Today's question was posted by Sandra, our Total Organist student and she asks if she should only double the voice part in the Kyrie, Sanctus and other chants.
As we understand she wants to accompany them on the organ and she is wandering about whether or not she should add other parts besides the soprano on the keyboard.
We also talk about some of the basic rules of how to accompany Gregorian chant on the organ.
Listen to the full answer at #AskVidasAndAusra
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When you practice, miracles happen.
Vidas and Ausra
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Vidas: Hello guys. This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: And we're starting #AskVidasAndAusra podcast episode number 10. And today's question was sent by Sandra, and she asks this question: "Should I only double the voice part in the Kyrie, Sanctus, etc.?" So, it's a little bit tricky to understand this type of question. We've been talking and wondering with Ausra, what does she mean?
Do you think, Ausra, that Sandra means that she has to accompany Gregorian chant, and she wants us to advise her if she has to double the chant melody or just to add something else like a harmony, four part chords? It could be this type of question.
Ausra: Could be, I guess. That's the closest guess I have.
Vidas: Yeah. So what do you think, if it's okay to just double the melody, or should she add harmony?
Ausra: Definitely think she has to add the harmony. Otherwise, I don't know how it would sound to have only that one melody voice.
Vidas: To have a single voice for the hymn, it's only possible when the hymn is very, very new, right?
Vidas: If you want to play in octaves, let's say-
Vidas: -right hand and left hand, one octave apart, and your congregation doesn't know your hymn at all-
Vidas: -and you can play just one verse like this. Maybe like an introduction, not entire verse, but just introduction, without people singing. That would be possible, right?
Ausra: Yes, I think so.
Vidas: But to have a harmony is always better than to have a single voice, right?
Ausra: Sure, definitely.
Vidas: I think that explains how she should do. Gregorian chants sometimes might be left unaccompanied, right?
Vidas: Because that's how it originally was sung.
Ausra: Yes, that's true. And for this reason, it's always very hard to harmonize it, to do it in four parts in her accompaniment.
Vidas: What are some of the tips you could give to people who are trying to accompany Gregorian chanting? How it's different from tonal harmony?
Ausra: Well, basically, it's very different. It's a modal harmony, so you have to avoid some of those rules that you are using in classical harmony, common style harmony, common style period harmony.
Vidas: And you probably mean that when you look at the music, let's say Kyrie, of Gregorian chant, you have to mentally know what kind of mode it is written.
Vidas: You have to play all the notes of the chant and try to put it into a scale, into a mode. Ascending, basically, mode. And then you will see the lowest note and the highest note, which will be an octave apart, and you will maybe think, "Oh, it's like the mode in D, but without accidentals."
Vidas: That would be like a Dorian mode-
Ausra: Dorian mode, yes.
Vidas: -in modern terms. So, do this first. What else should people do?
Ausra: So, the best you could do actually to add as little chords as you can. Just choose a few chords that suits this mode and use them.
Vidas: For example, always, you could use three chords-
Vidas: -tonic, subdominant, and dominant, but make sure you don't add any additional accidentals.
Ausra: Sure, that does not belong to that mode.
Vidas: For example, in D Dorian, you would not add B flat.
Vidas: And you would not add C sharp.
Ausra: Yes. Not like in regular D minor.
Vidas: So your dominant will be minor, and your subdominant will be?
Vidas: Major, yes. Very, very different from tonal thinking. Those three chords would be just enough to get you started in harmonizing a majority of chants, and that would be a good way of thinking in general. Don't add any foreign accidentals to the mode, and you will be in a good style, I think.
Okay, guys, this was Vidas-
Ausra: And Ausra.
Vidas: -and send us your corrections either by comments and use #AskVidasAndAusra or maybe you could send it as a reply to an email, send us an email message and we will be glad to try to answer. We are not promising that we know everything, but we certainly try to help you grow as an organist. Okay, and Ausra, if they want to get a deeper involvement with us, maybe subscribe for a daily dose of inspiration, what should they do?
Ausra: Well, they need to subscribe to our Total Organist program.
Vidas: Yeah, we have right now a 30-day trial period and a lot of people are joining and we're very happy to be communicating with them. And they are asking other questions; it's like a small community-within-community, like an inner circle. So if you want that extra help and support, and of course you will get all the downloads and practical advice and exercises and training programs and coaching, inside of the membership area.
Right now, I've been working and dumping all of our previous programs that people would get in weekly installments, one piece a week, one exercise a week ... I thought maybe people want to pick and choose which ones to get, so we've been doing this, putting everything that we are creating on Total Organist.
And people can download and sign up for any coaching program, any training that they want right now. They don't have to wait for weeks and months, when their week comes. They can choose what they want to practice right now.
So Total Organist right now has free trial for 30 days, so you can really take advantage of this.
Thanks, guys, this was Vidas-
Ausra: -and Ausra.
Vidas: And remember, when you practice-
Ausra: -miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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