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New article on Chant vs. Harmony

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  • Stan T
    Dear List: I have written a new article, as I am periodically asked to do, for the newsletter of my home church, where I am the choir director. I m posting it
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 4, 2008
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      Dear List:

      I have written a new article, as I am periodically asked to do, for
      the newsletter of my home church, where I am the choir director. I'm
      posting it here so that anyone can read it and offer criticisms or
      suggestions before I publish it.

      You can read it at:

      http://www.newbyz.org/chant_vs_harmony.pdf

      Thanks,

      Stan
    • byzmusic
      Dear Stan, Your article looks fine for the most part, but the paragraph entitled The Use of the Organ has some inaccuracies. The Holy Fathers didn t condemn
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 4, 2008
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        Dear Stan,

        Your article looks fine for the most part, but the paragraph entitled
        "The Use of the Organ" has some inaccuracies. The Holy Fathers didn't
        condemn the organ in particular but instrumental music in general and
        especially in relation to its ecclesiastical use. The Byzantine
        musicologist Dr. Dimitri Conomos once told me that the Holy Fathers
        never condemned the use of organs in church for the same reason that
        they never condemned the use of horses in church: the idea would have
        been so absurd to them, that they never would have dreamed that such a
        thing could happen.

        Dr. Constantine Cavarnos wrote:
        "The Greek Church Fathers ruled out the execution of church music by
        means of instruments as well as the accompaniment of the chant by
        instruments, as incompatible with the sublime, spiritual character of
        the religion of Christ. Those who seek to justify the use of
        instrumental music in our churches call attention to the fact that in
        the Old Testament period musical instruments were used in public
        worship. However, St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen), St. John
        Chrysostom [PG 55:494-495], and other holy Church Fathers [St. Isidore
        of Pelusium, PG 78:628 and St. Theodoret of Cyrus, PG 80:1996] note
        that this practice was due to a concession of God by reason of the
        grossness of mind of the Old Testament people which rendered them
        incapable of appreciating a more refined kind of music, the purely
        vocal. Supporting the Patristic basis for excluding all man-made
        musical instruments in church is the consensus of great philosophers,
        such as Aristotle and Emerson, that the 'human voice is the best, most
        refined of all musical instruments.'"

        And St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1749-1809) confirmed St. John
        Chrysostom's interpretation of Amos 5:23 [vid. PG 48:853] by writing:
        "Since God rejected their [the Hebrews'] instruments—as He said
        through Amos: 'Remove from me the sound of thy songs, and I will not
        hear the music of thine instruments'—thenceforth we Christians execute
        our hymns only with the voice."

        In a footnote in the Rudder, St. Nicodemus quotes the following
        explanation by Patriarch Meletios Pegas (1549-1601) regarding this
        condemnation of instruments: "Excessive music, pursuing what is sweet
        beyond moderation fails to excite pleasure, but, on the contrary,
        tends to enervate. for it is on this account that only the human voice
        finds acceptance in the Church, on the ground that it is inherent in
        nature and unartificial, whereas percussions and efflations produced
        by instruments are sent packing by the divine Fathers on the ground
        that they are too artificial."

        Bearing all this in mind, I wouldn't agree with your statement that
        "It is hard to say how they [the Church Fathers] would have felt about
        the modern instrument that can be played softly as a support to the
        intonation of the singers." It seems clear from the above that they
        would have rejected any type of instrument used in church.

        in Christ,
        +Fr. Ephraim

        P.S. One other thing: I don't entirely agree with your statement that
        it is necessary "to dedicate a huge portion of his or her life to
        learn and practice this ancient ministry" of chanting Byzantine music.
        It does take a lot of time in the beginning of course, but once a
        person has reached a certain level of proficiency, it requires little
        or no time at all to continue. I can only speak for myself, but I can
        say that in the past 10 years, I have spent no more than a total of
        three hours preparing for things I would chant during the services.
      • Stan T
        Dear Papa Ephraim: Thanks very much for the comments. I only wanted to refer to organs, because there are thousands of people in the American Greek Orthodox
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 4, 2008
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          Dear Papa Ephraim:

          Thanks very much for the comments.

