General perspectives on Simon Karas' work and its criticism

Status
Not open for further replies.
#1
Shota, as you know, the war is the Anti-Kara War. And, yes, it should end. Karas and his approach need no defense. Their results stand on their own merits.

But when some imply that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has somehow repudiated Karas, that's simply wrong. (That should be a separate thread. Isn't that a legitimate point that needs to be accepted?) That's all I'm showing.

You say "Stavropoleos has anything to do with Angelopoulos." You hear and see NO relationship in their chanting? Need I give 'specifics' in their interpretative approach? You feel you must completely distance Stavropoleos from Angelopoulos because? I didn't say they were one and the same thing. I didn't even mention Stavropoleos. Regardless, none of the Kara-influenced groups are exactly the same.

And you are absolutely correct, "the rest needs no commentary". A decent set of ears and an unprejediced mind are all that's needed. I don't deem it necessary to trash any particular choir in a public setting such as this. My colleagues and I live in America and know the situation all too well.

END THE WAR! :)
 
Last edited:

domesticus

Lupus non curat numerum ovium
#2
I don't care about wars.

I simply dislike the superficial attitude of certain Karas' followers and their stance against the tradition of Megali Ekklisia chanting.

OK, you have some theories. Check it out with traditional practice, make your statements and be ready for criticism and if you are proved wrong, accept it and go on.

Thank God, we have technology in our service so we can compare digitally the various listenings and decide if something is wrong, especially in the area of microtonal analysis. Ch. Symeonides' efforts has stressed many useful points, if you can make yourself to study his research inside this forum. But maybe you won't like it ...

For the historical aspect of the Karas' studies, I think there is ground for discussion and consensus.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
The war is not anti-Karas.

The issue is whether Karas followed a scientific method and considered historical and accepted practices and trends or if he arbitrarily REVISED and/or created something new and novel. Had his theory exhibited any merit, the psaltai of his period would have seriously considered it (just as some had considered the notation system of Lesbios-which did have merits), the Patriarchate would have convened a committee as it did in 1881 and the Church of Greece would have done the same. Yet nothing like this occured. Does it not bother you why?

Karas had at his disposal many renowned psaltai of his period (in Greece and Constantinople) yet he chose to ignore them considering them as unrepresentative of what he considered tradition. Have you read the impetus of his theory, in the introduction in volume 1? «συνέτρεξαν ἐκ Θεοῦ συγκυρίαι», ὅπως ἡ «ἐκ τυχαίας χειρονομίας πτῶσις τοῦ μουσικοῦ παλαιογραφικοῦ παραπετάσματος». Does that not bother you? Is this the statement of any scientific method?

If his revisionism of Byzantine music was not enough, he went further on to revise Greek folk music. There are many contemporaries of Karas (renowned Greek folk singers, as well as people in the villages that he asked to perform their traditional songs) who are on record describing his methods, his revisionism and his demand that the singer change the melody to fit his view (!!!). If you are curious, I will post those witnesses for your consideration.

Never mind that the psaltai of his day considered his revisionism of Byzantine music, but also of Greek folk song as outside the limits of reason. Does this not bother you at all? One man is the only person with the knowledge and EVERYONE else is clueless? You have unlearnedly labeled people in this forum and without thoroughly checking your hypotheses conferred upon some the designation of "self-appointed experts", yet you do not question Karas' self-decreed omniscience in Byzantine music and Greek folk song?

But, since you seek to prove that Karas represents the only tradition, and indeed the AUTHENTIC and HISTORIC tradition, then please, let;s engage in this exercise (we'll return to the sound evidence later):

Please answer the following questions. Do not avoid the questions. Answer directly.

1) The exegesis of the Three Teachers was made to simplify a mnemonic neumatology, is this correct? A yes or no please.

2) The quantitative and qualitative actions of a single old neume differred depending on the cadential and tonal context, yes or no?

