One of the last music reading sessions I attended a couple seated next to me punctuated sight-singing with comments of ridicule and not-so-stifled laughter. Most octavos had “NIMP” scribbled in big letters. In two hours, I found one or two pieces that I would use–that’s about par for me. The other pieces I also judged “not in my parish,” but it was unnecessary to mark them as such. I do have very high standards for new music. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have yet to find a MR3 English Mass setting that really thrills me, but I make do with a lot of B-plus work.

When I reviewed music for a liturgical publication, my editor occasionally sent me a music packet and recording about which I had little or nothing good to say. One or two were penned by a well-known composer. My editor never disagreed with my assessment of thumbs-down, plus not write and publish.

I read with some interest this thread at CMAA piling the NIMC label on a bit of easy-listening. People there seemed happy to pile on that they chased the YouTube commentary away. One of a few lone voices brought up that the text was largely Psalm 90 and that’s not heresy, or even bad. Another got his psalm numbering mixed up and dragged wings of eagles into the discussion. (That’s 91, not 90.)

There are obvious problems with this over-the-top critique. CMAA is disinterested in vernacular music. They are less interested in genre with a pedigree beyond the 16th century. They feel insulted that this music and video will darken others’ impression of them. Not quite. The overall tone will convince those who happen to be watching and reading that church musicians think little of the efforts of those not their own.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Derision

  1. Liam says:

    While I don’t disagree with all of this, I do believe duty-bound to strongly object to this as a wholesale characterization, much as you would object to being included in a group charged vice-versa in reverse. (If I felt you’d not care, I wouldn’t bother.)

    “CMAA is disinterested in vernacular music. They are less interested in genre with a pedigree beyond the 16th century.”

    There are some individual posters at Musica Sacra who would qualify for the first, very few for the second, sentence. (And some of them are people I don’t believe would care so much as to be worth objecting strongly to.) But I don’t think it’s accurate as to a majority; so, as a broadbrush, it’s a more a form of derision. Pungent mirroring, which has its place, is less likely to be fruitful remotely.

  2. Todd says:

    Fair comments, my friend.

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