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Re: [greekorthodoxmusic] Degrees of Westernization

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  • mgrallis@aol.com
    Stan: To teach the modes of Greek Orthodox Ecclesiastical Chant, you must first know the modes.?? Western notation can serve as a rough approximation, but it
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 10, 2009
      Stan:

      To teach the modes of Greek Orthodox Ecclesiastical Chant, you must first know the modes.   Western notation can serve as a rough approximation, but it is the passing of the art of chant from one human to another that is really important.  The human voice and ear and brain, are easily capable of discerning and learning much more than the whole and half-step scales represented in Western music notation.  So, to me, the written form of a hymn is not so much the point, as is what is communicated from psalti or choir director to the choir.  If the one teaching or directing has taken the pains, and been blessed, to have received an experiential education in Chant from one qualified to pass it along,  then they will be able to communicate by demonstration, and by the experience of worship using Traditional Chant, what the modes are about, and what Greek Orthodox Chant is about. Likewise, if this experiential educations is lacking, then whether Western notation or Byzantine notation is used, the full spiritual power that Greek Orhodox Chant provides to our hymnology and worship will be missing. My life experience is that we are much farther from "throwing in the towel" on the Byzantine modes than we were in the early 1970's, when I had my first exposure to Traditional Chant.  I belive that there is a "grass-roots" revival of our Traditional Greek Orthodox Chant, fueled not so much by theoretical arugment as be the experience of worhship where Chant is done well.  Interestingly,  youth, high-schoolers, college students, and converts often are the most interested in what Chant can do for our experience of worship, and can even help us gray-haired choir people re-discover our own musical roots.

      mike rallis








      -----Original Message-----
      From: Stan T <takistan@...>
      To: greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 10:50 am
      Subject: [greekorthodoxmusic] Degrees of Westernization

      In the new National Forum's Liturgical Guidebook Companion, there are
      several fimis for the various hierarchs. These are arranged in Greek
      by Dr. Nick Maragos using staff notation. Of course, just using staff
      notation means a Westernization of the hymns, because Western
      musicians look upon staff notation differently than Byzantine
      musicians look at Byzantine notation. Byzantine notation has symbols
      of quality built right into the neumes.

      But Dr. Maragos has further Westernized the music by changing the
      isokratima of these Second Tone hymns. (Maragos also transposed these
      hymns up a step, so that while most people place the Byzantine note
      Dhi on the Western staff's G, Maragos has it on A. To make my points,
      I will transpose everything back down to where most people know the
      pitches to be.)

      These heirmological (one-note-per- syllable) hymns are in the Second
      Tone where the melody is centered on G (Dhi) and final cadences
      resolve on E (Vou), with ultimate final cadences on G. The ison is
      usually on G and sometimes on E when the cadence is on E, but Dr.
      Maragos places the ison on C, moving to G for certain phrases. Without
      harmonizing the hymns, Dr. Maragos has effectively set them in the Key
      of C Major (transposed up to D, as I indicated above).

      I don't think that Maragos does this out of ignorance. I think he
      chooses to do it this way as a further Westernization of the music.
      It's easier for Western-trained singers to picture Second Tone
      melodies in C, rather than the mode they were written in. So, while I
      understand what Maragos is doing, I wonder if perhaps he should have
      just gone ahead and written in the parallel thirds below the melody
      and make a complete harmonization. What he wrote on the lower staff is
      not really an "ison," although he identifies it as such.

      Since I also take Greek Orthodox hymns and put them into staff
      notation, (meaning I Westernize them), I try to minimize the degree of
      Westernization. When setting hymns, I try to create an ison that is
      closer to Byzantine music. My question for this forum is whether or
      not this is the correct approach. I know many advocates of Church
      music would say it is not correct to use staff notation at all. But I
      feel that staff notation WILL be used whether we like it or not, and
      if so, should we just throw in the towel on the Byzantine modes and
      put everything into major and minor, or should we try to preserve as
      many basic elements of the Octoechos as we can?

      Your thoughts, please.

    • Stan T
      Mike, throwing in the towel is just exactly what Dr. Maragos did by changing the tonal center of the melody. Giving a Second Tone melody an ison of Ni just
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 10, 2009
        Mike, throwing in the towel is just exactly what Dr. Maragos did by
        changing the tonal center of the melody. Giving a Second Tone melody
        an ison of Ni just turns it into C major without the benefit of any
        melodic notes on C. You could add microtunings, ornaments, and all
        kinds of communication from the choir director, and it still wouldn't
        be Second Tone. I think, at least, if you put the right ison in and
        the basic formulaic structure, then you stand a chance of passing on
        the art of chant, but it's impossible with Dr. Maragos' arrangements.

        --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, mgrallis@... wrote:
        >
        > Stan:
        >
        > To teach the modes of Greek Orthodox Ecclesiastical Chant, you must
        first know the modes.?? Western notation can serve as a rough
        approximation, but it is the passing of the art of chant from one
        human to another that is really important.? The human voice and ear
        and brain, are easily capable of discerning and learning much more
        than the whole and half-step scales represented in Western music
        notation.? So, to me,?the written form of a hymn is not so much the
        point, as is what is communicated from psalti or choir director to the
        choir.? If the one teaching or directing has taken the pains, and been
        blessed, to have received an experiential education in Chant from one
        qualified to pass it along,? then they will be able to communicate by
        demonstration, and by the experience of worship using Traditional
        Chant, what the modes are about, and what Greek Orthodox Chant is
        about. Likewise, if this experiential educations is lacking, then
        whether Western notation or Byzantine notation is used, the full
        spiritual power?that Greek Orhodox Chant provides to our?hymnology and
        worship will be missing. My life experience is that we are much
        farther from "throwing in the towel" on the Byzantine modes than we
        were in the early 1970's, when I had my first exposure to Traditional
        Chant.? I belive that there is a "grass-roots" revival of our
        Traditional Greek Orthodox Chant, fueled not so much by theoretical
        arugment as be the experience of worhship where Chant is done well.?
        Interestingly,? youth, high-schoolers, college students, and converts
        often are the most interested in what Chant can do for our experience
        of worship, and can even help us gray-haired choir people re-discover
        our own musical roots.
        >
        > mike rallis
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Stan T <takistan@...>
        > To: greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 10:50 am
        > Subject: [greekorthodoxmusic] Degrees of Westernization
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > In the new National Forum's Liturgical Guidebook Companion, there are
        > several fimis for the various hierarchs. These are arranged in Greek
        > by Dr. Nick Maragos using staff notation. Of course, just using staff
        > notation means a Westernization of the hymns, because Western
        > musicians look upon staff notation differently than Byzantine
        > musicians look at Byzantine notation. Byzantine notation has symbols
        > of quality built right into the neumes.
        >
        > But Dr. Maragos has further Westernized the music by changing the
        > isokratima of these Second Tone hymns. (Maragos also transposed these
        > hymns up a step, so that while most people place the Byzantine note
        > Dhi on the Western staff's G, Maragos has it on A. To make my points,
        > I will transpose everything back down to where most people know the
        > pitches to be.)
        >
        > These heirmological (one-note-per-syllable) hymns are in the Second
        > Tone where the melody is centered on G (Dhi) and final cadences
        > resolve on E (Vou), with ultimate final cadences on G. The ison is
        > usually on G and sometimes on E when the cadence is on E, but Dr.
        > Maragos places the ison on C, moving to G for certain phrases. Without
        > harmonizing the hymns, Dr. Maragos has effectively set them in the Key
        > of C Major (transposed up to D, as I indicated above).
        >
        > I don't think that Maragos does this out of ignorance. I think he
        > chooses to do it this way as a further Westernization of the music.
        > It's easier for Western-trained singers to picture Second Tone
        > melodies in C, rather than the mode they were written in. So, while I
        > understand what Maragos is doing, I wonder if perhaps he should have
        > just gone ahead and written in the parallel thirds below the melody
        > and make a complete harmonization. What he wrote on the lower staff is
        > not really an "ison," although he identifies it as such.
        >
        > Since I also take Greek Orthodox hymns and put them into staff
        > notation, (meaning I Westernize them), I try to minimize the degree of
        > Westernization. When setting hymns, I try to create an ison that is
        > closer to Byzantine music. My question for this forum is whether or
        > not this is the correct approach. I know many advocates of Church
        > music would say it is not correct to use staff notation at all. But I
        > feel that staff notation WILL be used whether we like it or not, and
        > if so, should we just throw in the towel on the Byzantine modes and
        > put everything into major and minor, or should we try to preserve as
        > many basic elements of the Octoechos as we can?
        >
        > Your thoughts, please.
        >
      • Apostolos Combitsis
        Stan, Although my own philosophy is teach em Greek, and teach em Byzantine notation , unfortunately this isn t going to happen anytime soon. So, we
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 10, 2009
          Stan,

          Although my own philosophy is "teach 'em Greek, and teach 'em
          Byzantine notation", unfortunately this isn't going to happen anytime
          soon. So, we transcribe to Western notation.

