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.
The passages that are repeated from one mass to the next are included in theOrdinary of the Mass.
The first appearance of the Gloria was in the 7th century.
The Gloria chants that follow are neumatic.
- TheSanctus andBenedictus are most likely from the period of the apostles.
- Since its introduction into the Latin mass from the Eastern Church in the 7th century, theAgnus Dei has been written mostly in neumatic form.
- 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.
- 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.
A brief history of Gregorian chant
A Gregorian chant rehearsal at the school’s St. Vincent Chapel was conducted on October 10 by Timothy S. McDonnell, director of music ministries at The Catholic University of America’s Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in Washington. Gregorian chant is the chanting of the liturgy, and the texts are nearly completely drawn from the Bible. (CNS photo courtesy of Chaz Muth) (CNS) – Washington, D.C. – Whenever Erin Bullock walks in front of the altar at Washington’s Cathedral of St.
- During an October Mass at the church, her function as cantor is as obvious as the priest’s, and much of the music she intones with her powerful soprano – together with the choir and those in the seats – is the unadorned resonances of Gregorian chant.
- In their performance by a choir, the chants are normally chanted in unison and unaccompanied by any kind of rhythmic or melodic accompaniment, with the tones rising and falling in an ad libitum way.
- McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, the history of sung prayer extends back to the first millennium, with Gregorian chant being the suitable music of the mature Roman rite.
- Despite its resurgence in popularity in recent decades, the chant is not the primary musical accompaniment in most Catholic parishes in the United States, according to McDonnell of Catholic News Service.
- According to Elizabeth Black, assistant music director at St.
As an example, when the priest sings, “the Lord be with you,” and the congregation responds in song, “and with your spirit,” they are participating in Gregorian chant because those holy texts are an essential part of the Mass, according to Black, who spoke to Catholic News Service in a recent interview about the practice.
- When you sing a component of the liturgy that is fundamental to the Mass, you’re singing Gregorian chant, according to Lang, who is an expert on the subject.
- Despite the fact that hymns, which are typically layered in rich harmonies, are liturgical in character, such melodies are intended to beautify the Mass with meditative spirituality rather than serving as a key component of the liturgy, according to Black.
- However, there are several exceptions to this unofficial chant rule, and certain choirs embellish their chants with harmonies and musical accompaniment on occasion.
- But, according to theologian John Paul II, it is only recently that Gregorian chant, which began to take shape in the ninth century, has been written down and kept for historical preservation.
The development of Gregorian chant is unlikely to have been a direct result of Pope Gregory I’s efforts, according to McDonnell, who described him as a “building pope” who helped reorder the liturgy in a more practical way, creating the artistic environment necessary for the establishment of some form of plainchant.
- Gregory the Great’s death that the music we know today as Gregorian chant began to develop, according to Dr.
- “In fact, most historians believe it was Pope Gregory II (715-731), who reigned about 100 years later, who was the Pope Gregory who actually had more of a hand in formulating this body of chants that we know today as Gregorian chant,” he said.
- Matthew the Apostle.
- John the Beloved, has made the chant a natural component of the liturgy.
McDonnell stated that “Gregorian chant has the potential to be extremely sophisticated, intricate, and convoluted, as well as possessing a high level of artistic merit.” However, much of its beauty may be found in the simplicity of the design and the fact that most of it is accessible to members of the congregation and children.” According to him, “everyone can learn to sing some amount of Gregorian chant,” and the church has organized the chants into categories based on their accessibility over the years.
- There are numerous chants that are intended to be sung by the faithful as part of their participation in the liturgy, and those chants are every bit as much Gregorian chant as the more florid and complex ones,” says the author.
- The chant is more effective because of this technique, in some ways,” says the author.
- According to him, the causes of these waves are unpredictable.
- “When the popes returned from Avignon (a period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven popes resided in Avignon, France, rather than in Rome), the city was in utter disarray, and the culture of Rome had to be reconstructed,” he explained.
As a result, we witnessed the resurgence of Gregorian chant.” The Renaissance polyphony of the 16th century, with its intricate texturized harmonies, became the dominant music in the church and for a time superseded Gregorian chant, according to McDonnell, who believes that the Renaissance was a period of cultural restoration.
Then, in 1947, Pope Pius XII released his encyclical “Mediator Dei” (“On the Sacred Liturgy”), which encouraged active involvement by the laity in the liturgy while also strengthening the use of Gregorian chant, according to historian Black.