          I only wanted to refer to organs, because there are thousands of
          people in the American Greek Orthodox Church that have extreme
          opinions on that particular instrument, both for and against. I'll see
          if I can amend the article to be more historically accurate, but I
          know people wonder the specific thing I wrote about.

          I wonder if the grossness of mind of today's society has yet reached
          the level of the Old Testament people in regard to the capability of
          appreciating a more refined type of music. I had never heard of the
          word "efflation" before this, but I don't think that it's use is a
          slam dunk against supporting voices with a softly played organ. Also,
          seeing how the human voice is itself an instrument, I think the
          passage in Amos could also apply to it in regard to the "sound of thy
          songs."

          I always think it's wonderful when monks, who are really not worldly,
          give us a perspective on time and how we pass it. Perhaps it is not
          really a "huge portion of one's life" that a chanter gives up, but to
          the people I know, they are amazed that Nancy (or any other chanter)
          can spend all that time at Vespers, Orthros, funerals, weddings,
          weekday feasts, and everything else. Plus, on a personal note for her,
          it takes her days, sometimes weeks, to translate a simple hymn into
          English, when she wants to follow the model melody and create accurate
          and beautiful words at the same time.

          Stan


          --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "byzmusic" <frephraim@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Dear Stan,
          >
          > Your article looks fine for the most part, but the paragraph entitled
          > "The Use of the Organ" has some inaccuracies. The Holy Fathers didn't
          > condemn the organ in particular but instrumental music in general and
          > especially in relation to its ecclesiastical use. The Byzantine
          > musicologist Dr. Dimitri Conomos once told me that the Holy Fathers
          > never condemned the use of organs in church for the same reason that
          > they never condemned the use of horses in church: the idea would have
          > been so absurd to them, that they never would have dreamed that such a
          > thing could happen.
          >
          > Dr. Constantine Cavarnos wrote:
          > "The Greek Church Fathers ruled out the execution of church music by
          > means of instruments as well as the accompaniment of the chant by
          > instruments, as incompatible with the sublime, spiritual character of
          > the religion of Christ. Those who seek to justify the use of
          > instrumental music in our churches call attention to the fact that in
          > the Old Testament period musical instruments were used in public
          > worship. However, St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen), St. John
          > Chrysostom [PG 55:494-495], and other holy Church Fathers [St. Isidore
          > of Pelusium, PG 78:628 and St. Theodoret of Cyrus, PG 80:1996] note
          > that this practice was due to a concession of God by reason of the
          > grossness of mind of the Old Testament people which rendered them
          > incapable of appreciating a more refined kind of music, the purely
          > vocal. Supporting the Patristic basis for excluding all man-made
          > musical instruments in church is the consensus of great philosophers,
          > such as Aristotle and Emerson, that the 'human voice is the best, most
          > refined of all musical instruments.'"
          >
          > And St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1749-1809) confirmed St. John
          > Chrysostom's interpretation of Amos 5:23 [vid. PG 48:853] by writing:
          > "Since God rejected their [the Hebrews'] instruments—as He said
          > through Amos: 'Remove from me the sound of thy songs, and I will not
          > hear the music of thine instruments'—thenceforth we Christians execute
          > our hymns only with the voice."
          >
          > In a footnote in the Rudder, St. Nicodemus quotes the following
          > explanation by Patriarch Meletios Pegas (1549-1601) regarding this
          > condemnation of instruments: "Excessive music, pursuing what is sweet
          > beyond moderation fails to excite pleasure, but, on the contrary,
          > tends to enervate. for it is on this account that only the human voice
          > finds acceptance in the Church, on the ground that it is inherent in
          > nature and unartificial, whereas percussions and efflations produced
          > by instruments are sent packing by the divine Fathers on the ground
          > that they are too artificial."
          >
          > Bearing all this in mind, I wouldn't agree with your statement that
          > "It is hard to say how they [the Church Fathers] would have felt about
          > the modern instrument that can be played softly as a support to the
          > intonation of the singers." It seems clear from the above that they
          > would have rejected any type of instrument used in church.
          >
          > in Christ,
          > +Fr. Ephraim
          >
          > P.S. One other thing: I don't entirely agree with your statement that
          > it is necessary "to dedicate a huge portion of his or her life to
          > learn and practice this ancient ministry" of chanting Byzantine music.
          > It does take a lot of time in the beginning of course, but once a
          > person has reached a certain level of proficiency, it requires little
          > or no time at all to continue. I can only speak for myself, but I can
          > say that in the past 10 years, I have spent no more than a total of
          > three hours preparing for things I would chant during the services.
          >
        • Dana Netherton
          A few thoughts. 1. On instruments: I agree with Fr Ephraim that the prohibition strongly appears to relate to instruments, per se; not to organs in
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 4, 2008
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            A few thoughts.

