A Glass of Chianti

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Good post

By Dan (over at The Shrine) about how to bring about change to the music of the Mass. The summary is something like this:
- You're right to be annoyed by the crappy music every Sunday
- You're not going to get Palestrina next week
- The way to get Palestrina in the next twenty years is to not act like a snob
- Don't adopt the attitude "if it's not Latin, it's crap" - you'll never be happy

This is something very close to my heart as I am (and have been for longer than you'd like to know) been working on some liturgical music of my own. I'm about two thirds of the way done with a Requiem Mass setting (in Latin, of course, with tweaks for the English translations) and have sketches of a plain, old, crazy Mass kicking around my head and my composition notebook in various stages of development. I have no illusions that they will be used by anybody (reading between the lines here, for example will refresh your memory as to why, even if they were good enough, you'd probably not hear them) so they are merely intellectual exercises. Plus, with the new approved English translations coming down at some point in our lifetime, they'd probably need a little (or more) reworking. (That's the excuse I use anyway - I can't work on the Mass now! What if the approved translation comes next week? All that work would be for nothing!)

Anyway, Dan says some fascinating things. I gather his ideal Mass setting is much heavier on the choral arrangements and organ than I'd prefer as I'm not a huuuuuge fan of choirs*. I also think that it's not quite as easy to incorporate as he'd like to in places outside of population centers like Chicago (the parish he mentions has one Spanish-language Mass on Sunday and it's in an alternate location from the main church) and, say, New York (where there are lots of "ethnic" parishes that people go to even though they may be outside the territorial bounds leaving non-"ethnic" parishes probably much more like the one Dan attends back home**) and places where the Catholic culture is more widespread (Ohio, perhaps?) than it is down here in Texas. He brings up a book that I had meant to comment on (Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing) but have not yet. It's still on my mind and as much of my criticism of the book has to do with the same kind of narrow view of Catholicism (Yankee/mid-West) and lack of attention to the issue of music education that Day kept promising and hinting that he'd address before he ultimately dropped the whole thing.

My contribution to the discussion anon, not now.

*I'd say more, but I really shouldn't.
**I have absolutely no personal experience to base this on. It's just a hunch.