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|
THE CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MO. — In contrast to other professional sports teams that have adopted Native American mascots and images, the Kansas City Chiefshave mostly slipped under the spotlight. Until recently, that is. When the Kansas City Chiefs take the field for their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the nation’s greatest television audience will witness their fans burst into a “war chant” and replicate tomahawk chops. Others, however, consider the show to be disrespectful and discriminatory to Native Americans, despite the fact that many fans defend it as a harmless fan ritual.
“When I see anything like a tomahawk chop, which is drawn from television and film depictions, I find it really upsetting because it is an utterly horrific caricature of what a native person is,” Schilling added.
- My neighborhood is not a cartoon.
- Since the 1980s, the Washington Redskins of the National Football League have been subjected to demonstrations.
- In October, after St.
- Before Game 5 of the National League Division Series, the Braves did not hand out their trademark red foam tomahawks to fans as they had in previous years.
- So why have Kansas City supporters been given such a free pass?
- “What good can come from a group of non-Natives posing as Natives?” Kaysa Williams, a 28-year-old Native American Democratic campaign staffer in Oklahoma, shared her thoughts on social media platform Facebook.
- There isn’t really any race in the United States that needs to justify whether or not they can be utilized as a mascot.” By comparison, Schilling argues that Kansas City has gotten off easy because its customs are less obnoxious.
“We intend to use our platform to raise awareness and understanding of Native cultures, as well as to celebrate the rich traditions of many tribes with historical ties to our region,” the Chiefs stated in a statement.
According to reports, club owner Lamar Hunt named the team the Chiefs in honor of Bartle.
Despite the fact that he was white, Bartle founded a Scouting organization called the “Mic-O-Say Tribe,” which is still operating and still uses Native American costume and language.
Some fans decorate their faces with headdresses or face paint.
After a touchdown, a horse named “Warpaint” rounds the field while supporters yell and imitate the tomahawk chop.
The majority of people backed the chanting and tomahawk chops, but acknowledged the reaction.
The difficulty comes when the world changes and things that you’ve always done – all of a sudden — appear to be less than respectable.
Every November, the Kansas City Chiefs hold a celebration of American Indian Heritage Month at Arrowhead Stadium.
“While we are happy with the collaboration and effort that has been done over the previous six years, we recognize the need of continuing the conversation on these issues.” For some, this isn’t enough.
Yayoi Ito, 42, of Olathe, Kansas, believes that none of this is an issue. In Ito’s words, “This squad has been put together since it was accepted.” “I have no objections about it.” But I can see how the younger generation may feel this way since they were taught something different than we were.”
A brief history of Gregorian chant
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While other sports teams with Native American mascots and symbols have been subjected to decades of protests and boycotts, the Kansas City Chiefshave mostly slipped under the spotlight. Until today, at least. The Kansas City Chiefs will play in their first Super Bowl in 50 years on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and what is normally the nation’s greatest television viewership will witness their fans burst into a “war chant” and replicate tomahawk chops. Although many people defend the show as a fun fan custom, others consider it to be disrespectful and discriminatory to Native Americans.
- “When I see anything like a tomahawk chop, which is drawn from television and film depictions, I find it quite upsetting because it is an utterly horrific caricature of what a native person is,” Schilling added.
- My neighborhood does not resemble a cartoon.
- Since the 1980s, the Washington Redskins of the National Football League have been the subject of protests.
- The Atlanta Braves made improvements during the baseball playoffs in October when St.
- The Atlanta Braves did not hand out their usual red foam tomahawks to supporters before to Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
- So, why have Kansas City supporters been given such a free pass?
- “What good can come from a group of non-Natives posing as Natives?” says the author.
In an interview, Williams stated that the yelling and cutting “dehumanizes who we are and what we stand for.” “There isn’t really any race in the United States that needs to justify whether or not they can be utilized as a mascot.” Schilling argues that Kansas City has been given a pass because its traditions are, by comparison, less obnoxious.