Now, please look at the pdf files in these links here carefully and then come back to consider the following points and then answer the remainder of the questions:

http://www.psaltologion.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=30102&d=1278989073

and

http://www.psaltologion.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=30103&d=1278989140

3) Now that you had an opportunity to look at the pdfs of the Mega Ison in the notation of Petros Pelopponesios and the exegeses of Chourmouzios it becomes evident that one single old neume, from the simple quantitative to especially the qualitative neumes have completely different exegeses depending on tonal, subtonal and cadential context. Do you agree?

4) The Patriachal Committees and the subsequent music conservatories of Constantinople agreed that the Chrysanthine exegesis was not only appropriate but that it translated the oral tradition faithfully. Do you agree with what those groups decreed?

5) The Karas Method re-introduced some of the old neumes. To some it assigns a specific qualitative action. To others it assigns a specific linear musical cadence. Do you agree?

So, let;s consider the actions of the Karas old paleography neumes (that you quite likely execute at your analogion).

a) Is the action of any of the old neumes directed by Karas IDENTICAL or CLOSE to the EXEGESIS of the same neume in the MEGA ISON by Chourmouzios?

b) If so, please indicate where by making a table showing the neume in question (i.e. tromikon), the action or cadence directed by Karas for that neume and finally, the action/cadence of that same neume as derived from the MEGA ISON exegesis of Chourmouzios.

To guide you:

NEUME --------- ACTION (KARAS) ----------- ACTION (CHOURMOUZIOS, based on exegesis from the Mega Ison)

tromikon -------------- xxx-xxx-x-x ---------------- xxx-xxx-x-x -----------------
thes kai apothes------------------XX-XX-X--------------------------XX-XX-X
(etc)


If you wish a civil, learned and scientific discussion, unlike the very unhelpful flame war of this weekend, then please avoid replying until the time you have constructed this table for everyone to consider.

Thank you for your consideration and interest in academic discourse.

NG
 
Last edited:
#4
I don't care about wars.

I simply dislike the superficial attitude of certain Karas' followers and their stance against the tradition of Megali Ekklisia chanting.

OK, you have some theories. Check it out with traditional practice, make your statements and be ready for criticism and if you are proved wrong, accept it and go on.

Thank God, we have technology in our service so we can compare digitally the various listenings and decide if something is wrong, especially in the area of microtonal analysis. Ch. Symeonides' efforts has stressed many useful points, if you can make yourself to study his research inside this forum. But maybe you won't like it ...

For the historical aspect of the Karas' studies, I think there is ground for discussion and consensus.
Domesticus,

I like the statements and the dispassionate attitude of this post.

Discussion, argument, debate, and criticism is what scholarship are all about. That should be encouraged.

My only issue (and perhaps it should be in a completely separate thread) is that that supposed "musicologists" and self-proclaimed "experts" publicly say things like "the Karas heresy". Is this scholarship? Is this debate and argument? Or does it exit the realm of scholarship and lead towards a kind of pseudo-holy war? Can we all agree that the term "heresy" is a loaded, emotionally-charged, and a historically religious term which should have no place in musical studies?

And then the suggestion is made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has somehow repudiated this musical approach, when in fact the Patriarchate has expressed no such thing.

These are my two points for now. If we are not interested in 'war' and hostilities, we can all agree that they should not be mentioned again.

Sincerely,
Tasos
p.s. It would be great to know your name. I didn't see it on your profile.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#5
Dear Mr. Nassis,

Let's begin a civil and academic dialogue. But let's do it in a manner where the questions posed are answered and not avoided.

Since you are evidently a champion of the Karas method, you must also be intimately knowleadgeable about its details and intricacies.

So, let me pose the following questions to you:

1) How many musical scales does the Karas method offer across all his works on Byzantine music?

2) How many tonal intervals does he offer to distinguish these scales?

3) Can you list the tonal intervals and the temperaments that they construct and can you offer the fraction equivalents to those intervals?

4) How many neumes does his theory propose?

