Offer to Compose Music for Feast Days

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#1
Good evening to everyone, and I hope that this post finds all of you well.

I want to make something of an offer to the English-speaking members of the forum, in the hopes of simultaneously helping myself to finish a project that I have been working on sporadically for a while now.

As some of you may know, I am currently living in Athens, Greece, in an attempt to continue improving my knowledge of the Psaltic Art in general, and of composition specifically. One of my goals for this time period is, with God's help, to complete my main project, which is the composition of an English Doxastarion - essentially an English equivalent of Μουσική Κυψέλη, with settings of the idiomela for every day of the Church year. I have been working on this sporadically for the past couple years, and I would like to tackle it systematically now and finish it, God willing.

As a way to help myself work systematically, I would like to propose the following: upon request, I will attempt to compose music for the needs of some of the English-speaking members of the forum. (I assume that these will generally align, roughly, with the liturgical year as we progress through it.) I would, of course, ask that these requests come significantly in advance (at least a couple of weeks) so that I can try and give myself enough time to work on them. I can't promise that I will be able to complete all of them on time (due to my other commitments here in Greece, such as the churches I chant at regularly), but I will do my absolute best to try to have them ready for people to make use of them. I also think it will help keep me motivated. :)

Upon completion of the score, I will upload it to the forum, or (alternately) send it in a private message to the person who requested it. I note: the score will be a draft, not a type-set version.

The only thing I ask of those who request/use these scores is that, upon having chanted them, they contact me afterward (either using the forum topic where I post the score, or via PM or e-mail) with suggestions and/or corrections (orthographical, musical mistakes etc) concerning the score that I wrote. This will help me to correct and improve the score as much as possible, and also ensure that I am not working totally in a vacuum. Here in Greece, I don't exactly use or hear my compositions very often or receive feedback about them. :)

God willing, after a certain period of time, I hope to have completed the entire Church year in this fashion. Then, I can move on to compiling, correcting, and typesetting the scores - but that's a whole other chapter with its own challenges. :rolleyes:

In Christ,
Gabriel

P.S. I just realized that this might not have been clear from the above message - the only things I will try to take "requests" for will be idiomela and doxastika from the Menaion. (And, specifically, from the Menaion of Holy Transfiguration Monastery.) In other words, I will not set to music hymns from the Triodion (when we find ourselves in the Triodion period again), nor from the Paraklitiki (of which there is no complete English translation) nor the Pentecostarion (yet. God willing I hope to do that someday, but that's farther down the road).

Also, this does not apply to hymns from the Menaion that are not idiomela or doxastika (e.g. canons, slow prosomia, etc). Basically, I will only compose music for the following:

Idiomela of Vespers (at Lord I have Cried, the Aposticha, or the Entreaty)
Doxastika of Vespers, the Aposticha, or the Entreaty
Idiomela after the Orthros Gospel (and the "Glory"/"Both Now" beforehand, if that is a special idiomelon, as happens on some feast days of the Lord and other occasions.)
Praises Idiomela
Praises Doxastika

...In other words, whatever one would search for in the book Μουσική Κυψέλη.
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#2
I think I forgot to mention in the above details that the scores I write will be according to the classical style of Mousike Kypseli (as following the precedent already set by Fr. Ephraim), or the even more classical Doxastarion of Petros the Peloponnesian. As much as it might be nice to compose some scores in the style of Konstantinos Protopsaltis or even Stanitsas, I can't say as I am much of an expert on their styles. :)

In Christ,
Gabriel
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
Gabriel,

I hope life in Athens treats you well and may it be to our benefit that you'll be able to compose hymns in English for use by chanters chanting in English.

I would personally benefit from your composing hymns for:

8/1: Doxastikon at Lord I have Cried: "Ἦχος πλ. βʹ. Πρῶτος ἐν Μάρτυσιν ...
Doxastikon at The Aposticha: Ἦχος πλ. βʹ. Χαίροις ἐν Κυρίῳ,...

Hopefully this request has come in with enough notice to where you can come up with drafts in advance of the date.

