worship. I do not think he is
      convincing. The effect of music upon prayer and worship is really
      ineffable, and it's hard to make general statements about it. I think
      it's something that is also very much affected by the cultural climate
      in which it exists. We can make explanations and justifications for
      our Orthodox musical traditions and we can be very right about it. But
      when we start comparing it to other religions, denominations, or
      cultures, we can be way off in our assessments.

      I prefer to think of it in the way Metropolitan Maximos once said
      about the correctness of the Orthodox Church. He said, "We know where
      God is, but we do not know where He is not." It may be that for some
      people in this world, knowledge of God is in instrumental music or
      polyphony. As Orthodox Christians, we may not know this, because we
      KNOW God is in our chants and our hymnography, and upon that basis, we
      start to make assumptions about others. But even hell, which Orthodox
      theologians have described as a place where God is absent, was visited
      by the Lord on the second day after his crucifixion, so God can be
      anywhere he chooses to be.

      I only know that there is something God-like, in a triune way, in a
      musical triad. Three separate tones join together to form one unique
      sound. Take one tone away and the special creation is gone. Just as a
      Byzantine mode can be destroyed by adding chords, a triad is destroyed
      if one of the three notes is taken away. Polyphony is a natural
      phenomenon, based upon the overtone vibrations of any fundamental
      sound. Triads and even non-harmonic tones are a psychological part of
      every timbre--of every sound. They exist, even in monophony. They were
      created by God. Even though I am Orthodox and I respect the traditions
      of my Church, I do not think the author of this article has convinced
      me that there is no place for triads or other timbres in worship. In
      Second Chronicles, we read that both vocal and instrumental music had
      a crucial place in the tent that held the Ark of the Covenant. Psalm
      150 exhorts us to praise the Lord with harp, tambourine, trumpets, and
      stringed instruments. So there must be something about these that can
      edify the worshipers, even if they are not prescribed for the Orthodox
      Divine Liturgy.

      I think the author, who by the title of the work, is supposed to be
      speaking only of the Divine Liturgy, makes generalities and references
      to Western Christianity that belie his intentions, and place the use
      of instrumental music and polyphony on a much more universal basis,
      and that is why his arguments do not have the ring of truth for me.

      Stan
    • aalexandros888
      Dear Stan, It is true that the words becomes subordinate to the music in slow pieces such as the cherubic hymn, but this doesn t mean that we can allow just
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 29, 2006
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        Dear Stan,

        It is true that the words becomes subordinate to the music in slow
        pieces such as the cherubic hymn, but this doesn't mean that we can
        allow just any music for those pieces. If we examine the origin of
        the kind of polyphony used in the GOA, we will see that it is a
        direcet descendent of the harmonizations done in Vienna back in the
        early 1800s. In order to keep up with the latest fad, the Greeks in
        the two parishes there hired a German musician (who was definitely
        not orthodox, unless he was an orthodox Jew) to harmonize some hymns
        for them. Even though it was condemned by the Patriarchate and
        everyone else who respected true Greek Orthodox tradition, this trend
        spread to Paris and London, and later infiltrated its way into Greece
        with the support of the ruling kings of Greece, who were greatly
        influenced by Western European culture. What I'm trying to say is
        that anyone who claims that the music we do today in the GOA is "our
        own tradition" is either pitifully naive and/or incapable of
        discerning the difference between what is genuinely orthodox and what
        is not.

        You said: "I would say a big majority of American Greek Orthodox
        Christians feel that four-part harmony is their traditional Church
        music and they want to use it." To me this almost sounds as if you
        know they are wrong, but at the same time you are unwilling to be the
        bad guy that breaks the bad news to them. As a result you're
        inadvertently encouraging them to continue believing their delusion,
        instead of coming straight out at telling them the truth.

        You wrote: "My singers are not skilled enough to do a real Byzantine
        Cherubic hymn with all the long melismas and ornaments, so we
        ornament it with triads." You know your choir members better than I
        do so I will assume you are correct. But it does seem hard for me to
        believe that they wouldn't be able to learn even one single Byzantine
        cherubic hymn if you gave them a recording of it and then did the
        same one every Sunday until they got it right.

