Gregorian Chant How To Write

How to Write a Song in Gregorian Chant Style

Pope Gregory began his campaign to collect and simplify the pieces of music designated to various Church events and purposes in approximately 600, which, in part, resulted in the standardization of the Gregorian style. The Gregorian style is a type of music that has its roots in the year 600. Gregorian chants are vocal musical compositions for a large number of singers who sing in unison, frequently without the assistance of an instrumentalist. Canned music, according to the Gregorian Association of London (GAL), can be either religious or secular in origin, and the style has had a significant impact on several sectors of popular music.

The three melodic types are syllabic, which uses one note per syllable, neumatic, which uses two or three notes per syllable, and melismatic, which ranges from around six notes per syllable all the way up to 60 notes per syllable in more complicated chants.

Make a decision on whether your chant will be in recitative or free melody style.

Recitative chanting is the repetition of the same set of words throughout the chant, typically with varied notes used during the song, whereas “free melody” singing is the variation of the syllables and the melody used throughout the song.

  1. Liturgical chants are reserved for use in public religious ceremonies.
  2. Secular chants are chants in which the text is not of a religious character, as opposed to religious chants.
  3. Gregorian chants, according to the Gregorian Association, are primarily sung in Latin language.
  4. You can choose a short phrase to be repeated throughout the chant, or a long phrase to serve as a component of a free-flowing melody that runs throughout the chant.
  5. You should find a series of notes to which you can sing the lyrics of your chant in harmony.

When performing Gregorian chants, it is common for the singer to use a method of repeating tones that repeat with minimal variations throughout the chant. Once you’ve found one that works well with your selected lyrics as well as your chosen melodic kind, try it out with a group of vocalists.


Attempt to listen to as much Gregorian chant as possible in order to have a better understanding of the style.


  • Keep in mind that males normally sing Gregorian chant, therefore compose within the realistic range of a male voice when writing for this style. It is possible that the vocalists will be unable to perform it if this is the case. The following is an example of a typical male price range: From a C in the bass clef to a F or G in the center of the treble clef is the range of the treble clef. For mixed choruses, make sure that the chant is appropriate for both men and women in an acceptable range.

How to Grade: Write a Gregorian Chant – Melodic Structures: Lines, Shapes, and Simple Modes

The purpose of this course is to explain how music works. Musical nuances that are both technical and aesthetically pleasing are discussed in this paper. Developing a relevant theoretical vocabulary may also assist you in thinking about and discussing different musical styles, and expanding your musical enjoyment can be accomplished via the acquisition of new theoretical language. Instead of studying theory itself, you will learn music theory via listening to and analyzing musical examples as well as composing your own musical examples (yes, you will write your own musical examples).

We will investigate the fundamental components of melody through lectures, pertinent examples, and a large number of practice tasks.

This is an intermediate-level course designed for musicians and composers who already have a basic foundation of music theory via previous study or experience.

Also, if you are a casual music fan or even if you play a musical instrument, you have come to the perfect spot if you want to deepen your understanding of music theory, aesthetics, and history.

Skills You’ll Learn

Music, classical music, jazz, music composition, and music theory are all terms that may be used to describe music.


  • The following percentages: 5 stars82.25 percent, 4 stars11.29 percent, 3 stars3.22 percent, 2 stars0.80 percent, and 1 star2.41 percent

The following percentages: 5 stars82.25 percent; 4 stars11.29 percent; 3 stars3.22 percent; 2 stars0.80 percent; and 1 star2.41 percent

Taught By

  • Chair in Musical Composition endowed by the Roy E. Disney family

Gregorio project website

It was composed by a monk from the monastery of Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux in order to express his vision of the structure of the writing of Gregorian chant, which he believed to be correct. In the beginning, it was focused with the development of an XML standard for the description of Gregorian chant. While Gregorio did attempt to integrate this XML standard at one time, the functionality was so little utilized that it was eventually dropped entirely. Gregorio, on the other hand, continues to employ this structure while evaluating its gabc code, making it valuable for users who want to understand how Gregorio “thinks” about a score.


