Talk:Gregorian chant/Discussions during FA improvement

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Major overhaul

It's taken several days, and I've been up all night, but I have a first draft of a major overhaul to this article. I'm sure it needs plenty of cleanup. Please let me know if there's something important I left out, or needs fixed! Peirigill 13:26, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

(text removed)

Heightened neumes

What I was thinking of

Re: Mak's question about early notation and heightened neumes: The early neumatic notation didn't specify pitches; it's what I learned to call cheironomic notation, although cheironomy is only one of several theories concerning the origins of the neumes. They showed the contour of the melody for each syllable, so that relative pitch was indicated within any given neume (e.g., a torculus meant go higher than the first pitch, then go lower than the first pitch), but two neumes on adjacent syllables wouldn't have been placed higher or lower to indicate a higher or lower starting pitch for the next neume. That said, I have my dates wrong; If I'm interpreting Grove right, the earliest extant notated chant, using unheightened neumes, comes from the 9th through 11th centuries; pitch-specific heightened neumes and staff notation are 11th and 12th, while square notation kicked in during the 13th. I'll update the article. Peirigill 18:10, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Here's an image from commons of what I was thinking of for very early neumes. Unfortunately the page at commons has very little info about it. Would this be useful for the article? All I can say about it is that it's a Jubilate deo. Mak (talk) 16:06, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Ooh! How'd I miss that?! That's perfect for cheironomic neumes. I know I've run into "Jubilate deo universa terra" before... IIRC, Apel reproduced an old Offertory verse with that text that's over-the-top melismatic. Chances are good that there's a chant in the modern books that corresponds to it. I'll dig through the ol' Liber and Graduale; I'm sure I can find some info on this chant for the caption. Thanks! Peirigill 20:14, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
this might be the same in more readable form. Mak (talk) 20:37, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
It's basically the same text (Psalm 66: 1, 2, 16) but the older version is missing the phrase "[omnes] qui timetis deum," and except for the phrase "& narrabo vobis," the chant contour of the cheironomic neumes doesn't match the square notation. Since the two chants use the same particular psalm verses, they're almost certainly related, but until someone can verify the actual source of the image, I think it's better just to identify it as a sample of unheightened neumes without speculating on the source. Peirigill 07:49, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Oof, I'm a doof, the melodic contour looked a lot more similar when I was looking at it before... wishful thinking. Mak (talk) 17:29, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Women as chant singers

