Sakellarides, Harmonization & Westernization of Chant: What were the reactions from the community of traditional Psaltai?

#1
As we know, the harmonization & "westernization" that began in the 1800s and really took hold throughout Greece in the early 1900s has now been almost completely replaced by traditional Byzantine Chant, which it almost extinguished in many places.

However, in the United States and Canada, Greek-American parishes and choirs still absolutely love the work of some of the Greek composers from the Ionian Islands, as well as that of John Sakellarides and the Greek-American composers who followed in his footsteps (eg. Frank Desby, Nicholas Roubanis, Theodore Bogdanos, Tikey Zes etc...). Part of this was the reality that very few professionally trained chanters (only praktikoi) existed in the Americas until the latter-half of the 20th Century. The praktikoi that did chant often did so poorly, while all the trained musicians joined the parish choirs and various regional Choir Federations; which always pushed polyphonic music over Byzantine Chant. They also alienated many of the chanters, regarding Byzantine Chant as too foreign and not "American" enough for the Greek parishes.

So while the Patriarchate & Greece had a resurgence of traditional Byzantine Chant, and eventually saw the near extinction of polyphonic music; the latter continued to grow in popularity in America.

I'm speaking from my own personal bias, which I hold as a convert to Orthodoxy, and a neophyte to Byzantine Chant. That bias being a strong dislike for anything that attempts to "Westernize" Orthodox music, especially Byzantine Chant. I personally have grown to strongly dislike Sakellarides and anything resembling his work. I see it as a threat to the future of Byzantine Chant in America (as allowing polyphony would permit future generations to harmonize traditional Byzantine melodies).

Though I've also seen a wide range of opinions float around the American contingent of traditional chanters about the place of polyphonic music in Orthodox liturgical worship. The opinions are wide-ranging, some are strongly opposed to it, others being in favor (though still saying they prefer Byzantine Chant), while others are indifferent.

Then, I also see the arguments by some of the people in America who are strong supporters of polyphony, or even supporters of continuing to use Sakellarides' music. One of the arguments even using a quote by Chourmouzios Chartophylax (on adapting melodies to regional customs) to support Westernization & Harmonization of Byzantine Chant. Others using the existence of polyphony on the Ionian Islands and elsewhere (prior to even the New Method) as justification for it's use. While still others cite old manuscripts of Byzantine Chant that occasionally inserted a "third part" (triphony) to add color to a piece, as justification for the legitimacy of harmonization.

What I want to know, is what did the traditional/mainstream community of chanters think and say about the harmonization of Byzantine Chant and the polyphonic practices being utilized in some parts of Greece, and as promoted (or enforced) by some of the state monarchs & ecclesiastical hierarchs? What were their opinions of John Sakellarides' and the other composers who were also attempting to harmonize and/or "simplify" Byzantine Chant?
 
#3
Dear Luke, there are lots of discussions on this in the Greek-language section of Psaltologion. You could start with the thread on Sakellarides's life and work. Others may add more specific ones capturing the reactions of other psaltai.
Thank you Dimitri!

I will note that I do not understand Greek, so I must rely on Google Translate, which can make things confusing at times. I didn't know if it'd be worth it to have a new discussion in English for those like myself who cannot read the various discussions & articles that are in Greek.

I have been looking for more information and background, since although the issue is solved in Greece, and his music is now just seems to be a subject of historical study (rather than regular practice); it's still an on-going problem here in the Greek Archdiocese parishes of the United States.

Do you know if anyone has addressed the problem of whether or not using tetraphony/triphony is appropriate for Orthodox music?

Thank you again!
 
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Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#4
Sakellarides was, by many accounts, a very accomplished chantor with a strong and clear, powerful, voice. There are two very rare recordings on the Greek side of this forum that most believe are him chanting. Listening to those recordings, it is unmistakeable that they represent mainstream chant style of the period that carry exo-Patriarchal Constantinopolitan as well as Smyrnaic contours. As a chantor, most consider him extraordinary and remarkable.