            1. On instruments: I agree with Fr Ephraim that the prohibition strongly
            appears to relate to "instruments," per se; not to "organs" in particular.
            A quiet string quartet? A handbell choir? A kazoo band? Nix on 'em all,
            as far as I can see. :-)

            As a note of comparison, traditional (Orthodox) Jewish practice is to
            cantillate everything a capella: no instruments. Reform Judaism being
            kinda like a Protestant version of Judaism, Reform Jewish "temples" often
            do have organs -- and they're often the same clunky "electronic"
            appliances found in Greek Orthodox temples in the U.S.

            2. On harmony: I found the discussion here too Helleno-centric. The
            Slavic-heritage Orthodox churches have used harmonized music for several
            centuries now. Does this mean that they are non-Orthodox? (Of course not.
            But your presentation could be taken to imply that their status as
            "Orthodox" is open to question.)

            If you wish to address the *version* of harmony used by *GOA choirs*, by
            all means feel free to do so. But if you're going to offer a precis of
            the whole topic of harmonized liturgical music as a part of the article,
            then you really need to say so.

            For example: "Harmonized music has been used in the Russian Orthodox
            Church, and some other Eastern European Orthodox Churches, for several
            centuries; today it is accepted in those parishes as 'traditional Orthodox
            music.' However, the style of harmonized music used in GOA parishes has
            different origins and, some say, presents our parishes with some unique
            problems." (Then continue the discussion.)

            3. On the time required to learn Byzantine chant, here's my personal
            experience.

            I'm a married layman. I taught myself to chant, using CDs and printed
            materials from Fr Seraphim Dedes, at that time the abbot of the St Gregory
            Palamas Monastery in Ohio. I also used the "Reading Psalmodia"
            "dictionary" produced by David Melling (memory eternal) in January 2000.

            When I began to learn I practiced daily or nearly daily, singing along
            with Fr Seraphim's CD while I followed his printed music and referred to
            Melling's reference work. My sessions were usually about 30 to 40 minutes:
            I did it on my home treadmill.

            (I joke that I was helped by my triple cardiac bypass surgery, which kept
            me home, kept me idle-in-recuperation ... and also kept me using that
            treadmill, as part of my cardio rehabilitation program! I started
            seriously learning to chant about a month after the surgery.)

            True, I did not immediately break out in song. It was probably at least 6
            months before I began to feel confident enough to *start* to take some
            *simple* hymns during Sunday morning Matins. It was probably a couple of
            years before I began to feel *comfortable* with Sunday morning Matins.
            And Holy Week -- oy! -- way more so, of course.

            Still, eventually I did settle in. How long did it take, overall?

            Let's see. I had the surgery in March 2002. Started seriously learning in
            April 2002. It's now December 2008.

            So, no more than about 6 1/2 years ... and really more like about 5 years,
            maybe a little less.

            So. Must it require "a huge portion of his or her life to learn and
            practice this ancient ministry"? If I had started at 12 years, 5 years
            would seem like that! But I started at age 52. So 5 years hasn't seemed
            all that long to me, in retrospect.

            The 2 biggest obstacles I've personally see people encounter are these:

            1. Poor instruction. It is hugely tempting for a teacher to start with
            long boring "introductory/orientation" lectures. Big Mistake. Bores the
            students, and (worse yet) snuffs out their enthusiasm. A couple of
            summers ago at the (something something) conference at Holy Cross, Fr
            Seraphim experimented with a more sing-along style of learning. Not sure
            what came of that, but it sounds like a good direction to take.

