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Pop Music Is Unoriginal and Uninspired, Which Is Why I Listen Exclusively to 12th-14th Century Gregorian Chant

A Gregorian chant
Any good DJ should always have the Asperges Me sheet music handy at a party.
By Arnoldius B. Pretentium '19
 
Last year at a party, my friend and I undertook a daring endeavor. We pushed our way through the throng of sweaty college students to find the DJ. We were going to request a song.
 
“Do you know ‘Invitatorium: Deum Verum’?” I said to the DJ.
 
“Yeah?”
 
“Can you play it next?”
 
“Sorry, we don’t play that kind of music. The kids don’t like that kind of stuff.” Disheartened, I shuffled away from the DJ stand. As I left, “Closer” came on, and the crowd went wild.
 
I hate to admit it, but the DJ is right: all of my friends would much prefer to listen to “Closer” rather than “Invitatorium: Deum Verum.” The Chainsmokers and other candy pop groups like them dominate Harvard’s music scene, and it seems like some students have never even heard Gregorian chant. I think that’s sad.
 
Often pop music is not actually written or composed by the artist who sings it. It wasn’t always like this. Some of the most iconic Gregorian chant from the 14th century - “Deum Verum” (Étienne de Liège), “Directorium chori” (Guidette), “Locus Iste” (Léonin) - were created by a couple of monks jamming when they should have been in silent prayer. They were trying out new note intervals, improvising new modes, and scratching down their ideas on scraps of parchment – a true creative process.
 
Now I’ll admit, sometimes low quality pop music offers a nice break from serious contemplation of the Holy Trinity. Sometimes it’s fun to just dance and not think about anything else, including the Rite of Mass. But if you’re only ever listening to music as a distraction, you’re obviously not getting everything you can out of the musical world. So I challenge you to go on Spotify and look up something new. Look up Guidette or Gauthier de Coincy, and listen to their top ten chants. Then look up “Invitatorium: Deum Verum” by Étienne de Liège, and I dare you to tell me that’s not good music. 
 
And then, if you’re feeling really adventurous, I heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers have put out a few good chants.
 

© 2017
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