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Poll
Question: Do you prefer Byzantine Chant or Russian four-part singing. or something else?
Byzantine chant - 36 (48.6%)
Russian four-part singing - 12 (16.2%)
Russian chant - 7 (9.5%)
some other kind of chant - 15 (20.3%)
some other kind of singing - 4 (5.4%)
Total Voters: 74

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Author Topic: Poll: Byzantine Chant vs. Russian four-part Harmony  (Read 6437 times) Average Rating: 0
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Pravoslavbob
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« on: March 17, 2006, 12:35:29 PM »

Okay everyone.......I am far from being a musical expert, but some comments in the ORU thread intrigued me enough that I wanted to see your thoughts on this issue.  So let everyone know what you think, and please post some comments as to why you think as you do. Cool

For my part, I choose Russian four part harmony, but maybe that is because it is what I am most familiar with.  I actually love Byzantine chant.  I find that it is in many ways more spiritual than Slav four-part harmony.  What I don't like is when the two forms are mixed a lot in one liturgical service.  (I think it can work to some degree, but the pieces of music have to approach the other form enough so that the liturgical experience still seems kind of seemless, if you know what I mean.)  I find this quite jarring at times, because although they are both Orthodox, they are different ways of expressing the same thing.  I think I'm looking at the same truth in a different way when I'm immersed in one or the other type of chant/singing.  It seems to me to be quite artificial and contrived to switch between the two.

Sometimes I find Russian four-part singing to be inappropriately emotional, considering the transcendent truths that are brought to mind in Orthodox liturgical expression.  What are your thoughts?

James Bob

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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2006, 12:42:51 PM »

Quote
What I don't like is when the two forms are mixed a lot in one liturgical service.  

Yes, yes, yes! This seriously cheeses me off, but nobody else seems to think this way. Sad

One year ago, I probably would have said 4-part harmony, but since then I've slowly come to like Byzantine chant more. Gregorian chant is still the best, though.
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2006, 12:45:24 PM »

Byzantine chant all the way.  I think simple chanting that can be easily understood is the intention of the Church - some of the more complex 4+ part harmonies popular among Russians are just strange sounding.  Although I don't mind the more chant like forms of chant in Church that Russians and Serbs do.  Byzantine also has a great deal of versitility considering that it used for Greek, Arabic, Romanian and Slavonic/Bulgarian. ÂÂ
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2006, 01:30:51 PM »

I love byzantine chant

Next comes gregorian and simple harmonized Znammeny- monophonic Znammeny is sooo boring!

I haaaate when byzantine chant is mixed with slavic or "american composer orthodox" 4 part stuff- UNLESS there is a concelebration. I can't stand being in church listening to byzantien and then suddenly, a whole different system of music comes in. Does not flow nicely at all.

If a parish is mixed ethnically, then perhaps the way to go (IMO), is for one sunday to have it byzantine, the next, znammeny, the next, 4 part harmony and have a rotation of some sort so everyon is happy. Hearing "When the Stone was sealed" in byzantine chant I expect to hear "Axion Estin" also in byzantine chnt.
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2006, 01:31:59 PM »

btw, this stuff (ie. slavic and byz music all together) does not happen in Canadian parishes other than on Sunday of Orthodoxy every year) so maybe thats why I find it hidious.
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2006, 02:48:54 PM »

Gregorian chant is still the best, though.

Thank you!  I'm glad somebody agrees with me.  Grin Though I have to say, Gregorian Chant in the strict sense is "the Gregorian chants", that is, it includes the actual texts and chants written way back when.  While I don't think we can really use that particularly, I would love to hear the Liturgy of Chrysostom sung in modal chant, the style of Gregorian, rather than always singing "someone else's" music.
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2006, 03:23:30 PM »

thats what the Western Rite is for.
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2006, 03:52:40 PM »

thats what the Western Rite is for.

Yes, if you accept them as being fully Orthodox.  But I have a hard time with it (not to mention my priest) since it looks like they just want to keep being Anglican or Catholic instead of converting to Orthodoxy.  Eastern parishes are far more abundant and therefore more practical.  But that's a whole issue I don't know what to do with...and I think it must be possible to be "eastern" in faith and theology, but not abandon what has been good in Western Christian traditions.  I think there are some things, like the style of chant.
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2006, 05:14:14 PM »

I would love to hear the Liturgy of Chrysostom sung in modal chant, the style of Gregorian, rather than always singing "someone else's" music.

