About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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"Never before have men had so many time-saving devices. Yet, never before have they had so little free time. When the world unnecessarily accelerates, the Church must slow down."
— Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

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Can You Hear The Imaginary High Note?
published 3 October 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

OOKING AT MUSIC on the page is one thing, but hearing it real life is a different matter. I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Alfred Calabrese run through Guerrero’s KYRIE on the opening day of our very first Sacred Music Symposium. As a composer, I was in awe of what Guerrero had done: his grasp of musical DENSITY was life-changing. (No recording can capture this.)

These composers were aware of the overtone series, which is sometimes described as a series of “imaginary notes.” Let us consider an AGNUS DEI by Guerrero’s teacher, Fr. Cristóbal de Morales. The following recording—which I consider to be quite beautiful, especially for those familiar with this piece—was created by members of the volunteer choir I direct here at FSSP.la.

In measure 38, Tenors combine into unison on C—do you hear an imaginary girl’s voice singing a high G? (That’s a strong overtone.) Listen to the 1:31 marker:


REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice await you at #4297.
The full PDF score can be downloaded there.

Please download this Mp3, and listen to it carefully a billion times in your car:

    * *  Mp3 • AGNUS DEI (Part 3) from Missa Mille Regretz

    * *  PDF AGNUS DEI (Part 3) from Missa Mille Regretz

…what a gorgeous piece!

THE FRATERNITY OF SAINT PETER in Los Angeles released a Promo Video celebrating the 10-year anniversary of “Summorum Pontificum.” The recording above was chosen as the soundtrack, and here’s a translation for the Chanson which Fr. Morales used as his melodic basis for Missa Mille Regretz:

Modern French:
Mille regrets de vous abandonner
et d’être éloigné de votre
visage amoureux.
J’ai si grand deuil
et peine douloureuse
qu’on me verra vite mourir.
English Translation:
A thousand regrets at deserting you
and leaving behind your loving face,
I feel so much sadness
and such painful distress,
that it seems to me my days
will soon dwindle away.

It’s fitting, in a way, because many priests I’ve asked about the 1960s reforms have expressed regret. When they opened up the new Missal for the first time (they explain) they saw that much of the beautiful symbolism and holy gestures of the ancient liturgy had been eliminated. As one bishop put it, “I knew it was gone for good.” Nobody at that time could have even hoped for something like “Summorum Pontificum.”