Volunteer Chanters Needed

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#1
Dear friends,

One of the biggest drawbacks of our music website at http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Index.html is that there are almost no recordings of the hymns being chanted by a real human voice. Several people have suggested that instead of those "Hear" links (that open a Finale file that enables you to hear how the hymns would sound played on a keyboard) I should replace them with mp3 recordings of myself chanting the hymns. But an awareness of the many imperfections in my chanting and primarily my lack of free time have prevented me from doing this.

So I wanted to ask all of you if some of you would be willing to record yourselves chanting those hymns so that I could add those recordings to our website. Since there are several thousand pages of music, I don't expect every single hymn to be recorded. I have already found a few volunteers, but we need several more to cover at least the most commonly used hymns.

If anyone is interested in helping out with by recording even only a few hymns, please respond to this message, or contact me privately. We won't be able to pay you for your work, but I am sure you will receive an abundant reward from God for the many people you will be helping to learn traditional Byzantine chant. (More than 2,000 unique visitors from all over the world come to our music website every month.) I will gladly add the names of volunteers to our acknowledgments page, unless of course they prefer to remain anonymous.

I also wanted to mention that we will also accept live recordings of hymns for posting in our website, as long as there aren't any serious mistakes made and as long as any background noises aren't too distracting. Hopefully this will enable some of you to contribute more sound files, since it won't require spending extra time to record them if you were already going to chant them in church.

Thank you very much.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim
 

ρόδι

Super Moderator Team
#2
I thought I would bump this thread as I think it is important.

Have you had any offers of help Father? Did you post this message on the Greek section of the forums as well - perhaps you will get some volunteers there.

Kiriaki
 
#4
I have volunteered, but haven't had an opportunity to work up the music yet. I don't want to submit a shoddy performance. I'm hoping that once my kids turn 18 I should have time to do it well (they're 1.5 years old now...)

Rdr Moses
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#6
Dear Papa Ephraim,

I was on the page www.byzantinechant.org yesterday, and I noticed that they have a good number of recordings of Byzantine chant in English; some using your compositions. The page I'm referring to is here:

http://www.byzantinechant.org/recordings.html

For instance, there is a recording of the Anaphora (Plagal First Mode "Phrygian" by Michael Hatziathanasiou) in English, using your composition. The end is the Plagal 4th Axion Estin from Simonopetra (the one found on their Divine Liturgy CD).

Here's the link to the mp3 file: http://www.byzantinechant.org/Recor...hryigian) and Axion Estin (Plagal 4 Mode).mp3 (It is recorded live during a service; Fr. Elias Bitar is the serving priest.)

Perhaps you could contact them and see if any of their other recordings use their music. If they give you permission to do so, perhaps they could posted on your Divine Music Project page?
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#8
You're welcome, Father.

I do have a question that has come to mind several times when thinking about recordings for the website. Obviously, it would be preferable for all the recordings to be performed by those who have been trained in Byzantine music, who use proper vocalizations, intervals, etc.

However, if this is not possible at the moment, would you be opposed to temporarily using recordings that are done with a more Western style of chanting/singing? I don't know how good anything I do would be; I have zero vocal training of any type, Byzantine, Western, or otherwise. But, there might be some cases where a CD might use your compositions; for instance, the Eikona Divine Liturgy CD, which I would think is a good example of Western style singing using traditional Byzantine compositions. The Voice of the Lord, obviously, is performed by chanters who use good intervals, etc. Perhaps the artists who recorded the CDs would be open for their recordings to be used for the website. (I believe that the Boston Byzantine choir also uses at least one piece from your compositions, and I guess they could be considered another example of Western-style singing of Byzantine chant.)

The only drawback I can think of (this is a drawback only for those of us who only know Western notation!) is that sometimes recordings which are made by chanters using Byzantine notation (for instance, The Voice of the Lord do not always match exactly to their Western notation counterparts, due to vocal ornaments learned from oral tradition. But, again, this is only a problem for those of us who know Western notation and are not familiar with the Byzantine. I would venture to guess that the majority of those who make use of your Byzantine Music Project are those who can read Byzantine notation- but that's just a guess.
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#9
Dear Tim,

I think it is a matter of finding a happy medium between the two extremes. One extreme would be to include only recordings that are perfect in every way, and the other extreme would be to include any recording that at least gets the notes right. In the long run, I think it would be most beneficial to people if we lean towards strictness rather than leniency.

As for your other question, the answer is that it appears to me that there are many more people using the Western notation versions than the Byzantine notation versions of my music. In the years 2006-2009 there were 34,431 unique visitors to the page for Vespers in Western notation and only 6,838 unique visitors to the corresponding page in Byzantine notation. But these numbers don't mean that the real ratio is 5:1 because the default page that viewers see first is the Western notation version. In other words, even if someone prefers Byzantine notation, he might click on the Vespers button before indicating his preference in notation, which would skew the hits being counted. So in reality, the actual ratio might be more like 3:1 for people preferring Western notation vs. those preferring Byzantine notation (in terms of visitors of our website).
 