          I strongly suggest that everyone alter their mentality to simply think
          of western notation as a "tool"; that is, as another written form of
          conveying melodic phrases (albeit from another musical system) rather
          than as a method of expression. As far as I'm concerned, western
          notation does NOT have any expressiveness built into it. However, as
          you pointed out, expressiveness is found and is built into the
          Byzantine neumes. To satisfy the hard-heads and not give anybody a
          stroke by putting Byzantine notation in front of them, we transcribe
          the Byzantine to western.

          The goal is, first and foremost, to convey the MELODY (along with the
          appropriate isokratima) on the western staff, and second (a very, very
          DISTANT second, I might add) to convey the "expression" of the
          qualitative symbols of the Byzantine notation on the western staff.

          I have found that doing the second thing is extremely difficult, to
          the point where the resulting script is so convoluted - saturated with
          an abundance of 16th and even 32nd notes sometimes - that it becomes
          practically impossible to read. This is why that is a "very very
          distant" goal. Singing is singing.... chant originates from within
          and is expressed by the soul, manifesting itself into sound at the
          vocal cords. This is why it is so CRUCIAL for a student of Byzantine
          Music to sit next to a competent teacher for a number of years.

          With all due respect to Dr. Maragos, he made a major error in putting
          isokratima for Second Mode on D (that is, his transposed D). This
          means that we hold NH as the ison for Second Mode. Of course, this is
          incorrect. There is no excuse for this. You try to justify his
          actions by stating, "I don't think that Maragos does this out of
          ignorance. I think he chooses to do it this way as a further
          Westernization of the music. It's easier for Western-trained singers
          to picture Second Tone melodies in C, rather than the mode they were
          written in." This, to me, is completely UNACCEPTABLE. Second Mode is
          Second Mode. Period. End of story. To give the "western-trained
          singers" a "feel-good" compromise by adapting to THEIR picture of
          Second Mode is not only inexcusable, but it is WRONG, and I believe
          Nick knows better. We are, therefore, NOT teaching Byzantine Music,
          we are NOT adhering to the tradition of this musical system, and
          consequently, my argument of the National Forum NOT supporting
          Byzantine Music continues to hold water. I know Nick Maragos through
          telephone conversations, and I greatly admire his work with the
          Guidebook, of which I'm one of the proofreaders and I know he's one of
          the "officers" of the National Forum. He should NOT, however, be
          altering the musical system "just because"......

          I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but at a time where traditionalism is
          coming under fire by some people because of their laziness, because
          they want to be "spoon-fed", or because they think in their limited
          way that Byzantine Music is just a disguised version of Turkish music
          and we have to make it sound "normal" (whatever THAT means), SOMEBODY
          has to speak up. If I were Mr. Maragos, I would change my
          compositions as soon as is humanly possible, lest someone say that I
          didn't do my homework.

          Apostolos



          --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Stan T" <takistan@...> wrote:
          >
          > In the new National Forum's Liturgical Guidebook Companion, there are
          > several fimis for the various hierarchs. These are arranged in Greek
          > by Dr. Nick Maragos using staff notation. Of course, just using staff
          > notation means a Westernization of the hymns, because Western
          > musicians look upon staff notation differently than Byzantine
          > musicians look at Byzantine notation. Byzantine notation has symbols
          > of quality built right into the neumes.
          >
          > But Dr. Maragos has further Westernized the music by changing the
          > isokratima of these Second Tone hymns. (Maragos also transposed these
          > hymns up a step, so that while most people place the Byzantine note
          > Dhi on the Western staff's G, Maragos has it on A. To make my points,
          > I will transpose everything back down to where most people know the
          > pitches to be.)
          >
          > These heirmological (one-note-per-syllable) hymns are in the Second
          > Tone where the melody is centered on G (Dhi) and final cadences
          > resolve on E (Vou), with ultimate final cadences on G. The ison is
          > usually on G and sometimes on E when the cadence is on E, but Dr.
          > Maragos places the ison on C, moving to G for certain phrases. Without
          > harmonizing the hymns, Dr. Maragos has effectively set them in the Key
          > of C Major (transposed up to D, as I indicated above).
          >
          > I don't think that Maragos does this out of ignorance. I think he
          > chooses to do it this way as a further Westernization of the music.
          > It's easier for Western-trained singers to picture Second Tone
          > melodies in C, rather than the mode they were written in. So, while I
          > understand what Maragos is doing, I wonder if perhaps he should have
          > just gone ahead and written in the parallel thirds below the melody
          > and make a complete harmonization. What he wrote on the lower staff is
          > not really an "ison," although he identifies it as such.
          >
          > Since I also take Greek Orthodox hymns and put them into staff
          > notation, (meaning I Westernize them), I try to minimize the degree of
          > Westernization. When setting hymns, I try to create an ison that is
          > closer to Byzantine music. My question for this forum is whether or
          > not this is the correct approach. I know many advocates of Church
          > music would say it is not correct to use staff notation at all. But I
          > feel that staff notation WILL be used whether we like it or not, and
          > if so, should we just throw in the towel on the Byzantine modes and
          > put everything into major and minor, or should we try to preserve as
          > many basic elements of the Octoechos as we can?
          >
          > Your thoughts, please.
          >
        • Stan T
          ... Just to be clear, Apostolo, I was not trying to justify what Dr. Maragos did, but guessing as to why he did it. I do not agree with it, and I think it s
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 11, 2009
            --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Apostolos Combitsis"
            <apostolos@...> wrote:

            > With all due respect to Dr. Maragos, he made a major error in putting
            > isokratima for Second Mode on D (that is, his transposed D). This
            > means that we hold NH as the ison for Second Mode. Of course, this is
            > incorrect. There is no excuse for this. You try to justify his
            > actions by stating, "I don't think that Maragos does this out of
            > ignorance. I think he chooses to do it this way as a further
            > Westernization of the music. It's easier for Western-trained singers
            > to picture Second Tone melodies in C, rather than the mode they were
            > written in." This, to me, is completely UNACCEPTABLE.

            Just to be clear, Apostolo, I was not trying to justify what Dr.
            Maragos did, but guessing as to why he did it. I do not agree with it,
            and I think it's too bad that the Guidebook Companion will be going
            out to all the parishes in the country with these glaring errors. I
            always try to put in the correct isons, even if I'm transcribing
            Sakellarides.

            Now if Dr. Maragos were harmonizing the Second Tone, the key of C is a
            logical choice, I suppose. But he was only arranging melody with ison.

            Stan
          • Apostolos Combitsis
            Stan, I understood you completely, and I know that you are not in agreement with it. Once I get my copy, I will analyze the music and I may send an e-mail to
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 11, 2009
              Stan,

              I understood you completely, and I know that you are not in agreement
              with it. Once I get my copy, I will analyze the music and I may send
              an e-mail to Vicky regarding this.

              To his defense, however, perhaps Dr. Maragos never intended for his
              compositions to be pure Byzantine Chant. But how can he claim this?
              The Second Mode melody lines of these "fimi's" (which everyone knows
              practically by heart) have become "standard", so to speak. Why NOT
              compose it as Byzantine chant and therefore do it RIGHT??

              You see, this is precisely what I and a whole lot of other trained
              chanters are screaming about: the National Forum has made the
              assumption that, just because they are the "official" musical
              organization of the Archdiocese, that qualifies them to dictate policy
              regarding Byzantine chant. These compositions by Dr. Nick (an
              official representative of the National Forum) have been published in
              the Guidebook (an official publication of the National Forum) and are
              now deemed "official renderings" (by some people, anyway) of how they
              should be sung/chanted.

              And the Archdiocese, which has NO official representation from the
              standpoint of the cantors and of Byzantine Music in general, sits back
              and does nothing.

              I will refrain from making any further comment on this, but suffice it
              to say, you KNOW how I feel about it.

