Gregorian chant

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Gregorian chant:

see plainsongplainsong
or plainchant,
the unharmonized chant of the medieval Christian liturgies in Europe and the Middle East; usually synonymous with Gregorian chant, the liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church.
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Gregorian Chant

 

the general designation of the liturgical chants of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed as a result of the selection and recasting of local Christian chants by the Catholic Church. The process of arranging prayer texts was begun under Pope Gregory I the Great (died 604 A.D.). Canonization of the melodies and their strict distribution according to the days of the liturgical year was concluded toward the end of the seventh century. The chorales of the Catholic Church were named after Gregory I 300 years after his death.

The church tried to impart to the chants the qualities of otherworldliness, mystical contemplation, and religious ecstasy. At the same time, the chants reflected the centuries-old development of musical culture, embodying artistically valuable elements from the song cultures of various peoples. A male choir singing in unison is prescribed by Gregorian chant. Most of the chants are based on prose texts taken from the Bible, and the melodies are constructed on the so-called medieval modes. Notes of equal duration were dominant (hence, the later designation for Gregorian chant— cantus planus, even or plain chant). When church music assimilated multivoiced music, Gregorian chant remained the thematic basis (cantus firmus) for sacred polyphonic works.