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Author Topic: American Orthodox Church parish to be opened in California  (Read 3450 times) Average Rating: 0
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Salpy
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« on: March 03, 2012, 07:33:21 PM »

Wow!


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3/3/2012

The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria
Diocese of Los Angeles

Diocese Announces the Opening of St. Paul American Coptic Orthodox Church, a Missionary Parish in Orange County

With great joy, the Diocese announces the opening of a new parish in Orange County: St. Paul American Coptic Orthodox Church. As the name suggests, this parish is missionary in nature, aiming to reflect the light of Orthodox Christianity to people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds while serving primarily non-Egyptian members of the Diocese.

The parish will operate under the close supervision and guidance of our beloved father, His Grace Bishop Serapion, and will be served by a rotation of four English-speaking priests in the area.


Read more here:

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2012/03/new-mission-announced-for-coptic-orthodox-church-in-orange-county/
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 07:36:47 PM »

The parish's website is here:

http://stpauloc.org/
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 07:40:59 PM »

The first liturgy will be tomorrow, and information about it is here:

http://stpauloc.org/?p=1
 
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2012, 09:32:00 PM »

Wow. That is bold.

I wish them success.   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2012, 01:22:58 AM »

Interesting.  I wonder though, since Coptic is so closely tied to Egyptian culture, how will that translate to an American audience?  In other words, how will Tradition be separated from tradition?
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« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2012, 02:21:37 AM »

Glory be to God!
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« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2012, 03:26:08 AM »

Interesting.  I wonder though, since Coptic is so closely tied to Egyptian culture, how will that translate to an American audience?  In other words, how will Tradition be separated from tradition?

From what I've seen of the one hymn from this church posted in the "Oriental Orthodox" section of the forum, they still use the same melodies as any Coptic church would. I think the main difference is the language, though honestly in our little Coptic community here in NM the liturgy is already about 75-80% English despite not being a specifically "missionary" church, so I'm not sure what is going on with this particular church. Maybe there is a perceived need for a strictly English-only liturgy in the area.

What traditions need to be jettisoned to appeal to Americans? The segregation of the sexes in the congregation? Eating beans in the agape meal? Outside of the language and some of the extra-liturgical cultural norms, I don't think the Coptic church is nearly as hard to fit into as it might seem. I was surprised that they kept the melody of the hymn, though. I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts. That's not true for me, but I guess I don't know every non-Copt in the world.
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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2012, 04:59:55 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2012, 05:47:49 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

Um...that's my point. I don't think there is nearly as much to be adapted to Western/non-Coptic tastes (outside of the language) as some people think there is. But maybe I'm wrong.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.

Buzzing?  Huh
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2012, 06:15:14 PM »

Buzzing?  Huh
You know what I mean.
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 06:45:42 PM »

No, i really don't know what you mean. Melisma? Because that's not just a property of the Coptic hymns. I don't know if it would be right to isolate the Coptic chant on that basis when it's also present in the Antiochians (EO and OO, and even Catholics like the Maronites), Greeks, etc. Seems more of a general "Eastern" thing, but only since the West has evolved away from that. It is present in older Western/Roman chant forms like the Mozarabic, the Ambrosian, and others.

For me it is more the rhythm of the Coptic chants that can be difficult. My "Amins" tend to peter out a bit at the end sometimes because I don't anticipate the subtle modulations unless I have memorized the melody (which is tough to do in all cases, since there are seemingly a lot of variations).
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2012, 06:51:48 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2012, 06:59:02 PM »

I think there was a 5 minute long portion in the tasbeha I went to that was purely vocal sound, without words.
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2012, 07:16:00 PM »

Yes, the Coptic church is famous for those kinds of incredibly melismatic hymns. I suspect only someone steeped in Coptic hymnody and musicology could tell you why some have those long one-note passages; I don't know, myself, but I accept it as part of the chant form, and find that it really helps me to get the rhythm of the hymn, particularly if the cymbal isn't used.
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2012, 08:49:16 PM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

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« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2012, 10:32:13 PM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.

Lord have mercy!

Is your post suggesting that missionary parishes are an unfortunate development?  If so, why?
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« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2012, 01:02:49 AM »

It is fashionable and trendy to have missionary parishes nowadays in the Coptic Church.
Glory to God!
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« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2012, 05:27:49 AM »

Hi dzheremi, I don't think that there is an absolute issue with melisma, but in the example Mozarabic chant you linked to (great music), there is not a complete loss of connection with the content of the words which seems to me to occur if it takes many minutes to sing one syllable.