With respect to my ability to evaluate your work in any constructive capacity I'll share with you that:
1) I've been chanting ~6 years, of which the first 2 or so were spent learning the notation.
2) I am not a composer and thus, while I can evaluate your score for surface-level errors, I would not be able to give you very useful criticisms beyond "this flowed well" and "this felt awkward".
3) While I habitually chant from the classic doxastaria in the original language, I certainly do not have a mental repository of the melodic formulae in each mode, for each style, for every syllabic pattern.

Along those lines, it's worth cautioning you that likely very (very!) few individuals are genuinely qualified to give you real constructive, useful feedback on your scores (Papa Ephraim, Basil Crow, John Michael Boyer, Sam Herron and Dr. Karanos are those that come to mind). As with all things Orthodox, the faith is experiential and thus it's best to learn from those with more experience than you (as makes sense intuitively) so it should be pretty obvious that one needs to consider the source when receiving feedback from those like myself, or others who don't have real compositional expertise.

I am sure that others would agree with the sentiment that as Byzantine Music gains more acceptability within the United States, that the utility of the project you're attempting to complete will find wider adoption and that for you this is a way to fulfill your life's endeavors in service to the Church.

While such a project has immediate utility for someone like myself who is comfortable chanting from Byzantine notation and has developed a "psaltic yphos" (subject to the criticism of my peers) - I personally see a more immediate need for chant education in this country than I do for an English Doxastarion so as to elevate the level of competency of those who wish to serve the Church through chanting but lack sufficient knowledge to do so according to our Tradition.
 
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GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#4
Dear Ross,

Thank you for your kind post. I will, with God's help, to complete those hymns in time for you. (They are for August 2nd, right?)

You have some very helpful comments and thoughts, which I would like to address individually.

With respect to my ability to evaluate your work in any constructive capacity I'll share with you that:
1) I've been chanting ~6 years, of which the first 2 or so were spent learning the notation.
2) I am not a composer and thus, while I can evaluate your score for surface-level errors, I would not be able to give you very useful criticisms beyond "this flowed well" and "this felt awkward".
3) While I habitually chant from the classic doxastaria in the original language, I certainly do not have a mental repository of the melodic formulae in each mode, for each style, for every syllabic pattern.
Even if you don't consider yourself a composer or someone in possession of a "mental repository" of formulae, any kind of feedback is helpful, especially considering that I generally receive a grand total of zero comments, either positive or negative. Even the smallest kind of feedback is helpful and appreciated, such as "you're missing a gorgon on the third line of page 2." I so often miss these things because, a) I write quickly, and b) I basically think in terms of theseis, not individual notes, so it's very easy for me to miss a note or a gorgon here and there. Furthermore, the comments such as "this felt awkward" are even more helpful to me, because - believe it or not - I often don't chant my own work. Yes, I will give it a quick run-through before I put a final draft on paper, but I'm not always extremely careful when I do this, and I certainly don't attempt to do it with the precision that I would if I were chanting a piece in Church. (Many times, I simply look at the music, hear it in my head, and then write it down.)

So the bottom line is that just about any kind of feedback - even the most rudimentary - is helpful, and you need not be a composer to comment on my scores. :)

While such a project has immediate utility for someone like myself who is comfortable chanting from Byzantine notation and has developed a "psaltic yphos" (subject to the criticism of my peers) - I personally see a more immediate need for chant education in this country than I do for an English Doxastarion so as to elevate the level of competency of those who wish to serve the Church through chanting but lack sufficient knowledge to do so according to our Tradition.
I can definitely see what you mean by this. I must say that I think I was/am spoiled - first of all by my time at Holy Cross, where the vast majority of enrolled students were taking classes to learn how to read the notation, and then making use of their newfound knowledge in the daily chapel services - and second of all by my time here in Greece, where just about everyone who goes up to the chanter's stand has at least SOME rudimentary knowledge of what's going on. That's definitely not the case in the States, as we all know. My desire to write an English-language Doxastarion was essentially prompted by the liturgical life of Holy Cross - I saw a daily need for musical scores for doxastika and idiomela in English, and those scores didn't exist. That's how this project got started. It is also my hope that a book such as this will prove very useful in monasteries, where a book such as a Doxastarion is vital to the performance of the daily services. But I can definitely see your point that it's probably a project that most parishes would place on the back burner - if they even thought of it at all.