Just one observation about your recent edits, Mak (thank you!). While it's true that women in religious orders did sing Gregorian chant back in the day, and even women in the laity are no longer proscribed from doing so nowadays, traditionally it was restricted to men and boys, with women singers in religious orders being the exception rather than the rule. That seems important. I put the details about women singing down in the "Performance practice" section, and left it out of the lead, with the idea that the lead should summarize rather than go into a lot of detail. Also, strictly speaking, your changing "male clergy" to "clergy" doesn't really make things more inclusive, since women were not (and still aren't) clergy in Roman Catholicism. I still lean towards including the gender restriction in the lead with the caveat of "traditionally," but if that's too much of a "weasel word," I'll defer. Peirigill 22:24, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Hm, good points, however, how much did lay people sing Gregorian chant in the early days? (i.e. 10th-15th centuries) I don't think they sang it very much at all in this period. The choirs you are most likely thinking of were, I believe, made up of men and boys who had taken some sort of orders, as opposed to later church choirs (who sang polyphony) which were made up of singers who more frequently hadn't taken orders. I was more thinking about people who have taken vows, um, the name for which I forget right now. My point is, the main people who sang Gregorian chant during the period when women/the leity weren't allowed, were people who had taken orders, both men and women, making the women who sang it in convents, etc. a part of the general rule "people who had taken religious orders sang it". Mak (talk) 22:39, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
I'll need to double-check, but the fact that boys could sing suggests to me that they didn't need to have ordained - heck, they hadn't even been confirmed! While nuns might have sung the Office, Mass remained the exclusive province of men, at least for the chants performed by deacons and priests. The key issue here, though, is the use of Gregorian chant outside of monasteries and convents, in regular churches with lay congregations. Women would not have been allowed to sing in the choir there, whether lay or religious. The question is, which is the exceptional case: the women-only communities, or the lay congregations? I'm inclined to say that women singing chant was the exception, not the rule. A quick Google search seems to support this - [[1]] - but I'm going to check my texts at home and double-check. Peirigill 23:45, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
In regards to the boys, I was thinking about neophytes, sent to become monks by their fathers who had too many kids. I'm not sure about lay choirs singing chants (if it was the whole congregation, I think women have always been included) vs women-only communities. I'm not so sure google is the way to find out in this circumstance, either. I think the way it was worded was misleading, however, since women have never been categorically excluded from singing chant, only from performing in mixed company. Mak (talk) 00:00, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
This seems relevant, taken from Women in Music, ed. Carol Neuls-Bates: "Although early Christians preached the spiritual equality of all people, they denied women full participation in religious life, initially excluding them from the priesthood. Women were important as singers, however, both as members of the congregation and in choirs through the fourth century. After the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire with the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313, the Church began to perfect its organization and standardize practices. Congregational singing was gradually abandoned, beginning in the second half of the fourth century, and all musical portions of services were entrusted to professional choirs of men and boys. Two accounts here describe the participation of women as singers before they were officially silenced." Oddly, Grove doesn't even seem to address the issue in the "Plainchant" article. Peirigill 02:02, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for that interesting quote. I'm not that surprised by Grove leaving it out, lately I've noticed more and more Grove leaving out important contributions of women, or leaving anything which has to do with women and music to the Women in Music article. But, for this article specifically, and even more specifically the lead, how is this: "Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys in churches, or Religious(this is apparently the word) in their chapels."? I'd say that the use of Gregorian chant in monastic settings is pretty important, so I think that both that and choral/lay-church use is important. I didn't realise how early the switch to professional choirs was, which was part of my problem. Mak (talk) 02:56, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Works for me. Howzabout "members of Religious orders" instead of "Religious" to emphasize the lay/religious distinction? Peirigill 07:58, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Sure, technically the word is Religious, but I wasn't very happy with that either. Mak (talk) 15:16, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Ending on C?

You note that chants that seem to have a final of A or B are transpositions of Dorian or Phrygian modes. What about ending on C (what is sometimes called Ionian)? Is it unknown in the Gregorian repertoire? I would guess by analogy that it would be classified as Lydian but I don't know. Rigadoun 17:15, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Good question; I'll have to check. Peirigill 19:25, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Apel lists four chants that end on a C. Three are classified as Mode 6 (Hypolydian) and one as Mode 8 (Hypomixolydian). It makes sense that they're plagal, since the authentic modes transposed up a fifith or a fourth (depending on whether B's or B-flats are needed) would result in notes higher than than gamut. All the chants ending on B are Mode 4, and the chants ending on A (the largest group, including the Iustus ut palma group) include Modes 1, 2, 3, and 4. I've revised the article to talk about transposition in terms of finding a mode with the same hexachords, to avoid bogging down in details. Peirigill 21:15, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Relationship between Jewish and early Christian chant

Smith2006 added: "A certain similarity to Jewish chant of the Temple is also stressed by researchers. The structures of both sorts of chant have many similarities and thus point to a common origin."

This issue has come up before, but it doesn't appear to reflect the most recent scholarship. Please note Hiley's discussion (footnote #4 in the article), which I summarized in the preceding section ("Development of plainchant prior to Gregorian") as follows: "It has long been thought that early Christian singing derived directly from Jewish psalmody, but recent analysis suggests otherwise, on the grounds that many early Christian hymns did not have Psalms for texts, and that the singing of Psalms did not take place in synagogues for several centuries after the Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE."

Also, please note Grove: "Most liturgical and music historians had long assumed that the early Christian liturgy was adopted from Jewish ritual practices. Now, however, it appears that for all the obvious general influence of Judaism upon Christianity – Christianity after all originated as a Jewish sect – it is often a mistake to trace Christian liturgical usage to specific Jewish practices." (James W. McKinnon: 'Christian Church, music of the early', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 20 June 2006), <>)

I'm also skeptical of the claim that the Jewish chant of the Temple resembles anything, since that chant isn't extant, having essentially perished with the Destruction of the Second Temple. Music in the synagogue was different and didn't include psalmody until centuries later... about the same time the Christians were starting their practice of psalmody.