            2. Student doesn't want to, strongly enough. This can be said of any
            adult who decides he/she tells people "I want to learn to play the piano",
            having had no musical instruction since elementary school. If the student
            doesn't want to learn it strongly enough ... if the student expects a
            "royal road" to mastery ... it ain't gonna happen. There will be this
            obstacle, or that obstacle.

            (Sheesh, that makes me think of my own lack of progress in learning the
            skill of praying effectively, per the Fathers. "Why are there no great
            staretzi, no great gerontes, like those of old? Because there are no great
            disciples." Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.)

            To all of this in my 3rd point, I'll add that the availability of
            resources for learning has changed dramatically since the 20th century.
            The sheer volume of English-language materials (for Byz chant) has
            expanded greatly since the turn of the new century. People who tried to
            learn chant before ~2000 or 2001 probably formed the impression you
            conveyed, Stan, and they were probably completely right to form that
            impression.

            But it's better now, I think. And it continues to get better still.

            Now that I'm in maintenance mode, as it were, my main source is here:
            <http://sgpm.goarch.org/ematins/main.htm>. This has English language
            texts for Matins on Sundays and a number of great feasts; it also has
            printed music as PDF files. In many cases, they're available in the
            notation of your choice (staff or Byz chant). In some other cases, it's
            one or the other. But it's a very rich resource, IMHO.

            Finally ...

            4. Bilingual services. Stan, you mentioned that it's jarring for the
            Greek to be chanted while the English is sung by a 4-part choir.

            I'll add something that's simply My Humble Opinion. :-) In my opinion,
            it's also jarring for the Greek psaltis to chant the traditional melodies,
            while the English psaltis chants different melodies that have been
            newly-composed to fit translations that cannot be sung to the traditional
            melodies.

            Thanks to Fr Seraphim's work, when I chant with my Greek psaltis, he and I
            are both "on the same page of music," as it were. He recognizes what I'm
            singing, I recognize what he's singing, we are able to sing and work
            together.

            Because he works largely from memory (knowing the music "by heart" as he
            does), if I sang unfamiliar music he would have to ignore me so that I
            would not distract him from the memory of the music he must chant.

            As a side note, I find it interesting that the chant specialists I see who
            have been willing to set aside the traditional melodies are largely lay
            people "in the world", men as well as women.

            And the monastics who have been gracious enough to help us
            English-speakers have largely tried to stay with the traditional melodies.

            Given that the greatest single shortage in American Orthodoxy (IMHO) is
            monastics and monasteries ... when they offer, I'm inclined to listen.

            But then, that's me. :-)

            -- Dana Netherton
          • Stan T
            Dana: I appreciate very much that you consistently take the time to offer a rich and detailed criticism. The article was addressed to members of the Greek
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 5, 2008
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              Dana:

              I appreciate very much that you consistently take the time to offer a
              rich and detailed criticism.

              The article was addressed to members of the Greek Church, but I did
              say in the article, "Harmonized music has managed to establish itself
              in many Orthodox churches around the world over the last few centuries."

              Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "huge" indescribing the
              investment of time for chanters, but look at it this way. If you live
              to be, say, 85, and you started chanting at 52, 5 years would be a
              considerable chunk of the 33 years you had left. At any rate, I did
              say "to learn and practice" and what I mean by "practice" was doing
              the job, not rehearsing for it.

              As far as construction goes, I think I made the same point you are
              making about the increased availability of self-learning materials. I
              just meant to say that there will be purists who object to this, and
              they may have a point, because you cannot count on the self-teaching
              abilities of all individuals. I say it's better than no instruction.

              I agree with your comments about English needing to be metered to the
              model melodies. This is what Nancy, despite being "in the world" does
              as well as Fr. Seraphim and HTM. (Actually, she's in her own world. I
              don't really think she knows what's happening outside of it.) Other
              translations are made by clerics or people who do not chant and do not
              take meter into consideration, as you point out, so when you try to
              chant them, you either cram them into the model melody, which, like
              Nancy says, is like trying to sing the words of "The Star-Spangled
              Banner" to the tune of "America the Beautiful," or you make up a new
              melody, which, I agree, is jarring and also defeats the system of
              having model melodies. Another problem with these translators is a lot
              of them are not very good writers, especially if English is not their
              native tongue.

