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Gregorian and Byzantine Chant #314556
03/06/09 01:50 PM
03/06/09 01:50 PM
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Logos - Alexis Offline OP
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I was on YouTube yesterday, browsing around and listening to Kyries from different Mass settings. The Orbis Factor Kyrie is one of the most well-known Kyries, and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful (I also love Kyrie IX for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin).

Anyway, I came across an incredibly unique recording of the Orbis Factor Kyrie by a group called the "Ensemble Organum." Here is the YouTube video recording of this version.

Now, what's so interesting is that while this is Gregorian Chant, it has elements which most of us would consider "Byzantine," or at least "Eastern": it is quite melismatic, there is a high amount of droning, etc.

Now, knowing very little about the history and development of Gregorian Chant, and simply relying on the user comments on the video, it seems that it is believed that this is the way "old Roman"/early Gregorian Chant was chanted. (Side note: type in "Ensemble Organum" in a YouTube search and be amazed at some of their recordings which are all in this vein).

I must say I prefer this to more modern Gregorian Chant. It seems like a beautiful marriage of East and West, although technically I suppose it is purely Western if one accepts the premise that this was how Gregorian Chant sounded during the Medieval period.

My question is, if there were theoretically such a drive to do so, would it be possible to have this way of chanting reintroduced in the Roman Catholic Church without it being an attempt at antiquarianism? I know it is dangerous logic, since so many of the modern reforms that have been undertaken in the Roman Church have relied upon the logic of "Well, this is how it was done in the early Church!" Practices like Communion-in-the-hand, vestments like the Pope's shortly-lived "Piero Marini-style" pallium, etc. have all relied on this train of thought and seem very opposed to the Catholic ideal of organic development.

I look forward to any and all thoughts on the subject.

Alexis

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Logos - Alexis] #314583
03/06/09 05:56 PM
03/06/09 05:56 PM
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Dear Alexis,

Thank you for providing that 'YouTube' link...the music is so incredibly, incredibly, and hauntingly and spiritually beautiful...

Listening to it a couple of times brings one into another realm of closeness to God--how glorious and helpful beautiful ecclesiastical music was/is/can be to help one on their spiritual journey.

As for 'organic development'...I am wondering if that cannot also include a look to the past in all things (architecture, music, etc.) since artisticly the modern age seems to have come to a plateau of being able to develop much that is beautiful in the arts...(although there is exception)

Notice how houses and buildings are now looking back into the past for inspiration and emulation...and how utterly horrible all architecture of the 1970's is for instance.

I offer this Kyrie Eleison also for that same ethereal and spiritual feeling after hearing it for a few minutes...

http://www.ouranoupoli.com/athos/church.html

Blessed, blessed Lent...

In Christ,
Alice








Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314586
03/06/09 06:38 PM
03/06/09 06:38 PM
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Our Lady's slave Offline
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Alexis

That is crtainly a wonderful recording .

Alice - sadly I got no Chant on the link you provided frown

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Our Lady's slave] #314587
03/06/09 06:44 PM
03/06/09 06:44 PM
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Logos - Alexis Offline OP
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Alice,

Yes, there is certainly a look toward the past. I'm just wondering what is "legitimate" and what's not, or maybe less so.

I also didn't get a link to chant, by the way.

Gregorian Chant is more immediately "ethereal" to me than is Byzantine chant; that is to say, it is more otherwordly, heavenly, sublime. But sometimes it is so much so that it feels a little distant. Lots of Byzantine Chant, in my opinion, is more obviously "human," but it is the human and worldly aspects of it (like the melismata and droning) that make it more, I don't know, - relatable to the human experience?

I find that this recording, or perhaps then all Old Roman Chant in general, is a wonderful example of what I find to be the best of both worlds.

Alexis

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Our Lady's slave] #314594
03/06/09 09:06 PM
03/06/09 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
Alexis

Alice - sadly I got no Chant on the link you provided frown


Hmmm...let's try again...the strange thing is that every time I click on it, I get the chant!

Make sure that your volume is on high and give it a few seconds to start. If you are seeing the inside of a church, you should also be hearing the chant.

http://www.ouranoupoli.com/athos/church.html




Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314600
03/06/09 10:53 PM
03/06/09 10:53 PM
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Alexis:

During Pope Benedict's consecration of Sydney Cathedral's new altar last year (which I watched on EWTN), the Gregorian chant was executed with a very strong "ison", the background humming that accompanies Byzantine chant.