The harmonization of Byzantine chant is a complex subject and if one does not allow the passions to inflame a learned approach, I think that the Sakellarides harmonization was intended to ease the "Western-leaning" aristocracy of Greece (and certain spaces in Constantinople and Smyrna) into Byzantine Chant in a hybrid manner. Sakellarides was demonized on the product he presented without considering the WHY he offered that direction. That was completely missed (or deliberately suppressed) by the church at the time.

If one looks at Sakellarides' Cherubic hymns, as simple as they are, they present the skeleton of the mode and the inspiration melody to learners and untrained listeners. That was missed by the church at the time. Consider that many non-Western leaning audiences in Asia Minor were quite sophisticated in their understanding of the more complex "traditional" melodies and so the Sakellaridaean innovation was looked upon with disdain (i.e. primitive music, by their estimation). And so, the traditionalists and their sophistication drove the discussion and choice.

A dispassionate chantor and scholar should not be "anti-Sakellarides". One should study his Byzantine melodies and dissect his tripartite music as well.

Now, in the US, there is very little relationship between the bona fide "American" compositions and those of Sakellarides. Sakellarides worked on an existing palette known to traditionalists. The American compositions innovate, creating music and orchstrations de novo. Many times these compositions are outside the Orthodox spiritual, ecclesiological, and even theologic ethos. But that is a topic for another discussion.....

NG
 
#5
Sakellarides was demonized on the product he presented without considering the WHY he offered that direction. That was completely missed (or deliberately suppressed) by the church at the time.
But was not that suppression justified? In order to be within the tradition of Byzantine Chant, the music has to be monophonic in character (as the ison doesn't function as a "part" per se). Plus, didn't Sakellarides advocate a significant change in the microtonal character of the Modes? Such as eliminating or cutting out a lot of the chromatic aspects? I seem to recall reading somewhere that one of his theoretical treatises advocated making everything more Diatonic in character? I do understand why he made the decisions he did, but shouldn't we still condemn what he did because his decisions seemed to both strip down and "simplify" Byzantine Chant, as well as try to morph it into something that is outside of the tradition?

A dispassionate chantor and scholar should not be "anti-Sakellarides". One should study his Byzantine melodies and dissect his tripartite music as well.
Is there any good in studying his Byzantine melodies though? We have plenty of better composers and chanters to study, and composers who didn't try to compromise Byzantine Chant.

It seems to me that people will try to use the excuse that he was a good chanter to justify using his terrible, cut down, simplified and harmonized melodies as well. Why not just reject them all outright, and ignore both his good work, as well as his problematic (ie: harmonized & simplified) compositions?

Many times these compositions are outside the Orthodox spiritual, ecclesiological, and even theologic ethos.
But that is a topic for another discussion.....
Though that is part of what I was hoping could be discussed via this thread. As I don't just want to discuss Sakellarides, but even the appropriateness of harmonizations in Orthodox music, since it seems that most harmonizations, and theory behind harmonization is coming from non-Orthodox traditions (IE: Roman Catholics and Protestants).
 
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evangelos

Ευάγγελος Σολδάτος
#6
The polyphonic music in my opinion is not a threat for traditional chanting. Polyphonic music exists in the Orthodox world for many centuries as in the Ionian Sea island of Corfu or Zakynthos without affecting the monophonic tradition of the mainland. Sakelarides was a great musician and knew deeply the original chanting. The problem is that with time we lose the connection to the tradition, so the application of traditional chanting is not good so polyphonic music is a better solution than a "traditional" bad cantor.
 

Pappous43

Παλαιό Μέλος
#7
Hi, Luke, long time no see!

The theory and practice of harmonisation is really physics of sound. This was proven by H.Helmholtz and originally presented in 1863 in his book:
"Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik" which shows the results of his experiments
of combining various frequencies of violin sounds. Helmholtz found that beauty or "harmony" (from Greek harmos = joint, linkage)
occurs very near the frequency ratios of small integer numbers e.g. 2:1, 3:2, 4:3 etc. The well-known ancient Pythagoras had found similar results and hence the Pythagorean or natural intervals.
Very well trained ears can hear the "error" of say two moria (2/72). In the opposite cases "rauhigkeit" (harshness) occurs.
Being a technical man, you appreciate the beautiful "joining" or addition of specific sinusoidal waves having periods eg 3:2 (about 42 moria).
You can verify this acoustically but also visually if you look at the steady resultant curve.