5) What actions does he propose for each of these neumes? Please construct a table which lists neumes and next to each neume an exegetic description in the Chrysanthine notation. Please do NOT PHOTOCOPY the Karas theory texts. I have them and am aware of them. I would like to see YOUR understanding of the Karas theory.

I'll stop here for now, awaiting your responses and then I;ll continue.

Thank you for your consideration

NG
 

nikosthe

Νίκος Θεοτοκάτος
#6
Karas and his approach need no defense.
[...]
END THE WAR! :)
Well, with such "logical" conclusions - bombs, this "war" will never end... It seems that some basic theories, like Kara's mathematical errors in soft diatonic fractions, "need no defense", so his approach is "perfect" only because the writer is Karas... We also heard this "conclusion" from Lycourgos Aggelopoulos, during the 4th Congress of Byzantine Musicology Foundation of the Church of Greece. So it's not occasional...
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#7
....I am still waiting for answers from questions posed here:

http://www.psaltologion.com/showpost.php?p=80322&postcount=6

and here:

http://www.psaltologion.com/showpost.php?p=80283&postcount=43

and here:

http://www.psaltologion.com/showpost.php?p=80182&postcount=37

and most importantly, the analysis of the soft chromatic here:

http://www.psaltologion.com/showpost.php?p=80196&postcount=1

I await Mr. Nassis (and ONLY Mr. Nassis and not some proxy) to answer these questions and discusses the points raised in a scholarly manner.

NG.
 
Last edited:

Dimitri

Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
#8
[Moderator's note] Dear Mr. Giannoukakis and all members, the forum is a public medium and anyone can reply to questions posted in public. In fact, it would be most productive to hear many perspectives on public questions in a civilised, impersonal manner and opening new threads when necessary. In any case, the discussion here was off-topic where it started and I have now moved it here in a separate thread with a title that unfortunately is too general to be useful. I propose to everyone to give up on this thread here and to open a new thread to discuss any of the points raised in this thread with a well defined and focused topic title. Thank you.
 
#9
The war is not anti-Karas.
What is the war then? Of course, there is a war, correct? But should there even be a war? Are you interested in wars? Because I am not.
As the saying goes, all's fair in love and war. So in this 'war', anything goes? Anything can be said, any attack made, as long as it supports our cause? Do we discard all ethical boundaries, let alone academic standards?
The Patriarchate has never made any condemnations against Karas and never would. But if we imply that they did, it will help our cause.
"Heresy" is an emotionally-loaded, passionate, polemical, non-academic term. Historically, it has incited war and death. It has no place in music studies, even if the topic is a type of sacred music. But if we employ it, it can serve our goals.
Is this the logic we ought to use?
Now, as far as the rest of your post is concerned, I appreciate your thought, time, and effort. (Are you retired? Because I wish I had the time you seem to have at your disposal. :) )
Mr. Giannoukakis, I am not a musicologist, nor do I claim to be one. I am not an expert, nor do I claim to be one. What I am is a chanter of byzantine music with many years of experience. I defer to a group of reputable specialists whom I have come to trust. They devote their lives to studying and teaching the theory and practice of byzantine chant.
They don't agree with every single thing that Kara said or did, but their overall theoretical framework is based on Kara's extensive work. The theory works wonderfully in practice and has satisfied the musical dilemmas I sought to solve while studying under "traditional" chanters.
What I have come to understand, with Kara's help, is that what we grew up with, what we heard in our churches all our lives, what practices we followed may not necessarily be (strictly speaking) traditonal.
In this respect, Karas is a reformer, not a revisionist. He did not create "arbitrary" and "new" things. He sought to bring us back to our roots.