Domenico Bartolucci of the Sistine Chapel has also severely criticized the current interpretation of Gregorian chant as too effeminate. And in one of the more recent editions of Una Voce NOTA, there was criticism of the current Solesmes-Vatican school of Gregorian chant for ignoring the vocal ornamentations that are said to be in the medieval manuscripts.

Give it another generation and I think that the "Byzantinizing" interpretation of Gregorian chant will gain more ground. Of course, Western Christians also have to realize that the Roman Church of the 1st millennium was much more heavily Greek in ethos than it is today.

I love the etherealness of Gregorian chant and, of course, it is more comfortable to my ears. However, I like Byzantine chant for its sheer virility.

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314601
03/06/09 10:54 PM
03/06/09 10:54 PM
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Thanks for bringing this topic up, Alexis.

I'm not 100% up on the latest scholarship, but I have looked into this before. What is called "Gregorian Chant" is actually a Frankish/Gallic form of chant developed around the time of Charlemagne. At the time, Rome is believed (with fairly good evidence) had a different form of chant; some of the Roman style was adapted by Frankish monasteries and this became known as "Gregorian Chant". There are many different variants of Gregorian chant, but as a whole I believe the scholars can look at the various chant books (e.g. Gradualia) that were written between around 800 and 1200 and put them into one broad style. There are also many similarities between melodies among the chant books. The book that has the Gregorian Chants for the Mass today, the "Graduale Romanum", is the result of a "resurrection" of the style by the Monks of Solesmes since the 1800s. So, what we hear as "Gregorian Chant" in most parishes today is a resurrected and re-styled homogenization of what had been a vast genre of medieval music.

In some (generally European) music academies there are attempts to reconstruct what local styles of chant were, sometimes in opposition to some of Solesmes' theories, with results of varying degrees of success and scientific validity.

Ensemble Organum is one of the better ones, though they admit that some of their work (especially their attempt to resurrect the "Old Roman" chant with Byzantine-type styles) has a heavy degree of speculativeness. Only a few manuscripts of Old Roman chant exist. Ensemble Organum put some of these into a pair of CDs called "Chants de l'Église de Rome des VIIe et VIIIe siècles: période byzantine" and "Chants de l'église de Rome - Vêpres". I have the first; in it they collaborated with Lycourgos Angelopoulos, a Greek who is one of the world's leading experts in Byzantine Chant. The use of the ison or "drone" is speculative, but it works well and I'm willing to buy it. The music sounds very Byzantine - which is not surprising because the Church old Rome and the "Byzantine" church of the time was culturally (and politically) united. You even see some of this in Rome today - see the old (lower level) St. Clement, the catacombs, St. Agnes, St. Maria in Trastevere, St. Maria Antiqua, etc for examples of "Byzantine" artwork in Rome.

To get to your question......

...."Old Roman Chant" only exists in a few manuscripts written in a fairly obscure form of neumatic notation. You'd need to transcribe it into a more familiar form of notation if you want it to be used outside of a few specialists. What we have covers only a few feasts (e.g. "Chants de l'Église de Rome des VIIe et VIIIe siècles: période byzantine" covers the Mass texts for Pascha).

So I don't see this ever becoming at all mainstream. That's my bottom line, and I'll explain in further detail as best I can. Be aware that I have no formal liturgical or academic theology training, and I could be wrong in some places.

Liturgy ought to be done with a heavy does of self-awareness and self criticism (e.g. why am I doing what I'm doing, what does it mean, what came before me and why did they do things that way, what do I do differently and why). You can't just take a liturgical practice (or for that matter come up with a new liturgical practice) - be it music, architecture, vestments, rubrics, etc. - and insert it somewhere without an extensive amount of self-critical thought beforehand (I don't mean to knock the Latin Church, but in my opinion for the past 500 years it's been awful at this despite the great amount of expertise that it's grown in house). Key questions include "why do we have what we have now", "what sort of a liturgy did this thing I'm inserting come from", "what are the key concepts behind the current and the previous liturgy", "how does what I'm putting in fit with everything else?".

In the case of Old Roman chant, the version of the Mass it was used with is long gone and unreconstructable (the so-called "Traditional Latin Mass" in the 1962 missal is NOT the Mass that was always used in Rome. It's definitely well within the "category" of Medieval Masses, but there are substantial differences between it and what little we know of earlier Roman liturgical ordos). The "Byzantine" style churches which it would have been sung in are no longer being made, and what we have remaining (say, in Rome) are often hodge-podges of Byzantine, medieval, and (especially) Renaissance, Baroque, and later styles and fashions.