The use of Gregorian chant was advocated for in papers produced during Vatican II in the 1960s; but, as the Latin Mass was replaced by the vernacular, most parishes opted for music that was more in tune with popular culture, such as praise and worship and folk genres, according to McDonnell.
When “Chant,” an incredibly successful CD produced by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain, was published in the 1990s, interest in the practice was once again piqued, according to him.
Gregorian chant is no longer the dominant force in parish life as it once was, but according to McDonnell, if history repeats itself, it is in the process of regaining its former prominence and might once again become a mainstay of church music.
A brief history of Gregorian chant from King David to the present
A Gregorian chant rehearsal at the school’s St. Vincent Chapel was conducted on October 10 by Timothy S. McDonnell, director of music ministry at The Catholic University of America’s Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, in Washington, DC. Gregorian chant is the chanting of the liturgy, and its texts are nearly exclusively derived from the Bible. Photo courtesy of Chaz Muth for the Central News Service. (CNS) – Washington, D.C. When Erin Bullock takes her place in front of the altar at the Cathedral of St.
- During an October Mass, her function as cantor at the church is as evident as the priest’s, and most of the music she intones with her remarkable soprano – together with the choir and those in the seats – is the plaintive resonances of Gregorian chant.
- In their performance by a choir, the chants are normally sung in unison and unaccompanied by any kind of rhythmic or melodic accompaniment, with the tones rising and falling in an ad libitum style.
- McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, the history of sung prayer extends back to the first millennium, with Gregorian chant emerging as the fitting music of the mature Roman rite.
- As McDonnell explained to Catholic News Service, despite its resurgence in popularity in recent decades, the chant is not the primary musical accompaniment to most Catholic services in the United States.
- According to Elizabeth Black, associate music director at St.
As an example, when the priest sings, “the Lord be with you,” and the audience answers in song, “and with your spirit,” they are participating in Gregorian chant since those holy scriptures are an integral component of the Mass, according to Black, who spoke with Catholic News Service recently.
- As Lang explained, “if you are singing a component of the liturgy that is an integral part of the Mass, then you are singing Gregorian chant.” A basic response song, even if it’s only a chant, is considered chant.
- One of the reasons for traditional a cappella singing in plain, monophonic tones, according to McDonnell, is so that the text may be heard as a focal point of the song.
- In the Catholic Church, singing has been a feature of the liturgy since its founding in the fourth century.
- Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, is credited with the invention of Gregorian chant.
- Gregorian chant, as we know it today, began to develop several generations after St.
- In music, “you might call it poetry,” said Thomas Stehle, director of music ministries at the Cathedral of St.
- “It’s really simple in certain respects, but it’s very sophisticated at others,” he said.
- John the Beloved in New Orleans.
McDonnell stated that “Gregorian chant has the potential to be quite complex, intricate, and time-consuming, while also possessing a high level of artistic merit.” However, much of its beauty may be found in the simplicity of the design and the fact that most of it is accessible to members of the congregation as well as young children.
- There are numerous chants that are intended to be sung by the faithful as part of their participation in the liturgy, and those chants are every bit as much Gregorian chant as the more florid and complex ones,” says the priest.
- Using music to pray is nearly like praying twice, according to St.
- The chant is more effective because of this technique, in some ways, because of it.
- According to him, the causes of these waves are always shifting and fluctuating.
- In the 15th century, when the popes returned from Avignon (a period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven popes resided in Avignon, France rather than in Rome), the city was in utter ruin, and the culture of Rome had to be restored, according to the historian.
- However, in the 16th century, when culture had been reassembled, Renaissance polyphony – with its intricate texturized harmonies – rose to prominence in the church and temporarily overtook Gregorian chant, according to McDonnell.
- “Mediator Dei,” or “On the Sacred Liturgy,” was released by Pope Pius XII in 1947, and it encouraged active involvement by the laity in the liturgy, further supporting Gregorian chant, according to Black.
The use of Gregorian chant was advocated for in documents issued during Vatican II in the 1960s; however, as the Latin Mass was replaced by the vernacular, most parishes opted for musical forms that were more in tune with popular culture, such as praise and worship and folk music, according to McDonnell.
Then, in the 1990s, an incredibly successful CD produced by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain, named “Chant,” was published, rekindling interest in the practice, according to him.
