Modal Technique Days

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Theory

Modal music comes in many shapes, forms and sounds. Thinking only of Western chant and polyphony, it requires little effort to distinguish one style from another. However what is insufficiently appreciated is the fact that, regardless of the genre, certain shared principles and therefore practices form their common basis of departure. The most important principle is the search for harmony, both within the body and between it and its surroundings, be they immediate or infinitely far. Because the body is material within a physical world governed by finite limitations this basic need must remain a desire impossible of being achieved. All the oldest (living) musical traditions which have had this as their primary goal are modal in character: in tune with this goal their movement is both continuous and gradually transformational. In other words, in a paraphrase of Machaut's famous rondeau, leur fin est leur commencement. The Modal Technique Days are devoted to the perfecting of those modal skills which make the performance of this music both easier and genuinely functional. See the articleModal Singing for Modal Music.

Practice

In contradistinction to the Modus Days and the Project Weeks, this 3-day practicum concentrates on learning the techniques which are used in the singing of modal music. As such it is also open for musicians who are less acquainted with either the traditions or the techniques. The lessons are given both individually and collectively, depending upon the nature of the material and the needs of the students. Unlike the Project Weeks active participants may register for a portion of the practicum.

In this practicum the emphasis is upon the manner of making the music, not the amount of music performed.However, it is expected that all students come prepared. For those who have attended any of the Project Weeks music from any of them may be chosen. Modal/traditional music of one's own choice may also be brought. Participants are asked to state their choice of music/style when registering. An informal, internal presentation may be given at the end of the practicum. From January 2009 Dr. Stewart will be joined by Maria Wieggers who concentrates on the breathing and relaxation therapy according to the Van Dixhoorn method. By means of simple instruction it is possible to come into contact with the self-regulatory system of one's own body. The goal of this process is to be able to breath, move and – finally – sing more efficiently and therefore more effortlessly.

Participation in Modal Technique Days is limited to 10 people.

Project Week: Notre Dame Organum, Conductus & Gregorian chant

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