There are some clear liturgical connections, such as the threefold "sanctus" coming from Jewish practice, but I've already cited that.

Smith2006, can you cite a source more recent than 1995 that documents that Jewish chant is still "stressed by researchers," or that establishes a musical connection between Jewish Temple chant and early Christian worship? All the recent sources I have say that the Jewish/early Christian musical connection is no longer considered reliable scholarship. Peirigill 19:25, 20 June 2006 (UTC)


I think the rhythm section is notably lacking a mention of Mocquereau's notion of the ictus. Considering the depth the article goes into tonality, an influential theory of chant rhythm deserves some detail. Perhaps the article could also mention the Justine Ward method of music education and its relation to chant. Gimmetrow 19:45, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I'll be honest... I think the article goes too much into tonality. The system of modes is frankly pretty unimportant in practical terms. It was artificially imposed on the chant, and in many cases modal assignment is ambiguous or simply arbitrary. But it has to be covered, even though no one in the history of the world has ever been edified by mastering the word "Hypomixolydian." I tried to keep it short, and I've looked at it several times to see what I could cut. I'm still not happy with taking so much space on the modes. I'd like to break it into two subsections: =Modes= and =Tonality that actually matters=, but I couldn't think of a logical, NPOV way to title them.  :)
As for Mocquereau's theory of rhythm, my main reservation is that it's an "essentially discredited" theory (see Joseph Dyer: 'Roman Catholic Church Music', Section VI.1, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 28 June 2006), <>). The Ward method fell out of favor due to Vatican II and hasn't been influential since 1967.
I think I captured the essence of Mocquereau's theory, especially to the degree that it remains influential, by saying that the words determine the accent, and the melody the phrasing. To put things in context, I didn't go into exhaustive detail about Jerome of Moravia's 13th-century instructions for lengthening notes, either, nor did I discuss each mensuralist's particular theory of what kind of meter should be applied. At least with tonality, there's general agreement; with rhythm, it's so subjective, and the article's getting a bit long as it is (pushing 45 KB). If someone wants to write an daughter article about the history of rhythm in Gregorian chant, I'll be glad to contribute, but this article isn't the place for an exhaustive discussion of rhythmic theories.
Still, I agree that the ictus deserves to be covered. I'll dig up my reference books tonight and see what I can do. I'm reluctant to carry your suggestion to its logical conclusion, at least within the scope of this article, but I'll try to reasonably accommodate it. Peirigill 23:51, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
What I would like to see, but cannot do myself, is just a bit more on rhythmic systems and the "ictus" rather than an exhaustive discussion. Mocquereau's theory is discredited now, but it was important. As for the Ward method, I really just imagined a sentence or two getting across two points: 1) it was used in a lot of schools, and 2) it was influenced by and/or popularized Mocquereau's system.[2] Gimmetrow 01:14, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
How's that? I managed to add in a (brief) history of rhythm, including the ictus and Ward, and still trim enough fat so that there was no net increase in the file size. I draw the line at arsis and thesis, though, and I'm not touching incises with a ten-foot melisma.  :) Man, Gimmetrow, you made me dig out my copy of Justine Ward's Gregorian Chant - what an impenetrable, moralizing tome that is! (Oh, I'm sorry, that's not very NPOV of me, is it?)  ;) Peirigill 10:03, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Nice. Made one word change. Another detail, the article says the work "led to modern Solesmnes editions." Does Solesmnes still sing Mocquereau's system? If not, this could be a bit misleading. Gimmetrow 14:54, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Glad you liked it!
The modern editions of the Liber usualis, Graduale Romanum, etc., are still printed with the vertical and horizontal episemae and the dotted morae which exist solely as editorial additions showing the Solesmes rhythmic theory. Whether the Solesmes monks (or anyone else) chooses to observe them doesn't really matter, does it? The written editions themselves reflect the Solesmes theory of rhythm. I guess I'm not seeing what's misleading about that, so I'm not sure how to address your concern.
To answer your question, though, I don't know whether they still use Mocquereau's system in actual performance, and I'm not finding anything quickly that confirms or denies it. Peirigill 17:48, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Need citation