If history repeats itself, Gregorian chant, though no longer the dominant force in parish life as it once was, is still in the recovery stage and has the potential to reclaim its place as a mainstay of church music in the future, according to McDonnell.
A Gregorian chant rehearsal at the school’s St. Vincent Chapel on October 10 was led by Timothy S. McDonnell, director of music ministries at The Catholic University of America’s Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in Washington. As the chanting of the liturgy, Gregorian chant is nearly exclusively derived from the Bible. (Photo courtesy of Chaz Muth/CNS) (CNS) – Washington, DC – When Erin Bullock walks up to the altar at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, she is there to sing sections of the liturgy and to lead members of the congregation in singing.
- The melodic tones are one-of-a-kind and sometimes referred to be mysterious.
- Tim McDonnell, director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America in Washington, noted that the history of sung prayer extends back to the first millennium, with Gregorian chant being the appropriate music for the mature Roman ritual.
- Despite its resurgence in popularity in recent decades, the chant is not the primary musical accompaniment in most Catholic parishes in the United States, according to McDonnell.
- In contrast to other forms of worship, chant includes prayers and text necessary for the celebration of the liturgy, explained Elizabeth Black, assistant music director at St.
- For example, when the priest sings, “the Lord be with you,” and the audience answers in song, “and with your spirit,” they are singing Gregorian chant, according to Black, who told Catholic News Service that those sacred passages are an integral aspect of the Mass.
- “If you are singing a section of the liturgy that is an integral component of the Mass, you are singing Gregorian chant,” Lang explained.
- Despite the fact that hymns, which are typically layered in rich harmonies, are considered liturgical in character, such melodies are intended to beautify the Mass with meditative spirituality rather than serving as a key component of the liturgy, according to Black.
However, there are several exceptions to this unofficial chant rule, and some choirs embellish their chants with harmonies and even musical accompaniment on occasion.
But, according to theologian John Paul II, it is only recently that Gregorian chant, which began to take shape in the ninth century, has been written down and preserved for the historical record.
Gregory the Great, who served as Pope from 590 to 604.
“In reality, most historians believe it was Pope Gregory II (715-731), who reigned around 100 years later, who was the Pope Gregory who actually had a greater influence in establishing this set of chants that we know today as Gregorian chant,” he explained.
Matthew the Apostle.
The simplicity of the sung recitation from the priest and the response of repeated text by the congregation throughout the ages, with the choir handling the more sophisticated music, said James Senson, music director of St.
The chanting of the Gregorian chant may be “very complex, intricate, and involved, as well as having a great level of artistic value,” McDonnell added.
According to him, “everyone can learn to sing some amount of Gregorian chant,” and the church has organized the chants into categories based on their accessibility throughout time.
This, in a manner, helps the chant convey its emotional content more effectively.” Despite the fact that Gregorian chant finally became the official music of the church, its use has experienced times of high popularity throughout history as well as periods of decline, according to McDonnell.
“In many cases, it was simple things like the demise of towns and the fall of Rome,” McDonnell explained.
“Whenever you take the time to invest clergy, to spend resources in the growth of sacred things, the art flourishes once again.
During the early twentieth century, with the introduction of liturgical changes in Pope Pius X’s “Tra Le Sollecitudini” (“Among the Concerns”) in 1903, the chant had another renaissance.
In one particular passage, she explained, “he literally states, out of the blue, that Gregorian chant allows people to engage actively and that this is the people’s music and they should be singing it.” “He has a very specific piece on Gregorian chant,” she continued.
He explained that the theory was that if you are celebrating Mass in the language of the culture, you should be singing in musical styles that are popular in the community.
Although Gregorian chant is no longer the dominant force in parish life as it once was, McDonnell believes that, if history repeats itself, it is in the process of regaining its former prominence and might once again become a mainstay of church music.
Peter Kwasniewski has a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association. In addition to teaching at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian Program, he was a member of the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. He was in charge of the choir and schola, and he also served as the college’s dean of academics.
His books include Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church, A Missal for Young Catholics, and Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of the Ages.
His webpage may be found here.
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
Sonja Maurer-Dass contributed to this article. Gregorian chant is one of the most famous musical legacies of medieval Europe, distinguished by its free-flowing melodies, holy Latin lyrics, and distinctive monophonic texture. Gregorian chant, which was developed and propagated during the Carolingian dynasty, appears to be a world away from the much more contemporary epochs of Western music to which many of our ears are accustomed; however, it is from this ages-old liturgical tradition that our current understanding of Western music and its accompanying system of musical notation derives from.