              Apostolos


              --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Stan T" <takistan@...> wrote:
              >
              > --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Apostolos Combitsis"
              > <apostolos@> wrote:
              >
              > > With all due respect to Dr. Maragos, he made a major error in putting
              > > isokratima for Second Mode on D (that is, his transposed D). This
              > > means that we hold NH as the ison for Second Mode. Of course, this is
              > > incorrect. There is no excuse for this. You try to justify his
              > > actions by stating, "I don't think that Maragos does this out of
              > > ignorance. I think he chooses to do it this way as a further
              > > Westernization of the music. It's easier for Western-trained singers
              > > to picture Second Tone melodies in C, rather than the mode they were
              > > written in." This, to me, is completely UNACCEPTABLE.
              >
              > Just to be clear, Apostolo, I was not trying to justify what Dr.
              > Maragos did, but guessing as to why he did it. I do not agree with it,
              > and I think it's too bad that the Guidebook Companion will be going
              > out to all the parishes in the country with these glaring errors. I
              > always try to put in the correct isons, even if I'm transcribing
              > Sakellarides.
              >
              > Now if Dr. Maragos were harmonizing the Second Tone, the key of C is a
              > logical choice, I suppose. But he was only arranging melody with ison.
              >
              > Stan
              >
            • Stan T
              As a member of the National Forum, I think that it does not help our credibility if, when transcribing chant to staff notation, we don t at least try to
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 11, 2009
                As a member of the National Forum, I think that it does not help our
                credibility if, when transcribing chant to staff notation, we don't at
                least try to represent the mode correctly. Traditional Greek Orthodox
                ecclesiastical music will always outlive any auxiliary organizations
                such as ours, and we must recognize the fact that any attempt to alter
                the centuries-old rubrics of music in our Church will ultimately fail,
                and will just cause more lost years of confusion and errors.
                Harmonization is a completely different issue with its own set of
                debate topics, but we should be able to come to consensus on the most
                basic aspects of our ecclesiastical chant which can be represented by
                staff notation. I think Jessica Suchy-Pilalis' upcoming formula book
                or a transcription of Papa Ephraim's book will help this. When we do
                get these resources, they should become the standard for all staff
                notation adaptations of chant melodies.

                --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Apostolos Combitsis"
                <apostolos@...> wrote:
                >
                > Stan,
                >
                > I understood you completely, and I know that you are not in agreement
                > with it. Once I get my copy, I will analyze the music and I may send
                > an e-mail to Vicky regarding this.
                >
                > To his defense, however, perhaps Dr. Maragos never intended for his
                > compositions to be pure Byzantine Chant. But how can he claim this?
                > The Second Mode melody lines of these "fimi's" (which everyone knows
                > practically by heart) have become "standard", so to speak. Why NOT
                > compose it as Byzantine chant and therefore do it RIGHT??
                >
                > You see, this is precisely what I and a whole lot of other trained
                > chanters are screaming about: the National Forum has made the
                > assumption that, just because they are the "official" musical
                > organization of the Archdiocese, that qualifies them to dictate policy
                > regarding Byzantine chant. These compositions by Dr. Nick (an
                > official representative of the National Forum) have been published in
                > the Guidebook (an official publication of the National Forum) and are
                > now deemed "official renderings" (by some people, anyway) of how they
                > should be sung/chanted.
                >
                > And the Archdiocese, which has NO official representation from the
                > standpoint of the cantors and of Byzantine Music in general, sits back
                > and does nothing.
                >
                > I will refrain from making any further comment on this, but suffice it
                > to say, you KNOW how I feel about it.
                >
                > Apostolos
              • Parsons Stephen
                So here I am a non-Greek convert, a chanter, completely familiar with Western notation from piano training. I ve learned Byzantine notation and the modal (for
                Message 7 of 13 , Feb 11, 2009
                  So here I am a non-Greek convert, a chanter, completely familiar with Western notation from piano training. I've learned Byzantine notation and the modal (for Stan) system well enough that I automatically adjust -- when I can and not feel out of place -- the western notes and structure of the melody to add a pestaste here, a half-flat there (trombone training helps there :). Keep teaching them Greek and Byzantine notation. It'll stick on some.

                  Steve
                • Father Ephraim
                  ... If contemporary Greek Orthodox composers in America depart from Byzantine music traditions primarily out of ignorance of those traditions, then having
                  Message 8 of 13 , Feb 12, 2009
                    On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 9:55 AM, Stan T <takistan@...> wrote:
                    ...we should be able to come to consensus on the most
                    basic aspects of our ecclesiastical chant which can be represented by
                    staff notation. I think Jessica Suchy-Pilalis' upcoming formula book
                    or a transcription of Papa Ephraim's book will help this. When we do
                    get these resources, they should become the standard for all staff
                    notation adaptations of chant melodies.
                     