The Chiefs, in a statement, emphasized the team’s desire to “use our platform to raise awareness and understanding of Native cultures, as well as celebrate the rich traditions of many tribes with historical ties to our region.” The genesis of the Chiefs’ moniker may have more to do with the mayor of Dallas who was instrumental in luring the franchise away from the city in 1963 than it does with any relation to Native Americans.
- Mayor H.
- The Chiefs, according to club owner Lamar Hunt, were named in honor of Bartle.
- Despite the fact that he was white, Bartle founded a Scouting organization known as the “Mic-O-Say Tribe,” which is still operating and still uses Native American costume and language.
- Some admirers dress in elaborate headdresses or paint their faces.
- After a touchdown, a horse named “Warpaint” rounds the field while supporters yell and simulate the tomahawk chop.
- Most justified the chanting and tomahawk chops, but acknowledged the outrage.
- That’s when things become difficult: when the world changes and things you’ve always done – all of a sudden — seem like they might not be the most respectable thing to do.
- “We have continued to commemorate American Indian Heritage Month at Arrowhead Stadium each November, and through this, we have continued to educate our fans and establish further partnerships in the Native community,” the club stated in a statement.
- Gaylene Crouser, executive director of the Kansas City Indian Center, said the chanting, chopping, and face-painting are “stereotypical and demeaning,” even if some individuals of Native American origin put up with it.
- Yayoi Ito, 42, of Olathe, Kansas, is unconcerned about any of it.
“This squad was put together a long time ago when it was accepted,” Ito explained. “I don’t have any problems with it. However, I can see why the younger generation could feel this way because they were taught something different than we were.”
How to better distinguish words in Gregorian Chant?
Considering that I’ve performed as a professional chant singer for many years, I have some first-hand understanding of what could be going on here. 1) The clarity of the words in the chant is critical. However, the difficulty for listeners is that the resonance of the areas in which chant is often performed or recorded is so large that it obscures even clearly spoken consonants, which is especially problematic when numerous individuals are singing at the same time. 2) Because different linguistic cultures developed different pronunciations of ecclesiastical Latin, you may come across words that sound familiar but are pronounced differently.
When it comes to understanding individuals who are speaking in their native tongue but with a foreign accent, we all know how difficult it can be at times; similarly, comprehending those who are singing in a foreign language may be tough at times.
Consider the English word “for”: when uttered independently, it generally has a long O sound like “fawr,” but when spoken informally, it is more commonly heard as “fer.” It’s possible that the same thing is happening with how you hear the chant vs how you’re used to reading or reciting the Latin.
Maybe do it a few times, and then complete a few trials without glancing at the text to see what you can come up with on your own.
What makes Gregorian chant uniquely itself — with recommended recordings
Today, I’ll talk about what distinguishes chant from other musical styles, and then I’ll share some of my favorite chant recordings with you. Last week, I provided a (short!) overview of the history of Gregorian chant in the Catholic Church’s liturgy. Today, I’ll talk about what distinguishes chant from other musical styles, and then I’ll share some of my favorite chant recordings with you. If we can identify the unique characteristics of chant, it will be simpler to understand why it organically developed alongside the liturgy and why the Church has praised it so highly throughout history, including in our own day.
1. Primacy of the word
What distinguishes chant from other musical styles will be discussed today, followed by a list of my favorite chant recordings. My (short!) history of Gregorian chant in the Catholic Church’s liturgy was presented last week. What distinguishes chant from other musical styles will be discussed today, followed by a list of my favorite chant recordings.
By identifying the distinctive characteristics of chant, we will be better able to understand why it organically developed alongside the liturgy and why the Church has praised it so highly throughout history, even in our own day.
2. Free rhythm
As a result of the aforementioned, chant is classified as “ametrical” or “non-metrical,” making it the sole music of this type in the Western tradition. Because Scripture is not written in poetic meter, the musical lines in this piece follow the natural rhythm of the text. Given that chant is not restricted to a preset grid of beats, such as duple or triple time (think: march or waltz), but rather adheres to the syllables of the words, it gives the impression that its phrases float, flow along, meander, and soar.