I must say that I see this whole issue - where, on the one hand, the vast majority even of those interested in Byzantine music don't even know where to begin, and, on the other hand, those of us who do know find ourselves lacking even basic musical materials - in a sort of a chicken-and-the-egg sort of fashion. Yes, we need to teach Byzantine music to people; I am 100% behind the teaching of our sacred music. But I also see that we are lacking in the necessary materials to equip our few newly-emerging chanters. So, which is more important? Should we teach those who are interested - get them fully proficient at reading the notation - but then leave them high and dry, with very little material to work with in English?

Personally, the way I see it, there are at least a fair amount of resources out there for those who are interested in learning - people can find the Margaziotis book online, for instance, as well as several others. These can at least teach them the basics and give them something of a foundation. Furthermore, the number of people who are fully-fledged chanters in the States and able to teach, few though they may be (maybe a hundred, at a very rough guess) still far exceeds the number of people composing necessary music in English (about 5 or so, many of whom you listed in your post, and not all of whom are actively composing at this time).

So, the way I see it, while I do agree with you that there is a very great need for education and teaching in the area of the Psaltic Art, I personally believe that my energies are better spent in the area of composition, because there are so few people doing it. And, as more people learn to chant, the need for such compositions will continue to increase. So there's work to be done... and someone needs to do it.

As to whether or not I will ever be able to make a living at it - that's another story, and one that I am seriously doubting will ever come to pass... :rolleyes:

-Gabriel
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#5
Thanks Gabriel,

I understand where you are coming from and appreciate your point of view. I used margaziotis to help me learn notation but of course there's a need to institute good habits around the non-obvious things...typikon, yphos etc. Either way I am again appreciative of your efforts.

Yes, for August 2nd (Vespers celebrated on August 1st).

R.
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#6
Gabriel,

Actually would you be able to compose hymns for the Procession of the Cross for August 1st? That would be great if so.

R.
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#7
Gabriel,

Actually would you be able to compose hymns for the Procession of the Cross for August 1st? That would be great if so.

R.
Do you have any specific ones in mind? There are a lot of idiomela for that day. God willing I will do them all, but just so I can prioritize...

In Christ,
Gabriel
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#8
Do you have any specific ones in mind? There are a lot of idiomela for that day. God willing I will do them all, but just so I can prioritize...

In Christ,
Gabriel
Sure:

At Vespers
At Lord I have Cried:
Δόξα... Ἦχος πλ. δ' Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μακκαβαῖοι...
Καὶ νῦν... ὁ αὐτὸς Ὅνπερ πάλαι Μωϋσῆς,...

At the Aposticha
(The Doxa is very long)
Καὶ νῦν...Ἦχος πλ. δ
Ἡ φωνὴ τοῦ Προφήτου σου Μωϋσέως,...

The Apolytikion for the Maccabees (St. Anthony's has a different hymn in 4th mode)
Ἀπολυτίκιον τῶν Ἁγίων
Ἦχος α' Τὰς ἀλγηδόνας τῶν Ἁγίων,...

There's then a series of idiomela in different modes at the Praises and then a Doxa and Kai Nyn both in 4th mode...i'd probably be alternating Greek and English so I'd say the 1st and 3rd idiomela mode and then the Kai Nyn?

Καὶ τρία Ἰδιόμελα τῶν Ἁγίων
Ἦχος α'
Ἡ πολύαθλος μήτηρ, ...

Στίχ. Θαυμαστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἐν τοῖς Ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ.
Ἦχος δ'
Ἑπτὰ στῦλοι ἐκλεκτοί, ...

Στίχ. τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς ἐν τῇ γῇ αὐτοῦ ἐθαυμάστωσεν.
Ἦχος πλ. α'
Οἱ τοῦ νόμου φύλακες, ....

Δόξα... Ἦχος δ'
Τὸν κατὰ Μακκαβαίων συγκροτηθέντα πόλεμον, ...

Καὶ νῦν... Ἦχος ὁ αὐτὸς
Ὁ συμμαχήσας Κύριε τῷ πραοτάτῳ Δαυΐδ, ...

Thank you very much!

