Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gearing Down

As that part of the Church Militant that can actually think is more and more beginning to realize, Vatican Two, that gathering of bishops and other supposed experts in the life of grace that was intended to breathe new life into the one, holy, etc., has been in so many areas honoured much more in the breach than in the observance. I used to think our diocese of Nelson was a unique leader in this hooliganism, as not only have I for decades avoided travel as much as possible, but I also lived in those decades beside the archdiocese of Vancouver, which under Martin Johnson and then James Carney well knew a hawk from a handsaw and were very much aware that new brooms were more likely to sweep in more dirt than they took out. I knew that our diocese was a disaster area, but thought of it as more unique than it was. As more and more evidence, thanks to the Net, rolls in, it seems quite safe to say that most of North America, if not the world, is a disaster area, in the sense that so few of hopes of Vatican Two have been realized, except, perhaps, for the collapse of Russian communism.
Most certainly, the simple command to conclude the great liturgical study  of previous decades and restore Gregorian Chant to its pride of place has been rarely obeyed, and every child raised in an orderly family knows the result of disobedience. Over this issue alone, God must be royally picked. And then there is the other side of the same coin, whereby bishops who do not make use of the called-for chant go on to further abuse of the truth by declaring that congregations who sing the modern garbage are "vibrant", "faith-filled", "united in their communal blessedness" and so forth. This they have been known to commit to print, moreover, for which there will be even greater penalties in purgatory, if not worse. "Thou shalt be held accountable for every idle word," and these have been some of the most idle words ever spoken. He who is the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life, can have no part of such lies against the ordinary standards of art, which are supposed to teach us about beauty, which is one of the five transcendentals, and even more important, one of the things God is most certainly. It's amazing how many Catholics think that Country and Ugly is virtuous, and the alarming thing is to find this attitude very often more virulent in clergy and religious than in the laity.
Yet, to be fair, where are the most significant sources of such misdirection and imbalance, such moronic misplacing of the energy and emphasis that is essential to real education? Can any of this be traced to the home of education standards, Rome itself?
Oh, my, yes.
When I first bought my copy of the complete Hanon - the "infamous Hanon" as Dr. Athina Fetyka of Florida has called it - riding on God's graces of long-term inspiration more than science, I assumed I had discovered the perfect answer to my frustrations over learning to read music for the keyboard. It most genuinely was a lovely blast of grace, filling me with the uttermost confidence in both my native faculties once instructed, and the God-given ability of men to sort out the most difficult problems of art and science simply by using their education to put their heads to honest work. Such a big book, and so full, seemingly, of true musical authority.
That's God for you. Talking all that stuff about a people of God to Abraham, or a child born of a Virgin to Isaiah, leaving those poor men so cranked up and full of confidence that they thought these things were to happen on the immediately following Wednesday.
I certainly had no idea that God was talking about something that would not happen to me for half-a-century, and certainly not because of  Hanon. And I even more certainly had no idea that I would quite quickly discover that Hanon was basically more harm than good, and in spite of that allowed to claim on his title page that he was quite the mover and shaker in the very Vatican itself.
All the above written in one burst on Friday, after Wednesday visit to the cathedral to try my new skills on the Allen Organ. (Not quite a pipe, but not so bad either, and anyway, in my books, the goal is a singing congregation.) I essayed a little reading, which in itself necessitated realizing that there is a drill for dealing with an initial third - in the left - which immediately changes to an octave. My thick skull suddenly understood the easy way, using two and four for the third and one and five for the octave. "On This Day the First of Days." Back at home, I kept working on this new insight, and somehow by Saturday evening, walking to Mass by myself, had expanded it to what has never before been plain to me, how to use all five fingers over an octave and-a-half in such a way as to not only have an extremely good time, but also to exercise the mental faculties in the fashion the original creator of music obviously had in mind for the sake of actually understanding theory.
The Great McDaniel tried it out yesterday morning and loves it. This morning I sent the initial chart to my blogging youngest.
How long will it take the world to ask an intelligent question?
For the time being I'm not giving out any clues except to say that  Hanon's preface to his Sixty Exercises contains as much blatant error as it contains very useful insight, and once you know what I know, Hanon's intentions can be met. But not before. By no means, not before.

No comments: