Friday, January 27, 2006

NOT ALL GUITARS ARE BAD AT MASS

It's true, when you think about it. I posted a comment on this article by Shawn at The New Liturgical Movement.

First, this comment, by "Un Seminariste":
Strumming immediately calls to mind more secular forms of music -- folk, for example. Classical guitar, on the other hand, where the musician is playing melodies embellished with chords and arppeggios, etc., is quite beautiful and, I think thereby, more suited to liturgy.

To which I replied:
Bingo! A classical guitar can work, almost as well as a harp, IMO. I can see it in some of the more mystical works, especially where a harpist cannot be secured, or a harp cannot be transported.A folk guitar, OTOH, leads to strumming in most cases. And even finger-picking a set of steel strings can lead to the "folk ballad" effect, as opposed to that mystical effect when plucking the nylon strings of a classical guitar.I personally don't believe in the hum-strum guitar at Mass, but I would have absolutely no problem with the adding of a classical guitar (e.g., supplementing a piece that has, let's say, a soft organ accompaniment like the 8' string celeste), at least where it could serve a particular piece well, and played with proficiency.

I could picture the Grail/Gelineau setting of Psalm 40 ("Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will") accompanied with perhaps 8' and 4' flutes only on the antiphon and an 8' string celeste stop on the verses, supplemented by a classical guitar, and it would probably sound pretty dang good. Same with the Peloquin "If today you hear his voice", from his "Lord of Life" Mass and his "Songs of Israel, Volume 2" collection. It would have to be nylon strings, however, to serve the proper effect in these two examples.

Can we say: nylon strings - good, steel strings - bad?

Peace,
BMP

7 comments:

Andrew said...

I wouldn't mind classical guitar either, but at the lifeteen mass at my parish, they have like 2 electric guitars and drums! It's most annoying when the guitars play this really loud solo during Communion. (hello, people want to pray in silence)

Brian Michael Page said...

That's even worse! I wouldn't want any earschplittinloudenboomers when I'm receiving either.

BMP

Andrew said...

Now I don't mind a little organ prelude or something of that nature, just not something that is distracting. I agree with you on guitar.

Brian Michael Page said...

The closest I would usually come to loud at Communion would be something like "Festival Canticle", and even then, I only use the 8' and 4' principals on the refrain (and maybe the 1-1/3' for a cool harmonic effect), and the 2' on the last. Lately my Communion hymns have depended on what the Communion proper is in the Roman and Gregorian Missals.
(Don't get me wrong - as an Introit hymn "Festival Canticle" goes organo pleno - hehehehe)

BMP

Andrew S. said...

Well I'm not familiar with the organ to really know what you are talking about, but I'm assuming that it's soft organ music. Kinda like you hear on the EWTN mass.

Meg Q said...

Wow, if I ever hear a classical guitar in a Catholic church I will probably jump up and do a "liturgical" dance! ;^)

Also, don't forget that "Silent Night" was written by an Austrian Church musician as a "folk-style" song for the guitar and choir - but not any "folk style" recognized by Oregon Catholic Press, obviously.

Matthew Meloche said...

When I first got to Most Precious Blood there was a classical guitarist who would do classical guitar pieces during Communion, but would then strum away like a maniac during hymns. Quite the strange mix.