Yours,

Ross
 
#9
Thanks Gabriel,

I understand where you are coming from and appreciate your point of view. I used margaziotis to help me learn notation but of course there's a need to institute good habits around the non-obvious things...typikon, yphos etc. Either way I am again appreciative of your efforts.

Yes, for August 2nd (Vespers celebrated on August 1st).

R.
Any of the Doxastica for August 2nd would be a help to me. Thank you.

Rdr. Michael

P.S. The Lord I have cried Doxasticon is very similar to the 12-27 Aposticha Doxasticon (which I did attempt to set several years ago -- see below). The Aposticha Doxasticon is the same as the 12-27 Aposticha of the Praises Doxasticon (which we do not have). In our practice we won't be using the Praises Doxasticon (since it calls for the 9th Eothinon Doxasticon on Sunday).
 

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#10
Dear Ross,

...

My desire to write an English-language Doxastarion was essentially prompted by the liturgical life of Holy Cross - I saw a daily need for musical scores for doxastika and idiomela in English, and those scores didn't exist. That's how this project got started.

...

I must say that I see this whole issue - where, on the one hand, the vast majority even of those interested in Byzantine music don't even know where to begin, and, on the other hand, those of us who do know find ourselves lacking even basic musical materials - in a sort of a chicken-and-the-egg sort of fashion. Yes, we need to teach Byzantine music to people; I am 100% behind the teaching of our sacred music. But I also see that we are lacking in the necessary materials to equip our few newly-emerging chanters. So, which is more important? Should we teach those who are interested - get them fully proficient at reading the notation - but then leave them high and dry, with very little material to work with in English?

...

So, the way I see it, while I do agree with you that there is a very great need for education and teaching in the area of the Psaltic Art, I personally believe that my energies are better spent in the area of composition, because there are so few people doing it. And, as more people learn to chant, the need for such compositions will continue to increase. So there's work to be done... and someone needs to do it.

As to whether or not I will ever be able to make a living at it - that's another story, and one that I am seriously doubting will ever come to pass... :rolleyes:

-Gabriel
From my point of view, I am always struggling to find some setting of the music we have to chant each weekend. Your compositions are a great help and time saver for me. Since we are mostly a convert parish, trying to sing these hymns in English on the fly is not very acceptable. So every week I am attempting to set several hymns with my limited knowledge of Byzantine composition.

So anything you are able to do for the upcoming Sat. eve Vespers and Sunday Orthros are a great help!

Thank you.

Rdr. Michael
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#11
Hi Ross,

At Vespers
At Lord I have Cried:
Δόξα... Ἦχος πλ. δ' Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μακκαβαῖοι...
Καὶ νῦν... ὁ αὐτὸς Ὅνπερ πάλαι Μωϋσῆς,...
I will have the Δόξα ready, God willing, by tomorrow. The και νυν is available on the St. Anthony's website, under the music for September 16th.


At the Aposticha
(The Doxa is very long)
Καὶ νῦν...Ἦχος πλ. δ
Ἡ φωνὴ τοῦ Προφήτου σου Μωϋσέως,...
Again, I will have the Δόξα ready, God willing, by tomorrow. The και νυν I wrote a while ago, so I just have to figure out how to extract it from the giant PDF where I have it...

The Apolytikion for the Maccabees (St. Anthony's has a different hymn in 4th mode)
Ἀπολυτίκιον τῶν Ἁγίων
Ἦχος α' Τὰς ἀλγηδόνας τῶν Ἁγίων,...
This is a common Apolytikia for martyrs. For instance, it serves as the Apolytikion for the 20,000 Infants slain by Herod. (December 29th.) You can find it here.

There's then a series of idiomela in different modes at the Praises and then a Doxa and Kai Nyn both in 4th mode...i'd probably be alternating Greek and English so I'd say the 1st and 3rd idiomela mode and then the Kai Nyn?

Καὶ τρία Ἰδιόμελα τῶν Ἁγίων
Ἦχος α'
Ἡ πολύαθλος μήτηρ, ...

Στίχ. Θαυμαστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἐν τοῖς Ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ.
Ἦχος δ'
Ἑπτὰ στῦλοι ἐκλεκτοί, ...