I think this sentence needs a citation:

"Although it is no longer obligatory, the Catholic Church still officially considers it the music most suitable for worship"
That sentence is in the lede, which summarizes the content of the article. Farther down, towards the end of the "Texture" section, that's amplified a bit, with a citation (footnote #34). I think it makes more sense to leave the lead unsourced, with sources used for the details in the main body. What do you think? Peirigill 22:52, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

and also

"Around 230, Alleluia melodies were reported being sung in Rome." (best would probably be to change this from passive to active voice and say WHO reported it)
All the dates in the last two paragraphs of the "Development of earlier plainchant" section come from a timeline in McKinnon, including this one. They're cited by footnote #6. Unfortunately, McKinnon's timeline doesn't say who reported it. I'll have to do some digging. In the meantime, which is better: collapsing those two paragraphs into one, so that the footnote more clearly applies to the whole combined paragraph, or using the same citation twice, once for each paragraph? Peirigill 22:52, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Text amplified and converted to active voice, and clearer citation supplied. Peirigill 01:25, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

--MarkBuckles 22:04, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


There's a contradiction between "Its melodic features include characteristic incipits and cadences, an underlying structure of hexachords that allows B-flat as the only standard accidental" and "The B-flat was an integral part of the system of hexachords, and not an accidental." It's not an accidental, in the sense that there was no "flat" per se. B and B-flat were both B's, one hard and one soft, depending on the hexachord. The flat sign is itself just a softened "B". However, it is an accidental in the sense that it's an alteration of a pitch, which is more or less the definition of "accidental." What's a good way to resolve this? Peirigill 22:52, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I think I've got it resolved. Peirigill 02:24, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Edits to "neumes" in lede

I'm uncomfortable with the recent edit from "Gregorian chant was transcribed by an early form of musical notes called neumes, which evolved into our modern musical notation" to "Gregorian chant was transcribed as a series of neumes, an early form of musical notation."

  • Since "neume" is a term that's probably unfamiliar to most readers, I think some brief explanation should be made of what a "neume" is.
  • Neumes aren't just any old form of early notation. They're the form that evolved into modern Western notation, which makes them more historically relevant.

I'd like to see these particular edits reverted. What do you think? Peirigill 22:52, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't object to mentioning the evolution, I just couldn't find a way to say it that didn't sound awkward. The preposition by is incorrect as used in the first example. You could say "it was transcribed by using an early form of musical notes. That might be the easiest fix. But really, it's an early form of musical notation, not just music notes. If this is changed, then the sentence becomes awkward when musical notation is mentioned again. I'm sure there's a way to fix it though so everyone's happy. Any ideas? -- MarkBuckles 04:06, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Gotcha. Howzabout "Gregorian melodies were transcribed using neumes, an early form of musical notation from which the modern five-line staff would develop"? Peirigill 00:38, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Cool. And howzabout wikifying "five-line staff" like this: five-line staff? MarkBuckles 04:41, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Done! Peirigill 07:46, 2 July 2006 (UTC)


"Certain classes of Gregorian chant have a separate musical formula for each mode"—What type of musical formula does this refer to? Tony 12:38, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

It refers to recitation tones for the direct psalmody of the Offices. The intonation of a Psalm depends on the musical mode of its antiphon. (There are also the (rarely used) tonus peregrinus and the obsolete (no longer used) parapteres tones, not associated with any mode, which can be omitted from a survey article.) There are also more complex recitation tones associated with the modes for the psalm verses in Introits (and in earlier times, in Offertories and Communions), and more complex tones yet for Responsory verses. There are also tones for the Magnificat, Benedictus, the Invitatory Psalm "Venite exultemus," and a few other minor chants, though these are not always mode-specific. Peirigill 19:29, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
  • "by making the chants conform to contemporary aesthetic standards, the Renaissance melodies of Palestrina." I'm unsure of the relationiship between the last phrase and the preceding sentence.
You could clarify the relationship between Palestrina and the aesthetic standards of the late sixteenth century by saying something like "by making the chants conform to the contemporary aesthetic standards exemplified by the Renaissance melodies of Palestrina," but that gets unwieldy. I'm just going to excise the clause. The details are explained in the Rhythm section anyway. Peirigill 18:35, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
  • "In 1904, the Vatican edition of the Solesmes chant was commissioned. Serious academic debates arose, especially in the light of stylistic liberties taken by the Solesmes editors, particularly their controversial interpretation of rhythm." Any ideas on how to avoid "especially ... particularly"? Tony 15:39, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
Attempt made. Peirigill 18:35, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Top of article