In the same way as human sentences are made up of words, syllables, and letters, it is possible to distinguish between neumes, neumatic components, and neumatic glyphs when transcribing Gregorian chant in typographical transcription. The following analogy (which we will describe in greater detail later) is formed as a result:

  • Words are represented by neumes
  • Syllables are represented by neumatic components
  • Letters are represented by neumatic glyphs.

Here is an example of a neume, which we will go over in further detail later in this document: An illustration of a neume This neume’s initial constituent is referred to as. This element is made up of the glyph, which is followed by the three glyphs, and finally the word and. It is possible that our example of a neume made of 32 notes will surprise you.

It is simply a matter of preference in vocabulary: we refer to aneume as “a collection of notes sung on the same syllable.” For this example of a neume, which may be found in the Antiphonale Monasticum (Solesmes, 2005, vol. I: p. 542-543), we will use the following passage: Score in its entirety

The neumatic elements

In music, the neumatic components are a series of notes that are sung in a linked fashion and that together constitute a specific entity. The terminology used to denote these elements varies from one liturgical book to the next in terms of meaning. The following are the names that are often given to the elements that make up the neume that we used as an example:

Role of the neumatic elements

Due to the differences or articulations that they contribute to the thread of the melody, these aspects provide an indicator of rhythm. It might have been able to transcribe our neume in the following way, without affecting the melody of the first eight notes:instead of. Although it appears that the second transcription has been chosen above the first, it does not appear that this decision was motivated by a musical reason. Some might interpret this subtlety in the way of singing, by identifying the final punctum inclinatum with a little more “weight,” a very light sustain, and a little more “volume.” It is sometimes necessary to just consider how to articulate the two neumatic parts properly in order to convey this distinction.

According to the neume sang onDó, these cuts are of a same duration or somewhat shorter.

It is not the typographer’s responsibility to be concerned with whether the musical subtlety suggested by a neumatic cut is short or long in duration.

As it turns out, these variations may be traced back to the early Gregorian chant manuscripts, which were also copied into typography in this manner.

Definition of the neumatic element

We shall return to the idea of neumatic cut, which is still a little hazy in our minds, but for now, we may define theneumatic element as “a set of notes that do not include a neumatic cut.”

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The list and the number of neumatic elements

Neumatic elements are found in a number of different forms in modern Gregorian chant scores, which are as follows: When the varying heights (pitches) of the notes and the liquescent forms are not taken into consideration, this list is rather thorough for the elements having only one or two notes in it. Starting with the three-note components, the number of elements increases dramatically, and providing a comprehensive list of all the elements appears to be, if not impossible, at the very least laborious, and not useful for developing a lexical typography for chant.

But, before we get into it, we need to clear up the confusion concerning the gaps that we can come into while following the thread of certain neumatic parts.

Because a typographer is not by definition a musician, a musicologist, or a gregorianist, he need a language that is appropriate for his or her profession.

In order to simplify the concept of neumatic cut from a typographical standpoint, we suggest to include all spaces in it, with the exception of those contained in the following sentences:

  • In elements beginning or ending with severalpuncta inclinata
  • In groups of two or three successivepuncta quadrata, strophae, or virgae on the same pitch

As a result, just one neumatic element will be examined for each of the textual forms listed below: However, the following written forms are considered to be two distinct elements:

Difficulties resulting from this choice in establishing a XML standard

Consider the following two examples: If we view thescandicus flexus and theporrectus flexustypographically as one element at times and as two elements at other times, it is very difficult to construct a common XML representation of these two elements. Will the neumatic cut definition we just described be superseded by a more musical one, or will the one we just defined be retained? In many situations, the distinctions are questionable, if not outright challenged, which suggests that this is not the case.

In some manuscripts, both of these sentences are written in this manner.

after which it was transcribed using the following formats: Illustrations of the salicus in various styles.

However, doing so at the level of theneumatic glyphs will almost probably be more beneficial in the long run.