If his revisionism of Byzantine music was not enough, he went further on to revise Greek folk music. There are many contemporaries of Karas (renowned Greek folk singers, as well as people in the villages that he asked to perform their traditional songs) who are on record describing his methods, his revisionism and his demand that the singer change the melody to fit his view (!!!). If you are curious, I will post those witnesses for your consideration.
Mr. Giannoukakis, here you take the argument (hopefully, not the war :eek: )against Kara one step further. Most critics say that he did an impeccable job with Greek folk music. He traveled all around Greece to record and transcribe songs that might've been lost, just like many of the traditional practices have been lost in many of our churches.
One man is the only person with the knowledge and EVERYONE else is clueless? You have unlearnedly labeled people in this forum and without thoroughly checking your hypotheses conferred upon some the designation of "self-appointed experts", yet you do not question Karas' self-decreed omniscience in Byzantine music and Greek folk song?
I would be very careful to use the term "expert" in referring to myself. Thinkers are more careful these days in how they refer to their role in a field. Not only does it seem distateful to refer to oneself as an "expert". It is also inaccurate, especially in artistic fields. In general, you see many in the first half of the 20th century using the term "expert" much more frequently than you do now.


But, since you seek to prove that Karas represents the only tradition. . .Since you are evidently a champion of the Karas method. . . Let's begin a civil and academic dialogue.
As far as the rest of your post is concerned, I appreciate the time and effort you've place in trying to start a discussion. But when there are so many erroneous premises in place, I don't see the benefit. I never said that Karas represents the only tradition. What does that even mean? Karas points us to our rich traditions. HE is not the tradition. And I am not a "champion" of the Karas method. It might be convenient to try to pigeonhole me as one, but I never said I was.

Really, the main reason why I'm even writing is to point out that

a) "heresy" and "heretic" have no place in musicological (not to mention civil, academic, impersonal, objective, expert) discussions.

b) the Patriarchate has NOT in any way censured (or as some Americans would say "refudiated"....haha) Karas' approach.

Perhaps the title for this thread should be "Patriarchal Censure and Heresy? The Anti-Karas Inaccuracies"
 
#10
Well, with such "logical" conclusions - bombs, this "war" will never end... It seems that some basic theories, like Kara's mathematical errors in soft diatonic fractions, "need no defense", so his approach is "perfect" only because the writer is Karas... We also heard this "conclusion" from Lycourgos Aggelopoulos, during the 4th Congress of Byzantine Musicology Foundation of the Church of Greece. So it's not occasional...
Nick,

What I wrote was a "bomb" in your eyes? Have you ever read a phrase by George Michalakis? War is quite different than argument and debate.

You cannot judge the "logic" of a "conclusion" by merely stating the conclusion and calling it illogical. A conclusion can be completely logical if it follows from the preceding premises. Now if you think some of the premises are inaccurate, discuss that. But then, the conclusion would be logical and inaccurate.....Logic 101.... =)

And who are you quoting when you write "his approach is "perfect" only because the writer is Karas"? Do you believe that Karas is perfect? Or do you think that I said that?

So since I've just clarified points on logic and accurate quoting, why don't you relay Angelopoulos' argument and conclusion from the 4th Congress of Byzantine Musicology Foundation of the Church of Greece. Are we just looking for logic though? I prefer additional criteria as well. What did he say? That Karas was perfect?

Angelopoulo does not merely argue by authority as many do. Are you familiar with Angelopoulos' body of work? You'll find plenty of teachers who simply argue by authority. "It is so because I said so." Or more succintly, "I am the tradition." Angelopoulo never argues by the authority of his person, or by the authority of Karas. Angelopoulo appeals to sources, "It is so because it is written .....and heard." Defer to Angelopoulos' students and his record to fill you in on who he is, not on an isolated experience.

Taso
p.s. You're welcome to your opinions. You can disagree with Karas and even disregard him. My only concerns in writing were with a) the erroneous use of the words "heresy" and "heretic" within musical studies, b) suggestions of Patriarchal censure of Karas' theories, and, by extension, c) the apparent "war" against Kara where ethical and academic standards are discarded. On these three points, I believe reasonable people can agree.
 
