This course is devoted to the skills of excellent chant musicianship. We will explore chant through the church modes, structural pitches, and rhythmic patterns found in our daily speech. The skills developed in Level II will culminate in the group singing of Vespers, with each student having opportunity to lead a portion of the liturgy.
This course is taught by Angela Rocchio, and is delivered via Zoom.
TUESDAY EVENINGS January 10 - February 7, 2023
7:00 - 8:30 pm, USA Central Time Zone
Seats limited to 8 students.
"Thanks to lessons with Angela, I have been able to take my relationship with chant from the tortured darkness of the Spanish Inquisition to the Light of the Renaissance. In other words, she brings out the musicality in chant that most don't realize is there. So if you think you know everything because you have perfect pitch and sightsing Schoenberg while playing Shostakovich, you DON'T. Take lessons--with Angela."
~ Katya S., MM organ performance, Indiana University
Lesson 1: The 8 Church Modes
We will begin with the tonal characteristics defining each church mode, and learn how to use these to discern to which mode a chant belongs. We will observe certain melodic phrases and cadences which are associated with particular modes, and touch upon the traditional moods of the modes. We will also take note of some limitations of modal theory, with examples of specific chants which exhibit tonal ambiguity or which change modes.
Lesson 2: Chant, the Vehicle of the Word
In chant, certain pitches are structural, while other pitches serve to more or less adorn the structural pitches. Once you learn to identify these, you will find it easier to sing a chant according to its unique musical form: as the vehicle of the word. We will continue this treatment by exploring the relationship of spoken word to sung word, discerning characteristics of our natural speech pattern which can be integrated into the singing of chant. Included will be practice exercises which can be used at home alone, or with a choir. Last, we will touch upon the important role of silence within singing chant.
Lesson 3: Psalm Tones
The psalm tones are the oldest form of Gregorian chant which has been handed down to us. The skill of singing of them is vital to any singer who aspires to a musical fluency with primacy upon the text. In this lesson we will inspect how psalm tones work: intonation, flex, mediant, termination, and antiphonal singing. We will touch upon different systems of psalm tones and “pointing”, and observe the modal relationship of psalm tones to their respective antiphons. Finally, we will apply this knowledge by “pointing” a psalm text of our own!
Lesson 4: The Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office) employs many different forms of chant: psalmody, hymns, and antiphons, and serves as an excellent framework for the study of chant. This lesson will touch on the unique nature of this form of liturgy, in which the Church responds to the call to “pray unceasingly”. Vespers (also known as evening prayer, or evensong in the Anglican tradition), is an ancient prayer tradition which may be celebrated communally, in song. We will take a look at the various elements of a sung Vespers, and some practical resources for the singing of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Lesson 5: Communal Dimension of Chant
We will begin this final session with some key considerations for the singing of chant as a group. Then, Level II will culminate in a group singing of Vespers via Zoom. Our Vespers will draw from texts sung in Latin and in English, and utilize a variety of psalm tone systems and pointing, all of which will have been examined as a part of the lessons in this course. Each student will have opportunity to take leadership singing a portion of our Vespers.
Lesson 6: Private One Hour Lesson
The instructor and student will focus on the singing technique and artistry of an antiphon and psalm text which will be sung during our Vespers, or another chant selected by the you. This lesson will also be opportunity for you to touch upon any additional questions not covered during the course.
Ability to sing on pitch, comfort with sight singing pitch and neumes on the four line staff (skills which are developed in private chant study, or in Level I). Commitment to practice exercises between lessons (15-30 minutes per day). Experience singing in solfege recommended, but not required.
You will receive private access to an exclusive student resources page with dozens of practice exercises, listening links, recommended apps, and articles for further study. You may be asked to print select materials from this page from time to time.
A desktop computer, laptop, or tablet (the larger the screen the better) equipped with videocamera (no cell phones, please). Internal computer sound systems are notoriously poor at reliably transmitting singing. Excellent external microphones are readily available and reasonably priced. Ask for recommendations. Reliable access to high-speed internet is a must. Students are responsible for having working technology.
Your seat will be secured once tuition is paid in full.