Indeed I think that I probably agree with the ancient Western view that the words should have priority and that the chant should support the words. This is surely why polyphony was seen by conservatives as a degenerative development.

If I remember Bar Salibi correctly he criticised the development of chant which led away from simplicity, even though it might be more musically exciting. He was writing in the Middle Ages from a Syrian perspective.

I love Syriac chant... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK0y9KWXP1w ... it seems to me to give primacy to the text of the hymn. It is not without melisma, but never at the expense of the words.
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« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2012, 07:43:17 AM »

yay, another link to syriac music!
has anyone got the translation?

as for the original topic, i think we should pray for all attempts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ with the world around us. may there be much fruit from this endeavour and may there be much unity among those who rightly 'define the word of truth' (quote from liturgy) and work hard to bring light to the world.
may God bless them and preserve the great orthodox theology that they preach.
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« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2012, 01:41:47 PM »

Hi dzheremi, I don't think that there is an absolute issue with melisma, but in the example Mozarabic chant you linked to (great music), there is not a complete loss of connection with the content of the words which seems to me to occur if it takes many minutes to sing one syllable.

Indeed I think that I probably agree with the ancient Western view that the words should have priority and that the chant should support the words. This is surely why polyphony was seen by conservatives as a degenerative development.

If I remember Bar Salibi correctly he criticised the development of chant which led away from simplicity, even though it might be more musically exciting. He was writing in the Middle Ages from a Syrian perspective.

I love Syriac chant... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK0y9KWXP1w ... it seems to me to give primacy to the text of the hymn. It is not without melisma, but never at the expense of the words.

Hello Father,

Thank you for the very interesting video. Nouri Iskander is a wonderful arranger and composer, responsible for some of the best sacred and secular Syriac music of the modern era.

Anyway, I agree that there is definitely a potential for people to get lost in these very long melismas and stop paying attention to the text, though I don't think it's necessarily a foregone conclusion that this will happen based purely on the length of the melismas. Like everything else in church, you have to be attentive. All other things being equal, is there a huge difference between the 41 Kyrie Eleisons (which are not very melismatic) and a very melismatic tune like "Ke Eperto" (22 words, about 7.5 minutes)? Both take quite some time to complete and are not very content-heavy, so a person's mind could wander quite easily. In fact, I would think that you could make the argument that since there is more going on (melody-wise) in "Ke Eperto" than in "Kyrie Eleison", it might hold the attention a bit better. Or not. I don't know. I'm not sure how you could gauge this kind of thing, since I doubt many people would openly admit to becoming distracted during very melismatic tunes, particularly if they grew up in the church and are used to them. For me, as an outsider, I look at these melodies as a vehicle to convey the texts, and not things to be enjoyed in the abstract, as we are not worshiping God in the abstract. And it is the worship of God, whether through melismatic tunes or not, that is paramount. And there are plenty of Coptic hymns that aren't terribly different than the Syriac, in terms of their melismatic content-to-length of text ratio: "Hos Erof", "Thok te ti gom", "Osanna khen neitchosi", etc.
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2012, 03:41:24 PM »

seeing as u mentioned thok ta te gom (yours is the power) and it's my favourite hymn and the first i ever learnt in coptic / arabic / english (it is translated) i thought i would post a link to it:
http://tasbeha.org/hymn_library/view/18
i also didn't realise that the 'aaa ooo iiii' is called melisma. thanks for the education.

the audio version is here, in case anyone wants to check if it has melisma. i think it has charisma instead!
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 03:54:55 PM »

Hahaha. A mutual friend of ours has remarked that "Thok te ti gom" is the favorite church hymn of all white people. Cheesy I prefer the Hitenis and things like Ni Men Ebshois, but I'm a weirdo.

Since you love that hymn so much, I'll (re-)post this because I think it's amazing: Thok te ti gom from the church in Johannesburg, S. Africa, i.e., proof that it most definitely is not just for white people! Wink
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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 04:04:41 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.
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« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2012, 06:52:26 PM »

The Coptic population in Southern California is huge. There are large congregations in every region and a number of small ones as well.
All of the large and most of the smaller parishes hold an English Divine Liturgy every Sunday. So I am not really sure why there is a need for a segregated congregation.

