How To Write Gregorian Chant

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.

  • Liturgical chants are reserved for use in public religious ceremonies.
  • Secular chants are chants in which the text is not of a religious character, as opposed to religious chants.
  • Gregorian chants, according to the Gregorian Association, are primarily sung in Latin language.
  • 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.
  • 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 date is May 6, 2020, according to PR. 29th of March, 2020 As a result of the lesson Melodic Structures: Lines, Shapes, and Simple Modes are examples of melodic structures. For the purposes of this lesson, we will begin to establish a vocabulary that will be useful in explaining the technical aspects of musical expression. In order to do this, we shall begin by thoroughly exploring some true, authentic music straight immediately. We will begin by looking at some Gregorian Chant (which, come on, can be stunningly beautiful).

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.

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

Using a musical perspective, the neumatic components are a series of notes that are sang together and that together constitute an entity of their own. Although the terminology used to denote these aspects varies from one liturgical book to the next, the basic concepts are the same. The pieces that make up the neume that we used as an example are typically referred to by the following names:

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.”

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.”

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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.

  • It appears to be pretty difficult to make this number correct.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

A explanation of the traditional Gregorian Chant notation is provided in order for everyone to be able to read and sing the notation. It is composed in neumes, which are single-syllable sounds that are repeated again and over. However, there is a rhythm of groups of two or three notes in Gregorian Chant, despite the fact that it lacks any meter. Chronologically, vertical lines denote the separation of musical phrases and may occasionally provide a pause for taking a breath, as in Chant is not performed in a major or minor key, but inmodes (though there are some modes which can sound like a modern scale).

Dois on the staff is indicated by a dot ( ).

Do would use the bottom available slot in this case, as shown.

On the right is a modern-day counterpart to the traditional version.

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Gregorian notation

Previous pagenext page Previous pagenext page The essential ideas of Gregorian notation, as well as the method of producing scores in Gregorian notation with Harmony-Melody, are introduced in this chapter. If you are unfamiliar with this notation, we hope that reading this chapter will pique your interest and prompt you to learn more about it. Here’s an example of a gregorian staff created using Harmony-Melody software: In the Demos folder, you will find some gregorian music that you may use (“Gregorian” subfolder).

  1. C, D, E, F, G, and A are the notes that make up the scale in contemporary notation.
  2. Notes are written on a four-line staff to keep them organized.
  3. Only notepitchis are stated; the choir master(or vocalist) is allowed to pick the length of the piece.
  4. Places where the vocalist can take a breath (and relax) are also mentioned.
  5. The words of chants are typically always connected with the staff, which makes sense given that we’re talking about them.

All of the notes that are sung on the same word or syllable are grouped together into an entity known as aNeume. Neumes are the second of the four elements. The neume is the fundamental unit of Gregorian notation. It is the first letter of the alphabet. Aneumeis is defined as follows:

  • The notes that make up the neume (numbered one through four)
  • How long the intervals between these notes are (whether they are upward or downward)

Each of the neumes has a unique name. Notice how the notes inside the neume are represented by a square, a diamond, or a bold line? A neume is usually the first syllable of a syllable that it appears in. When notes are written on the same column, a neume is always read from left to right (as in contemporary notation), but from bottom to top when notes are placed on different columns. As an illustration: Here are three notes in contemporary notation for your consideration. When comparing the first and second, it is important to note that pitchis increased, and then raised again when comparing the second and third.

As a result, a single neume might have up to three different pitch shifts (inflexions).

Each one has a unique moniker.

Numberof notes Inflexions Neume name
1 None Punctum (simple note) or Virga (note with stem)
2 Up (U) Podatus (pes)
2 Down (D) Clivis (flexa)
3 UU Scandicus
3 UD Torculus
3 DU Porrectus
3 DD Climacus
4 UUU Virga praetripuncits
4 UUD Scandus flexus
4 UDU Torculus resipunus
4 UDD Pes subtripunctis
4 DUU Porrectus resupinus
4 DUD Porrectus flexus
4 DDU Climacus resupinus
4 DDD Virga subtripunctis

Here is a neume for you to practice with. Look up the name of the object in the preceding array (answer at the bottom of this page)

Note:Neume names are given only for information. Itwill not be necessary to know these names to work with Harmony-Melody.

III – Indicators of the length of the note In most cases, the length of each note is the same. On the other hand, it is feasible to include information regarding note duration in the score itself. As in contemporary notation, the beginning of a new note will be denoted with a dot (punctum mora). Notes of shorter duration (liquescens) will be denoted by a smaller square. In most cases, this remark is found at the conclusion of the neume and alters the name of the neume. Accidents are the fourth category.

