Friday, August 6, 2010

Chant Songs I Have Known

Everybody's heard of Gregorian chants, but I just learned that they are not sung only by men--how chauvinist of me. Apparently they have always been sung by both sexes of monastic orders, sometimes even in mixed company, for over a millennium. Named for Pope Gregory I from the 7th Century, who was credited with ordering the simplification and cataloging of music assigned to specific celebrations in the church calendar.

I recently heard on Public Radio that a search by a major record company resulted in the selection of nuns in a convent near Avignon, France, to produce a CD of their chanting. They sound pretty amazing from the sample I've heard. As happens it got me to thinking about chanting songs I'm more familiar with, and I've included three below.

This is the first one I remember, Witchi Tai To; interestingly it is a Native American peyote chant set to mellow music--adding to it's popularity? It came out when we were becoming aware of pollution to our environment, which was popularly connected to native respect for the land. "Water spirit feeling springing round my head... makes me feel glad that I'm not dead." Catchy, it's one of those things that stayed with me for a long time. Jack Johnson made a cover of this.

Next is the one I think everybody has heard, Return To Innocence by Enigma. What I just found out is that the chant was illegally sampled from a--get this--indigenous Taiwanese "Jubilant Drinking Song" that was recorded by two native Taiwanese on CD as part of a cultural exchange program in France! Almost as odd, the drum beat was sampled from Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." I played this song so much in the car it drove my family nuts... all the time thinking it was Native American.

After doing a little research I found many Native American chants set to music. I thought this one was particularly representative and beautiful:

Hope you enjoyed!