I wish I could remember who said this, but there was a Greek professor of Byzantine chant who felt that Gregorian chant would be the way to go for Orthodox in America.  There was a priest who set the Cherubic Hymn to "Salve Regina".
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2006, 05:51:01 PM »

I put the last option, since I'm used to this variety or mix that some of you hate - we have a very mixed parish (or United Nations as a parishoner has put it), although my priest is pretty much considered the Znammeny master of the country for many of his musical settings.  If you don't like mix, maybe you just haven't heard it done well.  There are some polyphonic selections I prefer to Byzantine and some Byzantine or other chant I prefer to polyphonic.  

Timos,
Then add an ison to the mono Znammeny like Fr. Gerasim at Valaam did (from my choir director, who helped on those Valaam recordings, there is no ison - it's a Fr. Gerasim thing - and he SINGS the words).

monkvasyl,
I don't really know much about Gregorian chant, but aren't there many different settings to Salve Regina?

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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2006, 06:06:42 PM »

I had a tough time on this one.  I voted for Russian 4-part singing although there is nothing better than the Divine Liturgy sung in Carpatho Russian Prostopinije with the whole congregation singing.  Truly, it is heaven on earth!
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2006, 06:57:59 PM »

I had a tough time on this one.  I voted for Russian 4-part singing although there is nothing better than the Divine Liturgy sung in Carpatho Russian Prostopinije with the whole congregation singing.  Truly, it is heaven on earth!

I'd like to hear that too; is that how it's done in your parish?  Is it monophonic or parts?
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2006, 07:10:30 PM »

I'd like to hear that too; is that how it's done in your parish?  Is it monophonic or parts?

I think he said in another thread that a few random people will sing a 3rd above the melody, but other than that no "parts".

And for the record, acording to knowledgeable music experts, Znammeny is a subset of Prostopinije.  
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2006, 07:22:23 PM »

I'd like to hear that too; is that how it's done in your parish?  Is it monophonic or parts?
Unfortunately, not for most Sunday Liturgies.  We have become (like most CR parishes that joined the Russian Metropolia in the 20's and 30's) a Russified parish.  Sunday liturgies are a combination of Russian 4-part and Prostopinije although the congregation will sing along with the choir even with the Russian melodies (and even the parts that are sung using the big "concert" Russian composers!) .  Holy Day liturgies are mostly CR chant and if there are 30-40 people, there are 30-40 "parts"!
Check this link for a recording of a Greek Catholic congregation singing Prostopinije from the 1960's:
http://www.patronagechurch.com/Divine_Liturgy_1966/Divine_Liturgy_Kocisko_1966.htm
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2006, 07:25:58 PM »

And for the record, acording to knowledgeable music experts, Znammeny is a subset of Prostopinije.  
Actually, I think you meant to say, Prostopinije is a subset of Znammeny.
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2006, 08:52:19 PM »

BYZANTINE CHANT  IN GREEK . . . OF COURSE!  The Church I now go to does it in Antiochian Chant . . . they do it anyway they want depending on who is chanting and who shows up for the choir.
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2006, 09:01:09 PM »

BYZANTINE CHANT  IN GREEK . . . OF COURSE!  The Church I now go to does it in Antiochian Chant . . . they do it anyway they want depending on who is chanting and who shows up for the choir.

Well....duh, yeah!  Each according to their own ability.

The lamest though is the Fr. John Finley (no offense to him - he just didn't know what he was doing at the time) harmonized Byzantine stuff.  It took me going FROM an Antiochian parish TO an OCA parish to hear that St. Romanos Topar melody w/o 4 parts!
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2006, 09:09:35 PM »

Yes, yes, yes! This seriously cheeses me off, but nobody else seems to think this way. Sad

It seems kind of strange that more people aren't sensitive to the abrupt changes in flow of the liturgy when this kind of stuff happens!
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2006, 09:12:33 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=8478.msg112057#msg112057 date=1142613924]
 Byzantine also has a great deal of versitility considering that it used for Greek, Arabic, Romanian and Slavonic/Bulgarian.  
[/quote]

Good point.
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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2006, 09:19:35 PM »

... monophonic Znammeny is sooo boring!