                    If contemporary Greek Orthodox composers in America depart from Byzantine music traditions primarily out of ignorance of those traditions, then having those formulas in staff notation could make a tremendous difference, especially if those composers are willing to redo their previous works. But if their departure from tradition stems from a lack of appreciation of the value of Byzantine music traditions, then I'm afraid having those formulas in staff notation won't make much of a difference.
                    +Papa Ephraim
                     
                  • byzmusic
                    ... I just had a few more thoughts about this: In this day and age, when it is politically incorrect to claim to be right and to claim that someone else is
                    Message 9 of 13 , Feb 13, 2009
                      > If contemporary Greek Orthodox composers in America depart from
                      > Byzantine music traditions primarily out of ignorance of those
                      > traditions, then having those formulas in staff notation could make
                      > a tremendous difference, especially if those composers are willing
                      > to redo their previous works. But if their departure from tradition
                      > stems from a lack of appreciation of the value of Byzantine music
                      > traditions, then I'm afraid having those formulas in staff notation
                      > won't make much of a difference.
                      > +Papa Ephraim

                      I just had a few more thoughts about this:

                      In this day and age, when it is politically incorrect to claim to be
                      right and to claim that someone else is wrong, it is difficult to
                      stand up for what is true and genuine without being labeled a "snob"
                      or "closed-minded." This holds true not only for serious matters of
                      Orthodox dogma but also for issues regarding Orthodox traditions, such
                      as traditional chant. This way of thinking makes us almost afraid of
                      confrontations, whether they be Orthodox vs. heterodox or traditional
                      vs. modernistic. I'm not in favor of heated arguments, especially
                      about subjective matters, but if we can discuss an issue objectively
                      and factually, it is much easier to keep tempers from flaring and
                      mutual bad feelings from arising.

                      We can objectively and factually define many aspects of the
                      traditional chant of our Greek Orthodox Church. Using these
                      definitions, we can then objectively and factually state to what
                      degree modern compositions deviate from our Church's musical
                      traditions. We may then use that degree of deviation to declare
                      objectively how "right" or "wrong" those compositions are, but only if
                      we are in agreement that our Church's musical traditions should be
                      preserved. But the reason why we can't reach that stage of objectively
                      declaring degrees of right and wrong is because we can't agree in what
                      way our Church's musical traditions should be preserved.

                      Perhaps it would be helpful to bear in mind that the people of our
                      Church whom we revere as saints were known for standing up for what is
                      truly and genuinely Orthodox. They were also known for preserving
                      Orthodox tradition and for contributing to it in ways that did not
                      radically change it. It is difficult for me to comprehend how some
                      contemporary Orthodox Christians can revere these saints with their
                      lips, yet with their actions do the exact opposite of what those
                      saints would have done in our situation (in regards to preserving
                      tradition).

                      Even though the formulaic rules allow us to define with great
                      precision what traditional Byzantine melodies are, I'm afraid that
                      having them won't make much of a difference to the composers in the
                      Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America with modernizing tendencies. For
                      if such composers do not attempt to preserve the "obvious"
                      characteristics of Byzantine chant (such as monophony with ison and no
                      instruments), why would they go to the trouble of preserving its less
                      obvious characteristics (such as its formulaic rules)?

                      +Papa Ephraim
                    • Apostolos Combitsis
                      Papa Ephraim, You have hit the nail on the head. With regards to your first response where you define ignorance and lack of appreciation as the two main
                      Message 10 of 13 , Feb 13, 2009
                        Papa Ephraim,

                        You have hit the nail on the head. With regards to your first
                        response where you define ignorance and lack of appreciation as the
                        two main reasons modern composers depart from Byzantine music
                        traditions, I fear that the latter is mostly the case than the former.
                        I believe most (if not all) of the modern composers are well aware of
                        what Byzantine Chant is. However, in their mind, it doesn't have the
                        "fanfare" that four-part harmony with a blaring organ has. Little do
                        they realize that it's not all about the fanfare. These guys simply
                        have it all wrong.