        The arguement that three-part music is symbolic of the Trinity in
        unity doesn't seem any more valid that an arguement claiming churches
        should be built three stories high. If this was a valid theological
        point, why did the great theologian Church Fathers miss it? It's not
        like they never heard a chord before.

        It is true that instruments were used in Old Testament worship, but
        several Holy Fathers agree that God was condescending to their
        immature spiritual state. Therefore, citing these excerpts from the
        Old Testament has no more validity for us than the dozens of other
        excerpts one could find regarding ancient Jewish practices that
        Christians no longer apply to their lives. But if you're trying to
        say that the majority of people in the GOA need instruments because
        of their spiritual immaturity, well you might have a point there. But
        if that is the case, we should at least have the honesty to admit
        that we are spiritually immature and not ready to follow the
        teachings of the Holy Fathers yet, rather than claim that organs
        are "our own tradition" that Byzantinophiles should respect.

        You wrote: "Polyphony is a natural phenomenon, based upon the
        overtone vibrations of any fundamental sound. Triads and even non-
        harmonic tones are a psychological part of every timbre--of every
        sound. They exist, even in monophony. They were created by God."
        There is a huge difference to the human ear between a chord and a
        single note that has overtones, although a computer might think they
        are the same thing since they would both have more than one peak in a
        spectrum analysis. This arguement and the previous arguement you
        presented by quoting the Old Testament practice, give me the
        impression that you are frantically trying to grasp any possible
        justification for polyphony no matter how far fetched it is. Let's
        just be honest and admit that the traditional practice of the Greek
        Orthodox Church is a capella monophony, and that instrumental
        polyphony is a heterodox innovation.

        One last thing, it is incorrect to say that the texts of papadic
        melodies are usually exhortations as opposed to prayers or
        instructions. If we look at the texts used for the communion hymns of
        feast days (all of which are traditionally chanted papadically) we
        will see several instances which are clearly prayers and
        instructions. For example, on Mid-Pentecost we sing: "He who eats my
        flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him, said the Lord."
        This is clearly an instructive text. On Monday of the Holy Spirit we
        sing the prayerful text: "Take not your Holy Spirit away from us, we
        pray, O Friend of Man." Besides, in the fifteenth century the entire
        Anastasimatarion was chanted to old sticheraric melodies, which have
        so many notes per syllable that we would label them as papadic.

        -Alexandros
      • byzmusic
        Dear Alexandros, You have some good arguments, but if you are implying that instruments could be allowed in Orthodox liturgical music as a concession, then I
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 29, 2006
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          Dear Alexandros,
          You have some good arguments, but if you are implying that
          instruments could be allowed in Orthodox liturgical music as a
          concession, then I would have to disagree with you. Using instruments
          in Orthodox worship is such a blatant break from tradition and so
          clearly opposed to the phronema of the Holy Fathers (as I mentioned
          in my article at:
          http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Intro3.htm )
          that I fail to see how it could be justified from a theological or
          spiritual point of view. I suppose there's nothing wrong with
          discreetly using a keyboard to help the choir start on the right
          pitch, but to actually play it is going a bit too far, in my opinion
          at least.
          in Christ,
          +Fr. Ephraim