              The extra point I made about that in the article is that translators
              not only have to worry about the rhythmic meter of the syllables, but
              they also have to make the language poetic and understandable from a
              standpoint of flow. If the poetry isn't there, the impact of the words
              lessens and doesn't stick with you. These texts are meant to have
              depth, so that they reveal more and more every time you hear them,
              lest without literary content, they become robotic repetitions. To me,
              the literary content of many English translations, even ones that are
              properly metered, is spotty. Some of the poetry comes out in the
              translations, but some has to be worked for, especially with irony.
              Some poetic devices, such as puns, might be impossible, but one has to
              try to do what one can do. Just the mere selection of words is
              important to the impact. If Shakespeare had written, "I wonder if I
              should kill myself?" instead of "To be or not to be, that is the
              question," then Hamlet would have been forgotten by the ages. If you
              call the Theotokos a "container," people are going to think of cans.
              Monks and monasteries are a wonderful gift to the Church and always
              have been. Now that we are faced with the task of re-writing the texts
              of our hymns into English, monasteries need to become hotbeds of
              English-language literature as well.

              Stan
            • kerxhalli@aol.com
              Dear Stan, As part of the Greek Orthodox Community, I have to say your article was really well written. I agree that the organ issue has our communities
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 5, 2008
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                Dear Stan,
                 
                As part of the Greek Orthodox Community, I have to say your article was really well written.  I agree that the organ issue has our communities divided, but each community should decide based on the talent of the parishioners within each parish.  If you do not have anyone who can play the organ, than the issue is automatically closed.  Most parishes cannot afford to hire a professional musician and few parishes will have someone among them with the capability.  Most of our parishes are then faced with the options of three/four-part harmony or classic Byzantine Chant.  Both are challenging!  Both are beautiful if executed well,  although three/four-part harmony in a Byzantine style is a skill that probably can be easier learned in the United States based on the fact that throughout our lives, traditional western music has been part of our secular culture.
                 
                Our A Cappella choir is using Nancy's three-part harmony, New Byzantine Chant music for the Divine Liturgy and the congregation absolutely loves it!  Among our parishioners (we are an 800 family parish, and we have recent immigrants, 3rd generations Americans, and converts) all absolutely love the arrangement.  We do have a Psalti that was trained in Greece as a youth and he is fabulous, but his skill level has been gained over a lifetime and he is in his 80s. No one can learn and match his skill level in a few short weeks as you well point out in your writings.   We also have an organist who accompanies our regular choir, but she is retiring and there is no one with her skill level in the community either (short of hiring a professional musician that is not Orthodox).  So you see my point in saying that each community should look to the talents of their parishioners when making a decision.
                Blessings,
                Christine Kerxhalli
                 
                In a message dated 12/5/2008 9:23:09 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, takistan@... writes:

                Dana:

                I appreciate very much that you consistently take the time to offer a
                rich and detailed criticism.

                The article was addressed to members of the Greek Church, but I did
                say in the article, "Harmonized music has managed to establish itself
                in many Orthodox churches around the world over the last few centuries."

                Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "huge" indescribing the
                investment of time for chanters, but look at it this way. If you live
                to be, say, 85, and you started chanting at 52, 5 years would be a
                considerable chunk of the 33 years you had left. At any rate, I did
                say "to learn and practice" and what I mean by "practice" was doing
                the job, not rehearsing for it.

                As far as construction goes, I think I made the same point you are
                making about the increased availability of self-learning materials. I
                just meant to say that there will be purists who object to this, and
                they may have a point, because you cannot count on the self-teaching
                abilities of all individuals. I say it's better than no instruction.

