Thursday, April 24, 2008

What people really ask about Sacred Music

Just what role does this vast and sometimes intimidating genre of chant and polyphony have in the local parish situation? I'll be visiting with Brian Craig on next Saturday evening, when Todd Flowerday and I will discuss the ins and outs of planning parish music, and the difficult balance of ideals and practicalities.

One wonders too what is the mind of musicians and priests who are considering taking the plunge into Gregorian chant and polyphony. What kinds of issues are they thinking about it?

The CMAA has put together an interesting, and slightly paraphrased and archetypal, list of questions/objections that people have who are considering coming to the colloquium, and they provide real insight into where we are in this process.

  • I’m a Catholic musician and I should know chant. I know that. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t even read the notation!
  • Goodness, I don’t know how any of this music even goes. I’ve heard bits and pieces but I will know far less than everyone else.
  • I’m looking at the musical lineup and I can’t fathom how I can sing this after just a few rehearsals. Forget it!
  • I know no Latin. I mean none, not even how to pronounce it. Surely this Colloquium isn’t for me.
  • I’ve been singing sacred music for 40 years, including chant and polyphony. There’s nothing for me to learn here.
  • At my parish, we sing what is often called praise music, and I really like it! I don’t want to be around anyone who will put down contemporary song.
  • I love chant. I love polyphony. I love sacred music. But I’m the only one I know. I’m all alone.
  • The music sounds pretty but I’m repelled by serious, frown-faced sophisticates who don’t know how to have fun. Isn’t Gregorian chant all about being solemn all the time?

The answers are there too.

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