          --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "aalexandros888"
          <aalexandros@...> wrote:
          >
          > Dear Stan,
          >
          > It is true that the words becomes subordinate to the music in slow
          > pieces such as the cherubic hymn, but this doesn't mean that we can
          > allow just any music for those pieces. If we examine the origin of
          > the kind of polyphony used in the GOA, we will see that it is a
          > direcet descendent of the harmonizations done in Vienna back in the
          > early 1800s. In order to keep up with the latest fad, the Greeks in
          > the two parishes there hired a German musician (who was definitely
          > not orthodox, unless he was an orthodox Jew) to harmonize some
          hymns
          > for them. Even though it was condemned by the Patriarchate and
          > everyone else who respected true Greek Orthodox tradition, this
          trend
          > spread to Paris and London, and later infiltrated its way into
          Greece
          > with the support of the ruling kings of Greece, who were greatly
          > influenced by Western European culture. What I'm trying to say is
          > that anyone who claims that the music we do today in the GOA
          is "our
          > own tradition" is either pitifully naive and/or incapable of
          > discerning the difference between what is genuinely orthodox and
          what
          > is not.
          >
          > You said: "I would say a big majority of American Greek Orthodox
          > Christians feel that four-part harmony is their traditional Church
          > music and they want to use it." To me this almost sounds as if you
          > know they are wrong, but at the same time you are unwilling to be
          the
          > bad guy that breaks the bad news to them. As a result you're
          > inadvertently encouraging them to continue believing their
          delusion,
          > instead of coming straight out at telling them the truth.
          >
          > You wrote: "My singers are not skilled enough to do a real
          Byzantine
          > Cherubic hymn with all the long melismas and ornaments, so we
          > ornament it with triads." You know your choir members better than I
          > do so I will assume you are correct. But it does seem hard for me
          to
          > believe that they wouldn't be able to learn even one single
          Byzantine
          > cherubic hymn if you gave them a recording of it and then did the
          > same one every Sunday until they got it right.
          >
          > The arguement that three-part music is symbolic of the Trinity in
          > unity doesn't seem any more valid that an arguement claiming
          churches
          > should be built three stories high. If this was a valid theological
          > point, why did the great theologian Church Fathers miss it? It's
          not
          > like they never heard a chord before.
          >
          > It is true that instruments were used in Old Testament worship, but
          > several Holy Fathers agree that God was condescending to their
          > immature spiritual state. Therefore, citing these excerpts from the
          > Old Testament has no more validity for us than the dozens of other
          > excerpts one could find regarding ancient Jewish practices that
          > Christians no longer apply to their lives. But if you're trying to
          > say that the majority of people in the GOA need instruments because
          > of their spiritual immaturity, well you might have a point there.
          But
          > if that is the case, we should at least have the honesty to admit
          > that we are spiritually immature and not ready to follow the
          > teachings of the Holy Fathers yet, rather than claim that organs
          > are "our own tradition" that Byzantinophiles should respect.
          >
          > You wrote: "Polyphony is a natural phenomenon, based upon the
          > overtone vibrations of any fundamental sound. Triads and even non-
          > harmonic tones are a psychological part of every timbre--of every
          > sound. They exist, even in monophony. They were created by God."
          > There is a huge difference to the human ear between a chord and a
          > single note that has overtones, although a computer might think
          they
          > are the same thing since they would both have more than one peak in
          a
          > spectrum analysis. This arguement and the previous arguement you
          > presented by quoting the Old Testament practice, give me the
          > impression that you are frantically trying to grasp any possible
          > justification for polyphony no matter how far fetched it is. Let's
          > just be honest and admit that the traditional practice of the Greek
          > Orthodox Church is a capella monophony, and that instrumental
          > polyphony is a heterodox innovation.
          >
          > One last thing, it is incorrect to say that the texts of papadic
          > melodies are usually exhortations as opposed to prayers or
          > instructions. If we look at the texts used for the communion hymns
          of
          > feast days (all of which are traditionally chanted papadically) we
          > will see several instances which are clearly prayers and
          > instructions. For example, on Mid-Pentecost we sing: "He who eats
          my
          > flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him, said the
          Lord."
          > This is clearly an instructive text. On Monday of the Holy Spirit
          we
          > sing the prayerful text: "Take not your Holy Spirit away from us,
          we
          > pray, O Friend of Man." Besides, in the fifteenth century the
          entire
          > Anastasimatarion was chanted to old sticheraric melodies, which
          have
          > so many notes per syllable that we would label them as papadic.
          >
          > -Alexandros
          >
        • Stan Takis
          Dear Alexandros, ... I m sure you know more about the history than I do, but let me just ask, where did kalophonia come from? It is agreed that it was an
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 29, 2006
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            Dear Alexandros,

            >It is true that the words becomes subordinate to the music in slow
            >pieces such as the cherubic hymn, but this doesn't mean that we can
            >allow just any music for those pieces. If we examine the origin of
            >the kind of polyphony used in the GOA, we will see that it is a
            >direcet descendent of the harmonizations done in Vienna back in the
            >early 1800s.