Unfortunately, it seems that I must agree with you when it comes to a lot of the Znanemy stuff.  The melodies seem so "busy", going every which way.  I find them very hard to sing also.  I want to like Znanemy, because it is much more ancient than the four-part stuff.  I guess there is some that I like though, come to think of it.

Quote
I haaaate when byzantine chant is mixed with slavic or "american composer orthodox" 4 part stuff- UNLESS there is a concelebration. I can't stand being in church listening to byzantien and then suddenly, a whole different system of music comes in. Does not flow nicely at all.

Good, another one stands up to be counted! Cool

Sometimes I do think that Elisha might have a point, depending on how things are done.
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« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2006, 12:18:10 AM »

I have to admit that my main reason for preferring Russian 4-part liturgical music is totally "worldly."  I have a Bachelor's Degree in music, and my degree program was--like any you will find in the U.S.--deeply steeped in the Western musical theory that underlies Russian church music from the reforms of Tsar Peter the Great on.

However, our choir director and my godfather--a trained professional choir director and music teacher--has made it his mission to incorporate a variety of different musical traditions (such as Znamenny, Carpatho-Russian, Byzantine, and even some Gregorian) into our liturgical services.  Many of you may find this to be too "busy," a sentiment that I can appreciate.  But as an active singer in my church choir I've grown to appreciate this variety and consider myself blessed to be so immersed in so many different liturgical music traditions.  (Maybe our choir director's professional expertise helps him immensely as he molds and shapes our choir sound into something beautiful regardless of the style of music we may sing.  He certainly expects a lot of us in our rehearsals, but we want so much to give beauty to our music that we willingly give him what he wants.)
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« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2006, 02:19:47 AM »

Well....duh, yeah!  Each according to their own ability.

You didn't hear what I wrote . . . 'they do it anyway they want' . . . has nothing to do with ability, it has to do with 'my way is right' attitude.
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« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2006, 11:39:24 PM »

I give the link to the prostopinije a thumbs up.  It is a good example (obviously), although it is sung a lot faster in my experience (this was a hierarchical divine liturgy).
It passes my "is it good prostopinije test"!
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« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2006, 08:25:43 PM »

Gregorian chant is still the best, though.

Right on!

 Smiley

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« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2006, 12:28:22 AM »

nothing better than the Divine Liturgy sung in Carpatho Russian Prostopinije with the whole congregation singing.  Truly, it is heaven on earth!
I agree fully, I chose "some other chant" because I prefer prostopinije above all the others, and I miss it. As far as I can tell there is not one Orthodox parish near Chicago that still practices prostopinije, I don't think that even the ACROD parish does (although I may be mistaken about that one, the only time I was there the choir was singing Russian four part harmony).

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« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2006, 12:33:38 AM »

ACROD

ACROD? Huh Huh Huh  What's this acronym mean?
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« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2006, 12:48:18 AM »

I actually chose Russian chant...gorgeous...before I thought about Gregorian, which still speaks to my heart in ways eastern chant never has.  Guess I'm not used to applying western answers to questions that are (usually) posed from eastern povs...

Yes, if you accept them as being fully Orthodox.  But I have a hard time with it (not to mention my priest) since it looks like they just want to keep being Anglican or Catholic instead of converting to Orthodoxy.

[Deep sigh] (Eeeeeasy, Pedro...)

OK...MicahJohn...what about the WR do you have a hard time as accepting as fully Orthodox?  You can PM me on this one if you like so as not to derail the thread.  As you may have noticed ('cause, y'know, I didn't make it obvious or anything  Roll Eyes), the Western Rite is something dear to my heart, even though I'm in the OCA myself...

Quote
and I think it must be possible to be "eastern" in faith and theology, but not abandon what has been good in Western Christian traditions.  I think there are some things, like the style of chant.

Glad you can see this.

ACROD? Huh Huh Huh  What's this acronym mean?

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese
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« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2006, 01:07:59 AM »

[Deep sigh] (Eeeeeasy, Pedro...)

