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12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - \"Mass of Renewal\": A... · 0 replies · +2 points

That's a very interesting essay, though I would quibble at that remark about Mozart's Ave Verum. A few of my thoughts:

1) I think the point that the category of sacred music has been "broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself." needs much repeating. I think people are simply unaware that there are other, para-liturgical services at which music which is unnecessary or inappropriate at mass would be welcome.

Also, I think there is also a lack of creativity. Pick a few related pieces, learn them, give the occasion a nice title related to its theme, find a suitable date, put up some flyers, sing, discuss a little, then have some food. Amongst the many practical benefits which are too numerous/obvious to list, such might let the mass be what it needs to be, what it is, while letting you experiment elsewhere. You can use the occasions to do seasonal music, music emphasizing that Sunday's readings, or whatever. You could do Bach or use it to offload some of the hymns cut from the mass (should one have done that.)

2) I like the more technical analysis very much. I attempted a not so different analysis a couple of months ago, should you be interested:

Back to this essay. The author's conclusion was subtle and specific: gebrauchtmusik. I think the word aptly describes that same curious "lack" I commented on in my own observations above. The new pieces are curiously, almost bafflingly, devoid of "movement, inspiration, savor."

On the one hand we need to foster and favor a culture of creativity of sacred music, on the other we have to realize that "The liturgical norms, far from imposing constraints of an exterior and legalistic kind, thus become guarantors" of the intrinsic beauty of the mass.

On the one hand we need to foster new music, on the other we have to realize there exists timeless, incomparable music that everything subsequent has if not to live up to, at least to aspire to.

12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - The Café Never ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thanks for this Charles. I was hovering around similar feelings in my second post on that thread. I think a lot of the tension comes from the fact that everyone here loves music and that for one "side" 1) to sing something badly is to desecrate the idea and for the other "side" 2) to be told that you are desecrating an idea seems an outrage. (How many countless other disagreements could this describe?)

Surely we all endeavor to be critical yet specific and constructive. As skeptical as I am about modern styles and practices, I can no more predict what they are capable of than Palestrina himself, if I summarized the Classical style for him, could have predicted Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Am I expecting a new Missa Solemnis any time soon? No, but I don't want to discourage anyone from trying.

For my part I love discussing the complicated aspects of aesthetics and musical practice/form, and while humans can seldom if ever say or receive anything impersonally, being specific about our complaints is a good start. (I still really don't like that trumpet part.)

Maybe we should all get together and sing each other's music together? Could be revealing. Every so often we need reminders that wonderful, brilliant, kind people do disagree. Could also be WWIII. Who knows.

12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - Question: How Did This... · 3 replies · +4 points

Well-observed, sir. For my part it seems that most here agree this is a not-so-stellar piece. On the other hand its "diversion" from the norm may or may not be significant. It would seem reasonable that at this time of change one would not want to be too liberal about making exceptions to what one hopes to be a new standard. Apparently, 1) Mr. Schutte did not think it was an egregious change, and he thought the diversion was necessary to his vision of the piece, a motive I think we all respect. 2) Whoever approved it either agreed or approved it out of a sense of ecumenism.

For my part, it was the wrong piece at the wrong time.

To your second (and equally good) point, I'll speak just for myself. Why is this a big deal? First, pragmatically (and as I said) now is not the time to be loose in any way with the rules. Second, though, IS that this is not such a great piece. I can live more with Haydn writing "Te laudamus" (a bigger change) in the Nelson Mass more easily than I can live with this because we gain something with Haydn. Is Haydn's change ideal? Of course not. But we gain nothing in allowing Mr. Schutte's change, and thus feel cheated.

Lastly, bear in mind that many of us are passionate about music and believe that to set an idea to music is an almost sacred responsibility even if the idea is extra-liturgical. To express an idea badly in music is to debase it and such is why we often react with outright horror to certain settings.

We never mean to be hurtful to our contemporary composers and value and respect their taking up this timeless and momentous duty of making the Church's music, a duty which humbles all who undertake the task.

12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - Question: How Did This... · 0 replies · +5 points

Good grief. Occasionally the schmaltz rises to mere insipidness but the tone is consistently that of a television show holiday special. I occasionally think that some composers of contemporary music are not aware that these pieces are in any style at all and that such practices, to them, are simply all they know. Then I come to my senses and realize they of course know better. I can only then conclude that they do not realize their own practices and styles are faux-sentimentality and that to express true beauty, grandeur, wonder, et cetera, they need different musical tools. Which is I guess a fancy and oblique way of saying they need to be better composers.

One so often feels like they just don't know what to do. What's with that flapping trumpet figure? It's just kinda tacked on there. I guess he (reasonably) thought the instrument was appropriate in certain places so he did *something* with it. It feels coarse to say, but. . . it's hard to be charitable here.

12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - Criticize Rutter; Lose... · 0 replies · +1 points

One certainly hopes the dismissal was on account of the "color" of the remarks and not simply that they were critical. Rutter's popularity (such as it is, whatever it is) has always flummoxed me. He certainly has enormous shoes to fill as an English composer and as a composer for the royal family. For my part, "This is the Day. . ." is surprisingly bland and my experience with Rutter has always led me to ask myself, "Why isn't he doing anything here?"

