Monday, December 01, 2008


Gotcher point, Jeffrey...
But guitars, pianos 'n' basses don't necessarily P&W music make!

Over at NLM the true young, sagacious lion Jeffrey Tucker argues a compelling case as to why what he terms "Praise and Worship" music must be alienated from authentic Catholic liturgical practice. But as I got through the article plus a third of the combox "booyahs" (save for poor Eric) it occured to me that the same errant bugaboo was left hiding behind the outhouse: unless you're talking Lifeteen/Spirit&Song/Shine,Jesus, Shine/Awesome God/Matt Maher, Tom Booth, Steve Angrisano and Sarah Hart, and all the Solid Gold P&W arena anthem pensters.... isn't one obliged to define what exact elements constitute P&W music?
I wonder if all of the polemic can indeed boil down to what comboxer Eric bemoans- because I, the author, can string an elegant dialectic that does, indeed, discriminate between the truly sacred and that which, though profane in origin, doth aspire to point to the sacral (and quote the Pope TOO!) can I simply categorically dismiss all popular (in the Ruffian sense) post-conciliar music because it's simply more convenient in the supermarket of ideas?
Well, I don't want to go there. I'm just going to publicly go on record as to whom I award my first round of "Garden of Eben" GOLDEN PASSIONFRUIT statues to composers whose work should not be categorically dismissed.
From Ruff's SACRED MUSIC AND THE LITURGICAL REFORM, pp. 442-443-
"Composer Petr Eben, when asked whether the composer must take into account the nature of the assembly, responded as follows:
I certainly think that this is important, even though as a composer one must naturally always go one step beyond what people are accustomed to hearing, and it is important to produce something new. One must be one epoch or a few steps more advanced than what the hearers are accustomed to. That is certainly the task of contemporary music, as has always been the case. But in the orientation to new pieces and in the creation of new works, when new ideas occur, the hearer as the receiver of the work must be before the composer's eyes.
So, at the risk of embarrassing not only myself but others whose names I will announce as winners of the GOLDEN PASSIONFRUIT statue, I hereby publish my list of folks who defy the P&W categorization and subsequent castigation:

(Let's just get this out of the way, okay)
J. Michael Joncas- his ethos has never been boilable to OEW. Never. There, I've said it.
Janet Sullivan-Whitaker. You don't know her work? Get to and get used to it.
Bob Hurd. No, not David. Bob. He is the John Wayne of modern lit.music, chameleon like, but still authentic in output.
John Schiavone
Ricky Manalo- he can rightly be tagged with the Filipino Jesuit saccharine melodic heritage, but his universal sensibilities transcend that mode.
M.D. Ridge- the Appalachian musical Studs Terkel.
Tim Manion- this is a sentimental award for the most introspective of the SLJ's.
Lucien Diess- a bridgebuilder, if idiomatic to American ears and tastes.
Richard Hillert-okay, he's high church and a Lut'ren.

Honorable Mentions, awaiting further review... (more treasures than baubles)
Bernadette Farrell
John Foley
Randall DeBruyn


And of course, I'd love to give myself the award, but then I'd have to give one to Brian Michael Page too! Love ya, BMP.

In a future post, I'll consider whether it's worth the time to parce out the tonnage of works of composers (those above are primarily found in OCP) not so awarded this round, but whose work works the waterfront so incessantly that the word "franchise" immediately comes to mind, though may not be stylistically rooted in truly native P&W style music.

2 comments:

Jeffrey Tucker said...

I gather that we are supposed to be arguing, but despite my post on this topic, I really should know better than to try to argue against a certain style. We are all far better off pointing to the good rather than offering an opinion on what constitutes the bad. I'm not sure that I can conjure up many great things to say about the music you list, but then again, it depends on the day and which side of the bed I wake up on. sometimes this music seems fine and other times, it gives me pain. What is really important here is that we as Catholics have a bedrock in the Gregorian tradition. We know this is right and we know that in doing choosing it, we are not feeding our own tastes and egos. this is really enough for me.

Charles said...

Nah, Jeffrey, you've just stumbled into "Contradictions" not "Arguments." Wink, wink, nudge nudge.
Thanks for gracing my humble page.