E CAN ALWAYS PSALM TONE IT, is a common catch cry in less experienced choirs when things get difficult singing the prescribed Latin propers. Those lines of a single note repeated can look pretty attractive when faced with unusual melismas and intervals that defy our ear’s expectations.
While psalm tones are comparatively simple, understanding them is still a learned skill. There is a little theory to learn – terms like incipit, mediant and final are handy to have when explaining the tunes. Singing technique for rendering the verses in a pleasant way is important too. All this learning is good grounding for more involved chant later on.
Some of my intrepid volunteer singers keep asking for recordings. Through some crazy mix up I have two sets to showcase here today. See what you think. Would recordings like this help you? Would it be better to focus more on getting choir members reading music independently?
20th Sunday after Pentecost
Last week I went to the Psalm Tone Tool (now with Novus Ordo Latin propers too!) and generated this pdf and handed it out after Mass to some willing volunteers. Who thereupon asked for recordings. So I made recordings: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion. (Thanks go to my mother, Teresa, for singing with me)
21st Sunday after Pentecost
This time I found some old files from last year on my computer, so here is the pdf. You may notice the Introit is not a straight psalm tone, but the antiphon has been simplified heavily. And I have left out the jubilus from the Alleluia. Here are the recordings: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion.
These are for the Extraordinary Form or Vetus Ordo, where there is a bit of a jump between the Low Mass and a Sung Mass. The Ordinary Form has a lot more flexibility. Still the note from the Liber Brevior is worth bearing in mind:
These abridged chants are intended exclusively for churches where it is not possible to properly execute all the melodies of the Roman Gradual and for which a simple melody of the Sacred Texts is tolerated (S. C. R. N° 3697). Where there are Choirs sufficiently trained, the official Chant of the Gradual must be kept.