The neumatic glyphs

According to what we have mentioned above regarding the large number of existent and imagined neumatic parts and the difficulty in identifying them, we must go back to the initial and smallest units for the typographical construction of a gregorian chant score in order to get the best results. A typographer will attempt to identify the various shapes that he will want in order to create his scores on the spur of the moment, and he will discover four primary genres of shapes that will be juxtaposed next to one another.

For example, consider the following geometric forms: Typefaces including this set of primary shapes or glyphs were plainly required in order for lead characters to be used in typography.

For the same reason, the designers of digital typefaces have gone about their business by replacing the numerous neumatic glyphs with their respective tables of characters.

Definition of the neumatic glyph

Consequently, we may define theneumatic glyphas “a pictorial symbol that expresses a neumatic element, either alone or in combination with others.”

The list and the number of neumatic glyphs

Throughout the first pages of most liturgical books published in the twentieth century, we may discover tables of “neumes.” Unfortunately, these tables are the source of some misunderstanding regarding the distinction between neumatic components and neumatic glyphs. In general, they are not adequate to provide a comprehensive list of all the different types of neumatic components, for a variety of reasons. The fact that they are intended to be read by vocalists rather than typographers means that they go beyond the mere listing of primary glyphs.

  1. It appears to be pretty difficult to make this number correct.
  2. An example of a neumatic element that is exceptionally lengthy For example, the “neumes”punctum, pes, scandicus, and scandicus may all be found in this form of table: punctum, pes, and scandicus.
  3. This type of neumatic element will be easier to put together if you combine somepuncta and some podatuses, which will make it easier to assemble.
  4. It appears to be more feasible to confine ourselves to textual forms that do not include a space.

Then we need to decide on a maximum number of notes to include. Once we have taken into consideration these two constraints, we must search out all of the conceivable textual forms that may be created using the various pitch sequences and all of the variants.

Gregorian Chant Notation

This is a description of the traditional Gregorian Chant notation, with the goal of making it easy for anybody to read and sing the music. Chant is written in neumes, which are notes spoken on a single word that are separated by a space. Gregorian Chant does not have a meter at all, yet it does have a rhythm consisting of groups of two or three notes that is repeated. Vertical lines divide musical phrases and may occasionally provide a break for taking a breath, like in Chant, which is not in a major or minor key, but inmodesto, which means inmodesto (though there are some modes which can sound like a modern scale).

Dois is indicated on the staff by a dot.

Do would occupy the bottom available place in this case.

On the right is a modern-day version of this.

Liquescent Neumes

There are several different ways to demonstrate that a note is in your possession: One way to achieve this is to add a dot (punctum-mora) after the note. In modern music, it’s a little like a dotted note in the middle of a phrase. In order to demonstrate that a note is held, more than one of the same note in a row on the same syllable should be included in the composition. A repurcussive neume is what is referred to as this. In contemporary music, a horizontal line (episema) over a neume indicates that the note should be held or that it should be slowed down a bit likerit.

  • A single accidental that may be employed in Chant notation is the B-flat, which appears to be quite similar to the current B-flat on the piano keyboard.
  • In every other case, it just lasts for a single syllable.
  • If you love this website and would want to contribute a few of dollars to help keep it running, you may do so by sending a check to the following address: The payment is made to That is how to read Gregorian Chant notation, in its entirety!
  • The LPH Resource Center for Catholic Homeschoolers offers elementary-level Latin and music lessons to homeschooling families.
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Learning Melody Writing from 2000-Year Old Music

A note can be held in one of several ways, including: After the message, you can finish it off with a dot (punctum mora). For those familiar with current music, it’s similar to a dotted note. Second, if more than one of the same note appears in a row on a single syllable, it indicates that the note is being kept together. Repurcussive neume is the medical term for this. To hold the note, or to slow down a bit likerit. in modern music, a horizontal line (episema) over the neume indicates that the note is to be held.

In Chant notation there is one incidental that may be employed; it is the B-flat, which looks quite similar to the current B-flat.

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In every other case, it only lasts for a single sentence.

