Jeffrey Morse on Chant Intensive 2019: register now

You still have time to register at regular rates and avoid the late fees… Register by May 15th!

Once again, the CMAA will be offering the Summer Chant Intensive at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. The course is offered June 24-28, 2019.

This course has been a valuable springboard for many Catholic musicians who wanted to learn more about Gregorian chant. Many of us got our start in directing scholas and choirs because of this course, which was offered for the first time in 2008.

Our instructor this year will be Jeffrey Morse, who has provided us with this letter that includes more detail about the scope of the course:

… Over the years teaching chant to various groups at the Colloquium, many students had expressed their desire for more Chant instruction, particularly in subjects like the modes, but due to the time limitation of the Colloquium it was impossible to cover these topics.

If you were one of these students wanting more, the Chant Intensive is for you! The topics of the Chant Intensive are provided on the CMAA website, but I thought that perhaps it might prove helpful to expand a bit on the course description and syllabus, which can be a bit off putting and vague as they are necessarily short and succinct.

The Chant Intensive is offered for everyone, with little or no chant experience, but particularly for those with an intermediate level of knowledge of plainchant and even for the advanced. I think all levels will find something useful in this Intensive. While no chant knowledge, or little is required for the class, some will be helpful as the basics of Chant, the reading of the square notes, the staff, etc. will be done at a fairly good pace, serving as a review for the others in the first sessions. In my experience in teaching over the years, this is fine for beginners, but if you would like to go at a much slower pace, perhaps “Laus in Ecclesia Level I”, offered at the same time, might be a better fit.

In the course of the week, we will explore the 8 modes in which Chant is written. Their individual qualities and sounds, using solfège (do, re, mi) to learn the modes and be able to sing them. Modal studies will also focus on examples of Chant representing every mode, the
important notes in each, and how over centuries these notes have sometimes changed, as well as the psalm-tone for each mode. In the learning of the psalm-tones, or the little melodies to which the psalms are sung, we will learn how exactly the psalms are sung to each of these melodies and the rules of “Pointing” accents and preparatory syllables that make it possible. Emphasis too, will be placed on how a good unified, choral tone is cultivated, as well as good basic vocal techniques helpful for those students with choirs or even for themselves! The simple and natural rhythm of Chant, from the simple syllabic chants of the Ordinary of the Mass and Gregorian hymns, to the melismatic glories of the alleluias and Graduals and everything in between will be explored thoroughly in singing through as much of the Gregorian repertoire as possible, with time spent on teaching the direction of Chant (chironomy), with students able to practice the direction techniques learned with the group.

Lastly, we will be returning to the very sources of the Chant in a basic introduction to the reading of the notation of the St Gall school (9th century) which is the earliest notation in the Western world. We will talk about how these manuscripts helped in the melodic restoration of the Chant in the late 19th and early 20th century by the monks of Solesmes, and we will discover how their amazing subtleties, not carried through in the square note notation of later centuries, can inform and finesse our interpretation of the Chant breathing freshness, light, and life into the sacred texts it serves.

For those wanting a more thorough grounding and exposure to Gregorian Chant than what is possible at the Colloquium, this class is for you. I am grateful to the CMAA for offering the Chant Intensive each year, for I can think of nowhere else where such a complete education in the Chant is offered in such a concentrated fashion. With this class, it is hoped that the students will gain the confidence and skills to form and direct their own scholas or choirs, or become better directors of already existing ones, to bring this unparalleled music of the Church forward to our parishes and future generations, this music with its unique and singular ability to lift minds and hearts to God.

Looking forward to seeing old friends at the Chant Intensive and making new ones, singing with you all and passing it on! See you in Pittsburgh!

For all the information about the upcoming Chant courses in Pittsburgh, visit our website to find information about Registration, Housing, Schedule, and more: CMAA SUMMER COURSES

View a short video about the summer courses here:

REGISTER ONLINE NOW

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