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Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: Administrator] #336810 11/09/09 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Administrator
This has been discussed somewhat. Look at the first Sunday antiphon. The older setting properly accented the English text with "glo-ri-ous praise". The Thompson setting has people singing "glo-RI-OUS praise". How many people do you know who walk around saying: "Have a glo-RI-OUS day"?


John,

What you are talking about singing is not the music that is on the page, but your own "idea" of how to sing it - namely, accenting the middle of three half notes. This is not the way it was sung in Slavonic, or in Johnstown, or in a half-dozen parishes I grew up singing in. Since you have repeated this canard several times, I would like to respond.

The antiphon melody ends with three half notes, with accents generally falling on the first and (optionally) the third. Thus in Slavonic (from the 1970 Papp collection from Czechoslovakia):

Voskliknite Hospodebvi VSJA zem-L'A,
pojte zhe imeni jeho, dadite slavu chva-L'I JeHO.

I don't know why Monsignor Levkulic shorted that first half note to a quarter, and threw the accent on the second half note; but it you sing it this way in Slavonic, you consistently miss the text accents. This alone - especially in a collection like Papp which is fanatic in correctly accenting the Slavonic text - demonstrates that you are NOT hearing the melody as it was sung, not just in Uzhorod in 1906, but many places since then - see for example Father Sokol's 1950's collections.

It is certainly possible to sing this pattern in English, by dividing or slurring notes in a small number of ways. But if you are determined to accent the middle note, you are NOT singing the music as intended by the Music Commission, or written in the books, so it's not fair to claim your mis-singing the antiphons is "what the books say." The people at Uniontown last year sang those melodies with correct accents, WITHOUT books in front of them, and had not problem with them.

One more point - your statement that "everything came from Bokshai, and melodies trumped accent" is simply mistaken. The new book drew melodies from a wide array of written and oral sources, virtually all in parish use in our Metropolia. In the cases of "bad accents" you have cited, you have frquently in effect changing the melody rather than singing it what is there. I would encourage you to come to the Cantor Institute in Pittsburgh, or failing that, I will send you a new copy of the green book; you can mark everything you consider a bad accent, and we can discuss it. (During the preparation of the new books, several cantors responded to suggestions here that they submit comments, and those were included in the final version. Even now, you can still at least learn what was intended and see whether abandoning some apparent pre-conceptions might make you less negative about the restored chant melodies.)

Yours in Christ,
Jeff Mierzejewski

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: ByzKat] #336816 11/09/09 09:04 PM
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Jeff,

I respectfully disagree. The accents are incorrect throughout the new music and need to be corrected. Let me extend my comments but I know you come from the school that chooses a literal application of the chant over the proper accentuation of text so we will have to disagree.

Example 1: First Sunday Antiphon - "Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth, sing praise to his name, give to him glorious praise." - The 1965 setting emphasized the words "Lord", "earth", "name", "Him" and the syllable "glo" in the word "glorious" and finally, "praise". In the first phrase, on the word "the" the expected Bb was purposely dropped to a G so as not to place more emphasis on the word "the" than on the words "Lord" and "earth". (The 1965 setting has "Lord" and "earth" as the "high notes" and "half notes" and the word "the" as a quarter note with "all"). In the second phrase they left "Him" on the running "A" and gave it a value of a half note, then put "glorious" all on the Bb (for emphasis) with a drop back to the A for "praise". If one writes out the words and marks them with the natural accents one would speak or read these words with, then compare them to the 1965 settings, one can see the accents are natural. When one sings the 1965 setting it is naturally accented for the native American English speaker.

If one then compares this to the 2007 Thompson RDL setting, one can see that his slavish adherence to the Slavonic melody comes at the expense of bad accents. In the first line the word "Lord" is softened because of the drop to the G, the words "all the" are emphasized with the rise to the Bb. In the second phrase the "glo" of "glorious" softened with the drop to the G and the "ri-" and "ous" is emphasized with the rise to the Bb. Heraing it sung it comes across as "glo-RI-OUS". Now who in their right mind walks around and says "have a glo-RI-OUS day"? It's just unnatural.

Example 2: First Weekday Antiphon - "It is good to give thanks to the Lord" - Likewise the Bb was dropped in the word "the" (in Lord, all the earth") to allow natural accents on "Lord" and "earth" (putting it on the Bb would have made it the highest and strongest note in the phrase). The "O Most High" is set to "G", "Bb", "A" per the normative melody since it works and allows normal accenting.