Sakellarides has written many (if not all) of his scores in the Western (staff) notation ALSO. He therefore tacitly agrees that one can easily play
his scores on a piano. Another thing he also implies is that the Byz. notes are "flat" like in a piano.
However, it has been shown by spectral analysis https://bzquality.wordpress.com/ὓφος/
that the widely accepted proto-psaltai of our time do not sing flat notes but some kind of more or less continuously controlled vibrato.
This interpretation cannot be expressed by the simple staff scores of Sakellarides but rather by Byz. quality characters.
Thus, one may risk to rephrase the Sakellarides question by asking instead: "Should we sing scores written in simple staff notation?"

By the way, a similar trend has been developed in Romania and presented in the book:
"A guide to the music of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by N.Lungu, G.Costea, and I.Croitoru"
These authors suggest a translation of all Byzantine intervals to simple multiples of 6, ie,6,12,18,24 etc, just like in the piano.

On a personal note:
A Western music (lady) conductor asked me recently to translate a Holy Week hymn to simple staff music for piano.
She played it at the piano and told me, "it can't be done, it sounds wrong!"

Another difference with Sakellarides is his use of different, unusual sequences of notes. You can verify this also if you compare histograms of interval distributions (You probably know, this is information is automatically done in BZQ via the "Info" button).

So, Luke, it seems the answer to your question is slowly but surely emerging...
 
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#8
The polyphonic music in my opinion is not a threat for traditional chanting. Polyphonic music exists in the Orthodox world for many centuries as in the Ionian Sea island of Corfu or Zakynthos without affecting the monophonic tradition of the mainland. Sakelarides was a great musician and knew deeply the original chanting. The problem is that with time we lose the connection to the tradition, so the application of traditional chanting is not good so polyphonic music is a better solution than a "traditional" bad cantor.
I would agree with you in terms of Greece, and the state of chanting vs. polyphonic music there. However, I do worry about it here in America precisely because many Greek American parishes & choirs are convinced that to be "American" means that our Orthodox music has to be harmonized and equally tempered. It's very rare to find a Greek or an Antiochian parish here in America where the Divine Liturgy isn't done by a choir performing four-part harmonies.

Even at our own Archdiocesan Cathedral, the Divine Liturgy is done mostly by the four-part choir, accompanied by the choir as one can see in this video:

and here at a large Antiochian parish:


and here at another Greek parish:

As well as the four-part choirs typically taking over hymns at other services such as the Engomia at Lamentations, or the Hymn of Kassiani at Bridegroom Orthros, such as in these clips of the Archdiocesan Cathedral and an Antiochian parish:


So while it didn't, and hasn't effected Greece very much, it really has become the normal practice here in America, while Byzantine Chant is treated as being too foreign and "Greek" for Greek-Americans.

It seems to me that this kind of music should be considered completely inappropriate for Orthodox worship.

Since there is also always the talk of trying to solve our problem of multiple churches and jurisdictions by unifying all of them (Greek with Antiochian, Russian, Serbian etc...) here in the US. there's also the (currently hypothetical) threat of the Slavic practice of polyphonic music, and even simplistic Obikhod Chant being regarded as "more American" than "foreign Byzantine".

Hi, Luke, long time no see!
Hello! Good to speak with you again!

The theory and practice of harmonisation is really physics of sound. This was proven by H.Helmholtz and presented in 1863 in his book:
"Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik" which shows the results of his experiments
of combining various frequencies of violin sounds. Helmholtz found that beauty or "harmony" (from Greek harmos = joint, linkage)
occurs very near the frequence ratios of small integer numbers e.g. 2:1, 3:2, 4:3 etc. The well-known ancient Pythagoras had found similar results.
Very well trained ears can hear the "error" of say two moria (2/72). In the opposite cases "rauhigkeit" (harshness) occurs.
Being a technical man, you appreciate the correct "joining" or addition of specific sinusoidal waves having periods eg 3:2 (about 42 moria).