To give a concrete example: IMHO Palestrina goes very well with the flow of a "Tridentine Mass" (surprise surprise). For instance, the Sanctus of Missa Papae Marcelli (when done right) should last almost right up to a regularly paced consecration, and then right afterward the Benedictus comes in. It also seems to "fit" with (say) a Sunday Mass of that usage, in an 1800s-era church, far more so than it does with the 1970 Mass.

However, if you were to use, say, Guillaume de Machaut's Mass of Our Lady (one of the first known polyphonic Mass, circa 1350), in the same church, we have a different story. Here it would sound comepltely out of place, made in a different time, for a different usage of the Mass, for a different style of church, and for a likely different purposes. For me, it'd be incredibly distracting and out of place - and this is for someone who appreciates the music.

I think our Old Roman chant would be the same way - especially some of the more "outlandish" performance theories that are out there. Music in liturgy is not the platform for music buffs to perform in what they think is cool and interesting, but needs to be carefully integrated with the rest of the Rite and attuned to the spiritual good of the parishoners, harmonized with the work of the (often musically clueless) pastors.




Anyway, that's far more than you wanted to know, but I'm loquacious this evening. I hope it's at least interesting for you.

And, for what it's worth, my favorite Gregorian Chant group is a Benedictine monastery in São Paulo. I much prefer their recordings to those of Solesmes:

http://198.62.75.1/www2/cantgreg/index.html

I'm also fond of the Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, some of whose recordings are available online.

Markos

[who does Byzantine Chant now, and has done Gregorian chant in the past]

Last edited by MarkosC; 03/06/09 10:55 PM.
Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314603
03/06/09 11:00 PM
03/06/09 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Alice
Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
Alexis

Alice - sadly I got no Chant on the link you provided frown


Hmmm...let's try again...the strange thing is that every time I click on it, I get the chant!

Make sure that your volume is on high and give it a few seconds to start. If you are seeing the inside of a church, you should also be hearing the chant.

http://www.ouranoupoli.com/athos/church.html





That is the version of the Kyrie often associated with the Serbs. It is beautiful, and is used for the Litany of Fervent Supplication.


Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: asianpilgrim] #314604
03/06/09 11:52 PM
03/06/09 11:52 PM
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Logos - Alexis Offline OP
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asianpilgrim said: Give it another generation and I think that the "Byzantinizing" interpretation of Gregorian chant will gain more ground. Of course, Western Christians also have to realize that the Roman Church of the 1st millennium was much more heavily Greek in ethos than it is today.


Interesting. But I guess it's not really "Byzantinizing," is it?

So what, then, can be said of an organic development of Gregorian Chant, since Solesmes had to resurrect it in the 19th/early 20th centuries? Is such a resurrection "organic"? Once something falls by the wayside, how much time needs to pass before an attempt at reviving it becomes an inorganic approach to reaching back and pulling back these practices?

Alexis

P.S. Alice, I'm still not hearing the chant! Oh well!

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Logos - Alexis] #314619
03/07/09 09:33 AM
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P.S. Alice, I'm still not hearing the chant! Oh well!


Try going to www.ouranoupoli.com

On that main page you will hear some touristy music.

Go to the top and click on 'Mount Athos'

Go to the top of that page and click on 'Enter a church'

Maybe doing it this roundaboutway may help.

Alice


Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314643
03/07/09 12:14 PM
03/07/09 12:14 PM
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I still can't hear it either frown

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Logos - Alexis] #314648
03/07/09 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Logos - Alexis
So what, then, can be said of an organic development of Gregorian Chant, since Solesmes had to resurrect it in the 19th/early 20th centuries? Is such a resurrection "organic"? Once something falls by the wayside, how much time needs to pass before an attempt at reviving it becomes an inorganic approach to reaching back and pulling back these practices?



Good question. I've been thinking about it myself.

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Alice] #314653
03/07/09 01:17 PM
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Logos - Alexis Offline OP
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Alice,

It seems your computer is endowed with magical powers that the rest of ours are not! wink

Alexis

Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: Logos - Alexis] #314668
03/07/09 03:37 PM
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The chant can be heard here: http://www.ouranoupoli.com/athos/elehson.wav

It was embedded in the source of the original website - not sure why it wasn't playing - but this is the background music.


Re: Gregorian and Byzantine Chant [Re: crule] #314749
03/08/09 10:20 PM
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I imagine the problem of not hearing comes from using a browser that is not Internet Explorer.

---

I think indeed Gregorian chant is more celestial. But the Byzantine, in another hand, is more incarnated, divinizing. That reflets the ethos of each rite, in my opinion.

I hope to read the seeming-so-interesting Markos's appointments.

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