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A Question about Chanting

Simayan

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So, my priest wants me to start chanting in church on Sunday by myself on a few sections, and though I'm excited to learn how, there's one part that troubles me.

When my time of the month comes to read the Epistle, I'm going to chant the opening lines from whichever psalm is chosen, then switch to a reading voice, then chant the last sentence. However, because these lines are always different, I can't memorize the fluctuation points like with most hymns. I suppose I could try and do it myself, but that would involve improvising, which makes me feel a bit... strange. I'm also going to be chanting the antiphon verses.

So my question is, how is there a general way in which lines are chanted? I'm a baritone, mind you, and the priest is quite higher than me in his chant, so I cant easily imitate him. I had a small rehearsal with him a week ago, but he seemed okay with most any way I chanted.

Any help would be appreciated!

-Simayan
 

Thomas

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Practice, Practice, Practice.  I am a tenor with a Baritone priest,he told me to go up an octave when I chant and it was easier for me.  Perhaps if your priest is a tenor you could imitate him just an octave lower? When I am to do a reading with the  chanted  Prokiemenon I usually practice with our parish Choir Director as she does a great deal of training with the Readers  to help them. As a subdeacon, I don't usually have to read as often as I did when I was actively serving as a Reader but I still do some reading especially on the  Special periods like Nativity Eve, Nativity, Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha (Hey I guess I do a lot of Reading, just not as much as when I was serving as a Reader).

Thomas
 

Elisha

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Simayan,

Most of us don't have it memorized how we read Psalms (for example).  Additionally, during a weekday Vespers, I'll sometimes sing the Lord I Have Cried or Aposticha stichera to whatever the tone of special melody is even though it is just text out of the book - a LOT of it is improvising - it's just the nature of it.  Some music and chant styles are easier to (improvise) than others.  A lot of the Slavic types (Kievan/Obihkod) are easier to chant to a text than others (Znammeny - probably the hardest due to it being less pattern-like).  Byzantine is actually easier to just sing to text than Znammeny.

Even though you may have a lower voice than the priest, don't worry about it.  Just chant on a note in the same key (you should be able to figure this out) as the priest.
 

Elisha

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...just read Thomas's post.  A whole octave difference could be out of your range....why I said a note in the same key (a third/fifth/whatever).  For example, if you have a male tenor and a female alto, a whole octave difference could be too high/low for one of the two.  While I have a big range and don't have a problem reading on anywhere from middle C to the C an octave lower, many singers do not have such a range.  But as Thomas says, it requires a lot of practice.
 

Simayan

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I guess I'll give an update:

This was my third Sunday doing the Antiphons solo; haven't messed up since, and everyone seems to enjoy my voice. Good sign, because the last chanter mysteriously stopped doing it and coming to church; I have a feeling someone insulted him on his slightly effeminate lisp.

I'm still on the reader list, making this Sunday pretty busy to me. Did my usual opening lines, chanted the opening Psalm to the reading, read, then chanted the last few lines. I then moved on to chant the Alleluia verses (which I didn't know ahead of time, unlike everything else).

Thank God I've become a lot less nervous since the first time where my legs and hands felt like they were going into epileptic fits.  :D


Anyways, I know most people may see this as something unimportant and small (especially the Seminarians who probably do this very regularly and to a greater extent), but I thought it would be good to share how it went.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Simayan said:
Anyways, I know most people may see this as something unimportant and small (especially the Seminarians who probably do this very regularly and to a greater extent), but I thought it would be good to share how it went.
Hey, there's nothing at all unimportant or small about participating in the chanting ministry of your church.  As a fellow cantor/singer, I'm happy to see that you're doing so well. ;D
 

scamandrius

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PeterTheAleut said:
Hey, there's nothing at all unimportant or small about participating in the chanting ministry of your church.  As a fellow cantor/singer, I'm happy to see that you're doing so well. ;D
Absolutely.  In fact, chanting has only enhanced my spiritual life both in the church and at home.  Sometimes, it can seem like a thankless job, but it is quite rewarding.  Keep up the good work, Simayan, and I guess you too, PTA.  ;)
 

serb1389

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Simayan said:
Anyways, I know most people may see this as something unimportant and small (especially the Seminarians who probably do this very regularly and to a greater extent), but I thought it would be good to share how it went.
LMAO!!!!  Why don't you come to HC and take a quick survey and ask how many guys "do this regularly" without freaking out...lol. 

Its part of human nature my friend.  the only difference between your experience and my experience is that I have to do it every day.  So, i have a lot more chances to get over it. 
 

Simayan

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Heh, it'll probably be the same for me if I go to HC (which is one of the two career paths I'm going for).
 

serb1389

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that's great news!  If you want to ever talk about it, PM me. 

Also if you seriously consider applying if you put my name down on the application as the person who introduced you to the school, and you end up staying for more than 1 semester, we both get a $2,500 scholarship. 

let me know. 
 
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