This section will look at how Gregorian chant came to be and how it spread throughout the world.
Many medieval music fans nowadays are aware with Gregorian chant (also known as Frankish-Roman chant), which is the most well-known of the liturgical chant traditions; nevertheless, throughout early medieval Europe, there were numerous distinct styles of holy chant that differed according to area.
- When one considers the several diverse Western liturgical chant traditions that have existed throughout the centuries, one would wonder why Gregorian chant has become the most generally recognized and maintained of them all.
- The development of Gregorian chant took place between the seventh and ninth centuries CE, during a period in which Frankish monarchs, most notably Charlemagne, tried to bring liturgical consistency to their kingdoms.
- Charlemagne declared in 789 that all of his kingdoms would be consolidated under a single Roman liturgy and chant, which became known as the Roman Rite.
- In essence, Gregorian chant was, as Margot Fassler puts it, “the revised song of the Franks,” which arose from a fusion of Old Roman chant with the Gallican chant of the Franks, according to Fassler.
- So far, we’ve looked at how the Carolingians had a crucial part in the spreading and development of Gregorian chant, but what about the popular tale that claims that Pope Saint Gregory I (“Gregory the Great”) is responsible for the spread of Gregorian chant?
- Because it was sung to Gregory I by the Holy Spirit, who came to him in the guise of a white dove, it was considered the most sacred and true type of liturgical chant.
- Some musicologists, on the other hand, have speculated that Gregory may have had a role in the codification and consolidation of previous chants, which eventually served as the foundation for later Gregorian chant.
A common depiction of the dove is that it is singing its sacred songs to Gregory, while Gregory is concurrently dictating the dove’s melodies to a nearby scribe.
Gregorian Chant’s Texture and Melody are both beautiful.
“Monophonic” is a musical word that refers to the performance of a single tune with no accompaniment (that is, there is no harmony played with a melody).
In the opening minute of the following chant sample, which was produced by the twelfth-century abbess, philosopher, mystic, and composer Hildegard of Bingen, you can hear a drone that is repeated several times.
For those who have heard different recordings of Gregorian chant, you may have noticed that its melodies are quite flowing in comparison to many modern types of Western art music and popular music.
Classical Gregorian melodies were produced using the notes of an organized pitch system known as modes (which were distinct from the major and minor keys that are now employed in Western music), and they were set to sacred Latin texts from religious services such as the Mass and the Divine Office.
- Gregorian Chant and Early Types of Medieval Musical Notation are two examples of medieval musical notation.
- This necessitated the development of a method of recording tunes that could be correctly taught and conveyed without the limitations of human memory.
- Instead, it made use of symbols known as “neumes,” which served as a kind of trigger for melodies that had previously been acquired and retained as part of an oral culture.
- They reflect the relative rising and descending melodic motion of the text.
- The St.
- Gall in Switzerland, is one of the earliest existing sources of this notation (which was copied in the tenth century).
- Guido d’Arezzo, a prominent music theorist who lived in Arezzo in the eleventh century, continued to create the framework for modern music notation by developing a four-line musical staff divided by intervals of thirds (an interval is the distance between two pitches).
Guido described the manner in which his employees worked in the preface to his antiphoner (of which only the prologue has been preserved): As a result, the notes are organized in such a manner that any sound, no matter how many times it appears in a song, can always be located in the same row.
–Margot Fassler provided the translation.
As a singer or member of a chorus, you may be acquainted with the syllable pattern Do-Re-Mi-Fa Sol, etc., in which each syllable corresponds to a written note (Guido’s syllable pattern differed somewhat in that the first syllable he used was “Ut” instead of “Do”).
Square notation allowed for the inclusion of more melodic elements that may be interpreted by vocalists who were unfamiliar with the source material.
It’s possible that you’ve already seen some square notation in medieval chant manuscripts, such as punctum (a single note sung to a single syllable); podatus (two notes—one is written on top of the other and the lowest of the two notes is sung first followed by the second note which moves in ascending motion); clivis (contains two notes that are sung in descending motion); and torculus (three notes sung consecutively When compared to our modern experiences of melody and notation, the notation and melodies of Gregorian chant may appear to be foreign and unfamiliar at first glance and listen; however, upon closer examination, it is fascinating and possible to see how the earliest attempts to record and accurately transmit sacred chant evolved over many centuries and eventually matured into the comprehensive system that is widely used and understood in the modern day.