Nikolaos Giannoukakis

Παλαιό Μέλος
#10
The assumption is that those who want to learn ecclesiastic chant (and I assume that this means Byzantine ecclesiastic chant), learn in order to serve a church.

If our church has standards (or had standards, anyway) that we admire, then we should strive to get as close to those standards as possible.

That means:

Hard Work
Patience
Education

To "dumb down" those standards in an age where language is no longer the obstacle is no different than asking Orthodox Christianity to dumb down the canons, the rules of behaviour and generally the entire Orthodox Faith.

I don't want to beat the drum of the ASBMH, but with your patience, in a couple of weeks from now (after Easter), we will start from the BEGINNING to introduce not only notation but things that the self-taught and the half learned in North America cannot teach you.

That's the main reason why many are having trouble understanding the Byzantine system. It's not the sytem. It's those who think they know it and try to teach it.

Western notation - based on equal temperament - cannot transfer the quarter and third tones (intervals, i.e. distances between discrete pitches/frequencies of sound) that underlie the three genera of Byzantine chant (and ultimately the eight tones and their variations).

This debate was settled in the 1900s when the piano was in use to transmit byzantine chant in the Balkans. By the 1930s, the piano was abandoned since the Western-trained chanters sounded nothing like those coming from Asia Minor (and Constantinople) who were proficient in the microtones.

If we return to those times we risk destroying two out of three genera (chromatic and diatonic) while retaining a dumb version of enharmonic (at least that which we claim as enharmonic anyway) which is a system of tri and tetrachords of pure tones and semitones (in the western sense).

1) The diatonic generum (and the diatonic tones) CANNOT be transmitted with the equal tempered scale. A synthesiser with microtonal digital implementation perhaps, but the electronic is a poor sub for the human voice and its nuances

2) the chromatic DEFINITELY cannot be transmitted with equal temperament

Are we advocating for a western-rite Gregorian chant system in our churches? You will answer "but we already have the multipart harmony choirs"?

Then, what use does byzantine chant have in the church if we conceded this?

So, my take is:

Do not opt for the lazy person's approach.

Work hard, open your mind, study, read, practice practice practice.

Give us a few weeks and I believe you will see a whole new world.

NG
 

GabrielCremeens

Music Director at St. George, Albuquerque, NM
#11
Dear Fr. Ephraim,

Thank you for answering my questions.


Dear Dr. Giannoukakis,

Thank you for your answer as well. I am very much looking forward to when the ASBMH opens the "absolute beginner" school. The fact is that I have grown up with simplified Byzantine chant of the type you discuss my entire life. I have been in Antiochian churches ever since I was baptized as an infant (with the exception of one year), and have been hearing stuff from Basil Kazan, et al, for as long as I can remember- at churches, at Antiochian Village, etc, etc, etc. The chant was always executed by Western-trained (or untrained) chanters who simply read the music as staff notation, nothing more. I do appreciate the fact that the chanters at least made the effort to present Byzantine chant (as opposed to Western four-part harmony or something similar), but, in some ways, I wish that I had grown up hearing traditional Byzantine chant. Example: I am stuck (for now) with a Western musical ear, I sing in a Western style, etc. I very much want to learn to chant like a traditional Byzantine chanter.

So, I am very excited about the ASBMH class coming up after Pascha, and I am very much looking forward to it.
 
#12
Dear friends,

One of the biggest drawbacks of our music website at http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Index.html is that there are almost no recordings of the hymns being chanted by a real human voice. Several people have suggested that instead of those "Hear" links (that open a Finale file that enables you to hear how the hymns would sound played on a keyboard) I should replace them with mp3 recordings of myself chanting the hymns. But an awareness of the many imperfections in my chanting and primarily my lack of free time have prevented me from doing this.

So I wanted to ask all of you if some of you would be willing to record yourselves chanting those hymns so that I could add those recordings to our website. Since there are several thousand pages of music, I don't expect every single hymn to be recorded. I have already found a few volunteers, but we need several more to cover at least the most commonly used hymns.

If anyone is interested in helping out with by recording even only a few hymns, please respond to this message, or contact me privately. We won't be able to pay you for your work, but I am sure you will receive an abundant reward from God for the many people you will be helping to learn traditional Byzantine chant. (More than 2,000 unique visitors from all over the world come to our music website every month.) I will gladly add the names of volunteers to our acknowledgments page, unless of course they prefer to remain anonymous.

I also wanted to mention that we will also accept live recordings of hymns for posting in our website, as long as there aren't any serious mistakes made and as long as any background noises aren't too distracting. Hopefully this will enable some of you to contribute more sound files, since it won't require spending extra time to record them if you were already going to chant them in church.

Thank you very much.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim
Dear Father Ephraim,

I know this is an old thread, but have you got an email address for me to send you some recordings of your music?

With love in Christ,
 
#13
Not sure why, but those trained to chant in Arabic tend to be far more proficient by a long shot at chanting in English than those trained in the Greek tradition. It might be worthwhile to reach out to the Antiochians & look for collaboration there.
 
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