Friday, January 11, 2013

Wonderful piece on the Chant Intensive

From the Macon Telegraph

Move over monks. Gregorian chant is not just for monasteries these days.

Melodies that pre-date the Middle Ages are becoming more mainstream in modern Catholic Masses.

This week, dozens of musicians from across the country have been studying the ancient art in a conference at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Macon.

With men and women sequestered in different buildings, instructors have been going over the basics and beyond.

“It’s challenging,” said instructor Richard Rice, a composer and music director for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. “The melodies do strange things.”

With its origins in the first century, chant is not metered. The familiar music staff and metered measures came a couple of centuries later.

“The problem with this music is it’s not all there on the page for you,” Rice said. “You have to have an organizational system.”

Singers at the conference are learning a rhythm technique developed in the late 19th century during another chant revival at the Abbey of Solesmes in France.

“We don’t know what it sounded like in 800,” instructor Arlene Oost-Zinner of Auburn, Ala., said. “Some don’t adhere to the method. They think it’s artificial.”

Her students made their own notations on the music to help set the rhythm.

“Don’t ever say beat with chant,” Oost-Zinner told her female students Wednesday. “It’s pulse -- (like) the beats of the heart, waves of the ocean, the flapping of angels’ wings.”

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