            I'm sure you know more about the history than I do, but let me just
            ask, where did kalophonia come from? It is agreed that it was an
            innovation of John Koukouzelis, isn't it? How do we know for sure that
            the source wasn't outside of Orthodoxy? I've read the stories of how
            Koukouzelis' mother sang him Bulgarian folk songs and the like when he
            was young. And what is exactly the conclusive evidence that there was
            no Turkish or Arabic influence on Byzantine chant since the fall of
            COnstantinople? Western European music derived from Gregorian chant,
            which, considering the dates of its origin, is an Orthodox Christian
            form of music, is it not?

            >anyone who claims that the music we do today in the GOA is "our
            >own tradition" is either pitifully naive and/or incapable of
            >discerning the difference between what is genuinely orthodox and what
            >is not.

            Well, then that naivete or incapability comes directly from the
            Church, because they grew up with that music and that's all they knew.
            It's a tradition to them because no priest or hierarch stood up and
            told them it wasn't. In fact the hierarchs of the GOA were praising
            left and right the Divine Liturgy music of this years Clergy-Laity
            Congress, a harmonization of Sakellarides which is the most
            Protestant-sounding one yet.

            Allow me to quote from the Liturgical Guidebook of some of the
            descriptions of Divine Liturgy arrangements offered to American Greek
            Orthodox Churches. Keep in mind that the National Forum does not write
            these descriptions. They are sent in by the composers and publishers.
            Also, when ther word "traditional" is used, it mostly means Sakellarides.

            For the Bogdanos liturgy:

            "Written for mixed chorus in the Byzantine modal ethos. SATB with some
            plain chant with ison or organ harmonic background..."

            For the Cardiasemos liturgy:

            "Traditional melodies...SATB...The setting is modal throughout. For
            the most part, the work has been written for a mixed choir of 4-6
            parts, with a few examples of chant with ison. The chant melody found
            in the primary Trisagion was constructed and composed based on 12th
            Century chant formulas and style, and then harmonized..."

            For the Desby liturgy:

            "Traditional material as a basis...The 'ethos' of each melody has been
            kept in mind in the harmonization in order to retain the modal
            characteristics. Except for a few chants with ison, the work has been
            written for a mixed choir of 4-6 parts..."

            For the George liturgy:

            "...based on traditional melodies. It also incorporates music by Dr.
            S. A. Spathis as arranged and adapted for any size mixed choir, with
            or without accompaniment...It opens in D, moves to G...and finishes in
            Eb..."

            For the Harmand liturgy:

            "This is a choral Liturgy, with some of the music adapted and arranged
            from Mozart. It has an organ part..."


            For the Kanaracus liturgy:

            "The first completely original setting of the Divine Liturgy composed
            in the U. S. Basic key is G major with excursions into related keys.
            Some attention is given to the Greek idea of 'ethos'..."

            For the Kypros liturgy:

            "Liturgy of Peace...Original music combines eastern and western
            musical flavors. SATB..."

            For the Rev. Mendrinos liturgy:

            "Choral Arrangements and Keyboard Accompaniment...This four-part
            accompaniment and choir arrangement follows page by page the Divine
            Liturgy Hymnal described under the Ernest Villas listing..."

            For the Revezoulis liturgy:

            "This Liturgy offers something out of the ordinary...The material is
            original...it incorporates various musical elements and styles: Greek
            liturgical music, Greek demotic music, and music of the Renaissance
            and Middle Ages. It is modal and has a chant-like quality. In general,
            it suggest the style of music of the early church. The setting is
            challenging."

            There's more, but I'm sure you get the idea. No one has told any of
            these people the "bad news."

            >To me this almost sounds as if you
            >know they are wrong, but at the same time you are unwilling to be the
            >bad guy that breaks the bad news to them. As a result you're
            >inadvertently encouraging them to continue believing their delusion,
            >instead of coming straight out at telling them the truth.

            I've never shied away from telling people my opinions in regards to
            Church music. I was also a history major in college (my other majors
            were humanities and music) and to me, history is just telling what has
            happened with no opinions stated, so sometimes I'm relating opinions
            and sometimes I'm relating history. My comments on American Greek
            Orthodox music are history. Are these people deluded? I don't know. I
            just know how they feel.


