Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Church adopts what is good/best in cultures

It seems to me that because Tuvan throat "overtone" chant frequently employs multiple notes/sounds simultaneously in the vocal chords of the chanter that it is objectively a superior form of chant to all other forms of chant, be they Gregorian or otherwise.

The more notes being chanted at the same time in the single individual the better. The "noble simplicity" of one note being sung at any given time by an individual singer in a sequence of single notes, and a choir of different voices singing those same notes or different notes at the same time, is not as rich and complex as it would be if each individual in that choir was singing multiple notes at any given time or at the same time.

It doesn't seem out of the question that people can learn this form of chant, and that it be adopted into a liturgical canon of the Church.

Why not?

We should put in all of our best, and it seems that having to chant multiple sounds simultaneously requires great devotion.


Belfry Bat said...

HMMmmmmm.... I suppose you've heard of Anna-Maria Hefele?

There's a first difficulty in that the weighting of overtones is actually how we distinguish vowels; and liturgical chant isn't primarily about the sound (which ought to be beautiful!), but about the Text. If we're going to rediscover overtone singing for the Church, our task is harder because we want to do so preserving vowel distinction as much as possible.

There is another a trickiness arising from more voices, in that past a certain point the feasible colourscape tends to shrink; an extreme case leads to "sheppard tones", a scale that intrinsically has only one octave range. Or, take A Fine Use of Harmony: four singing voices over sizeable orchestra; but note how the orchestral harmony (and its melody) simplifies right at the choir's entry; On the One Hand (the legend goes) Mozart himself, at the age of 14 or so, transcribed. from the memory of one hearing, a piece of 20- (or twelve... or SomeThingHuge) voice renaissance polyphony; but on the Other, he didn't choose to write like that. He had respect, as it were, for the Common Ear, neither insulting the intelligence nor assaulting with Too Many Notes (whatever Emperor Joseph might or might not have had to say).

BUT! I'm all for Authentic Organic Development. Does the Church In Tuva use this kind of sound? Will they send missionary cantors to teach it?

Paul Stilwell said...

Excellent comment!

But if it's a matter of too many notes, we simply need to remove a few and it'll be perfect.

Paul Stilwell said...

I don't agree with the emotional interpretations in the link. Precious.

A fine use of harmony, but it's not the iron rule.

Belfry Bat said...

(I don't agree with the cartoons either; but there are Numbers! and mathematicians such as I ... numbers are things we like to have around!)