- Sonja Maurer-Dass is a Canadian musicologist and harpsichordist who specializes in Baroque music.
- In addition, she possesses a Master’s degree on Musicology from York University, where she specialized in late medieval English choral music and the Old Hall Manuscript, among other things (Toronto, Canada).
- The paper was presented at the 9th International Medieval Meeting.
- Read on for more information: Willi Apel is the author of this work.
- Western Music in Context: Western Music in the Medieval West is a book on music in the Medieval West (W.W.
- Carolingians and Gregorian Chant are two examples of medieval music (Princeton University Press, 1998) Richard Taruskin is the author of this work.
From the earliest notations through the sixteenth century, there has been music (Oxford University Press, 2010) Adiastematic gregorian aquitanian notation is seen in the top image. Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
What is Gregorian Chant? History, Characteristics and Composers
Sonja Maurer-Dass is the author of this article. It is one of the most famous musical legacies of medieval Europe, distinguished by its free-flowing melodies, religious Latin words, and distinctive monophonic texture. Gregorian chant, which was developed and propagated during the Carolingian dynasty, appears to be a world away from the much more contemporary epochs of Western music to which many of our ears are accustomed; however, it is from this ages-old liturgical tradition that our current understanding of Western music and its accompanying system of musical notation derives.
Many medieval music fans today are aware with Gregorian chant (also known as Frankish-Roman chant), which is the most well-known of the liturgical chant traditions; nevertheless, throughout early medieval Europe, there were numerous distinct styles of holy chant that differed based on location.
- When one considers the several diverse Western liturgical chant traditions that have existed throughout the centuries, one would wonder why Gregorian chant has become the most well-known and maintained of these traditions.
- While Frankish monarchs like as Charlemagne, attempted to bring about liturgical consistency throughout their lands in the eighth and ninth centuries CE, the development of Gregorian chant took place during the eighth and ninth century CE.
- Following this, in 789, Charlemagne declared that all of his lands would be united under a single Roman liturgy and chant system.
- To put it another way, Gregorian chant was, to paraphrase Margot Fassler, “the updated chant of the Franks,” which arose from a fusion of Old Roman chant and the Gallican chant of the Franks.
- In this article, we’ve looked at how the Carolingians had a crucial part in the distribution and development of Gregorian chant.
- As the eponym of the holy songs, how does his story come into play, and is there any validity to the idea that he invented Gregorian chant, one could wonder.
- However, researchers like as Margot Fassler believe that the heavenly origin narrative of Frankish-Roman chant was developed out of a Carolingian endeavor to further justify and prove undeniable its legitimacy.
Despite the fact that the aforementioned narrative is not true, the story of Gregory I and his relation to the birth of Gregorian chant has been memorialized in a number of pictures in which the saint is commonly depicted with a dove flying near his ear.
Divine Inspiration is symbolized by a dove, which represents the Holy Spirit, perched on Pope Gregory I’s shoulder.
“Monophonic” is a musical word that refers to the performance of a single melody without the accompaniment of other musical instruments (that is, there is no harmony played with a melody).
This chant sample, which was produced by Hildegard of Bingen in the eleventh century, begins with a drone that can be heard in the first minute of the first minute of the second minute.
When it comes to melody, if you have listened to different recordings of Gregorian chant, you may characterize its melodies as being incredibly fluid when compared to many modern types of Western art music and popular music, such as jazz.
They could be syllabic (with one note sung on each syllable), neumatic (with two to four notes sung per syllable), or melismatic (with many notes sung on the vowel of a single syllable), and they were frequently conjunct (melodic motion that moves in steps rather than skips or larger leaps, which is referred to as “disjunct motion”) in nature.
- The development of a method for recording melodies was necessary in order for them to be correctly taught and transferred without the fallibility of human memory becoming a consideration.
- Instead, it made use of symbols known as “neumes,” which served as a form of trigger for melodies that had previously been acquired and retained as part of an oral culture.
- They express the relative rising and descending melodic motion of the melody.
- Saint Gall 359 manuscriptof the Benedictine Abbey of St.
- The Stiftsbibliothek Codex Sang.
- In different regions of Europe, the look and precision of neumes continued to change during the next several centuries, and early prototypes of the musical staff began to emerge in manuscripts at the same time.
- The modern musical staff consists of five horizontal lines divided into thirds, on which notes are written (the musical staff was originally made up of three horizontal lines).