Last edited:

apostolos

Απόστολος Κομπίτσης
#11
Mr. Nassis,

I originally started off this reply by commenting that your previous posting had to be about the DUMBEST diatribe on Karas I've read to date. I chose to erase it, howevr, and not make that accusation directly and in those words. However, I WILL say that your comments have managed to completely circumvent the main issues and you have shifted the focus on things that have no bearing on these issues. (Oh, I'm sure I'll get censored for this, but for God's sake, Mr. Nassis, if you don't know what you're talking about, please don't offer double-talk and generalities!)

As I've been reading the back-and-forth between you and Mr. Giannoukakis, I see that you have once again avoided answering his questions, you have avoided supplying any kind of support for YOUR arguments, and you have avoided engaging in any kind of civil dialogue to present your points. The only think you have managed to do, in fact, is to completely IGNORE everything that Mr. Giannoukakis has posed and presented, which he did in a very scholarly and orderly fashion.

I am, however, a little bit confused, because on the one hand you don't want to listen to the facts that, essentially, invalidate the Karas method, and you make statements such as, "I am not a champion of the Karas method" and "He is not the tradition". Yet, on the other hand, you say things like, "The theory works wonderfully in practice" and "He sought to bring us back to our roots".

One statement you made completely baffled me, where you said, "What I have come to understand, with Kara's help, is that what we grew up with, what we heard in our churches all our lives, what practices we followed may not necessarily be (strictly speaking) traditonal." You have GOT to be kidding me. The only thing we have been hearing in our churches all of our lives (at least in this country, anyway, on a consistent basis for the past... oh, 75 years) is the bastardized four-part harmonized melodies with booming organs and screetching sopranos which has been passed off as "Byzantine music". And you don't need Karas to tell you that all of that is NOT Byzantine and that the scales are wrong, etc.

So, what exactly have you been hearing all your life that, all of a sudden, is so wrong? What about the chanters who HAVE been chanting traditionally and correctly? You DO realize that, in fact, we have had some very GOOD chanters in this country who learned the Chrysanthine method and who executed scales and melodic phrases according to the received tradition, don't you? Mr. Giannoukakis asks one very simple question: this ONE MAN named Karas, a man who never had a traditional teacher and who never served as a psalti anywhere, all of a sudden had an epiphany one day back in 1983 and is saying that everything that any chanter has ever chanted is completely wrong?!?

I am of the opinion (formulated by your own words and lack of participation in offering concrete information) that even YOU do not completely understand what you claim to support. Have you HEARD - and I mean REALLY listened to - some of the hymns chanted by the proponents of the Karas system using those bastardized scales of his? Can you HONESTLY say that they "sound like" anything you've grown up hearing? You claim you are not an expert, yet you vehemently support Karas and his (pseudo-) work based only on generalities.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, by virtue of the fact that it has not convened any official committee to examine the Karas method, and by virtue of the fact that its protopsaltai, lambadarioi and domestikoi continue to chant in the received tradition handed down to them in an unbroken chain, is CLEARLY an indication that, in fact, they HAVE refudiated the Karas method. They don't have to issue an "official" statement. The fact that they're ignoring it and their chanters continue to do what they're doing is enough for now. But I believe that, at some point, the Patriarchate WILL issue some formal statement on the matter, because this has gone far enough, and it will not allow hundreds of years of hymnological tradition to get flushed down the proverbial toilet that easily.

Apostolos

P.S. May I ask you... are you an attorney?
 

Laosynaktis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#12
Mr. Nassis,


.................

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, by virtue of the fact that it has not convened any official committee to examine the Karas method, and by virtue of the fact that its protopsaltai, lambadarioi and domestikoi continue to chant in the received tradition handed down to them in an unbroken chain, is CLEARLY an indication that, in fact, they HAVE refudiated the Karas method. They don't have to issue an "official" statement. The fact that they're ignoring it and their chanters continue to do what they're doing is enough for now. But I believe that, at some point, the Patriarchate WILL issue some formal statement on the matter, because this has gone far enough, and it will not allow hundreds of years of hymnological tradition to get flushed down the proverbial toilet that easily.

