Friday, July 2, 2010

Why I like Gregorian chant

Modal chants mirror and model the monastic life. "It doesn't have the drive toward ending or the insistent relationships between notes and chords that modern music has. Endings and climaxes appear melodically, for the most part, with a felt lift in song and a sure entropy in musical energy. Thomas Moore, "Meditations," p. 38

Sometimes...monks wil land upon a note and sing it in florid fashion, one syllable of text for fifty notes of chant. Melisma, they call it. Living a melismatic life -- we may stop on an experience, a place, a person, or a memory and rhapsodize in imagination (draw, contemplate, build, paint, or dance). (Versus living one point after another,) ...stopping for melisma gives the soul its reason for being. p. 44

"Silence is not the absence of sound, but a "toning down of inner and outer static...allows many sounds to reach awareness...(nature) was well as conscience, daydreams, intuitions, inhibitions, and wishes. One cultivates silence not by forcing the ears not to hear, but by turning up the volume on the music of the world and the soul. p. 68

Monastery bells: "Overtones are those elements in every experience that last long after the literal act -- memories, shock, emotional residues, reactional behavior. They are also the meanings and implications of deeds, their nuances and reverberation...Monks are more interested in these (overtones) than in the literal facts. They are professionals in spiritual resonance. When the bell rings, they stop and listen." p. 98

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