Week 3: September 15, 2010

| September 18, 2010
We began class by singing on two held pitches, then, following a conductor (Dr. Pogonowski began this), moving up and down on modal pitches. We then moved onto having some members of the class come up to serve as conductors as well, each responsible for one section of the class. Our last exercise of this nature was having the men sing a more pedal tone sort of part while the women sang more of a moving line.
We then separated into three breakout groups so everyone could have an opportunity to hear their chant performed by their peers. After performing the chants in the stairwell, we discussed what made a chant easy to learn in a short amount of time.
Here are some of the responses:
— Stepwise motion definitely helps rather than leaps.
— Keep the tonic in the ear.
— Melismas can help.
— Vowels can make it easier to sing
— Free rhythm/less constructions
— Less leaps
— Something interesting/memorable
— Build/progress through a pattern
— Pedal tones can make it a lot easier

Here’s a link to the recordings. Click the downwards arrow on the right to download the track of your choice.

We then began looking at the Kyrie Elison 1st handout (specifically, the ending treatment of this piece). This is reminiscent of the treatments given to pieces in the 11th and 12th centuries.
We sang through the first line as a class, then compared it to the second line. Moving on, we then sang both lines at the same time to demonstrate early polyphony (we did this twice so people could sing both lines). After moving to the third line, we then combined it with the first line, switching parts once more. The final step of this exercise was to sing all three parts together.
The last thing we discussed was John Dunstable’s contributions in the 14th century. Despite the fact that the countries in Europe were still relatively isolated because of the limited transportation options, music and its innovations still were able to spread. John Dunstable came up with the fauxbourdon/false bass/falsabourdoni. He added a part a sixth lower than the uppermost line, so you had the original line, one a fourth below, and one a sixth below. This led to a series of first inversion chords. In order to experience this, we sang through the second handout.
— Review everything we covered (e.g., pedal point, contrary organum, parallel organum, fauxbourdon) and consider how this resulted in a gradual build up of fullness. Play around with your own chant that you composed for this week’s class and, at the end of phrases, choose an organum treatment to add to your chant.
— Complete the second mind teaser.
Discussion Questions (suggested; feel free to discuss your own topic)
What did you think about the composition process while creating your chant? Did it change the way you thought about chant? (Why or why not?)
Thoughts on the mind teaser.