Apostolos

P.S. May I ask you... are you an attorney?
Allow me to remind this:
http://www.analogion.com/KarasPatrApproval.pdf
 
#13
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, by virtue of the fact that it has not convened any official committee to examine the Karas method, and by virtue of the fact that its protopsaltai, lambadarioi and domestikoi continue to chant in the received tradition handed down to them in an unbroken chain, is CLEARLY an indication that, in fact, they HAVE refudiated the Karas method. They don't have to issue an "official" statement. The fact that they're ignoring it and their chanters continue to do what they're doing is enough for now. But I believe that, at some point, the Patriarchate WILL issue some formal statement on the matter, because this has gone far enough, and it will not allow hundreds of years of hymnological tradition to get flushed down the proverbial toilet that easily.
I never thought psaltologion could make me laugh so much......:D

Palin 2012
 

apostolos

Απόστολος Κομπίτσης
#15
I never thought psaltologion could make me laugh so much......:D

Palin 2012
I'm glad you find it so amusing. If you would only put forth your energies in learning something proper instead of sarcastically sneering at what has been accepted as traditional practice, you might learn something.

At least we agree on one thing... Go Sarah! :D

Apostolos
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#17
Dr. Giannoukakis,Kyr Combitsas (did I get that right?)

I am very busy and am not on line as often as maybe I should, and find this discussion a bit difficult to follow, and am gleening a lot of passion and polemic but very little actual useful information. Perhaps it is the weaving nature of this discussion. I have the same problem with Mikhailakis' longwinded polemic.

It would help me, and probably a lot of other members of the list if you calmly, clearly, precisely and succinctly compress and restate your differences with the Karas school. Perhaps this will provide a basis to refocus the discussion.

JPP
 
#18
Mr. Combitsis,

I did find your post amusing, but the only reason I wrote is a) to address the pseudo-theological condemnation of Karas as a 'heretic' and b) to concentrate on the suggestion that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has somehow censured Karas' teachings.

The link Ioannis Arvanitis just shared should put an end to the non-musicological issue and to the inaccurate statement, respectively.

Furthermore, I choose to discuss real musicological issues with those specialists I know and trust.

And I do not write in order to respond to rants. Michalakis taught me that long ago.

Taso
p.s. Needless to say, we don't agree on Sarah Palin either.
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#19
It would help me, and probably a lot of other members of the list if you calmly, clearly, precisely and succinctly compress and restate your differences with the Karas school. Perhaps this will provide a basis to refocus the discussion.
Amen!
I sincerely hope this happens, but, to be honest, I would actually be quite surprised to see it ever happen without all the sarcasm, unfriendliness, and passionate polemics that usually accompany this issue.

Before writing a post to someone with whom I disagree, I find it very helpful to pretend that I am writing it to my best friend rather than to someone who disagrees with me. That way I automatically avoid all the sarcasm, unfriendliness, and passions that are still alive in my soul.
 

saltypsalti

Παλαιό Μέλος
#20
Amen!
I sincerely hope this happens, but, to be honest, I would actually be quite surprised to see it ever happen without all the sarcasm, unfriendliness, and passionate polemics that usually accompany this issue.

Before writing a post to someone with whom I disagree, I find it very helpful to pretend that I am writing it to my best friend rather than to someone who disagrees with me. That way I automatically avoid all the sarcasm, unfriendliness, and passions that are still alive in my soul.
I would really, honestly, and sincerely like to hear a succinct exposition of their position without "Karas was a crank; heretic, etc." and pass that characterization to anyone who follows his method in toto or in part. It is not useful, or helpful to me, and I really get the impression it is the equivolent of squabbling while the house is burning down around us. If one is going to argue something --tell me exactly why so that it can be argued on its own merits.

Chanting in America has its own fish to fry and frankly it certainly gives fuel to people whose agenda is to trash the tradition and make Byzantine chant "culturally relavent" to Americans and westernize everything.

Such are my thoughts.

John
 
Status
Not open for further replies.