Στίχ. τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς ἐν τῇ γῇ αὐτοῦ ἐθαυμάστωσεν.
Ἦχος πλ. α'
Οἱ τοῦ νόμου φύλακες, ....

Δόξα... Ἦχος δ'
Τὸν κατὰ Μακκαβαίων συγκροτηθέντα πόλεμον, ...

Καὶ νῦν... Ἦχος ὁ αὐτὸς
Ὁ συμμαχήσας Κύριε τῷ πραοτάτῳ Δαυΐδ, ...
I was able to write drafts of all of these, except for the και νυν. I will try to make a final draft and post them here tomorrow.

-Gabriel
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#12
Here is the draft for the Aposticha Kai nyn... I actually composed it last summer, and I might have done a couple things differently now, but I think it's mostly okay.

Also, because it was in my drafts, I am also attaching the idiomelon in second mode at the veneration of the Cross.

God willing I hope to post the other pieces today.

-Gabriel
 

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GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#13
Dear Ross, Michael, and all others interested:

Here are all the idiomela for tonight and tomorrow morning that I did not attach to my previous post. I wrote two settings of the Praises Doxastikon; the syntax was a little tricky, and I'm not sure which setting better expresses what the text is trying to convey. I would love to hear feedback about the two settings (pros/cons). Also, I did get around to setting the "Both Now" to music as well.

Also, I apologize for the pitiful electronic state that these pieces are in. I tried doing an automatic brightness adjustment on some of the pages, but I'm not sure if the result is better or worse. Also, I had to reduce the quality of the Orthros file even more, due to it being over the Psaltologion upload size limit.

I wish I could use a scanner (and not a digital camera!) but I'm afraid I don't have one here in Greece, and money is a little tight these days.

Of course, if anyone wants to donate money to the cause that could go toward purchasing a scanner so that the scores I send out would be somewhat more legible, I wouldn't complain. :D

Καλό ψάλσιμο, and I will try to see if I can write some of those pieces for St. Stephen as well. :)

In Christ,
Gabriel

P.S. Michael, if you don't mind my asking, what parish are you at?
 

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#14
Dear Ross, Michael, and all others interested:

...

Καλό ψάλσιμο, and I will try to see if I can write some of those pieces for St. Stephen as well. :)

In Christ,
Gabriel

P.S. Michael, if you don't mind my asking, what parish are you at?
Thank you, Gabriel. I really appreciate any and all the work you do in setting Idiomela in English to Byzantine notation.

We were at All Saints of America Antiochian Mission in Homer, AK for 10 years. 4 years ago we moved to Ellensburg, WA and serve in the Prophet Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Mission.

In Christ,
Rdr. Michael
 
#15
Dear Ross, Michael, and all others interested:

... I wrote two settings of the Praises Doxastikon; the syntax was a little tricky, and I'm not sure which setting better expresses what the text is trying to convey. I would love to hear feedback about the two settings (pros/cons).

...
First of all, I like them both. The first was clearer and flowed easier (at least for me). I don't know if there are any guidelines for ornateness of Polyeleos versus Doxology class feasts?

We won't be singing Aug. 1st this year and won't be able to review the others (until several years from now when we will need it). :)

Thanks, again.

Rdr. Michael
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#17
I think there might be an ison missing on "him" ("by him were we made") in the vesperal doxa.
Thanks for the catch. It should actually be:

By: Di (ison)

Him: Bou-Ga-Di (in other words, elaphron, oligon with kentemata underneath, and then digorgon on top) Ga-Bou-Pa (as written).

Continue as written...

-Gabriel
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#18
Here is the draft for the Aposticha Kai nyn... I actually composed it last summer, and I might have done a couple things differently now, but I think it's mostly okay.

Also, because it was in my drafts, I am also attaching the idiomelon in second mode at the veneration of the Cross.

God willing I hope to post the other pieces today.

-Gabriel
Thank you Gabriel - I appreciate the effort greatly. I was hoping my parish would opt to do a vigil celebration (since this is a feast day of my parish, though 9/14 and Stavroproskynesis are usually celebrated as such) but I was not able to order things in time.

Nonetheless I know this will come in handy in future years and I will review and give you feedback!

R.
 
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