            >The arguement that three-part music is symbolic of the Trinity in
            >unity doesn't seem any more valid that an arguement claiming churches
            >should be built three stories high. If this was a valid theological
            >point, why did the great theologian Church Fathers miss it? It's not
            >like they never heard a chord before.

            I've heard this idea expressed before, although after I came up with
            it myself. I don't see anyting God-like in the idea of a three-story
            church. I do in a triad. It's one of my opinions.

            I'm not going to get into how spiritually immature you have to be to
            use instruments in worship. I'm also not going to try and pick and
            choose which parts of scripture we can ignore because they've been
            trumped by New Testament theologions. All I know is that the Psalms
            are an important part of Orthodox worship, and some of the psalms tell
            us to use instruments. Now, they don't specifically say we should use
            them in the Divine Liturgy. I'll give you that.

            >This arguement and the previous arguement you
            >presented by quoting the Old Testament practice, give me the
            >impression that you are frantically trying to grasp any possible
            >justification for polyphony no matter how far fetched it is. Let's
            >just be honest and admit that the traditional practice of the Greek
            >Orthodox Church is a capella monophony, and that instrumental
            >polyphony is a heterodox innovation.

            First, I don't think justification for the use of polyphony is
            far-fetched. It's obviously used quite a bit both in Orthodoxy and
            throughout Christendom. Also, I'm not frantic to justify anything. I'm
            perfectly relaxed about using modest, homophonic harmony occasionally
            with the Western-trained singers of my choir. I'm also relaxed about
            trying to teach them to chant, as miserably qualified as I am for that
            notwithstanding.

            >One last thing, it is incorrect to say that the texts of papadic
            >melodies are usually exhortations as opposed to prayers or
            >instructions...

            I didn't mean to imply that all of the papadic hymns in the lexicon
            are that way. I was only referring to the normal Sunday Divine Liturgy
            Cherubic and Communion hymns. The Divine Liturgy, actually, is the
            only service of the Orthodox Church that my choir is qualified to
            chant for.

            Respectfully,

            Stan


            Dear Papa Ephraim:

            >I suppose there's nothing wrong with
            >discreetly using a keyboard to help the choir start on the right
            >pitch, but to actually play it is going a bit too far, in my opinion
            >at least.

            Well, at least my organist doesn't improvise harmony if there isn't
            any. I instruct her just to play the melody and ison, and only on the
            longer and more difficult hymns. My choir has wonderful people, but
            they are mostly not formally trained in music. Regardless, I would not
            expect any less of an uncompromising position from you, and I truly
            find your consistency and integrity inspiring. Much as I would like to
            be, I cannot be like you in this matter. Pragmatism has solved many
            dilemmas for me regarding the modernists and the traditionalists.
            Sometimes compromise is not a bad thing, but I'm still trying to
            figure out when that is.

            Respectfully,

            Stan
          • Alexandros Andreou
            Dear Stan, Thanks for presenting all those quotes from the Liturgical Guidebook. It amazes me to see how so many of them want to claim that their music is
            Message 5 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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              Dear Stan,

              Thanks for presenting all those quotes from the Liturgical Guidebook. It
              amazes me to see how so many of them want to claim that their music is
              based on tradition, when in reality they disregard the basic tenets that
              make the Byzantine music tradition what it is. If we make a list of what
              aspects of traditional Greek Orthodox music they have kept and what they
              have discarded, I think it would go something like this:

              Kept:
              * The original words
              * The original melodic line (when in Greek)

              Discarded:
              * a capella singing
              * single melodic line with ison
              * traditional "hyphos" (style) of singing
              * traditional intervals and attractions
              * the eight modes
              * proper application of formulas (when in English)
              * traditional notation
              * traditional tempo

              With so many basic elements changed, it amazes me that they still have
              the audacity to claim that their music is still traditional and some of
              them even label their music as "Byzantine". It is about as absurd as
              calling a Native American Indian dance "based on tradition" even if it
              is done to the music of Michael Jackson, with strobe lights and electric
              guitars on MTV!

