Thursday, May 12, 2016

HT Orthocuban, an Appalachian Orthodox hymn

I am of the opinion that more and more we need to make use of local harmonic singing while still following the tonal rules. It is controversial. On the forum on which the above hymn was posted, about half of the people did not like it. Interestingly enough, only one person did not like it because he felt the music was not adequate. Mostly you could hear people sniffing loudly and saying that it is not Byzantine. But, since this was produced by an OCA monastery, of course it is not Byzantine. Though I was ordained Antiochian and am at a Greek Orthodox parish, I regret very much that many in those two jurisdictions have bought into the idea that only Byzantine hymn is true Orthodox singing. Obviously, the Slavs do not think so, given the hymn above.

There's kind of a Reformed variant on this anchored in the regulative principle where if it doesn't sound WASP enough it's probably bad.

Comments that the music isn't sufficiently Byzantine or "mystical" ... are interesting.  It's not that I have no fondness for Orthodox musical idioms ... but Orthocuban raises a simple, obvious point, that American Orthodox music doesn't necessarily have to be Byzantine because, well, it's not Byzantine.

I mean ... yeah ... I suppose I could go back and try to dig up some quote from Xenakis about how the Western church botched the modes by misunderstanding the tendencies of tetrachords or something ... but I don't feel like it and I just read that Xenakis book as a library check out. :) But at one point even the Byzantine idiom must have deviated a bit here and there from the impossible-to-identify musical idiom of ancient Judeans.   It would seem that Christians could choose between a common confession and artistic plurality or an artistic monolith and confessional plurality that a whole lot of Christians "should" choose the former over the latter.  In practice we've got a plurality of confessions and a plurality of artistic expressions of those confessions. Unless we're talking about rejection of the Trinity the life and death and resurrection of Christ or something on that level of magnitude I think it's okay to have a plurality of musical styles.

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