3 Doxastika for feast of St. Matthew

Anthony

Νέο μέλος
#1
Hello,

I've attached 3 Doxastika for the feast of St. Matthew (my parish church's patron) this Saturday November 16. The first is sung at "Lord I Cry" and is in the Fourth mode; the second is technically sung at the Aposticha of the Praises during Matins (though we're using it as a Litia hymn during Vespers since none are normally appointed for this day) and is in Plagal Fourth mode; while the third is sung at the Vespers Aposticha and is in the Plagal Second mode. I've used Mousike Kypsele as a model for the melodies, and the translation is from HTM in Brookline. Please critique these if you have the time.

A note on the Vespers Aposticha one, in Plagal 2: Mousike Kypsele has that characteristic long melismatic phrase that's towards the end of many Doxastika in Plagal 2 (is there a name for this?). Unfortunately, in English the text at this phrase ("wherein do thou guide us") does not really fit any of the versions in the formula book from St. Anthony's, unless I treat "guide" as an unstressed syllable, when in reality it seems to me to be the only 100% stressed syllable in the phrase. So I included 3 versions: the first one treats "guide" as unstressed ("wherein do THOU guide US"), and it doesn't sound too bad I suppose. The second one ("1st Alternate") takes a slow sticheraric phrase that has the exact same 7 or so neumes at the end, but allows for an extra unstressed syllable ("us") to fall on the last 2 neumes. This works pretty well, but it doesn't feel proper to just take any slow sticheraric phrase and replace that one so characteristic of Plagal 2, even if it ends the same. However, since the end is the same yet it fits in an extra syllable, it occurred to me that what would work perfectly is if I took a X001 version of the characteristic phrase and added an extra syllable right where the slow sticheraric one does, making it X0010. Hence the 3rd version ("2nd alternate").

I also thought of moving that characteristic phrase back to "divine commands", but in addition to being too early in the hymn it throws off everything else: there has to be a Pa cadence at a bad place or else no Pa cadence at all and then it's just too long without one.

Anyway, that's my thought process. Let me know if you have another idea, or if not, then which of the 3 versions you think is the best compromise. All assuming you have the time, patience and desire... :)

Anthony
 

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GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#2
Hi Anthony,

I've only taken a look at the Aposticha piece, as I will be chanting the first doxastikon in Greek tonight, so I can't really comment on the other two. However, the aposticha piece is very nice. It's a difficult piece, with a great deal of text painting. In fact, there are some theseis in here that are very rare, and I think some extra work should be done to preserve these unique, beautiful theseis. I'm glad someone tackled it, and you've done a nice job overall.

Here are some thoughts that I had, and perhaps answers to some of your questions:

1) The "long melismatic phrase," if you want to get technical, is simply a theseis from the old sticheraric genre. I don't know anything else to call it. Many of the theseis in the old notation had names (e.g. "kolaphismos," which meant a slap, as in a slap in the face, or the kylisma, which is the opening line of the Kyrie Ekekraxa in pl. 4th), but I don't know of a name for this particular thesis.

2) I like what you've done in the opening lines to try to preserve the cadence on Ni. It feels a little forced to me, but it gets the job done, and you go down to Ni on the word "wickedness", which is great. However, I think it's worth trying to keep the original melodic movement of the Greek - which we can, in this case, and still get up where we need to be (or close to where we need to be) at the end. I've done an adaptation, based closely on yours, but with a few changes that mirror the Greek a little more closely, which I've put in a pdf at the end of this message. I hope that helps. As you can see, the change I made gives us a cadence on Ni right at the beginning, as in the Greek, while still ascending back up to the top of the tetrachord. Furthermore, it ensures that we go DOWN on the word "abyss", instead of up - even though what you have, beginning with low ke, and working your way upwards, is equally evocative (since the text does say "from the abyss").

3) In the Greek, there is a very beautiful - and unique, at least in the upper tetrachord - formula that brings the melody to high Pa on the words ύψος αρετής (the "height of virtue"). I like what you've done in the original, where you still get up to high Pa on these same words. However - and this is 100% a judgment call, and not a rule - I sometimes prefer to keep unique or rare theseis from the original, at the expense of using that theseis on a different phrase in the text. As you will see in the pdf, I used this thesis on the phrase "marvelously soar," since it has the exact same accentuation as the Greek, and allows us to preserve this phrase 100% intact. It also lets us keep the phrase that the Greek uses for προς ακρότατον. One can rightly criticize me for using the thesis which I chose afterward for "height of virtue" - perhaps there is now a little TOO much movement in the upper tetrachord, but I think it might be worth it to try to preserve more of the original melody. Personal preference, I guess. :) There's not really a "right" answer...

4) The phrase ουρανούς αρετή again has a nice diatonic modulation that's a little rare in Plagal Second Mode, and probably worth preserving. So, I rearranged things a little bit, and put this formula on the words "footsteps of Christ." I then opted for another thesis that still preserves some movement in the upper tetrachord (chromatic) for the word "heavens with virtue" (since the Greek original had upward movement there as well), and then finished with another diatonic modulation for "with His understanding", since the Greek had one there as well.

5) For "thou wast shown to be", I quoted the Greek, then did another diatonic modulation on "fiery imitator", since, a) perhaps it sounds a little fiery, :), and b) because the Greek had one around that part of the original piece.

6) For "Preaching the good tidings of peace, life, and salvation to them that piously obey", I just quoted the Greek verbatim, everywhere (even though I like what you have for "peace, life, and salvation"), simply because the English fits perfectly, and we definitely want to keep it when that happens.

7) "the divine commands" might not be a legitimate thesis (and what you had is fine), but I wanted to see if there was something that would stress "divine" and the last syllable of "commands" a little better.

8) I'm a little conflicted about the solution to "wherein do thou guide us". The first thing you have is, obviously, fine. The second solution, even though you don't it as much, is also legitimate, and I think it is okay to use an alternate, when we have the (unfortunately) common situation that we cannot preserve this climactic old sticheraric thesis so commonly found in Plagal 2 doxastika. I like your third solution very much, except for the fact that I don't see a place in the formulas where that particular thesis takes a syllable on those last 4 beats. It FEELS 100% naturally and fine to put one there, though, and it seems to be a characteristic of these old sticheraric theseis that they take various numbers of syllables and accents, depending on context. I'm going to go with solution #3 in my adaptation, based on yours, but now I'm also going to keep my eye out to see if this particular thesis ever takes a new syllable on those last few notes.

Hope this is helpful! Let me know what you think, and any comments you have or places where you disagree with my adaptation.

Καλή δύναμη for your feast day, and χρόνια πολλά!

In Christ,
Gabriel
 

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Anthony

Νέο μέλος
#3
Hi Gabriel,

Thank you very much for looking at this! I especially appreciate the detailed comments and the revised version you posted.

2. I had thought of keeping the same opening thesis as you have, but I wanted to avoid fitting a thesis to an incomplete phrase ("From the abyss of"). But I can see now that it sounds fine and doesn't distort the text. I agree that my version sounds forced, and probably untraditional to begin on a low Ke.

3. I think your solution to the high Pa section is great. I couldn't say whether it's traditional or not, but the long time in the upper tetrachord definitely fits the text ("soar up," "loftiest height", "high-flying eagle"). I wasn't creative enough to look around for another phrase that might syllabically (and meaningfully) fit that beautiful thesis beginning on high Vou.

4. I also think your version of "footsteps of Christ" and "heavens with virtue" is very nice; that diatonic modulation fits the 11 of "footsteps" perfectly. In the following phrase, though, I wonder if "filled" should get some stress. In my reading, "filled" gets more than "all", but that's probably just a judgment call.

5. Your "fiery imitator" is great; I couldn't find anything very satisfactory there.

6. I admit that I didn't even see that the phrase "Preaching the good tidings" matches the Greek metrically. With "peace, life and salvation" I got too perfectionist and felt that I just had to give "life" more stress. But now I see that the original melody gives it enough. Plus it doesn't feel very peaceful to jump up to a high Pa on "peace". I do still think, though, that with "preaching the good tidings," the original thesis stresses "the" too much with four beats, even though the formula book calls for an unstressed syllable there. But I generally feel that "the" sounds bad if it's given any more than a split-second of airtime, so it might just be a less-than-beautiful aspect of English we'll have to live with. My version gave it two beats, and that still sounds a bit awkward.

7. I felt the same way about "divine commands," but just couldn't find anything better. Unless I'm missing something, it looks like your version is only found in the formula book as a 1001 formula. But it doesn't feel illegitimate, and I agree, it stresses things better. There are a bunch of formulas ending in 101 that fit an extra syllable in the kylisma, so that "-vine" could fit on the stressed Ga; however, all these are longer formulas which even if the first unstressed syllables were shaved off, would have to dramatically emphasize "the." Ugh.

8. I didn't find it in the formulas either. The reason I thought of it was because the non-characteristic old sticheraric thesis (my "1st Alternate") ends in such a way, mimicking the last 10 beats of the characteristic thesis while adding an extra syllable on the last 4 beats.

Anyway, thanks again. I think I might be overly biased towards fitting the text syllabically, at the expense of imitating the original melody and overall good flow. I suppose it's a balance that requires discernment. Following the original when possible is definitely the way of humility, and makes it easier too.

In Christ,
Anthony
 
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