Can we move the huge audio file thing from the beginning of the article to underneath the image? Seems very obtrusive currently. MarkBuckles 23:12, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't know. The syntax for media files allows you to put the sound file on the "right," but no matter what I try, the sound file stays on the left edge of the page. I'll ask on the Technical Help page. Maybe there's a way to put both the pictorical image and the media file together in a large "userbox." I had hoped to add the sound file in order to make the image not just a pretty picture but a demonstrable musical artefact, to borrow Makemi's phrase, but if the sound file is offputting, it can be removed. Peirigill 19:29, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
I created an infobox. Let me know if you think it looks okay. The file is also still a redlink - is the sound file yet to be acquired? MarkBuckles 22:33, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
The link has been fixed. Mak (talk) 22:38, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
The box looks great! Is there a way to "un-bold" the text explaining the media? Also, I had intended to bold only the vowels in "seculorum amen" to highlight the not-so-immediately-obvious "EVOVAE." Can that be restored? Peirigill 00:56, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Yep, got it. -- MarkBuckles 03:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Prose question

Is there a way to eliminate one of the neumes is this sentence?

"Neumes such as the oriscus, quilisma, and liquescent neumes indicate special vocal treatments for these notes"

Also, what does "special vocal treatments" mean? -- MarkBuckles 03:16, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

I think the second "neumes" in the sentence is redundant. My understanding is that there is no definitive answer to what these neumes indicate, however there is a certain amount of agreement that they indicate some sort of funky vocal something. So, for instance, a quilisma might indicate a stress in terms of loudness, or length, or vibrato, or a trillo. There's no agreement as to how these were performed, so I think the sentence is about as clear as it can be without going into a much longer discussion. Mak (talk) 03:23, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I wrote that sentence, and realized it was awkward to use "neume" twice. But it would be grammatically incorrect to say "neumes such as the oriscus, quilisma, and liquescent are..." "Oriscus" and "quilisma" are nouns, and "liquescent" is an adjective, so that sentence would have nonparallel structure. I don't know of a special word for liquescent neumes, like there is for the scandicus, torculus, oriscus, quilisma, etc. I've never seen them called "liquescenti" or anything like that. I suppose you could replace the first use of the word "neumes" with a more vague term such as "symbols."
Mak's explanation of the performance of these neumes is spot on. Peirigill 17:53, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Took the surgical solution. Peirigill 19:13, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

canonical hours

The article says that the offices/canonical hours have their roots in Jewish prayer hours. Then it goes on to say "During the early fourth century, desert monks following St. Anthony introduced the practice of continuous psalmody, singing the complete cycle of 150 psalms each week, from which the monastic Office of canonical hours would evolve." Which is it? And is it correct to say "the monastic office of canonical hours"? I thought it was just either "canonical hours" or "the offices". ~ Sarabi1701 15:31, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Which is the source of the canonical hours, Jewish prayer hours or desert psalmody? I think it's both. The practice of singing all 150 Psalms came from St. Anthony, and praying at various times during the day came from Jewish prayer hours. I'm not a liturgist, so I could be wrong. My sources didn't go into detail.
Is it correct to say "the monastic office of canonical hours"? Not really. It was meant to be a thumbnail description for someone who didn't know what "Offices" meant. Let me see if I can improve the wording. Peirigill 17:53, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Sarabil, I reverted a couple of your changes; "Office" is usually capitalized in this context, and chant still is the (default) music of the Roman Rite. However, I took your correction to the "Mass" link (pointing it to "Mass (liturgy)" instead of "Eucharist") and updated that throughout the article, and made "Office" consistent instead of "Offices." Peirigill 19:13, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Ok, cool. I fixed a couple of "Offices" and a Mass link that you missed. One thing that's bugging me is that whole Jewish paragraph. The first half seems to be completely irrelevant to the developlement of earlier plainchant. Also, I think the placement of that paragraph breaks up the flow of the attempted chronological history. The reason I say attempted is that the first and third paragraphs overlap, yet distinctly seperate themselves with "in these first centuries" and "During the next few centuries." St. Athanasius and the abbess Egeria both lived in the fourth century, and the "next few centuries" starts off with the third century. You can do what you want, but I would suggest something along the lines of this:

Unaccompanied singing has been part of the Christian liturgy since the earliest days of the Church. Until the mid-1990s, it was widely accepted that the psalmody of ancient Jewish worship significantly influenced and contributed to early Christian ritual and chant. This view is no longer generally accepted by scholars, due to analysis that shows that most early Christian hymns did not have Psalms for texts, and that the Psalms were not sung in synagogues for centuries after the Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The New Testament mentions singing hymns, and other ancient witnesses such as Pope Clement I, Tertullian, St. Athanasius, and the abbess Egeria confirm the practice, although in poetic or obscure ways that shed little light on how music sounded in early centuries.

Psalms began to appear in Christian chant in the third century. The Apostolic Tradition, attributed to the Roman theologian Hippolytus, attests the singing of Hallel psalms with Alleluia as the refrain in early Christian agape meals. During the early fourth century, desert monks following St. Anthony introduced the practice of continuous psalmody, singing the complete cycle of 150 psalms each week, which would eventually become part of the prayers of the Office, chanted in monasteries during the canonical hours. Around 375, antiphonal psalmody became popular in the Christian East; in 386, St. Ambrose introduced this practice to the West.

Notice that this also solves the problem of dual tenses in the sentence: "In third-century Rome, well before Christianity was legalized, the Apostolic Tradition, attributed to the theologian Hippolytus, attests the singing of Hallel psalms..." Well, that's all I have to say on this articles, other than you guys have done a great job! It's very well written and the organization is good. I hope you make it for a featured article! Take care! ~ Sarabi1701 09:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

This flows better, but the problem is that the Apostolic Tradition doesn't mark the first appearance of sung Psalms in early Christian worship. It marks the first appearance of the "Alleluia" in a musical context in early Christian worship. My intention had been to take the History section as I found it and add the historical appearance of sung elements of the Office and Mass. The Jewish contributions are, I think, important, because it's a surprisingly contentious issue. Someone's bound to angrily edit this section, saying something like "ARE YOU IDIOYS??!!? (sic) OF COURSE Jewish music influenced the early Christians, Pastor Bob told me so!!!!" Also, Jewish practices did lead to the Sanctus and the canonical hours, which are relevant to this article. Let me try using your reorganization with the Jewish bit, and see if it still works. Peirigill 17:44, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
I love what you did! It sounds so much better! And the Jewish stuff definitely works much better the way you put it. This is the greatest part of Wikipedia...people working off of each others ideas to create something better than what either could have done alone. Fantastic! ~ Sarabi1701 21:40, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

...Continued wording of lede

The sentence describing who sang Gregorian chant has been changed to read "women and men of religious orders". I think this was partially changed earlier, but I didn't notice until the link was changed. The problem I have with this is that I specifically wanted to include Religious who are not members of official orders, such as hermits and anchorites who I think would have sung chants as part of their life of devotion, or at least it can't be ruled out that they would have. Mak (talk) 19:46, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

The Wikipedia entry on religious orders seems to include hermits and anchorites: "A religious order is an organization of people who live to achieve a common purpose through a form of promised or vowed life. The members of such orders, termed religious as a group, are usually distinct from both the laity and the clergy. They are sometimes termed monks, hermits, anchorites, or nuns if they live apart from general society (and if Christian) sing the divine office..." It doesn't look to me like Sarabil's edit excludes anyone, but I don't know enough about Catholic orders to say for sure. Peirigill 20:56, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Another prose question

"Not every Gregorian chant fits neatly into Guido's hexachords or into the system of eight modes. For example, there are chants—especially from German sources—whose neumes suggest a warbling of pitches between the notes E and F, which is not part of the hexachord system.[29] Similarly, the modal classification of certain chants is ambiguous. The eight Gregorian modes do not apply to other plainchant traditions, such as Ambrosian and Old Roman chants.[30]"

Not sure what this sentence means "Similarly, the modal classification of certain chants is ambiguous." Is this saying something different than the first sentence of the paragraph? If so, it's not clear to me right now. If not, recommend striking it.

