Author Topic: Ison  (Read 2169 times)

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Offline NickKarsa

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Ison
« on: February 11, 2009, 06:26:06 PM »
Hi All,

I live in Cornwall and go to a small Orthodox Church where we have a handfull of congregation. we are looking for an Ison for our singers. Any ideas where we can get one from

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Ison
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 06:31:37 PM »
Do you mean an isonkrates, a person who holds the drone note?  Why not train one of your current changers to do so?  But do not be deceived, this is a very hard thing to do.  It requires discipline and the melody can suffer horribly if the right ison is not given.  good luck in your endeavour.

And I see that you are new here.  Welcome!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 06:32:03 PM by scamandrius »
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Offline NickKarsa

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Re: Ison
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 06:40:43 PM »
hi,

thanks for the welcome. we would love to train one of our chanters,but there are only 3 of us and two are woman so its really hard as we are all still learning.

Offline Elisha

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Re: Ison
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 06:45:03 PM »
Well, the poster here known as kelfar could sell you an ison machine.   ;D

Offline NickKarsa

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Re: Ison
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 06:53:39 PM »
Thanks Elisha,

I'll send him a message

Take Care

Nick

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Ison
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 10:00:43 PM »
Well, the poster here known as kelfar could sell you an ison machine.   ;D

No, no, no, don't do that.  Ison machines are terrible and sound so artificial!  A human ison is so much more desirable.

As far as your chanters go, if you have three chanters and two of them women, the male can supply the ison while the two female chanters provide the melody.  It can really be quite sonorous.  I understand that you are still learning, but Byzantine chant without an ison sounds, quite frankly, bad.  I'd recommend that you learn holistically.
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Offline serb1389

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Re: Ison
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 10:56:46 PM »
I found this interesting article.  It's a lot to read through, and you need knowledge of music theory to get through part of it, but it might helpful:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/4497985/BYZANTINE-Musical-SystemeStanley-Takis
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Offline Elisha

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Re: Ison
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 11:33:44 PM »
Well, the poster here known as kelfar could sell you an ison machine.   ;D

No, no, no, don't do that.  Ison machines are terrible and sound so artificial!  A human ison is so much more desirable.

As far as your chanters go, if you have three chanters and two of them women, the male can supply the ison while the two female chanters provide the melody.  It can really be quite sonorous.  I understand that you are still learning, but Byzantine chant without an ison sounds, quite frankly, bad.  I'd recommend that you learn holistically.

Well, you know I complete agree with you here.  Just having a little fun before.

Offline Andrew21091

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Re: Ison
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2009, 08:29:41 PM »
But do not be deceived, this is a very hard thing to do.  It requires discipline and the melody can suffer horribly if the right ison is not given.  good luck in your endeavour

Haha tell me about it. I am getting better at doing ison though but I could still use some work.

I agree also that you should definitely not get an ison machine! Do you think that chanters 100 years ago used a machine to do ison? Though you only have three chanters, someone should be able to do ison. At my parish, even if there are just two chanters, one chants and the other will hold ison.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 08:31:31 PM by Andrew21091 »

Offline CopticDeacon

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Re: Ison
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2014, 06:31:32 PM »
Does one person usually hold the ison for long chants? or do 2 people alternate? Is it always just one note? I'm still trying to understand it.
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Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Ison
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2014, 06:52:36 PM »
Does one person usually hold the ison for long chants? or do 2 people alternate? Is it always just one note? I'm still trying to understand it.

It isn't physically possible for one person to hold a sung or chanted note out that long, since circular breathing can't be used. The world record for longest held note by a vocalist is something like 1 minute, and even 30 seconds is exceptionally good. So it would either need to be two people, or else the person would need to stop to take breaths.

I agree also that you should definitely not get an ison machine! Do you think that chanters 100 years ago used a machine to do ison?

Well, not a modern machine certainly, since it wouldn't have been invented back then.

But, something like a didgeridoo might have worked. Using circular breathing, a person playing a didgeridoo can hold out a single drone note for over 40 minutes. If the Apostles' first destination had been Australia, who knows what would have happened? The didgeridoo also has a very organic, more "human" sound, quite unlike anything in the West. It almost sounds like a chanter, just without words.

Interestingly enough, didgeridoo playing also has documented health benefits, including reducing snoring and sleep apnea.

Offline Minnesotan

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Re: Ison
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2014, 07:01:50 PM »
Is the purpose of an ison merely to be a human pitch-pipe (to keep the other chanter(s) from going off key) or is there more to it than that?

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Ison
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2014, 09:37:30 PM »
Is the purpose of an ison merely to be a human pitch-pipe (to keep the other chanter(s) from going off key) or is there more to it than that?

One of my many Byzantine chant teachers once put it to me like this: The Ison is the floor upon which the melody dances.  It is not meant to be a harmony (though it does and can produce that effect) but it is to root the other chanters in the correct mode.  It also serves as a martyria so that if a chanter gets off of the melody, he/she can find his/her way back to it with greater ease. 
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Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: Ison
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2014, 11:50:48 PM »
This may be a 100% ignorant comparison....if so please forgive.


Is it at all like the drone part of a bagpipe?   

Most bagpipes have at least one drone: a pipe which is generally not fingered but rather produces a constant harmonizing note throughout play.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Ison
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 01:25:57 AM »
Circular breathing takes a lot (I mean, a LOT) of practice. [amateur didgeridoo player]
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Ison
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2014, 04:46:34 PM »
There are pictures in the Catacombs of liturgical use of something like a hurdy gurdy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurdy_gurdy

"Most hurdy gurdies have multiple drone strings, which give a constant pitch accompaniment ..."
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Offline hecma925

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Re: Ison
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2014, 01:19:06 AM »
There are pictures in the Catacombs of liturgical use of something like a hurdy gurdy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurdy_gurdy

"Most hurdy gurdies have multiple drone strings, which give a constant pitch accompaniment ..."


I love that sound.
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