In this way, any sound, no matter how many times it may be repeated in a tune, will always be located in the same row that it was first placed in.
–Margot Fassler’s translation of the text As a bonus, Guido developed an essential teaching technique (known as solmization) to make it even easier for students to sight-sing written notation on the staff, an approach that has subsequently evolved into the modern solfège method.
Notation in the Square It wasn’t until the thirteenth century that square notation began to be used for Gregorian chant, which was written on a four-lined staff.
Unlike the adiastematic neumes, which only supplied limited notated suggestions to enable vocalists who had previously learned the melodies, this is in contrast to the adiastematic neumes.
A Canadian musicologist and harpsichordist, Sonja Maurer-Dass is well-known for her work on the organ.
She also possesses a Master’s degree in Musicology from York University, where she specialized on late medieval English choral music and the Old Hall Manuscript (Toronto, Canada).
Sonja may be found on Twitter under the handle @SonjaMaurerDass.
Choral chants in the style of St.
Western Music in Context: Western Music in the Medieval West is a collection of essays on Western music in the medieval west (W.W.
Clement of Alexandria, Carolingians, and Gregorian Chant (Princeton University Press, 1998) Mr.
From the earliest notations through the sixteenth century, music has played an important role (Oxford University Press, 2010) To the right is an example of Adiastematic Gregory Acquanian Notation. The Commons has a lot of great pictures!
Background and History
St. Gregory the Great It is generally believed that Pope Gregory I, who is often credited with developing Gregorian Chant, was the first to use it in the 9th century following his death. Gregorian style chant as holy music may have been affected by Pope Gregory I (715-731 AD), who may have been the first to influence the establishment of the style after the music began as prayer enriched by art in song and read like poetry put to music. In the words of St. Augustine, transforming prayer into music “adds such strength that it is like praying twice.” Gregorian chant, on the other hand, began to lose popularity when secular values began to take precedence over religious beliefs throughout the first part of the first century.
As the Holy Roman Empire’s strength and influence diminished in the 15th century, the seat of the pope was restored to Rome after several generations spent at Avignon, France, as the empire’s power and influence fell.
The resurgence of the clergy in Roman society resulted in the reintroduction of Gregorian chant to the general populace.
Characteristics and Style
St. Gregory the Great is a saint who was born in the year 354 in the city of Rome. It is generally believed that Pope Gregory I, who is often credited with establishing the Gregorian Chant, was the one who first composed it in the 9th century. Gregorian style chant as holy music may have been influenced by Pope Gregory I (715-731 AD), who may have been the first to do so after the music began as prayer enriched by art in song, and it read like poetry put to music. If you convert prayer into music, St.
Cries for help filled the shadowy hallways of isolated monasteries, as well as the unused cubbies of nuns and monks amid the claustrophobic confinement of great cathedrals.
As a result of the fall of the Roman Empire, the present pope committed himself and the church to remaking the city in the name of God, a task that has taken years.
With the resurgence of the clergy in Roman society, Gregorian chant was once again made available to the general populace. As people rediscovered religion and holy music, Gregorian chant rose to prominence and remained so until the beginning of the Renaissance in the sixteenth century.
Gregorian chant was traditionally sung only by human voices, according to tradition. This time, the choir sang without accompaniment, with a strong emphasis on the often sad, sometimes soaring melodic intonation of religious texts or vowel sounds as a key focus of the performance. Stringed or wind instruments, primarily flutes, harpsichords, organs, and violins, as well as electronic instruments like as keyboards and synthesizers, may be used to accompany modern versions of Gregorian chant, depending on the style.
Form and Texture
The single melodic line is frequently performed by a group of voices singing in unison. Rhythmically, it ranges from Largo (slow) to Andante (“walking speed”), with a smooth and velvety texture, as well as being sluggish and flowing. Each note flows into the next like a river, with minimal pauses and no short or staccato notes in between. When performing Gregorian chant, breathing is an important aspect of the performance, and singers frequently purposefully alternate breaths with one another in order to keep the melodic flow uninterrupted.
Boys’ and all-female choirs perform Gregorian chant in a variety of tonalities ranging from alto to soprano, and, on occasion, falsetto, among other things.
Mixed choirs have the greatest range of adaptability, since they include members from all voice ranges in a single group.
Most of the most famous medieval composers of Gregorian chant were males, and the majority of them held positions of authority within the clergy. It is possible that some of these composers inspired subsequent Renaissance composers, and several of their pieces are still popular among classical music enthusiasts today.
