This post was sent as an Email to SOLI DEO GLORIA members on 1/20/2020:
The title of this Email I hope got your attention…
The “3 easy steps” I am proposing to learn chanting the mass are simply following the chronology of History, and thus by-passing the complexities of modern music theory. Chant pre-dates these complexities. Let us then proceed “historically”:
1- recognize that music exists in the cosmos. When we chant, we simply “channel” vibrations and proportionality that God created for us. The first exercise I propose is twofold:
- Assimilating the musical reality of the vibration also measured as “440 hertz” by playing with a tuning fork: Vibration and Proportionality . (If you do not have one, $6 will have Amazon send you one. See link).
- Then chanting any words you want “in unison” (in the same frequency) as this musical reality. Play with it. In the example at this link, the words are “Doh is the recitation tone in mode five…” . The fancy name for this chanting exercise is “recto tono”.
2- discover the eight simple melodies that Church history has given us to sing the Psalms. Each of these eight melodies are built around a reciting tone as we learned in step 1. Then, simple embellishments are added to each of these eight melodies. These embellishments are of three categories:
- intonation (sometimes repeated with a slight variation later in the phrase)
- mediation, and
- These 8 melodies, broken down between the “recitation” (learned in step 1) and the embellishments (intonation, mediation, termination) can be seen and listened to at this link: Mode I Mode II Mode III Mode IV Mode V Mode VI Mode VII Mode VIII
3- As you become more familiar with the embellishments of these eight melodies, notice the proportionality of the cosmos contained in the “intervals”. Train your body, and more particularly your ear, to recognize these intervals. Befriend them. For example, hear the similarities between the intervals La-Do or Re-Fa, between Sol-Do and Do-Fa, or the difference between Sol-Si and La-Do…. To review the eight melodies that will help you build this “library of intervals”, start here: Psalm tones
Thank you for giving this “3 easy steps” a chance to work for you: record yourself and listen back, practice in small groups with constructive criticism… I truly believe that these “3 steps” may constitute the shortest organic path between a mostly-mute congregation and the full participation of a congregation in a Missa Cantata. Please help me find out if this may be correct… Let us experiment, test, improve…
For example, you may find that you can by-pass step 1. Test yourself with a self-recording and move along to step 2… Then make sure you recognize the “recitation” sections in the psalm tones for what they are, and differentiate them from the embellishments.
I will be available in coming weeks to practice these 3 steps with you. Your suggestions of dates and venues are welcome. But your “homework” is really what will make us progress.