15 February 2014

My little Schutte

H/t Fr Z.

I actually find this hilarious, in a schadenfreude- if that's the word- sort of way. Jeff Ostrowski over at Corpus Christi Watershed has put up a post wherein he observes that Dan Schutte's recent Glory to God, in addition to changing the words, sounds an awful lot like the theme to My Little Pony. Go over and listen. If you can keep from breaking down and weeping, it's hilarious.

Suddenly Lassus' Missa Entre Vous Filles doesn't seem so bad. (Kudos to anyone who knows what I'm talking about. If you don't- look it up.)

Ostrowski, in an effort of civility and respect, has this to say:

PLEASE, DON’T LEAVE ANY NASTY COMMENTS saying I am “anti-Schutte” or anything like that. I have absolutely nothing against Schutte, who is incredibly accomplished 2 and literally world-famous. He’s free to write whatever he wishes and folks are free to purchase it.

However, I do object to certain would-be “scholarly” publications treating this music in a serious fashion, using the most outlandish psychobabble. 3 Sometimes I’m tempted to scream: “How can such things be written about a tune lifted from My Little Pony?” Just a decade ago, I believed Musicology symposia had a monopoly on this kind of gibberish — I was wrong!

He may not want to be anti Schutte, but I have no such qualms. I wasn't at first, but time made me so. As I explained here, When you work in choirs as I did you often find yourself stuck singing the same stuff over and over and over and over etc. You reach a point where you never want to hear that stuff again. Schutte was one of the ones we got stuck doing time and again, and his work was not particularly good to begin with. I could not care less about his accolades and awards and honours. I have been in academia for far too many years, and having observed various closed groups handing out their awards and slapping each other on the back, I know how meaningless and pointless they are. Schutte's music is second rate at best. His hymns have wandering melody lines which goes to show that the man cannot write a tune. It is no surprise to me that he may have lifted, perhaps even subconsciously, a tune from a children's television show. Heck, he may even be a brony. The fact that he has changed the words of the Gloria show that he has no respect for Church directives which explicitly forbid altering the texts.

One of the things I like about the current arrangement between me and the organist/music director is that we have mutual veto power over the other's music choices. One suggests, and the other agrees, or not, and makes suggestions of their own. It's not something one can do in a choir. But as such, I now have the power to say I will not sing anything written by Haugen, Haas, Schutte and their ilk. It is such a difference from when I was in choirs, and it is also a relief to me to know that I will never, ever, have to sing Schutte's Mass of the Little Ponies.

UPDATE Over at Fr Z's people have been chiming in with either a defense of My Little Pony (the show, I mean. Bronies. Go figure.) or some liturgical music horror story about how bad things got at one church or another. I think I got them all beat. A late friend of mine who spent time in a praise and worship band told me that the band once "opened" (his word, not mine) Mass with Stairway to Heaven- the whole song, complete with guitar solos. I pictured myself at that Mass, listening to that opening riff and saying to myself: "Hey, that sounds just like....oh no." I wonder if the audience, er, I mean congregation, held up their lighters at the end. It seems we are closer to this than I ever thought possible.

Rock and/or roll at Mass: it is not a good thing.


Brian Michael Page said...

Agreed on all counts, Bear.

Oh, here's the link to the left wing webcast I mentioned in my own post:


Hope you have a strong stomach. Keep some Alka Seltzer next to you while watching.

James said...

The Mass "L'homme armee" might be even more appropriate than a reference to Lassus; according to J. H. Huizinga's "The Waning of the Middle Ages" (basically, 1350 onwards, with special reference to France & the Low Countries), the use of secular melodies such as that was widespread; the reforms undertaken by the Council of Trent were not undertaken in a vacuum.