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Related to plainsong: Gregorian chant




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.

In the Western church four main dialects of plainsong developed—Ambrosian, Roman, Mozarabic and Gallican—that seem to have been derived from similar sources. Gregorian chant is named for Pope Gregory IGregory I, Saint
(Saint Gregory the Great), c.540–604, pope (590–604), a Roman; successor of Pelagius II. A Doctor of the Church, he was distinguished for his spiritual and temporal leadership. His feast is celebrated on Mar. 12.
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, whose credited role in compiling liturgical books during his papacy (590–604) is now considered questionable.

The origins of the chant go back to early Christian times, and it seems to have derived from musical practice in the Jewish synagogue and Greek musical theory. During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and also in later times, the chant melodies were used as the basis for polyphonic composition. In the 19th cent. the Benedictine monks of Solesmes sought to restore the Gregorian chant to its original form and their published editions from 1889 onward became the official music of the Catholic Church. The texts of plainsong are the words of the Mass, the Psalms, canticles, and certain verse hymns.

The tonality of Gregorian chant is based on the system of eight modes (see modemode,
in music. 1 A grouping or arrangement of notes in a scale with respect to a most important note (in the pretonal modes of Western music, this note is called the final or finalis
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). The notation of the chant evolved into systems of neumes (see musical notationmusical notation,
symbols used to make a written record of musical sounds.

Two different systems of letters were used to write down the instrumental and the vocal music of ancient Greece. In his five textbooks on music theory Boethius (c.A.D. 470–A.D.
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) that were still used in the 20th cent. in preference to modern mensural notation for plainsong. Little is known of the rhythm with which the chants were performed in the Middle Ages. The chants were contained in two principal books: those for the Mass in the "Gradual," those for the Office in the "Antiphoner." The modern Liber usualis is a compilation of most frequently used chants from the two.


See W. Apel, Gregorian Chant (1958); J. R. Bryden and D. G. Hughes, ed., An Index of Gregorian Chant (2 vol., 1969).


the style of unison unaccompanied vocal music used in the medieval Church, esp in Gregorian chant
References in periodicals archive ?
Comper, plainsong, and the Tridentine Mass are all very well but if the arts have something profound to say to humans and to the Church, we might need a bit more than that to be going on with.
As Jonathan Miles wrote (in an otherwise dismissive review), Plainsong is "a life raft for people who felt they were drowning in the sour froth of pop cynicism.
been published in many journals, including APR, Plainsong, and Poetry
Graeme Skinner presented the third paper of this session, on Toledo Cathedral's plainsong cantorales in inventories and catalogues, co-written with Michael Noone.
In a pitch perfect first-person plainsong, Katerina recounts how the Jews who befriend her--gifted, humane, generous--die one after the other in acts of ethnic violence.
I have used, for example, Kent Haruf's Plainsong, a novel set in a small Colorado town about a lonely high school instructor who lives there, his two young sons who discover that there is good and evil in their town, and a female student of his who finds herself carrying the child of an abusive boyfriend.
Despite the allusion in its title to medieval church music, Plainsong, 2004, a sequence of five short videos, is an irreverent, infectious hymn to the mundane and the temporal.
This was noted in a later review in which Leonard Ellinwood identified the WS style as "unison melody-simple, modern tunes in the style of plainsong, but with more rhythmic and chromatic interest.
What results is often a cliched sentiment about the rural nether-regions of our land and the gritty struggles and triumphs of the human spirit that occur there (the recent, over-hyped novels Plainsong, by Kent Haruf, and Winter Range, by Claire Davis, come to mind).
A second novel, Lightning Flashed, was published in 1995, Plainsong received a National Book Award nomination and won the Mountains & Plains Regional Book Award for fiction.