OK...MicahJohn...what about the WR do you have a hard time as accepting as fully Orthodox?


An interesting note from pages 309-316 of Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (Hieromonk Damascene, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2003):  Archbishop St. John Maximovich (ROCOR) actually supported the work of building Western Orthodox churches in France and The Netherlands, churches that celebrated Liturgies of their local Western (Gallican, for instance) rites.

Quote

Thanks for the info.  A lot of these acronyms are new to me, so they confuse me rather easily.
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« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2006, 10:49:08 AM »

Quote
[Deep sigh] (Eeeeeasy, Pedro...)

OK...MicahJohn...what about the WR do you have a hard time as accepting as fully Orthodox?  You can PM me on this one if you like so as not to derail the thread.  As you may have noticed ('cause, y'know, I didn't make it obvious or anything  Roll Eyes), the Western Rite is something dear to my heart, even though I'm in the OCA myself...

I'm answering you in a new thread found here.
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« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2007, 04:18:45 PM »

Some other type of chant.  Give me prostopinije.
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« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2007, 10:52:26 PM »

For me, it's Byzantine.  Though I have a minor in music, specializing in Renaissance polyphony which drew much of its inspiration from Gregorian chant (which i still love, when it's done correctly), it cannot compare to the variability and versatility of Byzantine chant.  It can be austere and joyful, solemn yet playful.  I love the poles that it presents.

As to comments as to Antiochians do it whatever way they want, this is true.  For instance, every week we are given the notes for the service according to the Typicon.  Many of the stichera for "Lord I have Cried" and the Aposticha that are not part of the Octoechos, but honor the saints or feast, are appointed to be chanted using special melodies.  This is very often not done (I will confess my own shortcomings in this regard) and instead the chanters free chant almost everything. It needs to be corrected, but I'm new and I don't feel I'm the person who should be bringing this up!

On another thread, I remarked how difficult it was to get Byzantine chant settings for various parts of the Liturgy.  Many of you were quite helpful in finding alternate sources rather than simply singing hte soprano line from the Cherubic Hymn of Arkangelsky or Bortniansky, etc solo.  If anyone else has other suggestions or sources beyond the Divine Liturgies Project, I'd be most grateful.  I'm really disappointed that the Antiochian website is SO devoid of chants but favors the harmonized chants, most of which just don't sound right.

My $.02!

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« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2007, 02:42:46 AM »

For me, it's Byzantine.  Though I have a minor in music, specializing in Renaissance polyphony which drew much of its inspiration from Gregorian chant (which i still love, when it's done correctly), it cannot compare to the variability and versatility of Byzantine chant.  It can be austere and joyful, solemn yet playful.  I love the poles that it presents.

As to comments as to Antiochians do it whatever way they want, this is true.  For instance, every week we are given the notes for the service according to the Typicon.  Many of the stichera for "Lord I have Cried" and the Aposticha that are not part of the Octoechos, but honor the saints or feast, are appointed to be chanted using special melodies.  This is very often not done (I will confess my own shortcomings in this regard) and instead the chanters free chant almost everything. It needs to be corrected, but I'm new and I don't feel I'm the person who should be bringing this up!

On another thread, I remarked how difficult it was to get Byzantine chant settings for various parts of the Liturgy.  Many of you were quite helpful in finding alternate sources rather than simply singing hte soprano line from the Cherubic Hymn of Arkangelsky or Bortniansky, etc solo.  If anyone else has other suggestions or sources beyond the Divine Liturgies Project, I'd be most grateful.  I'm really disappointed that the Antiochian website is SO devoid of chants but favors the harmonized chants, most of which just don't sound right.

My $.02!

Scamandrius

Stay tuned.  Before the year is through, my parish (St. Seraphim's in Santa Rosa, CA) will be releasing multiple, yes MULTIPLE albums that include special melodies (to be deliberately vague and keep you wanting), lots of Znammeny chant.  Znammeny Chant of ALL 8 Dogmatika (Tones 1-8), several Cherubika that most have not heard and other "Festal" pieces.  As part of a nice octect (actually, there are 5 men, so 9), we recorded an incredible Tone 5 Znammeny Cherubic hymn. 
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« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2007, 09:52:15 AM »

I voted for Other because you left off the option "I like both equally".  I really do because I enjoy all forms of worship music and hymnology. Sometimes I prefer one over the other for the specific season of the Church year but as a whole I enjoy  both traditions of Orthodox chanting.