                        As for your "few more thoughts", again, you are quite precise in your
                        analysis. It's simply a shame that we have lost so much time and now
                        we (that is, "we" as in "those of who know a thing or two") are trying
                        to play "catch-up" in terms of educating the masses and integrating
                        Byzantine Music in our worship services. The situation has been
                        allowed to fester and, unfortunately, the blame (really, there HAS to
                        be a "blame" here because these things just don't happen by
                        themselves) lies primarily with the hierarchy, the clergy, and with
                        the Archdiocese (and now the Metropolises) as a whole. Individual
                        voices can only do so much. Policy has not been dictated and this
                        runaway train called "western music" has been allowed to gain speed
                        over the years with the attitude being, "rather than standing in front
                        of it and trying to stop it - which would surely get us killed - let's
                        just hop on board and enjoy the ride."

                        There is strength in numbers, however, and I believe that in this day
                        and age, we have more people with a working knowledge of Byzantine
                        Music than we had in the days of growth of our Archdiocese. We simply
                        didn't have the talent in this country to perpetuate the art. And of
                        course, the other MAJOR reason is something called "assimilation". In
                        our "embarassment" of being Greeks, we didn't want to stand out and
                        have this "turkish-sounding" music define us to our new country. So,
                        let's just try to blend in and do what "they" do.

                        How's THAT for a dose of reality? It's just the way it has been.
                        Stan Takis knows it, Papa Ephraim knows it, and a number of others
                        know it. But, again, as individuals, there's only so much Stan or
                        PapaEphraim or Apostolos can do when our efforts are not 100%
                        supported by the hierarchy.

                        Apostolos


                        --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "byzmusic" <frephraim@...>
                        wrote:
                        >
                        > > If contemporary Greek Orthodox composers in America depart from
                        > > Byzantine music traditions primarily out of ignorance of those
                        > > traditions, then having those formulas in staff notation could make
                        > > a tremendous difference, especially if those composers are willing
                        > > to redo their previous works. But if their departure from tradition
                        > > stems from a lack of appreciation of the value of Byzantine music
                        > > traditions, then I'm afraid having those formulas in staff notation
                        > > won't make much of a difference.
                        > > +Papa Ephraim
                        >
                        > I just had a few more thoughts about this:
                        >
                        > In this day and age, when it is politically incorrect to claim to be
                        > right and to claim that someone else is wrong, it is difficult to
                        > stand up for what is true and genuine without being labeled a "snob"
                        > or "closed-minded." This holds true not only for serious matters of
                        > Orthodox dogma but also for issues regarding Orthodox traditions, such
                        > as traditional chant. This way of thinking makes us almost afraid of
                        > confrontations, whether they be Orthodox vs. heterodox or traditional
                        > vs. modernistic. I'm not in favor of heated arguments, especially
                        > about subjective matters, but if we can discuss an issue objectively
                        > and factually, it is much easier to keep tempers from flaring and
                        > mutual bad feelings from arising.
                        >
                        > We can objectively and factually define many aspects of the
                        > traditional chant of our Greek Orthodox Church. Using these
                        > definitions, we can then objectively and factually state to what
                        > degree modern compositions deviate from our Church's musical
                        > traditions. We may then use that degree of deviation to declare
                        > objectively how "right" or "wrong" those compositions are, but only if
                        > we are in agreement that our Church's musical traditions should be
                        > preserved. But the reason why we can't reach that stage of objectively
                        > declaring degrees of right and wrong is because we can't agree in what
                        > way our Church's musical traditions should be preserved.
                        >
                        > Perhaps it would be helpful to bear in mind that the people of our
                        > Church whom we revere as saints were known for standing up for what is
                        > truly and genuinely Orthodox. They were also known for preserving
                        > Orthodox tradition and for contributing to it in ways that did not
                        > radically change it. It is difficult for me to comprehend how some
                        > contemporary Orthodox Christians can revere these saints with their
                        > lips, yet with their actions do the exact opposite of what those
                        > saints would have done in our situation (in regards to preserving
                        > tradition).
                        >
                        > Even though the formulaic rules allow us to define with great
                        > precision what traditional Byzantine melodies are, I'm afraid that
                        > having them won't make much of a difference to the composers in the
                        > Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America with modernizing tendencies. For
                        > if such composers do not attempt to preserve the "obvious"
                        > characteristics of Byzantine chant (such as monophony with ison and no
                        > instruments), why would they go to the trouble of preserving its less
                        > obvious characteristics (such as its formulaic rules)?
                        >
                        > +Papa Ephraim
                        >
                      • Stan T
                        ... Another thing we all know is that Westernization of the music has occurred and will continue. This is why I brought up the topic of to what degree of
                        Message 11 of 13 , Feb 13, 2009
                          --- In greekorthodoxmusic@yahoogroups.com, "Apostolos Combitsis"
                          <apostolos@...> wrote:

                          > Stan Takis knows it, Papa Ephraim knows it, and a number of others
                          > know it. But, again, as individuals, there's only so much Stan or
                          > PapaEphraim or Apostolos can do when our efforts are not 100%
                          > supported by the hierarchy.