Sakellarides has written many (if not all) of his scores in the Western (staff) notation ALSO. He therefore tacitly agrees that one can easily play
his scores on a piano. Another thing he also implies is that the Byz. notes are "flat" like in a piano.
However, it has been shown by spectral analysis https://bzquality.wordpress.com/ὓφος/
that the widely accepted proto-psaltai of our time do not sing flat notes but some kind of more or less continuously controlled vibrato.
This interpretation cannot be expressed by the simple staff scores of Sakellarides but rather by Byz. quality characters.
Thus, one may risk to rephrase the Sakellarides question by asking instead: "Should we sing scores written in simple staff notation?"

By the way, a similar trend has been developed in Romania and presented in the book:
"A guide to the music of the Eastern Orthodox Church, by N.Lungu, G.Costea, and I.Croitoru"
These authors suggest a translation of all Byzantine intervals to simple multiples of 6, ie,6,12,18,24 etc, just like in the piano.

Finally, on a personal note:
A Western music (lady) conductor asked me recently to translate a Holy Week hymn to simple staff music for piano.
She played it at the piano and told me, "it can't be done, it sounds wrong!"

So, Luke, it seems the answer to your question is slowly but surely emerging...
There are actually a lot of Greek-Americans and Antiochians here in the United States that argue that even though equal-temperament is wrong within the Byzantine tradition, they argue it is the only correct way to do it in order to make Byzantine Chant more American.

I actually left my previous parish (it was Antiochian) because the "head chanter" is convinced that for Byzantine Chant to be truly American, we can't execute microtones and must execute the music in an equally tempered manner, like on a piano. Not to mention that we were being forced to using Basil Kazan's compositions, which are all more derivatives of Sakellarides' brand of music rather than Mitri El-Murr or any classical Greek compositions.

In my current parish (Greek) I can execute the microtones without issue, however our four-part choir insists on doing everything equally-tempered, including Soft-Chromatic, where they render the Πα-Βου interval as a full step (12 moria) rather than 14, and the Δι-Κε interval as a full step (12 moria) rather than the 8 moria as is traditional, making all Soft-Chromatic pieces into Diatonic pieces. Yet this is seen as more "American" and more proper for American Orthodox music. Which is sad for me to see, especially since all harmonized pieces are going to be in staff notation.

I guess also my other worry is that we are leaving the door open for people to harmonize even the best Byzantine compositions, which makes them cease to be Byzantine (since Byzantine Chant has to be "monophonic", and can't be harmonized) and begins to erode away the tradition.
 
#9
As mentioned above, it seems to me that most of the polyphony/tetraphonic work as seen in the examples below is somehow entirely inappropriate for Orthodox worship, and outside of the Orthodox musical tradition:




When we compare them to sacred Byzantine tradition, I don't see them as nearly on the same level, but more inferior:



Did any of the traditional chanters speak about the appropriateness of polyphonic music? Especially regarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate's condemnation on four-part harmony in 1846.
 

evangelos

Ευάγγελος Σολδάτος
#10
We have to be confident with our civilisation, to study and develop our knowledge. For example, Chinese and Indian people succeeded to convince Western nations to follow their techniques and arts of meditation, spirituality, Kong fu, Tai chi, yoga etc. They do promote their arts, in contrast to Greeks who do the opposite. Some of us In the name of pure prayer and orthodoxy say that chanting is not necessarily for our salvation! although St John of Damascus has noticed the importance of music, φωνή λεγεται δια το φως είναι νοος=the voice is the light of our mind . Let us follow the way of Chinese and Indian people to do the same thing, to be proud for what we are and be useful for us, study and spread our precious knowledge of old harmony to other nations. Do not afraid of other cultures! We have to live in this world, we are not alone, we have to be strong and admire our tradition so other nations do the same and follow us, as we follow them in so many good and useful things.
 
#11
We have to be confident with our civilisation, to study and develop our knowledge. For example, Chinese and Indian people succeeded to convince Western nations to follow their techniques and arts of meditation, spirituality, Kong fu, Tai chi, yoga etc. They do promote their arts, in contrast to Greeks who do the opposite. Some of us In the name of pure prayer and orthodoxy say that chanting is not necessarily for our salvation! although St John of Damascus has noticed the importance of music, φωνή λεγεται δια το φως είναι νοος=the voice is the light of our mind . Let us follow the way of Chinese and Indian people to do the same thing, to be proud for what we are and be useful for us, study and spread our precious knowledge of old harmony to other nations. Do not afraid of other cultures! We have to live in this world, we are not alone, we have to be strong and admire our tradition so other nations do the same and follow us, as we follow them in so many good and useful things.
Since I come from a Protestant background, my concern is that the "inspiration" for this harmonized music is coming from cultures/religions whose heretical/heterodox beliefs have influenced their art forms.

