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Re: Why do we have choirs?

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  • kjlawrence@aol.com
    Hi Alexandros, ... While I am certainly no expert on Greek folk music, this statement is surprising to me. I d be interested to know what kind of polyphony
    Message 1 of 46 , May 31, 2007
      Hi Alexandros,

      You write:
      >I don't know much about those other countries you mentioned,
      >but Greece had polyphonic folk music for centuries before
      >Sakellarides and his predecessors in the 19th century harmonized
      >Byzantine music.

      While I am certainly no expert on Greek folk music, this statement
      is surprising to me. I'd be interested to know what kind of polyphony
      this would have been a couple hundred years ago.

      According to a book that I have on hand, *Ellinika Dimotika
      Tragoudia,* published in Athens in 1968 by the Greek Folklore
      Research Center:
      "Greek folk songs are monophonic, the only exceptions being the
      songs of certain regions of Epirus, both within the borders of
      present day Albania and in Greece." 


      "Greek folk music was written and published in the past in
      Byzantine (ecclesiastical) notation because of the elements
      found in common between the ecclesiastical and the folk
      music, and also because it was thought that folk melodies
      could best be transcribed in this notation."

      >I notice you didn't mention any of the countries around Jerusalem.
      >Is that because they never used polyphony?

      Arabic music is monophonic as a general rule.

      The comments quoted from Wikipedia are full of inaccuracies.
      They come across as if written by a high school student with
      minimal grasp of music history. It would be very tedious to detail
      the errors in this quote, but if you'd really like me to, I might be
      able to get to this tomorrow.


      See what's free at http://www.aol.com.
    • dananetherton
      ... (Responding late, sorry) Still assimilating ... could be, could be. At the same time, of course, Nia Vardolos fought off Hollywood attempts to change My
      Message 46 of 46 , Jun 1, 2007
        --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Stan Takis" <takistan@...>
        > --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "dananetherton" <dana@>
        > wrote:
        > > One practical benefit has to do with the shortage of skilled
        > > cantors.
        > >
        > > Another is (let's be frank) the opportunity it affords our devoted
        > > ladies to take an active role in the worship of the Church.
        > Dear Dana:
        > True. And let's not forget the assimilation issue. We are still
        > assimilating. The US is overwhelmingly Protestant and Catholic, and
        > there are many in our Orthodox Church who do not see why we cannot
        > be more like them.

        (Responding late, sorry)

        "Still assimilating" ... could be, could be. At the same time, of
        course, Nia Vardolos fought off Hollywood attempts to change "My Big
        Fat Greek Wedding" into something Jewish, or Italian -- because by gum
        she *didn't* want the distinctively *Greek-American* elements in her
        story to be assimilated into the generic "Mediterranean immigrant" story.

        And thanks to the clout that Rita Wilson (producer, and Tom Hanks's
        Greek-American wife -- on whose behalf *he* became Orthodox) had built
        up in Hollywood, she didn't have to.

        And Michael Constantine (for one) could finally *play* a Big Fat Role
        that is in his own ethnic background -- perhaps his 5th "Greek"
        character in a 35+ year career with 164 appearances (according to
        IMDB, <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0176073/>).

        This is consistent with what's happening with other ethnic groups in
        America: the byword is no longer "melting pot", getting melted into
        "Americans"; the byword is "diversity" and "heritage".

        So the assimilation process no longer has to go on to the point where
        visible Greek-ness (and visible Orthodoxy) disappears. The "Greek"
        part of "Greek-American" (and by extension the "Orthodox" part of
        "Greek Orthodox") no longer has to disappear in favor of the
        "American" part.

        Perhaps it's the younger generation (like Nia Vardolos and Rita
        Wilson) that recognizes this, and the older generation that still
        clings to the old model of assimilation?

        But it's true that assimilation has been part of the history. Back
        when I was regularly on Usenet, a cynical Greek-American who also
        regularly posted there asserted that the GOA would be gone in another
        generation or two -- as the young bail out to join the Protestant
        churches, while the old insist on using Greek-and-only-Greek.

        That mindset *can* cripple a parish -- I know an OCA parish in my
        metro area that nearly perished because of it (different ethnic, same

        Perhaps the younger generation -- those members who stick with the
        Church despite these frustrations -- will be the ones to break free of
        the "assimilation" approach to Orthodoxy. That's certainly the age
        range where I see interest in learning Chant. And it's certainly the
        age range where (in my own little parochial patch) I see zero interest
        in joining the choir.

        -- Dana Netherton
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