                          Another thing we all know is that Westernization of the music has
                          occurred and will continue. This is why I brought up the topic of to
                          what degree of Westernization is acceptable. Maybe, for some people,
                          it boils down to a preference, such as, for example, you sign your
                          name on these forums as Apostolos instead of Paul, whereas I sign Stan
                          instead of Stylianos. We both have good reasons for our preference,
                          I'm sure, but in the big picture, it's a trivial thing. How we mess
                          with Church music is not trivial, however, and it should not be just a
                          preference.

                          To my priest, Father Michael Varlamos, the selection of music is not
                          just about preferences or taste or even respect for tradition. It's
                          about salvation itself to him, and he makes no bones about it. As a
                          Christian believer (not to mention being his choir director), this is
                          a sobering thought for me, and this is why I keep this forum and ask
                          questions on it. I know we are going to Westernize in America, because
                          we do not have a standing army of trained psaltis, and most parishes
                          rely on the laity for their music. This makes staff notation
                          inevitable, so the question of the degree of Westernization becomes an
                          important one.

                          One other thing we all know is that if there were a hierarchical
                          decree abolishing all Westernization of our music, it would cause
                          utter chaos. It's better we talk about it and decide what kind of
                          compromises we are willing to accept, or at least live with, and then
                          let the respect for our tradition creep back into the Church. My
                          feeling is that using chant that has been Westernized a little bit, or
                          as Papa Ephraim would call it, "watered down," is a way to gradually
                          restore this respect.

                          I also want to say here publicly that I'm sorry if I made it sound as
                          if I were personally criticizing Dr. Maragos, a very knowledgeable and
                          caring servant of the Church. He is carrying on a tradition and point
                          of view of Sakellarides, Vryonides, Roubanis, and many others before
                          him, who were fully aware of what real Byzantine chant is, and who
                          Westernized the music for deliberate and thought-out reasons. Whether
                          or not I agree or disagree with the degree to which they have done
                          this, they are still to be respected for their hard work,
                          thoughtfulness, and concern about our ecclesiastical music, and I
                          tried to be respectful to Nick in my comments, because I do respect
                          him a great deal.

                          Stan
                        • Stan T
                          Dr. Nick Maragos recently responded to this discussion, saying that the fimi s were not intended to be Byzantine and were for the many lay people who volunteer
                          Message 12 of 13 , Feb 18, 2009
                            Dr. Nick Maragos recently responded to this discussion, saying that
                            the fimi's were not intended to be Byzantine and were for the many lay
                            people who volunteer as chanters and are not trained in Byzantine
                            music. He also added these important words:

                            "If we are to have, as the recent catch-phrase says, 'real change' in
                            our Church and its practices, then those of us with 'knowledge' need
                            to be unified in our practices (musically and otherwise), committed to
                            outreach teaching of musical chant and Byzantine musical history in
                            every community in this country, prepared to distribute practical and
                            useable materials and techniques for rendering Byzantine melodies in
                            chant style (and, yes, for choirs also), and dedicated to seeing that
                            'no church is left behind,' no matter how large or small. This should
                            be an ongoing effort with every church visited every year if it is to
                            work. We've tried many other ways in the past, but it obviously has
                            not been enough so far because the follow-up is lacking. This will not
                            be an easy task, not because the individual churches won't accept us
                            coming to them, but because, right or wrong, we all have different
                            ideas of what is musically 'correct' and what is not, and how far we
                            are willing to go when we necessarily change something from Byzantine
                            to Western notation. ... When we can get to a place where even a
                            little bit of combined effort happens, and when we refuse to condone
                            our present separative behavior so that our students can see something
                            to which they are willing to commit, then we will have a fighting
                            chance to improve our Church in the West."
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