              > I'm sure you know more about the history than I do, but let me just
              > ask, where did kalophonia come from? It is agreed that it was an
              > innovation of John Koukouzelis, isn't it? How do we know for sure that
              > the source wasn't outside of Orthodoxy? I've read the stories of how
              > Koukouzelis' mother sang him Bulgarian folk songs and the like when he
              > was young. And what is exactly the conclusive evidence that there was
              > no Turkish or Arabic influence on Byzantine chant since the fall of
              > COnstantinople? Western European music derived from Gregorian chant,
              > which, considering the dates of its origin, is an Orthodox Christian
              > form of music, is it not?

              We could say that the roots of the classical music of Bach, Mozart,
              Beethoven, etc. can be traced back through the Baroque, Renaissance, and
              Medieval periods into Gregorian and other forms of (Orthodox) Christian
              chants. But in the exact same way we could also say that the roots of
              Pentecostalism can be traced back through Protestantism and Roman
              Catholicism back to Orthodoxy. Does this mean that we Orthodox can
              incorporate Pentecostal traditions without harm? Of course not. Does
              this mean we can incorporate classical music traditions without harm? Of
              course not.

              As far as the liturgical arts of Orthodoxy are concerned, change is
              inevitable. I am not scandalized by the fact that the so-called
              Byzantine music we do today is different than what was chanted in
              Byzantium 1500 years ago. Nor am I scandalized to see that so-called
              Byzantine iconography of today has a different style than the icons
              written 1500 years ago. The same applies to styles in liturgical dress,
              church architecture, etc. But I am scandalized when I see that there is
              a sudden break in tradition done by a small minority in the Church. So
              when I see an "orthodox" church that looks weirder than a flying saucer,
              I am scandalized. When I see an "orthodox" icon that looks like a
              Renaissance painting, I am scandalized. And when I hear an "orthodox"
              liturgy based on Mozart with organ and all, I am scandalized.

              We are not in a position to say precisely how Bulgarian St. John
              Koukouzelis' music is or exactly how Turkish neo-Byzantine music is. But
              it is comforting to know that the church as a whole accepted those
              developments. It is equally discomforting to know that while Greek
              Orthodoxy as a whole has rejected instruments and polyphony, the Greek
              Orthodoxy in America has immortalized the fad of Western influence that
              was rabid in Greece in the early 20th century. Greece was fortunate to
              have strong spiritual leaders with a deep understanding of tradition so
              as to help people get over that fad and return to traditional
              iconography and liturgical music. America has been unfortunate to lack
              such spiritual leaders, which is why we are still 60 years behind the
              times, sort of like in a time capsule. Thank God, we have caught on in
              terms of Byzantine iconography. All that we need now is to return to our
              traditional musical roots as well.

              > I'm also not going to try and pick and
              > choose which parts of scripture we can ignore because they've been
              > trumped by New Testament theologions. All I know is that the Psalms
              > are an important part of Orthodox worship, and some of the psalms tell
              > us to use instruments.

              Fortunately, the Orthodox Church has not left it up to us to pick and
              choose which parts of the Old Testament are applicable today. In regards
              to this verse in the Psalms and the use of instruments, we can rely on
              the opinions of St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St.
              Isidore of Pelusium, St. Theodoret of Cyrus, and the Rudder itself. We
              can't call ourselves Orthodox if we choose to interpret a verse in
              scripture while ignoring their unanimous opinion of it. Protestant yes,
              Orthodox no.

              -Alexandros
              --
              Alexandros Andreou
              aalexandros@...

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            • Stan Takis
              Dear Alexandros: ... If the Church could accept the non-Orthodox contributions to the liturgical music of the Turks and the Bulgars, why can t it accept the
              Message 6 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                Dear Alexandros:

                You wrote:

                >We are not in a position to say precisely how Bulgarian St. John
                >Koukouzelis' music is or exactly how Turkish neo-Byzantine music is.
                >But it is comforting to know that the church as a whole accepted those
                >developments.

                If the Church could accept the non-Orthodox contributions to the
                liturgical music of the Turks and the Bulgars, why can't it accept the
                musical descendants of Gregorian chant? Or am I just not understanding
                you here?