  1. Accidentals are notated in the same way as contemporary music is notated nowadays.
  2. clef: clef: clef: (C is located on the line marked with thearrow) clef: clef: clef: clef: (Fis located on the line marked withthe arrow) These clefs can be put on any line of the staff to indicate which line corresponds to the note being referenced by the clef.
  3. Breath indicators are the equivalent of pauses and rests in current notation.
  4. Custos (seventh) CUSTOS are little notes written on the staff, at the top and bottom right corners of each sheet of paper.
  5. Melody-Harmony creates and displays custos in a completely automated manner.
  6. You may, however, only cutpasteentire neumes at a time.
  7. Individual notes are separated into two groups in the first one; individual notes are combined in the second one to form one neume.
  8. In the help box, you may get a description of each of its components.
  9. If you want to make changes to an existing document, you can add a new staff and modify the document type to “Gregorian.” Choose the clef change tool and place a click on the gregorianstaff to begin writing in the clef.

The C or F clef, as well as the base line of the clef, are then selected. Including a note To move the gregorianstaff, select a note duration from the Gregorian toolspalette (dotted punctum, punctum, or liquescens) and drag the cursor over it. The following information is displayed on the help line:

  • Indices of note duration are found in Section III. In most cases, the duration of each note is the same length. On the other hand, it is feasible to include information about note length in the music score itself. Next the convention of contemporary notation, the preceding and following notes will be denoted with a dot (punctum mora). A smaller square will be used to denote a shorter note (liquescens). A neume is usually terminated with this remark, which alters the name of that neume. Accidents are the fourth type of occurrence. In gregorian notation, the accidentals flat and natural can be encountered. As in contemporary music, accidentals are notated in the same way. It is possible to have two different types of clefs: clefs and clefs. Notes: Cclef is pronounced as (C is located on the line marked with thearrow) clef: clef is an abbreviation for “clef” (Fis located on the line marked withthe arrow) These clefs can be put on any line of the staff in order to designate which line corresponds to the named note in the piece. Key signatures (accidentals right after the clef) are extremely rare, but they do occur: you may come across one flat that is a key signature on a few different occasions. The sixth element is the breath indication, which is the current counterpart of stops and rests. These words are written in the form of a horizontal bar. Custos (Secondary): CUSTOS are little notes written on the staff, at the top and bottom right corners of the sheet of paper. In this way, the vocalist is forewarned of the opening note of the next phrase. CUSTOS are generated and displayed automatically by Melody-Harmony software. VIII-Editing-Related Issues Using a gregorian staff, you may do all of the standard editing procedures on your documents (Cut, Paste, Transpose, Insert, etc.). Cutpasteentire neumes, on the other hand, is limited. A palette of colors and a menu Two new commands have been included in the “Edit Actions” menu. Individual notes are separated into two groups in the first one and merged into a single group in the second one of these two. “Windows” has been updated to include a “Gregorian Tools” palette. The help window provides a detailed description of each of its components. Putting together a gregorian faculty New document with the type “Gregorianmodel” selected should be created. If you want to make changes to an existing document, you can add a new staff and change the document type to “Gregorian”. Choose the clef change tool and place a click in the gregorianstaff to begin editing. The C or F clef, as well as the base line of the clef, should be selected next. A note has been added. Drag and drop any note duration from the Gregorian toolspalette onto the gregorianstaff (dotted punctum, punctum, or liquescens). The following information is displayed on the assistance line: [email protected]

If a neume already has four notes, this information is highlighted in the help line; if you attempt to add a fifth note to a neume that already contains four notes, an error warning is presented and the fifth note is not included. For example, to insert a note at the beginning of a neume, click on the right line before the neume. To insert a remark at the end of a neume, click on the right line after the neume. To insert a remark in the center of a neume, simply click on the appropriate spot within the neume.

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Tip:Notes are sometimes graphically very close togetherwithin a neume. To be sure of clicking at the right place, increase thedisplay scale of your document.

Including a pause Then select a rest from the palette and move the gregorian staff over to it. Insert a break by clicking on it (breath). Increase the duration of each breath by clicking many times. Getting rid of a note or a rest Select the delete tool (lightning bolt) and then click on the note (rest) that you want to remove from the document. By selecting a neume and clicking on it, only the note that is being pointed to will be removed from the neume’s contents. IX-Limitations

  • Choosing a time signature for the document is required if you want to sync several Gregory staves (or a gregorian staff with a standard staff). With a 16/4 time signature, on the other hand, you may write 32 puncta in a single bar
  • Nevertheless, the position of the neume graphic inside the bar is not fully free. The addition of a punctum immediately following a four-note neume will not be feasible since the area required by a neume is always the total of the corresponding puncta
  • Nonetheless, it will be possible to cut and paste between gregorian and contemporary staves. Some sets of notes (for example, chords) can, on the other hand, produce odd outcomes when written on a gregorian staff.