Unconstrained fluidity and freedom of motion, which appear to break away from the dominion of earthly time symbolized by the beat, are responsible for much of the “magic” that chants evince.
3. Unison singing
It is sung in unison —that is, everyone sings the same tune at the same time — because the emphasis is on the word of God and how it unites us as one Body in Christ. Chant is performed in unison because the word of God unites us as one Body in Christ. The delicate rhythm of chant, as well as the much-admired ingenuity and intricacy of its melodies, are only conceivable as a result of this concentration on unison singing, which is both practical and symbolic. Nothing speaks more powerfully of the Church’s unity, antiquity, and universality than a vast crowd saying the Creed as a group during Mass, indicating in action that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
4. Unaccompanied vocalization
Chant is typically performed “a cappella,” that is, without the accompaniment of an instrument. With its singularly authentic, sincere, modest, and concentrated quality, the sound of the bare human voice offered up to God in prayer is far less susceptible to the kinds of distractions that occur with the use of instruments, especially whether performed virtuosically, rambunctiously, or just noisily.
Modality is the second most distinguishing quality of Gregorian chant, after only free rhythm as the most unique trait. It is possible to define a mode as a certain series of full steps and half steps, among which there is a dominating (or repeating) tone and a concluding tone on which the music comes to rest. Based on the options provided by the eight-pitch Western scale, chant evolved into what may be characterized as eight ways of performance. Two of the modes (in a manner; I’m simplifying) acquired prominence as music progressed in the late Renaissance and into the Baroque eras, eventually becoming known as the “major” and “minor” keys, respectively.
For this reason, and because our ears have become so accustomed to the major/minor key system (which has been in use for hundreds of years), Gregorian chants, which employ eight modes that rarely conform to our modern musical expectations, strike us as otherworldly; introspective; haunting; incomplete; “brightly sad.” Cry becomes for us, in a sense that was doubtless not as required in the Middle Ages, an antidote, a health-giving purgative, a summons to more interiority, as well as a promoter and protector of the proper spiritual hierarchy.
Anonymous monks, cantors, and canons created the great bulk of the chants that were performed. In this life, we will never be able to learn their names. Wow, such a wonderful counter-balance to the egotism that so frequently accompanies creative invention and performance! It is impossible to distinguish oneself when singing chant in a group or congregation because we do not know who wrote it or who composed it. We also cannot “shine” or stand out in a rock-star style because we do not know who wrote it or who composed it.
7. Emotional moderation
Anonymous monks, cantors, and canons authored the great bulk of the chants that were used in the service. These are people whose identities we shall never learn. Wow, such a wonderful counter-balance to the egotism that so frequently accompanies creative expression and performance! It is impossible to distinguish oneself when singing chant in a group or congregation because we do not know who wrote it or who composed it. We also cannot “shine” or stand out in a rock-star style since we do not know who wrote it.
8. Unambiguous sacrality
Despite the fact that this is likely the most obvious truth, its significance is rarely completely appreciated: Gregorian chant was created only for the sake of heavenly worship, and it lends itself to no other (profane) application. It is intrinsically sacred, that is, it is reserved exclusively for God’s use. For the purposes of worship, it is the musical counterpart of incense and vestments, which are not normally utilized. This kind of event is Christ’s privileged “honor guard” and “attendants,” forcefully invoking His presence while also seamlessly directing us into His presence in our lives.
As a result, it stands in stark contrast to secular types of music, which, when introduced into the church, have an uncertain connotation: are we dealing with our Lord or with the world (or even worldliness)?
The following are the chant recordings that are suggested.
The tiny variances in the manner in which the chant is sung demonstrate that there is a real range of interpretations of this old art form available.
Benedicta (The Monks of Norcia)
However, while this may seem like the most apparent point, its value is often overlooked: In the beginning, it was used purely for heavenly worship, and it had no other (profane) use. God alone has a right to use anything since it is fundamentally precious to him. For the purposes of worship, it is the musical counterpart of incense and vestments, which are not commonly utilized. It is these elements that serve as Christ’s privileged “honor guards” and “attendants,” forcefully invoking His presence while also seamlessly directing us into His presence.