                I agree with your comments about English needing to be metered to the
                model melodies. This is what Nancy, despite being "in the world" does
                as well as Fr. Seraphim and HTM. (Actually, she's in her own world. I
                don't really think she knows what's happening outside of it.) Other
                translations are made by clerics or people who do not chant and do not
                take meter into consideration, as you point out, so when you try to
                chant them, you either cram them into the model melody, which, like
                Nancy says, is like trying to sing the words of "The Star-Spangled
                Banner" to the tune of "America the Beautiful," or you make up a new
                melody, which, I agree, is jarring and also defeats the system of
                having model melodies. Another problem with these translators is a lot
                of them are not very good writers, especially if English is not their
                native tongue.

                The extra point I made about that in the article is that translators
                not only have to worry about the rhythmic meter of the syllables, but
                they also have to make the language poetic and understandable from a
                standpoint of flow. If the poetry isn't there, the impact of the words
                lessens and doesn't stick with you. These texts are meant to have
                depth, so that they reveal more and more every time you hear them,
                lest without literary content, they become robotic repetitions. To me,
                the literary content of many English translations, even ones that are
                properly metered, is spotty. Some of the poetry comes out in the
                translations, but some has to be worked for, especially with irony.
                Some poetic devices, such as puns, might be impossible, but one has to
                try to do what one can do. Just the mere selection of words is
                important to the impact. If Shakespeare had written, "I wonder if I
                should kill myself?" instead of "To be or not to be, that is the
                question," then Hamlet would have been forgotten by the ages. If you
                call the Theotokos a "container," people are going to think of cans.
                Monks and monasteries are a wonderful gift to the Church and always
                have been. Now that we are faced with the task of re-writing the texts
                of our hymns into English, monasteries need to become hotbeds of
                English-language literature as well.

                Stan

              • Stan T
                Dear Christine: Yes. Nancy and I have spent most of our lives in small GOA communities in Michigan. Nancy splits her chanting time between Flint, Lansing, and
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 5, 2008
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                  Dear Christine:

                  Yes. Nancy and I have spent most of our lives in small GOA communities
                  in Michigan. Nancy splits her chanting time between Flint, Lansing,
                  and Muskegon. All of these parishes have small choirs with varying
                  levels of talent. None of them have trained chanters, which is why
                  Nancy serves them. In Lansing and Muskegon, there have been some local
                  women who want to learn to chant, and the self-help materials have
                  been useful, but of course, they do not yet result in a complete
                  education. It's kind of hit and miss. But the musical traditions of
                  most parishes are pretty well ingrained and perpetuated by very loyal
                  parishioners who do what they can to apply the knowledge and talents
                  that they have.

                  Stan

                  --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, kerxhalli@... wrote:
                  >
                  > Dear Stan,
                  >
                  > As part of the Greek Orthodox Community, I have to say your article
                  was
                  > really well written. I agree that the organ issue has our
                  communities divided,
                  > but each community should decide based on the talent of the
                  parishioners
                  > within each parish. If you do not have anyone who can play the
                  organ, than the
                  > issue is automatically closed. Most parishes cannot afford to hire a
                  > professional musician and few parishes will have someone among them
                  with the
                  > capability. Most of our parishes are then faced with the options
                  of three/four-part
                  > harmony or classic Byzantine Chant. Both are challenging! Both
                  are beautiful
                  > if executed well, although three/four-part harmony in a Byzantine
                  style is a
                  > skill that probably can be easier learned in the United States
                  based on the
                  > fact that throughout our lives, traditional western music has been
                  part of
                  > our secular culture.
                  >
                  > Our A Cappella choir is using Nancy's three-part harmony, New
                  Byzantine
                  > Chant music for the Divine Liturgy and the congregation absolutely
                  loves it!
                  > Among our parishioners (we are an 800 family parish, and we have
                  recent
                  > immigrants, 3rd generations Americans, and converts) all absolutely
                  love the
                  > arrangement. We do have a Psalti that was trained in Greece as a
                  youth and he is
                  > fabulous, but his skill level has been gained over a lifetime and
                  he is in his
                  > 80s. No one can learn and match his skill level in a few short
                  weeks as you
                  > well point out in your writings. We also have an organist who
                  accompanies our
                  > regular choir, but she is retiring and there is no one with her
                  skill level
                  > in the community either (short of hiring a professional musician
                  that is not
                  > Orthodox). So you see my point in saying that each community
                  should look to
                  > the talents of their parishioners when making a decision.
                  >
                  > Blessings,
                  > Christine Kerxhalli
                • Dana
                  ... In the sense of critique or constructive responses , rather than complaints , I hope! :-) ... Maybe another way to approach the matter could be like
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 12, 2008
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                    --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Stan T" <takistan@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Dana:
                    >
                    > I appreciate very much that you consistently take the time to offer
                    > a rich and detailed criticism.

