Jump to content
Mander Organs

Dafydd y Garreg Wen

Members
  • Content count

    44
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Dafydd y Garreg Wen

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Recent Profile Visitors

179 profile views
  1. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Speech rhythm

    I think the confusion may arise because the nature of chant changed. Solesmes-style chanting aims to recover a relatively early style. By the sixteenth century chant had become much more measured, and in the case of metrical texts (hymns etc.) the music itself may have morphed into something much more metrical. Tallis, for instance, turns Te lucis into triple time in his polyphonic settings. This may well reflect how the chant itself would have been sung. Alternatively it may have been sung in equal notes but to the same tactus as the polyphony. (At any rate, it wouldn't have been sung in the light flowing Solesmes style that one usually hears when this repertoire is performed alternatim - that's an anachronism.) One penalty of this development would indeed be false accentuation in places, but people seem to have had a fair tolerance of this in singing English metrical texts (as we do to this day in hymns), so perhaps by this date they weren't that worried by it (however careful composers may have been about accentuation when setting prose texts polyphonically).
  2. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Speech rhythm

    It's hard to tell, isn't it?, given the lack of evidence. At the most extreme harmonised chanting could have been a very late development and the post-Restoration examples of proto-Anglican chant (incorporating a psalm tone) almost a novelty. On that hypothesis psalms in English would have been chanted to unison psalm tones (leavened by the occasional festal psalm) for getting on for a hundred years before people began to harmoise them. At the other a practice of informal harmonisation (I doubt it would have been literally improvised on the hoof!) could be pre-Reformation. You're right of course about the limited use of polyphony in the office, but I'm not sure that informally harmonised chant would count as polyphony and could easily escape note. But the point is that the development of Anglican chant (early, late or somewhere in between) probably doesn't have much to do with the change from Latin to English.
  3. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Speech rhythm

    These are deep waters .... My point (such as it was) was that it was interesting to find in one school of rendering Gregorian chant something not dissimilar to the stigmatised old way of singing Anglican chant, viz. a rapid reciting note followed by a more measured mediation or ending (as in the Cathedral Psalter, which in this respect, if not in others, seems to reflect the way that Anglican chant historically was performed). By contrast the "speech rhythm" school (nicely illustrated by Bairstow's comments) eschewed any distinction between reciting note and mediation/cadence. I chose Pluscarden because they illustrate this style so plainly. Solesmes does the same thing but not in such a pronounced way. Solemes pre-eminence in Gregorian chant of course is not unchallenged, but that is for another discussion .... Whether English can be sung satisfactorily to Gregorian chant is a vexed question, but the position of the (stress) accent, tho' often cited, is a bit of a red herring. Final-syllable stress is not unknown in Latin, and the chant accordingly makes provision for it; that provision can be applied just as well to final-syllable stress in English. It is true that final-syllable stress is commoner in English: J.H. Arnold reckons that the proportion is 8% as against half that in Latin. In both languages, however, stress falls elsewhere in the great majority of cases ("Where the dear Lord was cru-ci-fied"). (There are of course ambiguous cases: is it "There is a green hill far a-way" or "... far a-way"??!!) Anglican chant seems to have developed from (improvised??) fa-burden harmonisations of Gregorian psalm tones, very probably a pre-Reformation practice which simply continued amid the various liturgical disruptions; these harmonisations seem to have taken on a life of their own only in the post-Restoration period when dropping the psalm tone element produced the (single) Anglican chants that we know and love to this very day. One can compare how Tallis harmonised the traditional plainsong tones in his responses, as did his immediate successors, but later the tone was dropped and all parts were freely composed. The change of language probably had little to do with it. (It's odd, however, that this seems happened much earlier with responses than psalm chants.) Martin Shaw states that his Anglican Folk Mass is based on traditional (pre-Reformation) plainsong melodies, tho' I've never seen them identified (or been able to do so myself!). Curiously Cranmer, whether deliberately or unconsciously, seems to have echoed the rhythm of the Latin in some places in his Book of Common Prayer (which he actually composed in Latin and then translated into English - some of his working notes survive). Thus in the Litany the extra words "miserable sinners" after "Have mercy upon us" allow the English to fit the cadence of the chant for "Miserere nobis". Deep waters ... but fascinating.
  4. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Speech rhythm

    It's ironic that this is precisely what e.g. Pluscarden Abbey does not do in singing psalms to Gregorian chant! https://youtu.be/2K6DOXrGWZ8 Not that that's a objection to Bairstow's principles, but it is interesting. The Lamentation is a fine thing.
  5. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Speech rhythm