                Stan
              • Alexandros Andreou
                Dear Stan, It is one thing for the Orthodox Church to allow subtle influences from heterodox music and another thing entirely for her to abruptly discard her
                Message 7 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                  Dear Stan,

                  It is one thing for the Orthodox Church to allow subtle influences from
                  heterodox music and another thing entirely for her to abruptly discard
                  her own traditional music and to adopt heterodox music virtually
                  unchanged. As I demonstrated in my list of things kept and discarded,
                  most contemporary composers in the GOA throw out the window almost every
                  aspect of traditional Greek Orthodox music. They keep only the bare
                  necessities (and occasionally not even that!) If we were able to make a
                  comparable list of things kept and discarded by the Church musicians
                  under the Turkish yoke, we would probably see that out of those ten
                  aspects I listed, only two of them (at most) might have changed: the
                  hyphos of singing and perhaps the tonal attractions. I will pass over in
                  silence the arguement by Ballindras that it was Turkish music that was
                  influenced by Byzantine music rather than vice-versa. So even if we
                  concede the point that these two aspects changed, that is still only two
                  out of ten aspects. But in the case of those contemporary GOA composers,
                  EIGHT out of ten aspects are changed. Therefore, the two instances are
                  completely different phenomena, and one cannot justify the latter by
                  citing the former.

                  But even if they were comparable, the bottom line is that the Church as
                  a whole DID accept the supposed Bulgarian and Turkish influences, while
                  the Church as a whole has NOT accepted the importation of Western
                  European music. And I don't think it ever will, considering that it
                  directly contradicts the phronema of all those saints I mentioned. On
                  the other hand, the subtle Bulgarian or Turkish influences (that some
                  people claim affected Byzantine chant) were never condemned by the
                  Church or by her saints.

                  -Alexandros


                  On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 19:51:38 -0000, "Stan Takis" <takistan@...>
                  said:
                  > Dear Alexandros:
                  >
                  > You wrote:
                  >
                  > >We are not in a position to say precisely how Bulgarian St. John
                  > >Koukouzelis' music is or exactly how Turkish neo-Byzantine music is.
                  > >But it is comforting to know that the church as a whole accepted those
                  > >developments.
                  >
                  > If the Church could accept the non-Orthodox contributions to the
                  > liturgical music of the Turks and the Bulgars, why can't it accept the
                  > musical descendants of Gregorian chant? Or am I just not understanding
                  > you here?
                  >
                  > Stan
                  >
                  >
                  --
                  Alexandros Andreou
                  aalexandros@...

                  --
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                  wherever you are
                • Stan Takis
                  Dear Alexandros: Right. The only thing is, up until 1054 the Church as a whole included Western Europe, and by then the Western European musical tradition
                  Message 8 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                    Dear Alexandros:

                    Right. The only thing is, up until 1054 the "Church as a whole"
                    included Western Europe, and by then the Western European musical
                    tradition was already moving in another direction from that of the
                    East. The eventual flowering of Western European music was probably
                    more influenced by its history up to 1054 rather than any heretical
                    theological influences of the Roman Catholics and Protestants.

                    Stan
                  • Alexandros Andreou
                    Dear Stan, Those statements of yours are very misleading. First, it would be rather simplistic to believe that everything in the West until 1053 was perfectly
                    Message 9 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                      Dear Stan,

                      Those statements of yours are very misleading.

                      First, it would be rather simplistic to believe that everything in the
                      West until 1053 was perfectly Orthodox, and everything after 1054 was
                      Roman Catholic. The heresies of the filioque, papal supremacy, etc., had
                      been brewing in the West for centuries before they culminated in the
                      Great Schism in 1054.

                      Second, if we research the history of ecclesiastical polyphony, we will
                      see that it wasn't until the 11th and 12th centuries that it starting
                      developing. Likewise, if we look into the history of the use of
                      instruments in church, we will again see that, according to the Catholic
                      Encylcopedia: "For almost a thousand years Gregorian chant, without any
                      instrumental or harmonic addition, was the only music used in connection
                      with the liturgy."

                      The fact that polyphony and instruments start getting their "foot in the
                      door" of church around the same time as the Great Schism is no
                      coincidence, and this fact strengthens my arguement that these aspects
                      of worship are foreign to genuine Orthodoxy.