After all, in my perspective, the Roman Catholic Church didn't depart from the Christian tradition of monophonic chant until after the Great Schism, when their theology began to suffer from more and more heresy, and more focus on sensual pleasure rather than correctness of worship. Their music began to abandon the monophonic tradition and embrace harmonies in order to please the senses, and it focuses far less on iconography and more on just making sure worshipers like what they hear, instead of suppressing their own preferences for the sake of conforming to the established church tradition..
 

evangelos

Ευάγγελος Σολδάτος
#12
I don't believe that in West music they abandoned monophonic music because polyphonic music please the senses more. They just developed a system of counterpoint in which was could not have all the cases of ancient genus. The belief also that eastern Orthodox chant was strictly monophonic in my point of view is not correct. The Zakynthos chanting has many elements from ancient melos. The polyphonic chanting in Zakynthos is there for many centuries and may come from Crete. Are Zakynthos people less Orthodox?! In byzantine - East Greco-Roman chant the main melody was represented in the scores but according the laws of Greco-Roman harmony(1. Πάσα τριφωνία τον εαυτόν ήχον ποιεί =every four notes we do the same sound , 2. ο β ήχος οδεύει ανά δύο =the second mode goes the same by 3 notes), I say, we may have in some occasions many parallel melodies. I attach a sample of αρχαίον Φώς Ιλαρόν as it could be performed according what I said. Generally I believe that we can have both the traditional monophonic chanting and at the same time a good quality of polyphonic music in balance.
 

Attachments

#13
I don't believe that in West music they abandoned monophonic music because polyphonic music please the senses more. They just developed a system of counterpoint in which was could not have all the cases of ancient genus. The belief also that eastern Orthodox chant was strictly monophonic in my point of view is not correct. The Zakynthos chanting has many elements from ancient melos. The polyphonic chanting in Zakynthos is there for many centuries and may come from Crete. Are Zakynthos people less Orthodox?! In byzantine - East Greco-Roman chant the main melody was represented in the scores but according the laws of Greco-Roman harmony(1. Πάσα τριφωνία τον εαυτόν ήχον ποιεί =every four notes we do the same sound , 2. ο β ήχος οδεύει ανά δύο =the second mode goes the same by 3 notes), I say, we may have in some occasions many parallel melodies. I attach a sample of αρχαίον Φώς Ιλαρόν as it could be performed according what I said. Generally I believe that we can have both the traditional monophonic chanting and at the same time a good quality of polyphonic music in balance.
The music from Zakynthos comes from Italian (Roman Catholic) influence, and hence not from Orthodoxy. It is a strange fusion of Byzantine melodies and Italian Catholic harmonies. The Italians controlled Zakynthos for 300 years. Likewise, Crete was controlled by the Italians for at least 300 years, and nearly 400-500 years in some localities. Even the Orthodox architecture in these areas is very sadly more Roman Catholic and less Orthodox.

Therefore, the music of the (heretical) Roman Catholic Church inevitably, and sadly influenced the Orthodox Churches in those places.

In my opinion, while they arent less Orthodox, I regard the music as less Orthodox.

My hope is that the music of Zakynthos and other areas is eventually wiped out completely in favor of Byzantine Chant.
 

evangelos

Ευάγγελος Σολδάτος
#14
The polyphony was developed in western Europe but there are some element for early polyphonic music in the East too before Palestrina. Lykourgos Angelopoulos had represented the koinoniko of Manuel Gazis see here (it is in greek section ). You can find the score here (page 642) . I attach a print screen of it
_20190621_082343.JPG

p.s. If you go to Zakinthos explain your hope to see what will happen ...
 