In the event that you enjoy this website and would want to contribute a few of dollars to help keep it running, you may do so by sending a check to the following address: To whom the money is being paid: …and that is how you read Gregorian Chant notation.

On another part of our website, you may find several chants in Guitar notation. It is possible to enroll in elementary-level Latin and music programs at the LPH Resource Center for Catholic Homeschoolers. Write to me at the following address: Kephart, Rick is an American actor.

  1. The majority of the movement is stepwise from one note to the next, with a few jumps here and there. Melodies for chants were produced to be sung with ease, both by “ordinary folk” and by musical academics, and it was vital to keep the melodic design basic in order to achieve this goal. The use of stepwise motion made it easier to sing the melody
  2. Strange melodic jumps were avoided. Leaps of thirds (for example, from C to E) were the most prevalent, followed by leaps of fifths. Leaps greater than a fifth of a mile were regarded to be uncomfortable. Once again, the primary consideration was the ease with which the song could be sung
  3. The rhythm of the words served as the basis for the music’s beat. Chant notation is often written in stemless neumes, which are note heads that have no connection to the actual beat of the piece being performed. This is due to the fact that the music’s rhythm was derived straight from the natural pulse of the speech. Today, we employ notation that specifies rhythm, which allows us to have a clear understanding of what the beat should be. Nonetheless, the poem describes a feeling of pulsating music that is still present today, according to the author. Your words should be sung in such a way that their natural rhythms can be heard
  4. Melodies often had a shape that included a high point. In today’s music, we all know that most songs have a climax moment, and the notion of the climactic high point can be traced all the way back to the ancient Chant tunes.

Besides its melodic features, Chant melodies have other characteristics that are no longer present in contemporary musical creation. For example, music from that era was unaccompanied, unharmonized (i.e., there were no chord progressions employed or implied), and did not employ a time signature in its composition. As a result, there are limits to how much we can learn from these ancient songs. However, if you feel that your tunes are causing you frustration, Consider the following:

  1. Improve your musical knowledge by learning these Gregorian Chant tunes. Produce and sing your own tunes in the style of the Gregorian Chant: silently and with a rhythm that is conveyed solely by the lyrics

As a result of doing so, you might be surprised at how similar your own melodies are to Chant tunes. Furthermore, it may open your eyes to new possibilities for modifying your melodic composition style. And it’s also fascinating to watch what contemporary musicians have done with ancient tunes in order to give them a fresh new sound._

Gregorian chant

Gregorian chant is a type of liturgical music performed in unison or in monophony by the Roman Catholic Church to accompany the readings of the mass and the canonical hours, sometimes known as the divine office. The Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory I, who was Pope from 590 to 604 and during whose reign it was collected and codified. King Charlemagne of the Franks (768–814) brought Gregorian Chant into his country, which had previously been dominated by another liturgical style, the Gallican chant, which was in general usage.

  1. The passages that are repeated from one mass to the next are included in theOrdinary of the Mass.
  2. The first appearance of the Gloria was in the 7th century.
  3. The Gloria chants that follow are neumatic.
  4. TheSanctus andBenedictus are most likely from the period of the apostles.
  5. Since its introduction into the Latin mass from the Eastern Church in the 7th century, theAgnus Dei has been written mostly in neumatic form.
  6. The Proper of the Mass is a collection of texts that are different for each mass in order to highlight the significance of each feast or season celebrated that day.
  7. During the 9th century, it had taken on its current form: a neumatic refrain followed by a psalm verse in psalm-tone style, followed by the refrain repeated.

As time progressed, it evolved into the following pattern: opening melody (chorus)—psalm verse or verses in a virtuously enriched psalmodic structure (soloist)—opening melody (chorus), which was repeated in whole or in part.

Its structure is similar to that of the Gradual in several ways.

Synagogue music has a strong connection to this cry.

Sacred poems, in their current form, the texts are written in double-line stanzas, with the same accentuation and amount of syllables on both lines for each two lines.

By the 12th century, just the refrain had survived from the original psalm and refrain.