Not to flatter the Daily Mail but I found their descriptions amusing. The piece "drew on words from five psalms" and was written in Rutter's "tuneful and approachable style." Oh my! And the Dean's reaction. By "arrange" we assume he means "arrange for," and is he really "thrilled." Allowing for the obsequiousness endemic to the political and royal realms, could the piece conceivably "thrill" anyone? It is a trifle not one of top fifty composers could have written on his worst or greenest day. (The "Influences" section of Rutter's Wikipedia page, evidently a source for the Mail's article, is likewise thrilled by several Freshman-level musical insights.)

Obviously there are issues of diplomacy and courtesy at work here buy blind admiration of many of today's composers is simply inconceivable to anyone who has taken the most cursory look into the past. For my part, and though I say this as a reasonably young man, some people are incurable devotees of the contemporary.

12 years ago @ Chant Cafe - September 4 in the USo... · 0 replies · +1 points

I think that is a very interesting point about motives. One ought to consider fundamentally what music is. Usually, more or less, we think it exists to develop an idea, and of course "it" really means structure, and "idea" usually means theme or motive. So then we must ask "what structure" and "what theme," of course enormous questions.

It is interesting though that the word "motivic" really implies a structure, since something isn't a motive unless it's repeated. Hence the highly forward-moving, feel of through-composed pieces and [much] chant and hence its appropriateness for ideas that do not need to be "developed."

Yet where in the liturgy do we really need to "develop" an idea and where do we need "simply" to pronounce it (i.e. without repetition.) Repeating anything either harmonically or motivically/thematically should coincide with a repeated idea in the text., which doesn't really happen so much as one might think. For example "developing" the "Kyrie" in a fugue seems to make sense, but breaking up the gloria and credo into smaller settings? Then there are other situations where liturgical practice takes precedent. For example, it might make sense to "develop" the idea of "Sanctus" but it needs to be said three times, not n-teen times in a fugue.

Glad to hear Bolduc's setting seems to have been attentive to some of these issues.

14 years ago @ Big Hollywood - T'was Accountability T... · 0 replies · +3 points

"No matter your politics, people want stimulation and information, not affirmation."

I think this statement should be true of news, I'm not sure whether it is. I think many people of various political persuasions don't want all of the news, they want news tailored to fit them, i.e. with the stuff they disagree with left out or made palatable, and with the news they like emphasized.

Bring up the anti-war flops in this context is interesting. People have varying ideas about what art should be, e.g. whether it should be didactic or should affirm some value or sense of life. I think the anti-war movies failed because most film-goers naturally prejudge (at least a little) a movie based on what they think it is about, i.e. its premises. If they don't see the film, it is because they don't think they'll like it. I think the quasi-documentary styles of the movies was an attempt to compensate for this obvious tendency on the part of moviegoers.

Ironically, I think many news programs are failing because they are the ones doing the "affirming", by means of selecting what stories to show and not show, et cetera. They wanted to gain viewership and they tried to do that by targeting their audience. They chose to reward the people tuning in who already thought Bush was evil and stupid and the wars are illegal and going badly, by showing them cherry-picked stories that affirmed their beliefs.

Perverse, that the "news" programs were (as others have said) crafting the narratives and the films were presenting "reality."

14 years ago @ Big Hollywood - D-Day for Health Care ... · 0 replies · +2 points

"Is this the D-Day for health care or just the beginning of what will be a long, hard debate?"

Both. Toward the end of the great, Patton, the general, about six months after D-Day and just before the siege of Bastogne/Battle of the Bulge, says "[My troops] realize, as I do, that we can still lose this war."

I use the analogy since it is apt, but I have to say no one should be entirely comfortable using military analogies in discussing politics involving himself and his fellow countrymen. We're all Americans here, and however unAmerican some people's ideas may be, we can't lose sight of what unites us.

That said, I believe we must be both relentless and logical. Cheap shots won't help us. Consistent and clear deconstructions of the arguments for the "reform" plan will serve us best. Pace Bill Maher and the Hollywood elite, Americans are not stupid. We might not all have umpteen degrees but we're hard to bamboozle and we don't like to be lied to.

We also must not let them dominate the debate by adopting their euphemistic terminology. (i.e. this isn't "reform," this is statism/socialism.) We're quoting the Founding Fathers and greatest economists, they're demonstrating an inability to do basic math. We're quoting the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Federalist papers. . . and they're throwing around the usual faux-intellectual liberal twaddle.

They have nothing, not one argument in their favor. Anyone who reads the bill, as Mr. DeMartini says, will see it for what it is. Such is why they wanted it pushed through ASAP. Yet we've drawn out the debate long enough for moderates to see the devils in the details, and the more consistent and clear we are in the upcoming months, I think, the better chance we have of sinking this boondoggle in toto.

14 years ago @ Big Hollywood - Why Can’t Conservati... · 9 replies · +8 points

"The entire Catholic community believes that health care for everyone is a basic human right."

Please don't put words in my mouth, thank you. I won't pretend to speak for all Catholics, but please don't assume that because Catholics have some, I'll just generally call them "humanitarian," beliefs, we believe health care is a right. For me and others I know, opposing this bill is not just about abortion issues. Part of the faith is the freedom of helping someone personally, not involuntarily being taxed to help someone via a vast impersonal bureaucracy. Again not speaking for everyone, some of us believe in limited government too.

14 years ago @ Big Hollywood - 'Taking Woodstock': My... · 0 replies · +2 points

Many thanks to him for his service and to your whole family. I intended no disrespect.