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A concert of Georgian polyphony
Benefit Concert, Nov. 15th, NYC
Jvarsa Shensa -rare variant
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johnananda@georgianchant.org

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A concert of Georgian polyphony

The benefit concert in New York city was a great success. Here are some clips from the evening, compiled by organizer Ezra Halleck:



Monday, November 3, 2008

Benefit Concert, Nov. 15th, NYC

Eight Georgian Choirs will be performing in the largest Georgian concert to date as a benefit to IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in Georgia. Suggested donation is only $20, and it's for a good cause, come out and support!

This is one way that those of us who have gained so much in our lives from Georgian music can help to support those who have suffered as a result of the conflicts in the South Caucasus this summer. Both of the Princeton University Georgian Choirs will be performing, as well as Georgian groups from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Poughkeepsie (NY), Williamstown (MA), and Boston. Details below, press release here:

Date: Saturday, November 15th

Time: 7:30pm

Cost: $20 Suggested Donation (whatever you can afford)

Location:
Grace and St. Paul's Lutheran Church,
123 West 71st Street, Manhattan
(between Broadway and Columbus Avenues)
map

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jvarsa Shensa -rare variant

I've been excited recently to memorize a gamshvenebuli kilo version of the popular chant Jvarsa Shensa [To Your Cross We Bow Lord] that I discovered in one of Sharadze's original publications from the 1890s.

The structure of the chant is almost exactly the same as the sada kilo Tone 6 chant that most people know and sing in Georgia today, but all three voices are ornamented, with voice crossings in every cadence. I was able to photocopy this version from Malkhaz Erkvanidze's personal copy, so I have some of his editing marks, most importantly a change from C major to A major.


Notice the "3#" marking above the score;

Sometimes it's difficult to stomach what seems like such a drastic change, but according to Malkhaz' logic, certain chords, such as B, F, A do not occur on strong beats in Georgian music, and must be transcribed another way, such as B, F#, A. Another strong reason to give this chant three sharps is that all of the cadences occur on the open fifth of F-C, usually through ascending parallel fifths in the bass and first voices. To resolve up to a cadence by means of a half step in both the bass and first voice would admittedly be quite bizarre in Georgian music: D-A to E-B resolving to F-C. This sounds much more "Georgian" when it becomes D-A to E-B resolving to F#-C#. Is anyone with me?

However, there are several places where the new key of A major (or rather E mixolydian), does not create correct sounding chords, and this might be one of the reasons Malkhaz has not published this chant in any of the recent chant publications that include gamshvenebuli kilo (colorful mode) chants such as Volumes II and IV. For example, in the cadential pattern mentioned above, the middle voice has a typical descending cadential line A B G# G# to F#, meeting the rising bass part.

(Cadence in question is in the first bar below...)











With three sharps, the pen-penultimate chord of D-G#-A in the cadential sequence D-G#-A to E-G#-B resolving to F#-C# is highly discordant and uncharacteristic of Georgian chant. One does not usually find a half step between the upper two parts such as a G#-A clash (please correct me), which would be better served if the upper two parts enjoyed a larger interval (even a 3/4 tone) which would give the proper sonority of a suspension.

As my men's choir Gaumarjos is learning this Jvarsa Shensa variant now, we're trying to resolve this tuning discrepancy by tuning the outer voices up in that moment, creating a chord closer to D#-G#-A# (3rd beat of the first measure above).

While strange to our ears, the resulting chord actually sounds a lot like the Artem Erkomaishvili recordings from 1966, where he seems to avoid singing half steps by ascending/descending with 3/4 tone intervals. When Artem sings up five scale degrees, there is never a half-step, prompting one to start looking for neutral third degrees, etc. Our attempt is clearly still in the experimental phase though.

There were a number of tuning issues that had to be worked out during the transcription movement in the 1880s, and re-sounding those transcriptions into three part harmony now, more than a century later, involves more than a bit of guesswork given that we have very few recordings to tell us exactly what what was going on in terms of tuning and modulation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcome

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Georgianchant.org, where we hope to post information relevant to the study and practice of Georgian Orthodox liturgical music!

John A Graham