The Offertory is distinguished by the repeating of text.

The song has a neumatic feel to it.

Responses are short texts that precede or follow each psalm and are mostly set in syllabic chant; psalms, with each set to a psalm tone; hymns, which are usually metrical and in strophes or stanzas and set in a neumatic style; and antiphons or refrains, which are short texts that precede or follow each psalm and are mostly set in syllabic The Gradual’s form and style are influenced by the sponsor’s contribution.

Amy Tikkanen has made the most current revisions and updates to this page.

What is Gregorian Chant – GIA Publications

Before reviewing the main Gregorian chant books and resources, perhaps it is good to state what Gregorian chant is.Gregorian chant is the church’s own music, born in the church’s liturgy. Its texts are almost entirely scriptural, coming for the most part from the Psalter. For centuries it was sung as pure melody, in unison, and without accompaniment, and this is still the best way to sing chant if possible. It was composed entirely in Latin; and because its melodies are so closely tied to Latin accents and word meanings, it is best to sing it in Latin. (Among possible exceptions are chant hymns, since the melodies are formulaic and are not intrinsically tied to the Latin text.) Gregorian chant is in free rhythm, without meter or time signature.Because the liturgy was sung almost entirely in Gregorian chant in the Middle Ages (with polyphony saved for special occasions), every type of liturgical text has been set in chant: readings, prayers, dialogs, Mass propers, Mass ordinaries, office hymns, office psalms and antiphons, responsories, and versicles. Although Pope St. Gregory the Great (590–604) certainly did not play a role in the creation or compilation of our chant melodies, popular legend led the church to name Gregorian chant after this great leader.Many other types and styles of music are similar to Gregorian chant or inspired by it, but one should distinguish them from Gregorian chant. Taizé chants, for example, are generally in Latin, similar to Gregorian chant antiphons. But the musical style is quite different: metered and with choral harmonies and/or instrumental accompaniments.Many psalm tones have been written since the Second Vatican Council. They are much like Gregorian chant psalm tones with their free rhythm and their repeatable melodic formulas. By Gregorian psalm tones, however, we mean a set of particular melodies, one for each of the Gregorian modes, always in the form of two measures. The Gregorian psalm tones are well suited to the Latin language, but do not work very well with English accents, unless one takes freedom in adapting them. For English psalm verses, it is probably wiser to use psalm tones written for the English language. Back to Gregorian Chant Resources
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Why is chant called Gregorian?

The fact that the “Gregorian” chant is called after and attributed to Pope Gregory I (r. 590-604) is the result of political expediency and spin doctoring. Conflict between the Pope (the Bishop of Rome) and other Bishops over the Pope’s power as “first among equals” was mirrored by conflict between the Pope, as spiritual ruler of Rome, and the secular leaders of the city of Rome, which lasted for decades. This conflict persisted intermittently until the 15th century, when the “Conciliar Conflict” (c.

In addition to writing, collecting, and organizing the body of plainchant in use during his time period, Gregory I is credited with founding the first singing school (Schola Cantorum) in Rome to train singers for the church, organizing the church’s annual cycle of liturgical readings, and establishing the church’s authority over the Roman secular rulers, among other accomplishments.

  • The artist painted scenes in which a bird sang mantras into his ear while he was writing them down.
  • Any of these claims are up to debate as to whether or not he actually accomplished them.
  • Those who ascribed Gregory’s extraordinary achievements were performing the same function as spin doctors today, who work for politicians and entertainment both.
  • The Emperor Charlemagne addressed a request to Rome for legitimate liturgical books and chants in around the year 800, some two centuries after Gregory’s death.
  • The cry of the Franks is the form that gradually gained popularity….
  • John HowellToEarly Music Frequently Asked Questions

gregorian chant – Perceval Archeostoria (english site)

In a new Canadian research initiative, massive amounts of data are being collected from medieval tunes that were recited by monks more than 1,000 years ago. It’s all searchable as well. But for what purpose? Optical Neume Recognition Project member Kate Helsen, an assistant musicology professor at Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music, explains that this study is the most technologically advanced method of investigating what was previously a completely oral culture – at a time and place when and where people didn’t even consider writing music down at all – and that, through a better understanding of these 11th century monks, researchers can now study how the human brain processes music.

When it comes to medieval musical notation known asneumes, the Optical Neume Recognition Project use customized optical character recognition (OCR) technology to conduct research.

The use of optical music recognition (OMR) software allows researchers to conduct electronic searches for information that has been systematically gathered by advanced computer software about each scanned image, rather than poring over hundreds of pages containing literally millions of neumes, as was previously the case.

  • According to a large number of medieval experts, it is impossible to keep all of that knowledge.
  • This is simply another illustration of how fantastic the medieval memory was for a variety of reasons.” The Gregorian chants of monks from the Convent of St.
  • Gallen, Switzerland, are now being investigated by the study team.
  • Gall is considered to be a classic example of a magnificent Carolingian monastery.
  • Gall monks, it is believed that it would take 85 hours of singing time.
  • “All of this memory work was completed totally without the use of notation.
  • “Thanks to notation, we no longer have to remember 85 hours of repertoire in our heads,” Helsen explains.
  • It’s as if a monk from 1,000 years ago stepped into the room and immediately began talking about music.
  • According to a press statement.

Clefs in Gregorian chant: complete guide [with examples]

First, I believe it would be helpful to offer a succinct description of the term clef before discussing the typology and purpose of clefs in Gregorian chant. What exactly is meant by clef? In music, a clef is nothing more than a key that allows you to notate, interpret, and execute the musical intervals that make up a tune accurately. It’s likely that you already knew this, but I felt it was important to note. What’s notable is that the clefs used in Gregorian chant are more flexible than the clefs now in use in Western music, which is a unique characteristic.

  • The treble clef is positioned always on the second line of the 5- line staff and marks the position of the G note, while the bass clef, located on the fourth line, identifies the position of the note F.
  • Gregorian chants were notated using two clefs: the C clef and the F clef, which stood for C and F respectively.
  • Other differences may be seen in the two systems of musical clefs, namely, the Gregorian system and the current system: both the C and the F clef were designed to notate the intervals of a specific tune, but they were not intended for use as a way of specifying an absolute value or frequency.
  • In addition, I’d like to point out that clefs can be altered in the middle of a chant to ensure that all notes fit on the staff.

C clef or Do clef

Look at the following musical notation that represents asyllabic melody: TheC clefis the symbol at the top left of the score, which is highlighted in red. If you look closely at the shape of this clef, you will see that it closely resembles the letter C. According to what you can see, it has been placed on the fourth line of the four-line staff, known as the tetragram, which was historically used by Medieval monks to notateGregorian chant. It’s vital to note that the C clef can be placed in any of the four lines of the staff, depending on the situation.

In this example, you can see how the first two bars of the Gregorian melody stated above were transposed from a four-line staff to a five-line staff: Keep in mind that the frequency assigned to the note C was chosen at random since the clefs in Gregorian chant were used to help the performer identify the intervals of a certain tune rather than the precise frequencies.

It is worth noting that the performers in this rendition of Ave Maria do not begin the chant by singing the frequency corresponding to the note F marked on the stave but instead begin by transposing the melody one tone higher:

F clef or Fa clef

Let me now focus my attention to the F clef and how it was represented in the Gregorian chanting system. Pay close attention to the following musical notation: Located at the top left of the four-line staff, the F clef is represented by a red circle around the sign. A square note and the C clef are combined to make this key in terms of graphical representation. When you look at the sample I’ve picked, the F clef is positioned on the third line of the staff and marks the position of the note F, as you would anticipate.

However, the great majority of Gregorian musical compositions choose to use the F clef on the third line rather than the first.

G is placed on the third line, and A is placed on the fourth line, as we progress higher.

As previously stated, theclefs in Gregorian chant are used to indicate the relationships between half and whole notes, not to indicate an absolute frequency, so you are free to begin the piece at any pitch you want.

Take a listen to this:

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