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#15
The polyphony was developed in western Europe but there are some element for early polyphonic music in the East too before Palestrina. Lykourgos Angelopoulos had represented the koinoniko of Manuel Gazis see here (it is in greek section ). You can find the score here (page 642) . I attach a print screen of it
View attachment 103190

p.s. If you go to Zakinthos explain your hope to see what will happen ...
The time that Manuel Gazis composed that (not to mention the title specifically references the Latins) was the sad period in our history where the Emperor was pressuring everyone to abandon Orthodox Christianity and embrace the Roman Catholics. You had the heretical councils of Lyons and Florence-Ferrara, as well as heretical emperors like Emperor John V Palaiologos who pressured the Orthodox to submit to the Roman Catholics. It's only natural at this time that many composers would have tried to make efforts to "reach across the aisle" by adopting some amounts of polyphony. While it seems a natural reaction though, and a lot of it could have been under pressure by the heretical hierarchs & Emperors, it still isn't justified to add harmonies to Orthodox music.
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#16
I will not address Loukas12's discrete notes and thoughts, but I will answer them collectively, as best as I can, with the following:

-On the "suppression" of Sakellarides' material: It is already part of history and few chantors even use it as part of a revolving repertoire.

-On Polyphonic choirs and polyphonic choral music in the USA: If I am not mistaken, Alexander Lingas published a well-written paper a few years ago (it may even be here inside PL) that follows the history and evolution of ecclesiastic music in America. There is a rational reason for why they evolved given the insecurity and fear of the early Greek immigrants in the face of racism and nativism as well as their persuasion that, in order to move up the American social ladder, their faith had to reflect "American" elements to make them more palatable to their non-Greek communities.

-On the pervasion of polyphonic choral music in the US GOA: While some may not believe this, the dwindling number of people able to (mostly due to age) and willing to (mostly because younger people do not want to participate in choral activities as well as career-mandated mobility away from the home parish) keep parish choirs alive is a fact. More and more parishes are learning to live without a choir and instead have acutely discovered the need for investment in training someone to chant. The ever-growing and maturing material available through the AGES Initiative and the legacy material at stanthonysmonastery.org has simplified and inspired clergy to invest more in learning and training in chant in English. I am observing a slow but steady growth in Byzantine chant (in the English language) in the USA. I understand that there are legacy choirs with a following in some centers in the USA, but it is only time before they too will become lost to age and mobility.

-The genuine interest and immersion in Byzantine music and chant by the seminarians of Holy Cross Seminary of the GOA has grown substantially and with sincere enthusiasm since the time of Mr. Ketsetzis, but more so under the direction of Fr. Dr. Romanos Karanos. This was an important inflection point, I think, which sensitizes the future clergy about the importance of Byzantine chant.

-Many parishes of the Antiochian Orthodox adherence have also begun realizing the relevance of authentic Byzantine chant, either inspired by their legacy "Arabic" chant tradition, or more recently, through the adoption of material from AGES and stanthonysmonastery.org. One must also commend the investment they made a few years ago in making Byzantine chant a mainstream course at their Seminary and one of the programmatic foci.

This leaves out the OCA, ROCOR, which still use (and will very likely keep using) polyphonic music. It appears to me (my own subjective view) that they wish to distinguish themselves musically for reasons that may also include jurisdictional matters. The unfortunate rift between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow will only strengthen their desire to maintain polyphony in my opinion. I hope I am wrong.

As for the other discrete questions you asked and notes you offered, I think other colleagues addressed them to some good depth, earlier.

NG
 
#17
-On the pervasion of polyphonic choral music in the US GOA: While some may not believe this, the dwindling number of people able to (mostly due to age) and willing to (mostly because younger people do not want to participate in choral activities as well as career-mandated mobility away from the home parish) keep parish choirs alive is a fact. More and more parishes are learning to live without a choir and instead have acutely discovered the need for investment in training someone to chant. The ever-growing and maturing material available through the AGES Initiative and the legacy material at stanthonysmonastery.org has simplified and inspired clergy to invest more in learning and training in chant in English. I am observing a slow but steady growth in Byzantine chant (in the English language) in the USA. I understand that there are legacy choirs with a following in some centers in the USA, but it is only time before they too will become lost to age and mobility.
First, thank you Dr Nick for providing the in depth response.