Thus, it differs from secular types of music, which, when introduced into the church, have an uncertain meaning: are we dealing with our Lord, or are we dealing with the world (or even worldliness?) In asking God to elevate us up into His divinity, are we asking Him to lower us down into our own?
The following are the chant recordings that we suggest. There is something unique about everyone of them, and they are all models of excellence when singing. A significant diversity of interpretations of this old art form may be seen in the tiny variances in the manner in which the chant is sung.
Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle
Despite the fact that it is possibly the most obvious truth, its significance is rarely completely appreciated: Gregorian chant was created solely for the sake of divine worship and is not suitable for any other (profane) use. It is intrinsically sacred, that is, it is set apart for the sole use of God. It is the musical counterpart of incense and vestments, which are only worn during religious ceremonies. This kind of stuff is Christ’s privileged “honor guard” and “attendants,” forcefully invoking His presence while also smoothly directing us into it.
Are we bringing God down to our level, or are we pleading with Him to raise us up to partake in His divine nature?
Each of these individuals is unique in their own way, and they are all models of excellence in their profession.
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.
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.
Rather than starting with the note C, as written on the staff, the performer who performs this rendition ofUt queant laxis begins with a note D. Take a listen to this:
Not the old school Gregorian chants
Let us now focus our attention to the F clef and how it was represented in the Gregorian chanting system. This musical notation should be carefully examined: Located at the top left of the four-line staff, the F clef is that symbol with a red circle around it. A square note is combined with the C clef to create 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, just as you would anticipate.
- On the other hand, the F clef is placed on the third line of the great majority of Gregorian musical charts.
- G is placed on the third line, and A is placed on the fourth line, as the alphabet progresses higher.
- As previously stated, if you wish to sing this Gregorian chant in accordance with the original notation, you may begin the piece at any pitch you choose.
- In actuality, the individual who performs this rendition of Ut queant laxis does not begin the chant with the note C, as written on the staff, but instead begins with the note D.
Medieval Church Music: Gregorian Chant & Plainchant – Video & Lesson Transcript
The arts were associated with the liturgy during the Middle Ages (500-1450), according to the church. They were powerful and wealthy, and they were in charge of the majority of choices, including dictating the job and paying musicians.
The church established a set of standards that everyone must adhere to. This music, which was termed plainchant, had a hollow tone to it. It was only slightly different from one location to the next when it came to unaccompanied church music (sang in unison). Despite this, holy music was the most popular, and it is said that the music regulations were delivered from above.
According to legend, the standardizing components It came from a dove who spoke in hushed tones to Pope Gregory. This may seem absurd, but it is the only record available, and as a result, the probable myth has endured for years. We’ll never know where it originates from in its true form. As a result, the tale continues to exist as status quo, with the belief that he is the one who established the cans and can’ts, which is why we refer to it as Gregorian Chant. Plainchant is a style of song that is sung in unison.
There was no harmony or instrumental accompaniment; they all sang the same song.
It was derived from other ancient religions, and perhaps simply a few inflections were borrowed from them. Each line was sung on a single note throughout the song. Long, free-flowing rhythms were created from such a little quotation.
Organum and Interval Definitions
As time went on, the music became monotonous. One melody has missing notes, but they wanted it to be complete. Their hopes and ambitions came fulfilled in the year 900. Rather than simply one note, they might have two notes instead. The organum was composed of two melodic lines. Songs are sung at parallel intervals that have been properly defined The distance between two pitches on a football team’s field. You just read the notes as if they were a graph on a computer screen. It is possible to calculate the interval by counting the number of lines and spaces, which includes both notes and empty spaces.
The clergy conferred at three different intervals: the fourth, fifth, and octave were all deserving of the title.
It makes no difference whether you begin with a space or a line.
Thefifthis is another one that’s regularly encountered.
Both of the pitches lie on lines or spaces, which makes it easier to distinguish the fifth from the other pitches.
In between, there is a pitch range of eight different pitches.
This wonderful sound is produced by an octave.