                      -Alexandros

                      On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 22:27:17 -0000, "Stan Takis" <takistan@...>
                      said:
                      > Dear Alexandros:
                      >
                      > Right. The only thing is, up until 1054 the "Church as a whole"
                      > included Western Europe, and by then the Western European musical
                      > tradition was already moving in another direction from that of the
                      > East. The eventual flowering of Western European music was probably
                      > more influenced by its history up to 1054 rather than any heretical
                      > theological influences of the Roman Catholics and Protestants.
                      >
                      > Stan
                      >
                      --
                      Alexandros Andreou
                      aalexandros@...

                      --
                      http://www.fastmail.fm - I mean, what is it about a decent email service?
                    • Stan Takis
                      Dear Alexandros: Well, you are right about that. The Church did not become schismatic over night. It took a couple of hundred years or more. I still think the
                      Message 10 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                        Dear Alexandros:

                        Well, you are right about that. The Church did not become schismatic
                        over night. It took a couple of hundred years or more. I still think
                        the music is shaped by the language more than the theology and the
                        differences between Latin and Greek are the main reasons for the
                        differences in the two chants and subsequent elaborations.

                        It would be interesting to see what would happen, in terms of music,
                        if reconciliation did occur, as Pope Benedict indicated this week, it
                        is one of his primary goals.

                        By the way, don't you find it odd that the mainstream media is
                        ignoring the real reason for the pope's trip to Istanbul and is
                        billing it as a clash of "cultures," i. e. Catholicism vs. Islam?
                        There is hardly any mention of it as a mission of Christian
                        reconciliation, which, in a historical sense, would be a much larger
                        story.

                        Stan
                      • Alexandros Andreou
                        If language was a primary factor in shaping the music, it wouldn t have taken them 1000 years to realize that Latin is supposedly more compatible with
                        Message 11 of 12 , Nov 30, 2006
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                          If language was a primary factor in shaping the music, it wouldn't have
                          taken them 1000 years to realize that Latin is supposedly more
                          compatible with polyphony and instruments. The fact that both Greek and
                          Latin can be set to either polyphony or monophony and can be sung either
                          a capella or with instruments leads me to believe that language has
                          little to do with their adoption of polyphony and instruments. It seems
                          to be much more expressive of their cultural tastes, which is evident
                          also in the style of art the Latins prefer. The sensuous art of the
                          Renaissance period matches their sensuously elaborate music.
                          But don't get me started on the Patriarch's spineless betrayal of
                          Orthodoxy with all his polite words to the Pope implying that the
                          Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches are equal "sisters". It takes
                          someone with the guts of a confessor (like St. Mark of Ephesus, St.
                          Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, or St. Nectarios of Aegina to name a
                          few) to condemn Roman Catholicism as the heresy it really is. Too bad
                          St. Cosmas of Aitolos isn't around, since he was the one who warned
                          people: "Curse the Pope, because he will be the cause [for the end to
                          come]"!
                          -Alexandros

                          On Fri, 01 Dec 2006 02:24:01 -0000, "Stan Takis" <takistan@...>
                          said:
                          > Dear Alexandros:
                          >
                          > Well, you are right about that. The Church did not become schismatic
                          > over night. It took a couple of hundred years or more. I still think
                          > the music is shaped by the language more than the theology and the
                          > differences between Latin and Greek are the main reasons for the
                          > differences in the two chants and subsequent elaborations.
                          >
                          > It would be interesting to see what would happen, in terms of music,
                          > if reconciliation did occur, as Pope Benedict indicated this week, it
                          > is one of his primary goals.
                          >
                          > By the way, don't you find it odd that the mainstream media is
                          > ignoring the real reason for the pope's trip to Istanbul and is
                          > billing it as a clash of "cultures," i. e. Catholicism vs. Islam?
                          > There is hardly any mention of it as a mission of Christian
                          > reconciliation, which, in a historical sense, would be a much larger
                          > story.
                          >
                          > Stan
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > Yahoo! Groups Links
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          --
                          Alexandros Andreou
                          aalexandros@...

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