    You were way ahead of me ... my next step was going to be to look for recordings! As you say, speech rhythm at Windsor. But it's hard to see what else he can have meant by the rhythm of "conversational" English (tho' if it's speech rhythm he was aiming at he was using a straw man, for s.r. is supposed to be modelled on formal diction, as of one reading a lesson in a fairly resonant acoustic (without amplification!) - hardly "conversational"). Did he mean that speech rhythm was all very well for the professionals? Or did he find the style in Windsor so entrenched that he couldn't change it (or hadn't yet done so)? I've never been convinced that speech rhythm requires the sort of drastic pruning of passing notes seen in e.g. the Parish Psalter. There is a case for taming the exuberance of passing notes in particular chants, but not across-the-board deforestation.
  6. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    Yes, to all of those points! If Cambridge legend is correct and Clucas composed his responses on a King's choir tour, they could have been inspired by the recently published Rose ones, but equally King's might have had MS copies already. At any rate Clucas' setting was published pretty sharpish. I was hoping to find a nice review that might have given some background, but all I can find is a brief note in the Muscial Times saying that they had been published. On-line service lists for King's only go back to 1999, though there is a note saying:
  7. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    Aha! So the first swallows were earlier than we thought. Fascinating. To sum up, it looks as if from the beginning of the twentieth people were beginning to find the typical diet of ferial (in its various guises) and Tallis Festal unsatisfactory, even though the first stabs at something better were unambitious (not surprising when people were used to such unambitious fare). Possibly it was the Fellowes/Atkins publication that made composers raise their game (even if it did take nearly thirty years before Rose's responses were published) I know Campbell's Canterbury Use all too well. Presumably when he refers to being sung "alongside the more elaborate settings of Tudor composers" he means the latter as revived post-Fellowes/Atkins, not that they had miraculaouly continued in use at Canterbury since the sixteenth/seventeenth centuries. I imagine that his animadversions on "speech rhythm" were intended to be not so much innovative as revisionist: i.e. "Bridges' ideas may have won widespread acceptance, but he was barking up the wrong tree". Whatever the merits of speech rhythm, historically speaking Campbell was no doubt correct: you have to go a long way back (well before the sixteenth century) to get anything like it, but that would be a matter for (yet another) thread ....
  8. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    Yes (alas) unless there are manuscripts that got into odd places (e.g. country house libraries, foreign libraries) and have never since seen the light of day. How intriguing. It would be nice to have a different "early" set for a change! These lists tend to confirm a suspicion I had from looking into Smith of Durham: "festal" responses often occur alongside festal psalms, which rather suggests that they were festal in the same sense, and thus intended for performance with them on great feasts only (Easter, Whit, etc.). This would explain why there aren't that many of them. If you only sang them on a few occasions in the year you wouldn't need (or even want) a large repertoire. May also explain why they dropped out of use. If they were seen as companions to festal psalms, then when festal psalms went out of fashion they would naturally go out with them.
  9. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    Thank you for the confirmation that they do exist, but aren't very interesting. The first swallow, but a dull one compared with the ones of the summer that followed, perhaps?
  10. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Length of voluntaries.

    By contrast, in my experience in a variety of places (including village churches) there are only two composers who almost invariably occasion favourable comments, and one of those is Bach (not sure I dare mention the other ... viz Lefebure-Wély!).
  11. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    A brief review in the Musical Times for December 1933 (p.1100) states: It would be useful to know what the resolution was, and why it was passed. A sign of an appetite for more varied fare than ferial versions and Tallis Festal??
  12. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Eighteenth century English voluntaries: filling in harmonies

    it is worth adding that sound musicological principles were not unknown in the Victorian period. E.H. Thorne in the preface to his edition of Six Organ Pieces by his teacher S.S. Wesley [n.d. but Thorne's own dates were 1834-1916] states, "The first duty of an editor is to preserve the Author's text." He then discusses the problem of rendering pieces written for an F Organ on a C organ, and makes modest suggestions on the basis of Wesley's own instructions. Finally he says:
  13. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

    Thank you V.H. for the detailed response (pun not intended), especially the helpful B.B.C. research, which tends to confirm what I too had thought, namely that the Fellowes/Atkins edition led to the revival of festal responses. As you say, Jebb's publication seems to have remained of purely academic interest. It would be interesting to see what the Stewart responses amount to. Possibly Rose wrote his because he felt he could do a better job! The existence of post-Restoration examples implies that the custom must have revived to some extent. Three settings is not a large number, but the pre-Commonwealth total is not very large either! (Or are there hidden gems lurking in various libraries?)
  14. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    Festal responses

  15. Dafydd y Garreg Wen

    English Voluntaries for the Corno Stop

    And lo! it was done ....
×