                    In the sense of "critique" or "constructive responses", rather than
                    "complaints", I hope! :-)

                    > Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "huge" in describing the
                    > investment of time for chanters, but look at it this way. If you
                    > live to be, say, 85, and you started chanting at 52, 5 years would
                    > be a considerable chunk of the 33 years you had left. At any rate,
                    > I did say "to learn and practice" and what I mean by "practice" was
                    > doing the job, not rehearsing for it.

                    Maybe another way to approach the matter could be like this:

                    "It is relatively easy to join and sing in the mixed choirs that sing
                    at the Sunday Divine Liturgies of so many GOA parishes. For many
                    members of our congregations, the music is already very familiar. In
                    addition, the music sounds much like the music we hear all around us,
                    in America. Many who already sing well find that they can join a
                    choir and begin singing along without even reading the music.

                    "The music of Byzantine Chant is much less familiar to our
                    congregations, of course. There are also few (well, really no)
                    examples of this kind of music in America, outside our churches.
                    Therefore, people who would sing it must learn it. To learn it, they
                    must find teachers or teaching materials, and they must find time."

                    This might acknowledge that the choir's space is easier than the
                    psalterion, when it comes to just walking in and singing along ...
                    while not making Byz Chant sound like it's an impossible obstacle that
                    can be surmounted only by a superhuman effort. :-)

                    Constructive, I hope?

                    And btw I'm sorry that I wrote some passages in my earlier remarks in
                    ways that could be "heard" as criticisms/complaints about Nancy's
                    work. I have a lot of respect for her and for her work ... and for
                    your Metropolitan, who has clearly authorized her and encouraged her
                    to help your Metropolis so richly. And for you, Stan, and your
                    constructive efforts to enrich the Archdiocese by making her
                    materials, and other materials, widely available through your web site
                    and through this Group. Respect not just for the great deal of time
                    that you and Nancy each devote to your work, but for the care you each
                    take to see that the quality of your results is high.

                    Because of the sloppy way I wrote, I may have offended you. I did not
                    intend to, I do not wish to, and I apologize. I intended those
                    remarks as a discussion of matters of taste, so to speak. Having
                    "gotten on a roll" on the topic, I rolled on, alas.

                    De gustibus non disputandum.

                    "This music isn't mine." (Sometimes I just have to keep reminding
                    myself ... ) "This music isn't mine. :-)

                    -- Dana
                  • Stan T
                    ... No, Dana. I didn t take it that way. Nancy s mission is more about the words than the music. Her comments on music are exactly the same as Fr. Seraphim and
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 15, 2008
                    • 0 Attachment
                      --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Dana" <dana@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > And btw I'm sorry that I wrote some passages in my earlier remarks in
                      > ways that could be "heard" as criticisms/complaints about Nancy's
                      > work. I have a lot of respect for her and for her work ... and for
                      > your Metropolitan, who has clearly authorized her and encouraged her
                      > to help your Metropolis so richly. And for you, Stan, and your
                      > constructive efforts to enrich the Archdiocese by making her
                      > materials, and other materials, widely available through your web site
                      > and through this Group. Respect not just for the great deal of time
                      > that you and Nancy each devote to your work, but for the care you each
                      > take to see that the quality of your results is high.

                      No, Dana. I didn't take it that way. Nancy's mission is more about the
                      words than the music. Her comments on music are exactly the same as
                      Fr. Seraphim and Fr. Ephraim. She's more than excellent at using the
                      English language to do what she wants it to do, and she can make a
                      metered translation that flows logically and understandably and still
                      capture its deep poetic imagery. That's not easy to do, but that's
                      what has to be done, and not many are doing it.
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