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences. I hope that can be avoided in this case with careful supervision by the diocese.
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« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2012, 07:02:32 PM »

Eating beans in the agape meal?
This would be a problem in California?

I, for one, endorse more frijoles in the Agape Meal.

I've been told by others that the traditional melodies don't sound good to non-Copts.
The "buzzing" of the Coptic hymns can be off-putting to western ears. Same with some of the Byzantine tones that sound like they contain "mistakes" to western ears.

Just like many Eastern Orthodox people think there are mistakes between Western ears.
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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2012, 07:10:50 PM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin 

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.

We just sing it twice at my parish.
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2012, 10:13:25 PM »

When it comes to Melismatic hymns, and people complain of how long and useless it might be to them, I tell them that at the moment, there are too many Coptic geeks who will get rid of these hymns.  Until we find a way we can actually put a meaning to these melismatic tunes, I encourage these people to bring spiritual material to read with them.  If there's a book about lent, or holy week, or even the Bible or praying the Agpeya during this time, all of which are spiritually edifying during a time when the chanters spend their 10 minutes on a sentence.

I know a friend of mine though who tells me the monks of a certain monastery in Egypt have found spiritual meaning in the melismatic tunes, and that these long tunes tell a story that one can contemplate as he/she is chanting them.  It would be amazing if one can put these monastic understandings of the hymns into writing, or in youtube presentations.  Rather than mindless memorization of these tunes, one can learn the hymns with meditation to quickly memorize them and appreciate them more.

Until then, whenever the chanters chant in Arabic or Melismatic tunes where I won't understand them, then I pull out my spiritual book that I brought with me.
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2012, 10:24:49 PM »

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't think to bring a book to liturgy. I don't think that is appropriate. As I wrote before, we are to be attentive. While it's not always easy, it is what's best.

Quote
I know a friend of mine though who tells me the monks of a certain monastery in Egypt have found spiritual meaning in the melismatic tunes, and that these long tunes tell a story that one can contemplate as he/she is chanting them.  It would be amazing if one can put these monastic understandings of the hymns into writing, or in youtube presentations.  Rather than mindless memorization of these tunes, one can learn the hymns with meditation to quickly memorize them and appreciate them more.

I have never heard of that before about the monks, but that is what I try to do. To use "Ke Eperto" again, I figure that if I have seven and a half minutes to memorize and ponder 22 words, then I had better know it backwards and forwards by the time it's done. I think of all things in the church in a similar fashion: It takes exactly as long as it takes. Smiley I realize that this is a luxury and that not everyone will share that view, and that's okay. I just think that there is always something to do in connection to what is going on the liturgy.
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« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2012, 03:54:13 AM »

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences.

Such as?
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« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2012, 05:37:07 AM »

dzheremi,
thanks for that link! especially as my audio link did not come out for some reason.
it was lovely to hear the hymn in 4 languages, and the cheeky boys trying to get on camera remind us that children are the same all over the world!
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« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2012, 05:48:34 AM »

Lol! I think I am the odd white man out.
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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2012, 05:51:06 AM »

 Shocked
so what songs do u like to sing for Holy week, father?
maybe u could post the words if u don't have the tunes.
that way we won't argue about who has the best tunes.
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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2012, 06:08:54 AM »

I have a copy of a chant CD of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, by the Mount Lebanon Choir. They take a minute and a half just to sing the last syllable of "cherubim." Now that's melismatic.   Grin  

That's what happens when the timing is not quite right. What I mean is that one does not want to have dead spots during the Liturgy; it is just horrible when the first half of the Cherubic Hymn is finished and everybody fidgets for what seems to be an eternity for the Great Entrance procession to start.
In London we keep singing until the priest is ready for the Great Entrance. No time for fidgeting!
In my church we have recently gone onto chanting Byzantine style. It sounds great! The reason is mention this is because singing in the British Orthodox church seems thin and Anglican and so I'd like to suggest to Fr Peter that he looks into some of this material to see how it could be adapted for use in his church.


Another gripe, while I'm here! I go to a Coptic fellowship occasionally and they sing these dreadful evangelical hymns suitable for someone with aa folksy voice. Why?
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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2012, 06:17:09 AM »

Aidan, that is something we are working on with an EO choir master. So hopefully that will develop over this year.
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« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2012, 12:25:48 PM »

The two existing missions with a similar focus (Washington, D.C. and Toronto) seem to have an unhealthy attraction to Protestant influences.

Such as?

