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Author Topic: Chanting  (Read 9603 times)
joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #15: October 09, 2007, 04:03:05 am »

(One of the things I miss most in the Catholic to Pagan transition is that it's harder to find groups to do good-quality amateur complex singing with. I love ritual music in a Pagan context, but we don't do parts singing, for example: the most complex is rounds or riffed harmonies: wonderful in their own way, but not quite the same thing.)

We've got a small Pagan church choir, and the three people with musical training and aptitude often lament this. The most we'll usually do is melody, harmony, and a descant, or melody & harmony on each part of a round. We're slowly getting more complex - years ago it was all folks songs in unison and the occasional round. Half the folks don't read music and don't want to learn, but I've actually managed to type up some sheet music for us. This song for Frey is fairly typical of us. (I need to fix that sheet music - the last note in the chorus is held for four measures, not two... Oh well. Like I said, most of them don't read sheet music.)

There is a set of eight sabatt-themed short 4-part choral pieces by Leanne Daharja Veitch. The Yule one is quite nice - It took us a while but we got it down. The other seven didn't appeal to the choir, but they aren't too bad. She's apparently got another piece as well, but I haven't heard it.

-- Joshua
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Jenett
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« Reply #16: October 09, 2007, 07:31:10 am »

Half the folks don't read music and don't want to learn, but I've actually managed to type up some sheet music for us. This song for Frey is fairly typical of us. (I need to fix that sheet music - the last note in the chorus is held for four measures, not two... Oh well. Like I said, most of them don't read sheet music.

Oooh. I like that.

I'm just at the "At least it's better than it used to be." Used to be, we had three reasonably strong singers, two of whom would generally be involved in taking the cakes and ale part around (and therefore not always singing), and when they hit me, the singing would die a painful death.

Now, I'm still pretty much the only person who reads music fluently, (which means whenever my HPS wants to learn a chant  we have a printed version for but no recording, she pulls out a tape recorder, I sing it, she records it, and we go from there: very handy) but once one or two people know it, we have about 3 or 4 more who will pick it up fast, and sing strongly. It helps.
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juniperrr
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« Reply #17: October 09, 2007, 01:10:50 pm »

Maybe this is a stupid question, but how do you chant something? Do you randomly make up a stepwise, flowing melody, or do you sing mostly in a monotone?

I use a lot of chant in my rituals, because I am a singer and it feels very natural, like others here. I very rarely use monotones or Gregorian type chants as they tend to put me to sleep and I am looking for things to raise energy up. If I were to compare it to mainstream religions I would be more Southern Baptist than High Catholic Mass  Grin

The entire ritual has singing, for example when calling the Elements I say "Come Element of East, wisdom, thought and reason, Air, Sword, Truth, Understander of the Seasons" But then I sing the finish " By the Word, by intellects might, I call the wind of inspiration and insight. My mind is fully open to this rite"

About every other couplet in my rituals is sung to tunes that just pop into my head (I sing a lot and whatever I need just shows up). If I am doing spell casting I use a chant picked out in advance, however, often the melody is from the Reclaiming group 

( http://www.reclaimingquarterly.org/music/music1.html )

because I have sung many of them at public rituals and I simply enjoy many of them. I almost always rewrite the words into simple rhymes that clearly address the spell at hand. This is what works for me, I think whatever works for you and your music preferences to get the job done is how to do it 'right'.



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juniperrr
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« Reply #18: October 09, 2007, 01:13:06 pm »

Depends.

Most of the chants I know, I learned the music (or at least *a* music) along with the words...

Thanks, Jennet, for your excellent posts in this thread. Very helpful and well written (as per usual)!
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southerngoddes
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« Reply #19: October 09, 2007, 01:43:49 pm »

Thanks, Jennet, for your excellent posts in this thread. Very helpful and well written (as per usual)!


 It would be good to know if  anybody chants trying to acquire any type of singing.........its and inner singing which comes out naturally??? its a singing heard from somebody's chanting????personally I just use my talking tone, I don't change it, but when i was younger I used to make fun of priests imitating their way to  preach the catholic ritual......baptist preachers, same thing......particular tone for talk and preach..........
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joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #20: October 09, 2007, 02:15:44 pm »

I just use my talking tone, I don't change it, but when i was younger I used to make fun of priests imitating their way to  preach the catholic ritual......baptist preachers, same thing......particular tone for talk and preach..........

*laugh* We've got a seminary-trained "high-church" Episcopalian in our group. I can't quite describe it, but when he reads invocations he still has that Catholic cadence. Not full out chanting, but not speaking either. It always makes me smile.

-- Joshua
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joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #21: October 09, 2007, 02:23:44 pm »

I'm just at the "At least it's better than it used to be." Used to be, we had three reasonably strong singers, two of whom would generally be involved in taking the cakes and ale part around (and therefore not always singing), and when they hit me, the singing would die a painful death.

Oh, I hate when that happens. Our ritual scripts always have "And then SOMEONE WHO'S NOT IN THE CHOIR will pass around the such-and-such." Fortunately, with our ritual structure we can delegate that sort of thing to anyone who can carry a cup without falling down. The choir has had to put their collective foot down with the ritual committee about anything that involves singing while processing down the path to the ritual field. It never goes well. We cannot sing and walk.

We've been trying for some time to put together recordings and sheet music for more of our songs, but it keeps falling off the bottom of the priority list. I can see if we've got any others around, if you like.

