Settings for the Publican and the Pharisee

#1
Here are some settings for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Would appreciate any corrections or recommendations. Let me know if you think it worth posting more like these?

In Christ,
Michael
 

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basil

Παλαιό Μέλος
#2
Would appreciate any corrections or recommendations. Let me know if you think it worth posting more like these?
Dear Michael,

I noticed that your settings of the third and fourth stichera at the Praises are in the heirmologic genre of Third Mode. But according to the tradition of the Great Church, these hymns are chanted in the new sticheraric genre of Third Mode. See, for example, the settings on pages 3-4 of Mousike Kypsele (Volume B), as well as those in Stanitsas' Triodion.

I also noticed that your setting of the Doxastikon of the Praises does not preserve any of the word painting employed in the traditional melodies other than the cadence on high Ni for "proud-minded thoughts." For example, the melody on pages 4-5 of Mousike Kypsele (Volume B) has a cadence on low Di for "in abasement" and a hard chromatic cadence for "suffered." The former is simple to adapt, and the latter can be used intact with the English text.

The fact that your settings do not employ these characteristics indicates that you haven't studied the traditional melodies (which is a serious methodological problem) and/or you haven't made a serious effort to imitate them (which is a serious philosophical problem). In general, these settings employ formulae that are both appropriate for the text and written in an orthographically correct manner; however, the manner in which these formulae are selected, blended, and combined to form a complete piece is not quite traditional. The examples I pointed out above were the most obvious to me right now, but I could also point out many others.

The problem boils down to the fact that even though Papa Ephraim has codified many of the formulae used in ecclesiastical composition, he has not codified the manner in which these formulae are selected, blended, and combined together in order to form a complete piece. Doing so effectively requires careful study of the traditional melodies in order to develop an intuitive grasp of how formulas are combined. For example, I began to develop my own intuition by, throughout the course of a year, chanting every single piece in the Anastasimatarion and Mousike Kypsele and paying particularly close attention to melodic contour, modal variations, rhythmic balance, and how formulas were blended together. Yes, this requires a lot of work, but it is a critical requirement in order for inexperienced people to produce quality compositions. The good news, though, is that after having developed such an intuition it will be far easier to produce traditional compositions in the future.

Basil
 

romanos4

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
I've been reading posts sporadically but haven't posted anything myself to date so thought I'd offer my thoughts - forgive my lack of eruditeness on the particulars of composition but I am inspired to respond, in large part because I think it's great you endeavoured to compose an English setting for the upcoming weekend in such a timely manner.

Michael, I agree with Basil - word coloring is something that you'll just come to learn over time as you delve into the classical compositions, chant more, listen to recordings etc...(disclosure, I'm not a composer like Basil).

This kind of word coloring shows up often in the Anastasimatarion as early as in Thou Kyrie in 1st Mode and in the 1st Stichera for instance both in reference to sinners/sins ("amartoloi" / "amartion") that will put you briefly into Hard Chromatic - as we'll be in 1st tone for the week you will hopefully notice exactly what I'm describing (though in reality it will come down to whether the score being chanted from preserves this too).

With respect to your compositions, I believe I noticed a few mistakes - actually the same mistake twice:

In the first Stichera of the Kekragaria I noticed that at the martyria for low Thi you then indicate up three for the next note which would get you to Ni - I'm thinking you meant to put an hypsili and go up 4 to Pa (in which case you might also want to indicate the pthora for Diatonic Pa). I'm pretty sure of this because the next martyria you show is for Pa (so you're missing a step).

I believe you did the same thing in the next Stichera at "came" following "repentance."

...unless I'm forgetting something, in which case forgive me.

I also think you're using the klasmas too liberally in the chanting of the psalm verses - as in Verse 8: the -cy in "mercy" and "him" as well as some other places. I don't think those need klasmas.

Otherwise again - the effort is definitely appreciated. Fr. Seraphim is doing a great job composing feast day idiomela/doxastika for Orthros but it's severely lacking for Vespers.

Best,

Ross
 
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Reader Nick

Νέο μέλος
#4
Hi Michael!
I truly appreciate your efforts here! One of my friends in Pittsburgh was looking for a Byzantine notation version of the matins hymns, since his other quick option was to try to transcribe the work of Fr. Seraphim Dedes into Byzantine notation. (Just as a note, we have written our own version for Vespers, from a different translation, though...even though it was posted here before, comments are always welcome).

Those writing above me have put forth some good suggestions and corrections. One initial comment I have is that some of the phrases don't seem to flow as well as I'd like them to, as a chanter. It sometimes seems like the formulas are being strung together without any bridging notes, and giving pauses in the midst of a poetic phrase. For example, on the first and second lines of the 2nd sticheron from Vespers, it seems like "vain-" is emphasized too much, and then the phrase pauses on "bowed down" and then on "in", when the prepositional phrase in this translation continues on to emphasize "repentance". I just think the lyrical line could be better in certain instances.

Also, just one writing correction...the fthora for Ke diatonic in the 1st line of the 1st sticheron for Vespers should be on "shall" rather than "-self". It might just be misaligned, but it looks a little misleading. :)

As someone learning how to compose, myself, I applaud your effort, and I hope we can be helpful in our corrections and comments. Sometimes the best way to learn is to dive in and learn by doing...and getting constructive comments from others! (Interestingly, I just recently visited a friend on Mount Athos, and a few of the monks were amazed that Americans were composing music in Byzantine Notation in English! We chanted some of my own compositions, and they remarked that even though they chant the services all of the time and know the hymns by memory, some of their own attempts at composition were disastrous...or at least not that great).

-Nick
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#5
(Interestingly, I just recently visited a friend on Mount Athos, and a few of the monks were amazed that Americans were composing music in Byzantine Notation in English! We chanted some of my own compositions, and they remarked that even though they chant the services all of the time and know the hymns by memory, some of their own attempts at composition were disastrous...or at least not that great).
I'm sure that, if these monks on Mt. Athos had the benefit of learning from people like Papa Ephraim (or, in their case, the geographically-closer Fr. Gregory of Simonopetra), then they would easily surpass all of us in Byzantine Music composition, given that they know so many hymns by heart and the formulas are ingrained in their very souls. With that kind of practical experience in such an important center of Byzantine Music as the Holy Mountain, I can only imagine what they could do if they were given even the smallest amount of instruction. :)

Nick, I'm sorry I still haven't replied to your e-mail... school has a way of keeping me very busy. It sounds like a good idea, though.

-Gabriel
 
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