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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
  Office of Second Vespers, Antiphon and Psalm 109
Gregorian Chant
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 1 Tracks 14 and 15

It very easy to say, as it is often said, that all Western Music has its roots in chant. This may be understating the case. As a piece, this Antiphon and Psalm is a strong example of the timelessness of chants. Once one gets past the monody, these tunes are not much unlike the tunes on the radio.

For instance, the form is ABA. The A section, the Antiphon, gravitates to 'D' with attention given to 'F.' The B section centers around the fifth scale degree, 'A,' with a 'G' at the end bringing us back to the first scale degree. More than the I-V-I, the ABA form creates an opportunity for contrast. The A section is melodic while the B section is a recitation.

What I like about this Antiphon and Psalm is the leap of a fifth in the opening of the Antiphon. Because chant tends to have such a modest profile, these moments are always dramatic, especially when the leap is as far as a fifth. Having this leap at the start is particularly dramatic. This motion also prepares the listener for the B section which is going to center around the top note of this leap. After its dramatic opening, the Antiphon calms down significantly which prepares the listener for the almost monotone recitation of being a priest at Melchisedech and a world without end. After the Psalm we hear the leap a second time but this time it is as a climax to the piece and a signal that we are approaching the coda. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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