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Author Topic: Who chooses the melody?  (Read 514 times) Average Rating: 0
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genesisone
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« on: February 21, 2012, 12:57:59 PM »

Here's our scenario: we are a small Antiochian mission parish - one priest, three chanters (male - and not always all three present) who also are needed to help as altar servers. We chanters have worked hard to learn the basics of Byzantine chant (admittedly with a North American accent). Simply because I have more time available - and perhaps because I'm the eldest, I have ended up with an informal recognition as "head chanter", though none of us is tonsured.

Looking ahead to some upcoming services, our priest has insisted that we use his preferred melodies for some hymns. We three chanters much prefer other melodies (or sometimes to chant from text alone) in these cases because we find them easier to sing.

I'm not looking for advice. I will follow our priest's request and we will muddle through. And yes, I have expressed my reservations about some specifics to him already. My question is: Who determines melodies (and style of chant) in your parish? I'm simply trying to get a feel for how it is done elsewhere.
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arimethea
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 01:05:59 PM »

Byzantine music hymns tend to only have one specific melody so, either you do not know the proper melody or, your priest does not know them.
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Joseph
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 01:17:44 PM »

Quote
Byzantine music hymns tend to only have one specific melody

This is not true at all. While some hymns are always sung to a specific melody, there are many others for which several settings have been composed. A priest might have personal preferences, but the choice of melody, for hymns where there is a choice, essentially belongs to the choirmaster.
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podkarpatska
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 01:17:55 PM »

Don't be so quick to jump on the priest, perhaps the mission parish is comprised of folks from various background and the priest wants to incorporate some Znammenyj or Rusyn Chant or other legitimate source material. I would say communicate your concerns with the priest and follow his lead.
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genesisone
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 01:18:59 PM »

Byzantine music hymns tend to only have one specific melody so, either you do not know the proper melody or, your priest does not know them.
OK, I see what you're saying. I should have been more exact in my and said which arrangement of the melody. However, there are some things that we have that can be done to the same melody that I know the Greeks use and some that are done according to a traditional Arabic melody. Does this help? I'm trying to avoid naming specific hymns and even which services to avoid getting sidetracked. However, if you want me to be specific, PM me.
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podkarpatska
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 01:19:44 PM »

Quote
Byzantine music hymns tend to only have one specific melody

This is not true at all. While some hymns are always sung to a specific melody, there are many others for which several settings have been composed. A priest might have personal preferences, but the choice of melody, for hymns where there is a choice, essentially belongs to the choirmaster.

True enough, but when the priest has heard the same choir sing say, Bortiansky's #7 for six Sundays in a row, he may just 'request' that the choir sing another Cherubic Hymn! - along with the rest of the congregation I might add!  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 01:21:58 PM »

do you consider the simplified stuff the aoaa uses in english byzatine chant at all?
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genesisone
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 01:36:42 PM »

... when the priest has heard the same choir sing say, Bortiansky's #7 for six Sundays in a row, he may just 'request' that the choir sing another Cherubic Hymn! - along with the rest of the congregation I might add!  Wink
That's not what I'm dealing with - in fact, I'd love to introduce a few new things for such variety.

Don't be so quick to jump on the priest, perhaps the mission parish is comprised of folks from various background and the priest wants to incorporate some Znammenyj or Rusyn Chant or other legitimate source material. I would say communicate your concerns with the priest and follow his lead.
If this advice is intended for me, please reread the last paragraph of the OP.
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genesisone
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2012, 01:39:57 PM »

do you consider the simplified stuff the aoaa uses in english byzatine chant at all?
Lent must be coming. Let's not derail this thread ahead of schedule  Roll Eyes.

I would be extremely happy to accept your offer to fund me for a four-year course of study in Lebanon to raise my competence to your standards.
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arimethea
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 02:22:38 PM »

Byzantine music hymns tend to only have one specific melody so, either you do not know the proper melody or, your priest does not know them.
OK, I see what you're saying. I should have been more exact in my and said which arrangement of the melody. However, there are some things that we have that can be done to the same melody that I know the Greeks use and some that are done according to a traditional Arabic melody. Does this help? I'm trying to avoid naming specific hymns and even which services to avoid getting sidetracked. However, if you want me to be specific, PM me.

The priest is in charge of all the services so if he is requesting a certain arrangement be done then do it.

For the most part there is no real difference between the Greek and Arabic styles of chant for most of the lenten hymns (the difference in the two styles only exist in the Tone 4 scale and there are very few lenten hymns that use tone 4). The only notable exception is what tone "O Lord of host..." is chanted in during Great Compline.

I have seen well over 30 different arrangement for a Byzantine Kontakion of the Annunciation. While they all are worded a little different and, slight changes in the music, they all essentially follow the same melody.

Part of growing as a chanter is learning the special melodies that exist.
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Joseph
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 07:52:06 AM »

The only notable exception is what tone "O Lord of host..." is chanted in during Great Compline.

Plagal 2nd, which is sung by the Arabs, is the one assigned by all the Horologia I've seen. I'm not sure why most Greek parishes go for the much less Lenten Plagal 4th melody. I always sing the former when asked to chant Great Compline.
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Basil 320
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« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 09:17:41 AM »

I don't understand the term "melody" in this context.  Isn't the tone of the day set for Orthros and Vespers?  The booklet we use tells us the tone of the day and which tone in which to chant each hymn.  I understand for the Liturgy, the melody may refer to the arrangement of our Western musicians, like Gallos, Desby, etc.

Even thought the priest is in charge of the service, my experience is that the Chanter (or Choir Director) chooses the music they chant/sing. Without attempting to act as if I know what is going on in your parish, sometimes priests direct the chanter when they don't think the Chanter knows the tones or the order of the services, or if they are particularly proficient and interested in executing Byzantine music.  Similarly, there are priests who don't know the music all that well, and are happy to have the Chanter handle it.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2012, 09:31:08 AM by Basil 320 » Logged

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