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« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2007, 10:16:05 AM »

Stay tuned.  Before the year is through, my parish (St. Seraphim's in Santa Rosa, CA) will be releasing multiple, yes MULTIPLE albums that include special melodies (to be deliberately vague and keep you wanting), lots of Znammeny chant.  Znammeny Chant of ALL 8 Dogmatika (Tones 1-8), several Cherubika that most have not heard and other "Festal" pieces.  As part of a nice octect (actually, there are 5 men, so 9), we recorded an incredible Tone 5 Znammeny Cherubic hymn. 

Elisha,

You once told me to get in touch with your priest about the music for various pieces.  I've yet to do it because of my schedule.  Do you think several of these pieces would be available to others outside your parish?  We need more cherubic hymns in our repertoire.  It's not that the ones we have are bad; I'm just wanting to do something else on Sundays!  Cheesy Thanks.

Scamandrius
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« Reply #34 on: January 24, 2007, 11:48:51 AM »

scamandrius,
Check your PMs.
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« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2007, 11:55:18 AM »

Prostopinje
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« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2007, 11:57:06 AM »

Okay, admittedly I am completely ignorant on the issue.  Could someone provide me with comparable comparisons between all.

Russian chant vs. Four part harmony?HuhHuh?
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« Reply #37 on: January 24, 2007, 12:56:45 PM »

Okay, admittedly I am completely ignorant on the issue.  Could someone provide me with comparable comparisons between all.

Russian chant vs. Four part harmony?HuhHuh?

Okay, thankfully I am not the only one who is completely lost on this.  I love the Gregorian chants, but I have no idea what a four part harmony is.
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« Reply #38 on: January 24, 2007, 01:04:27 PM »

Quote
I love the Gregorian chants, but I have no idea what a four part harmony is.

Think Tchaikovsky and Rachmannoff.  It's the singing that possibly sounds like an Opera at times.  This is in contrast with older Russian music, which is usually simpler and no more than two parts.  IIRC, I changed almost overnight in the 18th century; although, you can definitly hear the evolution while listening to the different composers.
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« Reply #39 on: January 24, 2007, 01:04:44 PM »

I think when people say "4 part", they mean not only that the chant is harmonized, but that it is polyphonic.  In other words different parts are sung by different voices to emphasize different things.  Traditional chant is just monophonic and in unison, no splitting up the parts and no harmonization.

The Antiochian parishes I've been in, which should be using Byzantine Chant, all seem to favor not only harmonized but polyphonic choral stuff.  I've seen that in Greek parishes too though.

I'm not a music maven (my wife being the band nerd of the family), but I think what I said is pretty close to accurate.
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« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2007, 01:08:48 PM »

Oh, thanks guys that cleared things up nicely.*












*SS99 now walking around his office with more of a dumbfounded look than before. (would like to say - sheesh, can you just post some examples.
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« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2007, 01:13:50 PM »

Well, I've got to leave my home comp. for the moment.  Later tonight, I'll see if I can find ind. post links to compare.  Then we can have the true test!  Of course, my disclaimer is that I'm not as well-versed in this knowledge.
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« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2007, 02:47:43 PM »

Strictly speaking, there is no polyphonic chanting (modulo passing tones during the cadences). Anglican chant is always four-part, but it is homophonic. I think there is a bit of confusion here because when people start talking about those Russian late romantics, I have to think that they are thinking about something like Rachmaninoff's vespers, which has almost no chant in it at all.

I personally don't care for Byzantine chant, but it's because of its pre-medieval harmonic structure. And I don't care for the "auctioneer" style of chant which seems to be epidemic in the East.

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« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2007, 04:37:33 PM »

Being a Uke, I have to admit that I love most forms of Russian Chant...especially Kievan!
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« Reply #44 on: January 25, 2007, 05:27:55 PM »

Gregorian & Russian...

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Tags: Byzantine Chant Prostopinije Gregorian chant Znammeny chant four-part harmony Western Rite music liturgical music 
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