Torculus is a three-note neume that goes up and down in the key of C. The answer to the exercise is: page before page after page after page after page after page after page

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.

  1. It is customary to place the treble clef on the second line of the five-line staff, indicating the position of the G note, and the bass clef on the fourth line, indicating that of the note F.
  2. These two clefs serve two primary functions: they indicate the connections between half-notes and entire notes on the staff, and they associate the symbols of the notes with a specific set of frequency values (or frequencies).
  3. Both might be put on distinct lines of the Gregorian 4-line staff, in contrast to what I’ve just written regarding the treble and bass clefs, which are both fixed on the same line of the staff.
  4. This means that a Gregorian chant might be transcribed into any vocal range as long as the intervals printed on the score remained the same as they were originally written.

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.

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:

The Book of Gregorian Chant

Liturgical music and Latin texts make up the bulk of the book’s content. It is the chants from the Ordinary of the Mass that comprise the majority of the manuscript, including arrangements of the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite Missa Est, Deo gratias, and Benedicamus Domino texts. In this collection, you’ll find a variety of chants from various Proper settings, such as those from the Asperges Mass, the Requiem Mass, the Mass for a Church’s Dedication, the Mass for the Purification of Mary (Candlemas), and others.

  1. Francisci, the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lady Day), Maundy Thursday, and Palm Sunday, among other occasions.
  2. The UMKC Library Catalog contains a comprehensive listing of the manuscript’s contents, which can be found here.
  3. Six scribes appear to have contributed to the book, according to an examination of the notation features..
  4. In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was done in a variety of ways.
  5. The process of comparing the original with the new version of various chants, and then comparing those two versions with other medieval sources, was critical in determining the publication date of the book.
  6. This, together with the fact that the number of staff lines varied from four to six lines per staff in the manuscript, indicates that at least a portion of the book was written before the standard staff for chant notation were established.
  7. Alumnus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music James Adair purchased the manuscript in 1968 while visiting Seville, Spain.

Adair has determined that a stamp in purple ink that occurs on three folios (folios 26r, 93r, and 98r) is an official identifying mark from the Spanish government.

Adair presented the book to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Library in 1973, which later became a component of the Miller Nichols Library.

Janet K.


Every chant in the UMKC text has been recorded in contemporary notation, which is the most significant outcome of her endeavor.


A lecture-recital based on chosen chants from the UMKC text was delivered on April 16, 2000, at the RLDS Temple in Independence, Mo.

Kraybill was the guest speaker for the event.

After the chants, Dr.



Kraybill, who graciously provided a recording of it.

They are the Kyrie and Alleluia from the Mass for the Dedication of a Church, as well as the Antiphon from the Palm Sunday celebration.

Kraybill’s transcriptions of them, are also available on this website for viewing and listening.

Kraybill has contributed digitized photographs from the book for use in this web exhibit, in addition to the written text.

The experience and research of Ms.

Moses Ong, Special Collections volunteer and former student assistant, who gave extremely beneficial technical support. We would like to express our gratitude to Rob Ray, our previous Special Collections Librarian, for his leadership and assistance during this endeavor.


An acclamation that is sung immediately after the Introit in the Latin Mass is known as the Kyrie. Lord, have mercy on us,’ says the fundamental text, which is in Greek, which is composed of the phrases ‘Kyrie, eleison’ (three times), ‘Christe, eleison’ (three times), and ‘Kyrie, eleison’ (three times): ‘Lord, have mercy on us,’ says the text. Please, Christ, have mercy on me. ‘Lord, take compassion on me.’ After becoming popularized as part of pagan civic and religious events throughout the Roman Empire, the phrase ‘kyrie eleison’ continued to be employed in Christian rites, eventually becoming a staple of many Christian liturgies beginning in the 6th century and continuing today.

(This information comes from the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online.) The audio element cannot be played because your browser does not support it.

Kraybill’s performance of the Kyrie eleison is available on CD.


This Proper chant is performed after the Gradual during the Fore-Mass on liturgical days connected with penitence and fasting (most notably during Lent), and on liturgical occasions associated with sadness (such as the Requiem Mass), when it may be substituted by the Tract. During Paschal Time, which begins with Low Sunday and ends with High Sunday, the Gradual is skipped and two Alleluias are sung instead. After singing the word “alleluia” and closing with a prolonged melismatic flourish (the Jubilus), the Alleluia will be followed by a somewhat ornate verse, followed by another repetition of the phrase “alleluia.” The Alleluia will be done in a responsorial way.

Although there is no evidence of such participation by the chorus in the early sources, it is possible that the chorus sang at least the final iteration of the Alleluia at some point.



This form of liturgical chant was common to the Gregorian and other Western chant repertoires and was connected mostly with antiphonal psalmody, although it was also used in other contexts. When a Psalm or canticle is being sang, it is customary for the refrain to be composed in basic syllabic manner, and it is usually only a few measures in length. There were, on the other hand, several sorts of Antiphons that were not related with psalmody at all. In the processional Antiphons, which were first preserved in graduals and later in separate books and sung at processions on such occassions as the Feast of the Purification (Candlemas), the Greater Litanies, and Palm Sunday, there were verses after the fasion of responsories that were sometimes included in a processional.

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It is still used in processionals at modern services, which is a testament to its longevity.

The UMKC text has just a few chants from the Office. This one, from the Office of “Terce,” would have been at the church at 9 a.m. for worship. This information is derived from the New Harvard Dictionary of Music.


According to an examination of the peculiarities of the notation, it appears that six scribes worked on the UMKC’s Book of Gregorian Chant. ‘Scribe 1’ is responsible for the majority of the manuscript’s work, which includes the biggest illumination in the text, a capital “P,” which occurs on folio 82r and takes up more than half of the page (left). In addition to the initial notation, other scribes “fixed” the work of prior scribes, which was done in a variety of ways. On the right is a page from the manuscript (folio 8r), which was written by another scribe and features an illumination of the letter “P,” but this illumination is much different from the previous one.

Kraybill, “the illuminations distinguish and enhance the beauty of this book, as is true of many medieval instances.” Many various colors of pen were used to produce these text decorations, including black, red, teal blue, dark blue, green and orange.

As a result, a wide variety of techniques were employed, yielding results that ranged from extremely ornate and colorful decorations that filled the margins from top to bottom with beautiful filigree to very crude, “colored-in” letters that appeared to be a clumsy attempt by an unskilled hand to imitate the beauty of the former.

Folio 8r has the final section of the Asperges Antiphon with Psalm, as well as the first section of an unnamed Credo, among other things (which also begins with an illuminated “P”).

Although we have three Latin Creeds (the ‘Apostles’, the ‘Nicene, and the ‘Athanasian’), the history of the texts is complicated; nonetheless, the one used at Mass is the one often referred to as the ‘Nicene.’ Early in the 6th century, the Credo was introduced into the eucharistic liturgy in the eastern church in the form known as the ‘Nicene’ (or ‘Nicea-Constantinople’) version (so named because it summarizes the doctrines agreed upon at the Councils of Nicea, 325, and Constantinople, 381), and soon after that, it was introduced into the Visigothic rite by the Council of Toledo (589).

In both cases, it was instituted in the wake of theological disputes, with the goal of defining the conviction that all those who participate in the Eucharist should hold in common.

Baptismal usage of the Credo (or Symbolum, as it was known in this capacity) persisted throughout the Middle Ages, and it is thought to have been responsible for the maintenance of a Greek text in Latin manuscripts depicting customs in northern France and Germany during this period.

(Image courtesy of the New Grove II Dictionary of Music and Musicians on the Internet.)

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

Medieval Music: Introduction to Gregorian Chant

Roman Catholic liturgical music consisting of monophonic or unison parts that is used to accompany the text of the mass and the canonical hours, or divine office, is known as Gregorian chant. Saint Gregory I, Pope from 590 to 604, is credited for collecting and codifying the Gregorian chant throughout his pontificate. King Charlemagne of the Franks (768–814) introduced Gregorian Chant into his realm, which had previously practiced a different liturgical style known as Gallican chant. During the eighth and ninth centuries, a process of assimilation occurred between Gallican and Gregorian chants, and it is this developed version of the chant that has survived to the current day.

Neumatic (patterns of one to four notes per syllable) and melismatic (patterns of any number of notes per syllable) styles are used in the chanting of the Kyrie.

Using psalm tones, which are basic formulae for intoned recitation of psalms, in the recital of early Glorias attests to their antiquity and ancient provenance.

In certain ways, the Credo’s melodies recall psalm tones, which were integrated into the mass during the 11th century.

Neumatic chants are used in the traditional Sanctus chant.

The final Ite Missa Est and its alternative, Benedicamus Domino, both take the melody from the opening Kyrie as a basis for composition.

Originally a psalm with a refrain repeated in between verses, the Introit has evolved into a processional chant.

It was also evolved from a refrain between psalm lines when it was first presented in the 4th century.

Originally from the East, the Alleluia dates back to the 4th century.

If you’re in a good mood, the Tract can take over for the Alleluia.

It was mostly throughout the 9th to 16th centuries when thisquence thrived in its entirety.

During the second line of the stanza, the melody was repeated, with a new melody being introduced for the next line of the stanza; the music is syllabic in structure.

Melisma pervades the compositions.

TheCommunion is a processional chant, much like the Offertory.

Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline are the eight services that make up the canonical hours: 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, 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 shape and style are influenced by the sponsor’s role.

In the most recent revision and update, Amy Tikkanen provided further information.

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