But notice the 2007 Thompson RDL setting. "Thanks" is softened to the G. "to the" is the high point and accented at the Bb. In the second phrase "name" is softened with the drop to the "G" and "O" and "Most" are highlighed on the Bb. "O" is not the important word here and was better on the softening note of G.

Example 3 - Any of the Trisagions - Each has either same melody as used for "Svjaty Boze" or a special one for the "Slava". But none of them work in English so a decision was made to take them simply. The 2007 Thompson RDL settings return to Boksaj at the expense of very poorly accented English. In "Holy God" #1 you literally sing: "Now-ow-ow-ow" (which has caused whole congregations to break out laughing). "Holy God" #3 has a horrible run on the word "on" giving us "have mercy ON ON ON ON us". [Jeff you yourself acknowledged this issue in a discussion here but stated that you found it acceptable because the melody was restored. But most people laugh when they hear it.]

One can go on through the whole book.

John

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: Administrator] #336818 11/09/09 09:22 PM
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What Jeff doesn't recognize is Slavonic and English have distinctly different rules of grammar and distinctly different cadences of speech. The iron law of chant is chant must follow the cadences of normal speech. That's why the oldest forms of chant are syllabic (one note per syllable), and not melismatic (syllables drawn out over multiple notes). Moreover, the rhythm of the chant, its tempo and cadence, has to be keyed to the language being chanted. This means, when translating a chant from one language to another, you have to make choices, and usually compromises.

Granted, sometimes the rules are not followed: at various stages in the Znammeny tradition, the desire to preserve the tones became so strong that it overrode the integrity of the texts, so that when Slavonic evolved, losing syllables in the process, these syllables (or substitute syllables) were inserted into the words of the texts in order to make them "fit". In the process, the words of the chant often became incomprehensible.

With the new Prostopinje settings of the RDL, the subordination of the (admittedly flat and lifeless) text to the music simply makes a bad job worse: not only are the new words infelicitous at best, but now they must be pronounced in a manner most unnatural, and therefore difficult both to remember and to sing. In short, it entirely defeats the purpose of chant, which is mnemonic as well as corporate.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: Administrator] #336820 11/09/09 09:28 PM
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Dear John,

For two years, you continue to cite the same two examples.

(a) That G that you say is "softened" - that is exactly where the accent is in the original melody. That's what I mean when I saw that what you are bringing to the music is an interpretation which does not respect the actual prostopinije melodies. NOT every high note is a musical accent - consider the first three notes of "Silent Night!" We certainly dont sing "si-EYE-lent night"; the voice "lifts" on the middle neighber tone. The prostopinije antiphon melodies works the same way.

(b) The prostopinije melodies have lots of natural, beautiful 2-, 3- and 4-note runs, inherited from znammeny chant. If sung according to pattern - that is, NOT coming down hard on each note - this is a natural way to sing which consistently preserves the accents. They should be sung smoothly, a bit faster, and lightly - precisely as done by a good cantor in Slavonic. This can render the English text quite beautifully, and can easily be sung by a congregation. (I heard this a Vespers at a teen retreat last year - and they sang WITHOUT music. since the Vespers tones were rendered consistently.)

Again, I'd encourage you to try singing the music as written, on the assumption that it might be singable with correct accents, rather than importing the 1960's modifications into the melody, which my cantor teachers from years ago certainly never used without "fixing" them. If you claim there are bad accents, you should start from how the music is supposed to be sung, now rather than how it is NOT supposed to be sung. That's simple fairness.

In Christ,
Jeff

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: ByzKat] #336821 11/09/09 09:56 PM
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Jeff,

(a) I am capable of singing the music as written. I don't because it is written poorly. It needs to be fixed.

Yes, I cite the same two examples because they are easily understood by all since the melodies are pretty simple. An Analysis of the Christmas Troparion was another. There are many, many more. I'd be happy to provide them in detail to the bishops. Perhaps now is the time to send them copies of the new music with recommended corrections.