Let's just start with the sermon series on texts such as "The Purpose-Driven Life" and similar books. We have a wealth of spirituality in our own church. Why on earth do we need to import texts from such an alien tradition?
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« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2012, 12:31:58 PM »

Mabsoota, I found the translation of the Hours of Holy Week very well produced and moving last year. As the translations from various sources get better the text is not a problem. But I do find music problematic. I am English after all, and we do have a venerable and Orthodox Western tradition of Church music ourselves.
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« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2012, 12:44:34 PM »

Father Peter,

I've always wondered what exactly you are referring to when you refer to ancient Orthodox chant in the British isles. Is there a particular rite that is associated with your geographical area? I am most interested in the Southern European traditions (hence all the Mozarabic I'm always posting, since that's where some of my ancestors come from), so I never paid too much attention to Western or Northern Europe. I just assumed that most of that fell under the Galician usage. Is that a fair assumption? I assume that the Sarum rite is too late a development, as Bishop Osmond is a post-Great Schism figure (d. 1099, according to Wikipedia).
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« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2012, 01:03:20 PM »

I mean the whole tradition and culture of Gregorian chant, which was obviously older than the time of Pope Gregory, and became the foundation for all English church music. But the other forms of early Western church music are not so different. Certainly they are more similar than in comparison to modern Coptic chant. As far as I can see the monastic antiphonal chant of the Desert would not be liable to the development of long melisma, and therefore I think it reasonable, in my ignorance, to consider such developments later and non-monastic. Just as in the West the development of polyphony was also late.

The earliest forms of Scottish chant I have heard also seem to be part of the same Western chant tradition. Like Mozarabic and Ambrosian, these are variants of the common tradition and not different forms of church music.

When St Augustine came to England he brought the Gregorian tradition of church chant with him, and it was later taught by cantors in other parts of England. The British Church would have used some form of Western/Roman chant. St Ninian went to Rome and studied there. St Patrick was part of the Western church culture, and the Irish bishops naturally communicated with Rome when they had issues.

So as far as I can see there was and is a Western Orthodox tradition, and there is no reason why it should not be acknowledged to some extent. I just don't find the Middle Eastern forms so personally attractive - and I am certainly a committed Orthodox. I do think that there are Byzantine forms which are a better fit with British culture.
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2012, 07:59:32 PM »

Alleluia! I can't wait to visit there one day.

May God's Grace be upon them and grant many years to come on them... May God be with us all!
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« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2012, 04:49:42 AM »

Although now located in the Outer Hebrides amongst Presbyterians, Gaelic unaccompanied psalm singing is said to be something like the chant style of Columban monks.

I find it haunting and quite unlike Gregorian chant or any Oriental singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3MzZgPBL3Q
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« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2012, 05:02:38 AM »

I agree, Aidan: Gaelic Psalm chanting from Lewis is amazing. There was a CD collection made of this chant circa 1994 -- I don't know if it's still in print (I think it's just called "Gaelic Psalms from Lewis" or something similar), but it's definitely worth tracking down.

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« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2012, 06:14:21 AM »

It does express what I have said, the primacy of the text and comprehension.

Do you not think it is still a lot like the metrical psalm singing of the Highlands in English? Or rather that the English metrical Psalms of the Wee Frees are not so much removed.

It is a bit like Ethiopian chant - not that I am suggesting a link :-)
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« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2012, 08:21:21 AM »

"American Orthodox" sounds a lot like the OCA, so there is a risk for confusion.

Also, I must say I am concerned by the Coptic Church creating ethnic British, French and now American parishes... are the regular Coptic parishes only for Egyptians? I still prefer to think that an Orthodox parish, whether EO or OO, should be open to people of all backgrounds.
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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2012, 08:49:40 AM »

Surely immigrants should eventually adopt much of the local culture, in terms of language, and perhaps elements of musicality at least, so that they are able to be American Coptic Orthodox or whatever?
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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2012, 09:50:27 AM »

It is a bit like Ethiopian chant - not that I am suggesting a link :-)

Remarkably similar, actually. If they switched to Ge'ez and added some more twirls it would be difficult to tell the two styles apart. At least the one in the clip. Very beautiful.


It's quite interesting how "eastern sounding" much of European folk music really is. I brought a Norwegian friend of mine to church a couple of weeks ago. While he was unfamiliar with Byzantine chant, he said he felt very at home with it because of its similarity to the scales of the Norwegian folk music he grew up hearing.
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