-- Joshua
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Jenett
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« Reply #22: October 09, 2007, 10:53:34 pm »

We've been trying for some time to put together recordings and sheet music for more of our songs, but it keeps falling off the bottom of the priority list. I can see if we've got any others around, if you like.

Please! If you get a chance, of course. (I do watch the CauldronFarm LJ community, btw, so if you mention it there, I should spot it.)

And Juniperr - thanks! This is obviously something I think about lots, but it's always nice to know I also manage to be coherent about it.
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Áine
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« Reply #23: October 10, 2007, 06:43:43 pm »

Maybe this is a stupid question, but how do you chant something? Do you randomly make up a stepwise, flowing melody, or do you sing mostly in a monotone?

I love to chant in whatever way.  If I have to make it up, I will use a simple rhythum that matches or flows with the words...sometimes I just whisper a quick monotone chant.  To start, I recommend Robert Gass with On Wings of Song (the man is a genius and the choir is one of the most beautiful choirs I have ever heard) and Moving Breath (less studio sound, but more primal than the first).
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« Reply #24: October 10, 2007, 06:49:10 pm »


I have an idea. What if I take my most favorite (and singable) melodies and put words to them? My skill as a composer isn't great enough to get the what I want on paper, but those few melodies are close enough to be really effective. Has anyone else done this?
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« Reply #25: October 10, 2007, 07:05:36 pm »

I have an idea. What if I take my most favorite (and singable) melodies and put words to them? My skill as a composer isn't great enough to get the what I want on paper, but those few melodies are close enough to be really effective. Has anyone else done this?

Why not? Sounds good to me Grin
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joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #26: October 10, 2007, 08:10:44 pm »

I have an idea. What if I take my most favorite (and singable) melodies and put words to them? My skill as a composer isn't great enough to get the what I want on paper, but those few melodies are close enough to be really effective. Has anyone else done this?

If it works for you, go for it. It is what I'd do, because I can't compose music worth a damn. However, some people find using popular melodies really distracting because the melody calls to mind the original tune which may have nothing at all to do with the intent of the ritual. One might argue that energetically it calls on that original song, but I can't really speak to that.

-- Joshua
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Jenett
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« Reply #27: October 11, 2007, 12:45:25 am »

However, some people find using popular melodies really distracting because the melody calls to mind the original tune which may have nothing at all to do with the intent of the ritual. One might argue that energetically it calls on that original song, but I can't really speak to that.

I'm in the first group, and also in the second - though it depends where it comes from.

Traditional British folk song that's not particularly religious in connotation? No big deal for me. (I know, for example, a really lovely rewording of the tune for "Star of the County Down" that I heard as a Catholic music setting called "Canticle of the Turning" Didn't disturb me.)

I do know of a situation where someone took tunes which were explicitly written for evangelical Christian worship, and changed the words for Pagan deities. In this particular case, no one noticed (as no one else in the group had an evangelical backgroudn previously) until someone new came along - and spent 6 months wondering why it was like that.

Which leads me to my own personal rule: If you're going to borrow tunes, and use them with other people around, double check that a) they don't have strong associations with the tune and b) that it's going to get interpreted the way you think.

As a musician who's now down both Catholic and Pagan musical settings, I'd also feel really uncomfortable with someone taking music I wrote specifically for one religious community, and turning it to another. I admit this is a totally personal fetish thing. (Would I walk out of  ritual where someone did it? No. Would I pursue continued work with a person or group who did it all the time? Probably not. It's that sort of line. Would I ask a bunch more questions about it? Yep.)
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Mithril
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« Reply #28: October 11, 2007, 06:42:25 pm »

I'm in the first group, and also in the second - though it depends where it comes from.

Traditional British folk song that's not particularly religious in connotation? No big deal for me. (I know, for example, a really lovely rewording of the tune for "Star of the County Down" that I heard as a Catholic music setting called "Canticle of the Turning" Didn't disturb me.)

I do know of a situation where someone took tunes which were explicitly written for evangelical Christian worship, and changed the words for Pagan deities. In this particular case, no one noticed (as no one else in the group had an evangelical backgroudn previously) until someone new came along - and spent 6 months wondering why it was like that.

Which leads me to my own personal rule: If you're going to borrow tunes, and use them with other people around, double check that a) they don't have strong associations with the tune and b) that it's going to get interpreted the way you think.
I was thinking on the love theme for Arwen and Aragorn, one of the third movie themes from Harry Potter and PoA (the flute one), and the second movement bassoon solo from Scheherazade. Random, but beautiful melodies.
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Jenett
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« Reply #29: October 11, 2007, 10:54:48 pm »

I was thinking on the love theme for Arwen and Aragorn, one of the third movie themes from Harry Potter and PoA (the flute one), and the second movement bassoon solo from Scheherazade. Random, but beautiful melodies.

Yep. (And woo, bassoon! Underappreciated instrument. Not that I'm biased or anything.)

I'd personally be cautious with movie themes: my theory is that anything that might potentially make it into a cell phone ring tone that's broadly available from cell phone companies is probably non-ideal for ritual - just because people would have other associations with it.

(That said: I've used specifcs tracks from the background soundtrack music from Firefly for meditation music for group ritual work, and no one places it correctly. (Only some tracks work: the Inara's Suite one, and whatever the Tam household one is actually called.)
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