Your example of "Silent Night" is a poor one. The parallel to the Thompson setting with "glo-RI-OUS" is if you kept "Si" on the first note and the movement on "lent". Just going from memory here on "Silent Night" but in the key of C put "Si" on a G and "lent" on both the A & G (with a drop to E for "night") (so you have "Si-le-e-nt Night"). I agree that in music not every high note is an accent. In the melody used for the antiphons, however, it definitely is (in "Silent Night" you have a one note rise, in the Antiphon melody a two note jump from the G to a Bb (which has the effect of highlighting the Bb)). That's why the 1964 setting was as it is. They purposely took advantage of the flexibility of the chant to better serve proper accentuation of the English text.

(b) I've seen a number of the new settings for Vespers. They exhibit the same issue that Stuart has spoken to. Very often the "run" is put on words like "and" and "the" with more important words being given softer accents. All in all the accentuation is poor. It is very clear that the words are being fit to serve the music rather then the music being fit to serve the words.

You raise the question as to how the music is to be sung. Boksaj as a literal model does not and will work exactly. The music needs adjustment to best serve the English language (that is if we wish to sound like native English speakers). That's the whole point. The Church has no obligation to preserve Boksaj. It does have an obligation to provide chant settings where the accents are correct.

The Church also has an obligation not to hurt people, or to bewilder them unnecessarily. The fixed (1965) settings of the Divine Liturgy were very singable. Towards that end Professor Daniel Kavka (Eternal Memory!) (who said routinely that the "curly Q's don't work in English) adjusted the memorized settings for the fixed texts to the revised texts. That was rejected by Mr. Thompson because it was not close enough to Boksaj. A whole Church was thrown into an uproar because a few wanted a more slavish adherence to Boksaj, when the Church has aboslutely no absolute mandate to preserve Boksaj!

John

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: Administrator] #336827 11/09/09 11:04 PM
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This discussion begs the question of orality in the Prostopinje tradition. Since cantors taught their apprentices without the aid of books, each cantor had his own unique style, which would be modified by his apprentices in turn. Boksaj, and every other collection of Prostopinje, should not be taken as definitive, but merely as exemplars to guide other cantors, who would then adapt those exemplars to their own abilities and those of their parishes.

The fundamental problem with the music of the RDL is the attempt to impose one single, uniform and inflexible arrangement of all the music. This presumes that there is a "right" way to sing Prostopinje, which in reality is a very dynamic, constantly shifting art form. By committing it to writing and then suppressing all other variants, the RDL effectively kills the Prostopinje--or more properly, sucks all the life out of it and converts it into a dry, dusty museum piece of interest only to antiquarians.

As John as noted--and as anybody who has heard what is now sung in Mukachevo, Presov and Uzerhod knows--Prostopinje has continued to evolve in the Carpatho-Rusyn lands, because it has remained the music of the people. By all rights, then, the same process should have continued here in the United States, particularly after the adoption of English as our liturgical language. The best way to ensure the survival of Prostopinje in English is not to impose one specific arrangement from the top down, but to encourage development from the bottom up, with the sharing of arrangements by the various cantors, who will gravitate towards the ones that work best. The eventual outcome will be "American" Prostopinje. And if, as it so often declares, the objective of the Metropolitan Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church is to be an "American" Church, then this result should be embraced, not stifled.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: StuartK] #336833 11/10/09 12:00 AM
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In the US, after Vatican II, ALL Catholic Churches, East and West have had declines. (Vatican documents show this. I don't have URLs to hand at the moment.) I'd look to the nature of American, and European, for that matter, society as the prime cause of the contractions in numbers. Further, the declines begin shortly before V. II... as do vocations... so blaming Vatican II is a case not proven.

As for accuracy of the translation, I can't speak to that, since the Hierarchs chose to translate from Greek, rather than from the Ordo Celebrationis.

Stuart: Glad you're happy with the Melkites... nearest melkite parish from me is 2000 miles... I'm happy where I am, and while I do have some issues with the translation, I've discussed them with the Eparch. And Tone 1 is no issue for me; it's extremely common to sing Gloria with stress on sylables 2 & 3 in classical music.... or even the lengthening of each word into indecipherability. So it's no worse than much of the latin I had to sing in school. (Public HS and College.)

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: aramis] #336835 11/10/09 12:14 AM
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As for accuracy of the translation, I can't speak to that, since the Hierarchs chose to translate from Greek, rather than from the Ordo Celebrationis
.

The Ordo Celebrationis is just the book of rubrics for the celebration of Vespers, Orthros and the Divine Liturgy. I think you meant the Ruthenian Slavonic Liturgicon, which is the normative--indeed, the only approved liturgical texts for Chuches of the Ruthenian Tradition.

