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Liturgical Chant Question

drewmeister2

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In this song from Valaam: http://www.valaam.ru/common/files/CD/TP02/Psalom%2050%20Pomilui%20mja,%20Bozhe.mp3, at the very beginning you hear a "background" tone while the singing is going on.  It seems to go on indefinately, but how does a cantor hold that background tone for so long without taking a breath? 

Thanks :).
 

DerekMK

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Several people alternating on the ison (constant tone) can create the impression of only one voice, but then they can obviously breathe at seperate times.  If there was one only person no breathing for the whole length it would explain that maybe they are singing Помилуй мя Боже for him...
 

drewmeister2

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Νεκτάριος said:
Several people alternating on the ison (constant tone) can create the impression of only one voice, but then they can obviously breathe at seperate times.  If there was one only person no breathing for the whole length it would explain that maybe they are singing Помилуй мя Боже for him...
Thanks! :)
 

Elisha

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Νεκτάριος said:
Several people alternating on the ison (constant tone) can create the impression of only one voice, but then they can obviously breathe at seperate times.  If there was one only person no breathing for the whole length it would explain that maybe they are singing Помилуй мя Боже for him...
Or they could be "cheating" and use an ison machine; they do exist.
 

Fr. George

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It sounded like a good, traditional isokratima line.

And, yes, they do have isokratima machines; I've seen it and been in a choir where the Protopsalti wanted to use it in addition to what we were doing.  Of course, now the darned thing is broken - thank the Lord.
 

Timos

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the worst is when the chanter tries to get the tone exactly right- every time theres a kyrie eleison, theres a pause,then a faint whistle sound (from that little tone-whistler thingy, and then he starts to chant.
 

Timos

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I don't mean to divert the attention of this forum, but what are main types of Slavic chanting? I know theres the Valaam which is plain chant, Znammeny, which is somewhat polyphonic, and then "Renaissance polyphonic" chants. Is Valaam or Znammeny confined solely to Russia? I know that some Ukrainian churches practice Carpatho-Rusyn chanting but I can't really tell the difference between that and Znamenny.
 

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Timos said:
the worst is when the chanter tries to get the tone exactly right- every time theres a kyrie eleison, theres a pause,then a faint whistle sound (from that little tone-whistler thingy, and then he starts to chant.
:D

Yea, what is with that thing? I doubt that the people in church are going to notice if it isn't the exact tone and personally I find the pause and intonation of that thing, along with the hmm hmmm hmmmmm more distracting than if they just belted out the response off the bat.
 

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The cantors that I know that use it, use it a) to make it easier for others to follow along, and b) to make sure they're in the middle of their vocal range, so they neither go too high and top out, nor too low and become inaudible.  The good ones (the ones very used to using it) find their pitch using a tuning-fork, and do it while the priest is on the exclamation, so there is no pause.
 

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Psalti Boy said:
Cool.  Where do I get one and how much do they cost?
Forget I even told you about them....I may have connections, but I'm not connecting you.
 

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Timos said:
I don't mean to divert the attention of this forum, but what are main types of Slavic chanting? I know theres the Valaam which is plain chant, Znammeny, which is somewhat polyphonic, and then "Renaissance polyphonic" chants. Is Valaam or Znammeny confined solely to Russia? I know that some Ukrainian churches practice Carpatho-Rusyn chanting but I can't really tell the difference between that and Znamenny.
Many Carpatho-Rusyn tones sound sort of Byzantine.  Znammeny, at its root is NOT polyphonic at all - it is the oldest Slavic chant and the first manuscripts were written the same way Byzantine chant is.  There are Kievan, Obikhod, Valaam, Carpatho-Russian, Kievan Caves and others.  These "Renaissance polyphonic" chants you talk about are not Renaissance at all, but western influenced relatively modern compositions by the likes of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bortniansky, Lvovsky and others.  These are more large, cathedral type pieces.
 

Elisha

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Psalti Boy said:
Now that's a wonderful Christian attitude.
That I don't want ANYONE to use a cheezy electronic device just because some chanters can't find another warm body to hum a couple of notes?  Hardly.  My attitude isn't different from Cleveland's.  I've told the person I know (who has posted on this board before) my opinion of it...and he doesn't completely agree, but he isn't mad or anything about it.  Do you have the exact same opinions as all your friends?
 

Psalti Boy

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Elisha said:
That I don't want ANYONE to use a cheezy electronic device just because some chanters can't find another warm body to hum a couple of notes?¦nbsp; Hardly.¦nbsp; My attitude isn't different from Cleveland's.¦nbsp; I've told the person I know (who has posted on this board before) my opinion of it...and he doesn't completely agree, but he isn't mad or anything about it.¦nbsp; Do you have the exact same opinions as all your friends?
Oh no . . . I'm not mad at all. Forgive me if I gave you that impression. I'm just one of those chanters that can't find a warm body to hum a couple of notes.  We're blessed if we have anyone come to Orthros. I'm grateful to our sub-deacon who flies in just as Liturgy gets started and hums a couple of notes the rest of the service. It would help me during Orthros and other services that no one attends if I had a warm Iso-Matic machine to hum for me. But I guess I could ask the Priest or the Neokoros to hum.
 

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If finding a warm body is a problem, then maybe the ison machine is okay in the short-term; I know my priest used to hum the isokratima as much as he could, and that's how i learned how to chant it growing up... But in the end, I think it is more beneficial to teach the young kids and members of the parish how to do isokratima, both because it fills out the byzantine sound, and because it is a good introduction to get them comfortable with byzantine music so they may be able to learn more stuff (remember, you've always got to be training your replacement!).
 

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At many parishes I've been to, the chanters want to really make a personal statement of themselves and showw off their skill @ chanting like they're Kosta Zorbas or something. Only two or three parishes where I've been welcomed me to learn the chants of orthros and actually sing without the the other chanters trying to vocally dominate me. Its as if the psaltiri stand is "their" territory.

I have to travel 20 minutes by car to be able to chant, whereas my two closest parishes either won't really let or me or have the patience to let me chant and screw up/ improvise on the tune.
 

Fr. George

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Now that is unfortunate; normally it is the most well-trained of the cantors that are the most welcoming and such.  There are plenty of cantors, though, who are self-conscious of their abilities, or are too used to being the "only game in town."  Normally, if I'm told not to chant, I just take it as an opportunity to have the unusual ability to pray intensely during Liturgy - a rare treat.
If you want some chanting material to help practice, PM me!
 
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