1. Stephen of Liège (850-920)
Stephen of Liege is one of the earliest known composers of Gregorian chant and is regarded as one of the greatest of all time. He served a number of lower roles in the church before being appointed Bishop of Liege in 901 AD and remained there until 920 AD. Aside from that, Stephen has written biographies of saints and other notable religious individuals.
2. Fulbert of Chartres (960-1028)
The intriguing beginnings of the French teacher and future Bishop of Chartres are still a mystery to this day. But some of Fulbert’s works have endured, notably many hymns praising the Virgin Mary and the still-popular Easter song “Chorus Novae Jerusalem,” which is dedicated to the city of Jerusalem.
3. Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Hildegard von Bingen was a medieval nun who lived in Germany. Her name was Hildegard von Bingen, and she lived in the early second millennium. She was a philosopher, mystic, writer, and composer. In 2012, the Catholic Church canonized Mary in recognition of the miracles she accomplished and her amazing dedication. In a spiritually induced trance-like state of divine ecstasy, the prophetess wrote extensive works that are still read today.
Many of her writings are still in print today. Despite the fact that she was the only known female composer of her day, St. Hildegard is also the most acclaimed and most often recorded medieval artist of the contemporary era, according to the scholarly community.
4. Peter Abelard (1079-1142)
Peter Abelard was a theologian and scholar who was one of the most scandalous and well-known religious personalities of the medieval period. The issue stems from his extramarital liaison with fellow professor Hélose, who happened to be a well-known nun at the time. But he was also a gifted composer of Gregorian chant, well known for his melancholy songs of lamentation for the loss of loved ones, which frequently made reference to Biblical and theological characters. The issue stems from his extramarital liaison with fellow professor Hélose, who happened to be a well-known nun at the time.
It’s possible that we’ve discovered further proof of Abelard’s musical talent, which was ahead of its day in terms of musical structure and melodic simplicity, in this work.
Despite the fact that it appears to be straightforward, the sacred subject matter and distinct melodic lines of Gregorian chant have continued to influence religious composers throughout the ages. The impact of the great composers may be seen and heard in subsequent works by legends such as Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Bach, as well as in works by lesser-known artists. In this century, classical artists continue to reinterpret, record, and present these and other ancient works on the stage in new ways, as well as in previous centuries.
1. Ordo Virtutum
Hailing from a tradition of ingenuity, Hildegard von Bingen’s 82-song Gregorian operaOrdo Virtutumbe was the world’s first morality drama, and her music went on to inspire a generation of Renaissance musicians.
2. “Chorus Novae Jerusalem”
Later recordings have re-interpreted several of Saint Fulbert’s holy songs, notably “Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem,” composed by English composer Henry John Gauntlettin the 19th century and still performed at Easter masses throughout the western world today.
3. “Planctus David super Saul et lonatha”
King Saul and his son, Prince Jonathan, were killed in Abelard’s “Planctus David super Saul et lonatha,” which was written to grieve Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Philistines and to lament the deaths of the two kings.
Because of its origins in the early medieval era, Gregorian chant has had ups and downs in popularity throughout the centuries. In the same way that artists return to any great art form, they return to a genre, and even the same old compositions, time and time again, re-imagining its material to suit the tastes of the period and re-mastering them to suit the latest technical developments. During the early days of Gregorian chant, the music was only heard by a small group of people, and then only at very irregular intervals.
I’m curious what these great composers would have to say about it.
Why Gregorian Chant? And Why Sung by the People?
Since its origins in the early medieval era, the popularity of Gregorian chant as a musical form has ebbed and flowed. In the same way that artists return to any great art form, they return to a genre, and even the same old compositions, time and time again, re-imagining the material to suit the tastes of the period and re-mastering it to suit the latest technical developments. The music of Gregorian chant was first heard by a small group of people, and then only at irregular intervals, when it was first composed.
Most people on the planet may now enjoy these magnificent works of art at their leisure, in full surround sound, from virtually anywhere in the globe. Is it possible that these renowned composers would have an opinion on this?