Using the 1950 Greek Typical Edition was a methodological error on several levels, not the least of which is the inversion of order of precdence; i.e., the Slavonic texts preserve an older usage than the Greek texts, most of which were altered under the influence of Venetian printers between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Even the Greek scholars brought in by Patriarch Nikon in the mid-17th century were aware of this. That aside, whether working from the Greek or the Slavonic, it's just a third rate translation by a bunch of academic wannabes. I see this sort of stuff far too often in academic circles.

As for singing--I can sing anything, and pretty much have. But the crucial question is what your average congregation can sing--and more importantly, what it will sing.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: aramis] #336840 11/10/09 12:31 AM
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The new music is a mixed bag. The big issue is the cost of change itself and the wisdom of imposing a mixed bag of changes rather than documenting what is done and proposing improvements. I have little attachment to the old music since I sang it for two years before the green book arrived. Some of the new music is just a disaster - my "favorite" example is Shine in Splendor. We just sing it the old way. The first setting of the Hymn of the Incarnation may be authentic something-or-other but it just strikes me as bizarre. We sing it the old way. I like singing the Tone 7 version in the green book and had the green book never been published I doubt I would ever have heard it. And for that matter I have seen some old style chant that is just awful. I've never heard it - probably because people just gravitated to better music.

Prostopinije is an oral tradition that belongs to the laity. It was in the midst of a transition to an authentic chant tradition in American English. I am afraid this process has been aborted by the heavy handed way that changes were imposed. Again, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute should be in the business of documenting what is done and proposing improvements in an open, inclusive way. What is good is rapidly being lost.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: CRW] #336843 11/10/09 12:49 AM
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my "favorite" example is Shine in Splendor. We just sing it the old way.


Yeah. Of course, since they were making all sorts of needless translation changes (what I call the "happy-to-glad" type), you'd think they would fix this hymn, which in its present phase is a weak paraphrase of the original text. Look all you want, the word "splendor" just isn't there. "Shine, shine! O ye new Jerusalem, the glory of the Lord is upon thee. Sing with joy and rejoice!" Very simple, but they were too busy fixing things that were perfectly OK to deal with something that needed fixing.

As to the music, Thompson had already muddled the arrangement, as those of us foolish enough to buy the Schola Cantorum's recording of Paschal Orthros already knew. It doesn't even work when he's using his own choir--so he expects it to work for us? Meanwhile, Johnstown has a perfectly serviceable arrangement that tracks very closely to the Slavonic.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: StuartK] #336844 11/10/09 12:50 AM
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Again, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute should be in the business of documenting what is done and proposing improvements in an open, inclusive way. What is good is rapidly being lost.


They'd rather we use Windows than Linux. It allows them to retain control and set the price of the product.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: StuartK] #336936 11/11/09 01:17 AM
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The biggest issue with the MCI is that people want a text-only edition, and the MCI considers text-only to be unacceptable. Apparently, however, the Chancery does not....

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: aramis] #336949 11/11/09 03:58 AM
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Apparently, the MCI position has changed somewhat; permission for text only editions has been sought by MCI and denied, while individual parishes are able to get that permission.

Jeff of MCI PM'd me on another board re my prior post...

In any case, the people want text-only versions for both size and flexibility. Those are not centrally available.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: aramis] #336969 11/11/09 12:16 PM
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Apparently, the MCI position has changed somewhat; permission for text only editions has been sought by MCI and denied, while individual parishes are able to get that permission.


They had to do that once the Oriental Congregation sent a letter to the bishops indicating they could not mandate what music to use. Approval was only given for the text of the Divine Liturgy, not for the music.

Re: What have been the fruits of the RDL? [Re: StuartK] #336971 11/11/09 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by StuartK
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Apparently, the MCI position has changed somewhat; permission for text only editions has been sought by MCI and denied, while individual parishes are able to get that permission.


They had to do that once the Oriental Congregation sent a letter to the bishops indicating they could not mandate what music to use. Approval was only given for the text of the Divine Liturgy, not for the music.
"...the Oriental Congregation sent a letter..." This comes as news to me. Likewise, "permission for text only editions has been sought by MCI and denied, while individual parishes are able to get that permission." I have to say that having to get permission for making the text (only) available sounds bizarre to me; that such permission should be denied is -- what's a word that means more bizarre than bizarre?

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