Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Day 2 in San Diego

A shorter report today because we are so busy!

A lot of attention was paid to the modes this morning. What is the range of a mode, what are its tonic and dominant? A lot of scale singing in the different modes, and a quick run through of chants that are good examples of the eight different modes. On a lark I contacted Richard Rice to see if he could come up with a quick list of easy chant that typify the modes in their most pure form. Here's his list, all found in the Parish Book of Chant:

Mode I: Kyrie, Mass IV (p.49)
Mode II: Sanctus, Mass XI (p.59)
Mode III: Kyrie, Mass XVI (p.70)
Mode IV: Ambrosian Gloria (p.74); Salve fest dies (p.159)
Mode V: Lapis revolutus est (p.156) - Richard notes that it is hard to find an authentic use of the mode in later chants.
Mode VI: Agnus Dei, Mass IV: (p.51)
Mode VII: In Paradisum (p.87)
Mode VIII: Kyrie, Mass XII (p.61)

A large part of the morning was spent digging into Credo I, and the propers that we will be singing on Friday. We rehearsed the Introit and the Alleluia, and when and how combine the singing of the Antiphon and Psalms (and Gloria Patri, in the case of the Introit).

The singing is quite good, and the group is responding well to Scott's expert, always gracious, and downright fun presentation of the difficult material.

One participant with no musical education mentioned to me that he was beginning to see for himself something he was skeptical about at the outset: I had told him it might be easier for him to wrap his mind around the chant than it is for someone with thirty years of musical training in the modern tradition. Things are making sense for him quickly. Others might be struggling as they translate back and forth in their minds between the two systems.

A lovely lunch was enjoyed outdoors in the splendid courtyard outside of Camino Hall. Is this paradise?

This afternoon the class is working through problems of rhythm in the chant; in particular, how to mark the ictus according to the rules of the Solesmes method. Scott's approach is systematic, friendly, and hands on. People are marking their chants with extreme focus and concentration - where there is confusion, answers become clear. There is no shortage of laughter or the singing of the examples - by the instructor, individuals, and the group. They're sounding every more confident.

As I write, the class has been "ictifying" their way through the PBC it for over an hour and a half. Not one person has so much has stood up or looked out of the window.

The caterer has set up coffee and treats in the hall. Shall I tell them? Hate to interrupt the revolution as it happens.

More tomorrow.

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