Hollywood’s Catholic music vs. “Catholic” “music” from Hollywood

This commenter hit the nail on the head:

Have you noticed that those responsible for background music in film seem to know what “Catholic music” is? If the scene takes place in a Catholic church the instrument you hear is almost always the organ. If someone is praying in front of a statue, the music you hear is chant. Unless the movie’s a comedy, a producer wouldn’t dream of accompanying a scene inside a Catholic Church with an electric keyboard or a guitar! Even after forty years of “new age” replacements for that which has for centuries been our musical heritage, producers represent our “Catholic” music appropriately. Does the confusion only lie in our local parish churches?

Also check out the ex-Lutheran homesick for a singing congregation.


3 Responses to Hollywood’s Catholic music vs. “Catholic” “music” from Hollywood

  1. kishnevi says:

    Harrumph. Of course they use organs and chant for background music to church scenes. That’s cultural stereotype. When they show an opera, it’s always sopranos and tenors singing high notes, preferably from Puccini or Verdi (or Wagner, as long the soprano wears Teutonic battle dress). Does that mean that Wozzeck, sopranos doing recitatives, and baritones have no place in opera?

    Catholic music is what Catholics sing when worshipping God. If hippies strumming guitars get them closer to God than chant does, then choose hippies strumming guitars. If it’s the reverse, then do the reverse. Or they could just get rid of the Mass and concentrate on simply saying the prayers (I rather wish we Jews would do this, but we’re stuck in the same sort of mess as the Catholics, only our cantors really think they could be opera stars.) But I suppose that Lutheran in search of a hymn resonates a bit with you, doesn’t it?

  2. kishnevi says:

    Whooops! that should have read “just get rid of the music”, not “just get rid of the Mass”.

  3. jeffreyquick says:

    In answer to your first question: No. But people come for the sopranos and tenors singing high notes. It’s somewhat like Lenny Bruce’s old bit about Las Vegas entertainment…OK, there’s the Apache dancers, and tits and ass.

    Your definition of Catholic music is certainly correct from an ethnomusicological POV. And I don’t think anyone ultimately cares if hairy-legged nuns strum guitars and sing on their own time. But if the question is “Catholic LITURGICAL music”, then there’s s different set of issues. Chief among them is the abandonment of the Propers. Even having the hairy-legged nuns strumming guitars to the Proper texts would be an improvement liturgically. There’s also the argument that the church should not be the world, and that using the world’s music does not in fact bring the soul closer to God. I’m actually cool with the “let a hundred flowers bloom” approach (as long as the Proper texts are preserved); ultimately the market (helped along by Catholic music educators!) will decide what “Catholic music” is. the problem with that approach though is that it’s inherently schismatic. I’m sure that a lot of the SSPX hassle was not nearly so much about doctrine as about a flight from bad liturgy.

    Well, some of your cantors have been opera stars, so who can blame them? The Lutheran resonated because Lutherans sing, and Catholics don’t. And they’re proof that you can have a successful liturgy based on hymns, if they’re good hymns.

    As for getting rid of the Mass, that’s been done. It’s called Protestantism.

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