Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

This is Not Schadenfreude

It is, rather, a reminder to myself give thanks to Almighty God, because others are worse off...
Damian Thompson with a blog on the state of affairs in musical matters amongst British Catholics:

I'm going to keep this simple, and deliberately avoid mentioning any names. Catholics in every diocese should know the following information and ask some tough questions.

1. The new ICEL translation of the Mass is available as a PDF from the American bishops here. Composers are free to use the main prayers – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo etc – for settings in their new translations WITHOUT RISK OF BREACHING COPYRIGHT.

2. Therefore pay no attention to Magic Circle talk of the Bishops' Conference or dioceses "sanctioning" particular musical settings of the Mass. They have no power to do so. Composers – go ahead and write something better than the dreary bilge favoured by Futurechurch.

3. Keep your eyes peeled for bishops or diocesan officials commissioning settings of the new translation. Commissioning costs money – your church's money, and there isn't much of it around at the moment. If they do insist on commissioning settings, we must insist on a level paying field. Why not hold a competition judged by the masters of music in our cathedrals and leading Catholic composers?

4. Copyright fees. This is a crucial area. Parishes must insist on access to liturgical music for which they pay no copyright fee – try searching the internet – or for which there is only a modest one-off payment. The Church already employs full-time musicians in cathedrals. The music they write as part of their duties should incur no copyright fee.

5. An independent inquiry. Something stinks to high heaven about the way commissions are doled out to composer-liturgists (often possessing only the most modest talents) who then rake in fees via their private companies while also acting as official advisers to the Church. These individuals use diocesan workshops to flog their music and hymn books to parishes. Congregations have no idea how this cosy system operates. Let them find out by means of an independent inquiry into the commissioning, sale and circulation of liturgical material.

All of these things need to be done, and not just in the interests of transparency and fairness. Once the monopoly of the Magic Circle-approved music businesses is broken, we can – for the first time in decades – look forward to the replacement of folk-style caterwauling by music that is a joy to listen to and sing.

No comments: