Music 1711F/G Lecture Notes - Ite, Missa Est, Tonus Peregrinus, Reciting Tone

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The Elements of Plainchant
Liturgical Function
1. The Divine Office
Matins (3am)
Lauds (sunrise)
Prime (6am)
'little hours:'
Terce (9am)
Sext (noon)
None (3pm)
Vespers (sunset)
Compline (before bed)
2. The Mass – found in a Gradual
Usually held b/w Terce and Sext
*textbook error: “antiphoners do not contain chants for matins” – they really only
contain matins.
The Mass
Two types of chants:
1. The Ordinary/Unchangeable – same words every time
Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite Missa Est
2. Proper” - belongs to the day: Changeable – change, because they are
chants for a specific day eg. Christmas
The Liturgical Year
Follows the biography of Christ from Advent – Pentecost
Saint's Days are celebrated throughout the year on the appropriate day.
Relationship: Words/Music
One pitch per syllable of text eg. Gloria and Credo Chants
Few pitches (up to 4 or 5) per syllable of text. eg. Intriot, Offertory,
Communion chants
upwards of 5 pitches/syllable of text eg. Gradual and Alleluia chants.
These tend to be sung with an alternating soloist and choir
Psalm Tones
One for each mode (8) plus tonus peregrinus
Consists of opening pattern, recitation section, closing cadential pattern
Eight scales that are different from each other in their intervallic
** see example 1-3 in text, pg 39
The Final: “home” pitch
The Recitation tone: reciting pitch
Don't need, to know Greek names for modes eg. Dorian
Mode 1 – authentic and 2 – plagal: D is the final
Mode 3 – authentic and 4 – plagal: E is the final
Mode 5 – authentic and 6 – plagal: F is the final
Mode 7 – authentic and 8 – plagal: G is the final
Authentic and Plagal modes distinguish themselves by their Recitation tones
and by their ranges:
eg. Mode 1&2: D is the final, but...
Mode 1: D-D is the range and A is the recitation tone
Mode 2: A-A is the range and F is the recitation tone.
Authentic is always the odd numbers. Plagal = even numbers
Melodic Structure
Chant is conservative in its ambitus (range) and intervallic leaps (not > than
a 5th)
Early singers probably didn't “think in modes” like we think in keys; they
thought in hexachords.
Hexachord: a group of six pitches. Do, re, me, fa, sol, la
Semi-tone always falls b/w mi and fa.
Moveable 'do' system
Gamut: the entire range of pitches available to the medieval composer – made up
on 7 interlocking hexachords eg. 1-5 (pg 41). Word comes from “gamma” (Greek
'G') + ut (medieval symbol for 'do')
The 'Guidonian Hand' is a learning tool for singers trying to memorize the
Three Types of Hexachords
Hard (incl B-natural)
Soft (incl B flat)
Natural (no B at all)
Sight-reading a chant that went beyond 6 notes required hexachord mutation
(modulation from one to the next)
Rule: “Una nota super la semper est canendum fa” one note above 'la' should be
sung as a flat if you're coming back to 'la'
Irregular rhythms probably
No one knows for sure
There would have been certain pitches stressed over others, which may
have had rhythmic consequences, but these would have been for rhetorical