- The musical legacy of the worldwide Church is a priceless treasure, maybe perhaps more valuable than any other form of artistic expression. Most importantly, it is considered to be the most important component of the solemn liturgy since, as sacred song joined to the words, it is a required or inherent part of it. Indeed, sacred song has received praise from Holy Scripture, and the same can be said of the Church’s fathers and of the Roman pontiffs, who, under the leadership of Saint Pius X, have in recent years provided a more detailed explanation of the ministerial function performed by sacred music in the service of the Lord. Due to the fact that it is more directly associated with liturgical activity, whether it brings joy to prayer or encourages mental unity, sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion to the greater seriousness that it imparts on the sacred rites. … In accordance with the norms and precepts of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline, and in consideration of the purpose of sacred music, which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful, the sacred Council decrees as follows: Liturgical worship is elevated to a more noble form when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the active participation of the faithful. …
- The holy music heritage must be carefully safeguarded and nurtured in order to be passed on to future generations. Music education and practice at seminaries, novitiates, and places of study for religious men and women of both sexes, as well as in other Catholic institutions and schools, must be vigorously fostered… Teachers who will be in charge of the teaching of holy music will be extensively trained and placed in this position in order to transmit this training. …
However, they are only the first considerations. Here’s what I’m going to say about paragraph 116, and it’s a more literal translation than the conventional English translation that you can obtain on the internet:
- In recognition of Gregorian chant’s distinctiveness as a component of the Roman liturgy, the Church places it first among the liturgical activities, with the consequence that, other things being equal, it takes first position in all liturgical actions.
Despite the fact that there is other music of similar artistic worth and liturgical appropriateness, such as Renaissance polyphony, the statement “other things being equal” suggests that the chant nonetheless takes first place—and for good reason. As a result of its sanctity, its age, and the fact that it is ours, tradition binds us closely to God and to one another via the ties of time. If you are not praying with Gregorian chant 50 years after the Council, you are 50 years out of line with what the Council required in the clearest possible terms, according to Fr.
- However, none of those other provisions nullifies, replaces, or mitigates what is stated in Section 116.
- That has been taken care of by the Church.
- Vatican II was the first ecumenical council in the Church’s 2,000-year history to explicitly identify Gregorian chant as the music suited to the Roman rite and to establish it as the normative music of the Roman rite, as well as its primacy of place.
- Because it was just taken for granted back then, although there was controversy about whether it was time to replace a different type of music for the traditional chant throughout the middle of the twentieth century.
- And the answer from Pope John Paul II was unequivocal: there is no substitution.
- Why, therefore, have so many people turned a blind eye to what Pope John Paul II requested?
- However, we do not need to be concerned with the historical ins and outs since we are attempting to be completely true to the Magisterium, and the Magisterium has always been constant in its encouragement of chant.
- It’s for this reason that there are chants that only ministers can sing, songs that are only sung by cantor or schola, and chants that everyone can sing.
- This demonstrates unequivocally that the ordained minister is not only a representative of the community, as in a modern democratic government or a Protestant community, but is the genuine head and ruler of the society, having been selected by God.
- There are five of these Propers: the Introit or Entrance antiphon; the Gradual; the Alleluia; the Offertory; and the Communion (or the Communion antiphon).
- These have been a vital component of the Mass for more than 1,500 years and continue to be so today.
Currently, a great deal of effort is being made to recover these Propers, even in the sphere of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in order that the celebration of Mass may be more faithful not only to our tradition but also to the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which specifies—for theOrdinary Form, mind you—the Gregorian antiphons from the Graduale Romanumas the preferred songs for the Entrance, the Offertory, and the Eucharist.
This General Instruction, which serves as the official “how-to” handbook for the Novus Ordo Missae, is a document published by the Holy Father and is binding on all members of the Catholic clergy.
It is possible to come across Catholics who are angry when a choir performs chant or polyphony and they are unable to participate, but must instead only listen in.
When this argument was raised, Blessed John Paul II answered in a very significant message he delivered back in 1998.
Active participation in worship indicates that, via gesture, speech, song, and service, all members of the community take part in a worship service that is anything but inert or passive, as opposed to inert or passive participation in worship.
During the liturgy, worshippers are not only passive listeners; they actively participate in it by paying attention to the readings and the sermon, as well as following the celebrant’s prayers and the chants and music.
In a world that neither encourages nor encourages contemplative calm, the art of inward listening is something that must be taught with effort.
In the final post in this series, I will discuss some more practical problems, such as how chant should be performed and what we should make of the many arguments people give for not participating in chant.
NOTES: Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have a lot to say on a lot of things. Because of his many works on sacred music and true liturgical participation, Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is well-known today, although the preconciliar Magisterium is largely overlooked.