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Raising pitch during reading


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#1 Algernon

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 08:32 PM

I asked the reader at our parish why he starts reading the Epistle at a low pitch and raises it little by little throughout the reading. He answer was, "I dunno, that's just how the Russians do it."

 

Can someone give me a better answer as to why "the Russians" do this?

 

Thanks,

A



#2 Algernon

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 09:29 AM

Really? No one knows??



#3 Olga

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 10:24 AM

Not all readers in the Russian tradition use a rising pitch in their chanting of the Epistle, as it not only requires training to do so, but the reader also needs to have a broad vocal range to use this technique successfully. It's not as important for short readings, but a long reading requires the reader to pace the incremental rises to as to not run out of voice before the end of it.
 
I asked the principal Epistle reader at the local Russian church where I live, and who is the only reader in that parish who uses the rising tone, as he was seen many years ago as having a good ear and a suitable vocal range to be trained to chant this way. His answer was "I dunno, that's just how we do it."
 



#4 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 07:57 PM

This type of reading is called "From the Grave".  My understanding and experience is that it's a Carpatho-Russian tradition, rather than Great Russian; I could be wrong!

 

I know of at least one reference (that I can't put my hands on at the momen) that discouraged this style.  One, it's probably more theatrical than need be.  Also, it also assumes that the "climax" of a particular Epistle reading is at the end, which is not always the case.

 

There are a couple of readings that *do* lend themselves to this style; I've done it myself before (with a blessing), but by no means is it universal.


Edited by Rdr Thomas, 25 April 2016 - 07:58 PM.


#5 Olga

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 10:54 PM

 One, it's probably more theatrical than need be. 

 

If it's done theatrically, it's not being done right. When done properly, it is no more theatrical than other styles of chant, and often less so. Many a Byzantine-style chant is far more florid. As I wrote earlier, it should not draw attention to the person, but to the words.

 

 Also, it also assumes that the "climax" of a particular Epistle reading is at the end, which is not always the case.

 

The endings of Epistles, Gospels, katavasias and other readings are generally ended with a little flourish in a raised tone, whether the stepped reading style is used or not. This not only "finalises" the reading or the block of hymns, but is also an auditory cue for those who are to sing or chant the next section.


Edited by Olga, 26 April 2016 - 12:14 PM.
correcting typo


#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 11:33 AM

I arrived in Moscow yesterday so I shall try to find out if anyone knows why the rising tone is used - I have often heard it in churches here.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 05:54 PM

Went to the Vesperal Liturgy this morning at Zachatyevsky monastery - no rising tone for the Epistle - just a monotone.



#8 Ilya Zhitomirskiy

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Posted 17 May 2016 - 03:42 PM

The rising tone is probably done for emphasis, because it assumes that the most important part of the reading is the end. A number of Russian readers do use this, and I know how to do this. However, you will only see this style of reading used for the Epistle or Gospel reading. You will never see this for the Hours, and especially not the Six Psalms (the expectation is to read it slowly on one pitch). In addition, the reading has to be of medium length (the raised-pitch style can be used with short or long readings, but does not make sense for long readings, as the raisings need to be spaced out more than every sentence. In addition, the reader will either raise his pitch at the very end, or do an "up-down'up" at the end (say the reader normally reads on fa, he will go sol-fa-sol).






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