I will say that i see this trend occurring as well. But from my perspective, it is a phenomenon current isolated to the Northeast USA and to the West Coast. Here in the Central USA, in most of our parishes, it is the polyphonic choirs that are still strong and recruiting young people. Even in my own parish, people largely have no clue that Byzantine Chant in America has evolved beyond Fr Apostolos Hill, Eikona and Vassilis Hadjinikolau’s recordings. Most in this area just assume that Americans haven't, and can do Byz chant properly and even if they could, no one wants to join the chanters, and instead it is the choirs that are the popular destination for musically trained folk.

Add to that, many people in the Central USA came here from places like Zakynthos and Corfu, where the so-called “polyphonic tradition” of Greek Orthodox music is more dominant.

It’s far more challenging in our region to get people to buy into proper Byzantine Chant, and to get rid of the polyphonic choirs and the awful (and uncanonical) organs.

-The genuine interest and immersion in Byzantine music and chant by the seminarians of Holy Cross Seminary of the GOA has grown substantially and with sincere enthusiasm since the time of Mr. Ketsetzis, but more so under the direction of Fr. Dr. Romanos Karanos. This was an important inflection point, I think, which sensitizes the future clergy about the importance of Byzantine chant.
I definitely agree with this. Though i will also say that many of these clergy will be serving in East and West Coast parishes, helping to feed the already growing movement towards Byzantine Chant there, while the remainder of us in the Central US continue to lag 20-30 years behind and continue suffering from polyphonic choirs and organ accompaniment.

Many parishes of the Antiochian Orthodox adherence have also begun realizing the relevance of authentic Byzantine chant, either inspired by their legacy "Arabic" chant tradition, or more recently, through the adoption of material from AGES and stanthonysmonastery.org. One must also commend the investment they made a few years ago in making Byzantine chant a mainstream course at their Seminary and one of the programmatic foci.
I abandoned the Antiochian Archdiocese not too long ago because its support for proper Byzantine Chant lags much farther behind the GOA. As of right now, the people in charge of their official sacred music department are far more interested in polyphonic music and harmonizing Byzantine Chant. Anyone jn that Archdiocese that even suggests moving on from Kazan is treated like they are almost speaking blasphemy. Thankfully Metropolitan Joseph supports the use of Papa Ephraim’s compositions. But many Priests and Diocesan Bishops are resistant and want their chanters to stick to Kazan. The two shining stars in that Archdiocese are Mr Chadi Karam, and Fr Dn John El-Massih. But the efforts of Fr Dn John El-Massih to help push Byzantine Chant in that Archdiocese is continually running up against the gatekeepers of that Archdiocese that insist that polyphonic music is more American, and that any Byzantine Chant should be based off Kazan, or completely “free-chanted”. God-willing we’ll see more success in the future with that Archdiocese, but they currently lag behind the GOA, and have a more dedicated and thriving group of polyphonic choirs than then GOA has to contend with.
 

basil

Παλαιό Μέλος
#18
The two shining stars in that Archdiocese are Mr Chadi Karam, and Fr Dn John El-Massih
Chadi Karam is great. Those of intelligence surely regard him as a shining star, but how is he viewed by members of mainstream Orthodoxy in North America more generally?

His parish's weekly bulletin lists him as just a "chanter", while another individual is listed as "protopsaltis" and yet another individual is listed as "choir director" (who presumably has pride of place leading most Sunday Divine Liturgies). Thus his local Antiochian Orthodox community does not seem to generally regard him as a shining star.

Neither has the leadership of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Department of Sacred Music apparently seen it fit to include him in a prominent place on the roster of their annual Sacred Music Institutes. Thus his national Antiochian Orthodox community does not seem to generally regard him as a shining star.

Chadi Karam is not an isolated case. I am a former cantor with a modicum of intelligence and I don't put up with nonsense, so I was treated like garbage at every parish I attended, regardless of jurisdiction. After considering the matter for many years, I concluded that members of mainstream Orthodoxy in North America, including mainstream Orthodox clergy, generally have no respect for intelligence and morality, and this is why the liturgical music in their parishes is so horrible.
 
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