Should also probably add an "also" or something to the last sentence as it seems to be changing topics: the rest of the paragraph is about Gregorian chant while the last sentence sort of an addition. Am I understanding this correctly? MarkBuckles 05:16, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Good point about the second sentence. I'll give the last sentence some context. Peirigill 06:05, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Format for chant titles

(That was weird... I thought I just posted this, but it didn't seem to register, so if i somehow end up double-posting, I apologize!)

Unlike song titles, the convention for chant titles (in Hiley, Apel, and Grove, for example) is to use italics but not quotation marks. I've standardized the chant titles accordingly. Names that are labels rather than titles, like "Kyrie 55" and "Credo," I've left without italics or quotation marks. Any objections? Peirigill 08:53, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

More prose

1. "Charlemagne completed the job his father had begun, so that by the ninth century the Gallican rite and chant had effectively been eliminated, although not without local resistance."

"Job his father had begun" seems a little unscholarly in tone. Plus, by the time I got there, I couldn't remember what "job" this was referring to. Also a bit confusing is that the sentence right before this mentions how by the 12th or 13th century, Gregorian chant had supplanted all these other traditions, but then in this sentence we're back to the 9th century. Maybe we should say some like, "X was elminated as early as the 9th century. This trend continued in the next few centuries with Y and Z" or something along those lines.
  • Making the language more scholarly is easy. As for the jump from the 12th to the 9th century... the first sentence of the paragraph should remain the topic sentence. I'll just move the "twelfth century" bit to the end of the second paragraph. That will help tie the two paragraphs together, as a bonus. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

2. "The non-psalmodic chants, including the Ordinary of the Mass, Sequences, and Hymns, were originally intended for congregational singing.[24] Their musical style is largely defined by the structure of their texts. In Sequences, the same melodic phrase is repeated in each couplet. The strophic texts of Hymns use the same syllabic melody for each stanza."

Hymns and Sequences are not capitalized in other parts of the article. Which is correct?
  • The sources are inconsistent. Apel and Wilson capitalize Introit, Offertory, Communion, Gradual, etc., but not "sequence" or "hymn." Hiley doesn't capitalize any of them. The Liber usualis appears to capitalize any chant genre, including "Hymnus" and "Sequentia." My decision was to capitalize all words when they referred to chant genres, including "Sequence" and "Hymn," but not capitalize "hymn" when it referred to hymns in general rather than a category of Gregorian chant. (I would also refer to extraliturgical sequences without capitalization; they just don't come up in this article.) Tony de-capitalized one occurrence of "Sequence" but not the rest, and I just didn't feel like fighting about it. Tony has a very specific editing aesthetic, so I assume he had some reason for making the change. I'd prefer to re-capitalize "Sequence" in that one case, and leave the sentence you quoted as it stands. I just don't want a battle over something as trivial, subjective, and irrelevant to overall perspicuity as capitalization. I'm still chafing from the WP:BITE I got on my talk page (not from Tony) from the last time I tried to explain myself. Do whatever you like. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
I have no preference, other than that it be consistent. For me, that inconsistancy does confuse comprehension. The sequence article does not capitalize. I'll change it to whatever if you'd rather not.
Sequence is also wikilinked 4 times in the article, plus once more at the bottom. Seems excessive.MarkBuckles 02:11, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

3. "Psalmodic chants, which intone psalms, are divided into direct psalmody in which psalm verses are sung without refrains, antiphonal chants, and responsorial chants"

Then there are three sound files as examples.A liturgical recitative, an antiphonal chant, and a responsorial chant. Nothing more is said about the first type of psalm verse, direct psalmody. Is the liturgical recitative an example? If so, it's not clear.
  • Direct psalmody is an example of liturgical recitative, but not a very important one. I think I've clarified the relationship (see the changes to the article, and comments below). The sound file representing recitative is a non-psalmodic accentus chant. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
Also, the first sentence of the section says "Gregorian chants fall into two broad categories of melody: recitatives and free melodies" But no more is said about free melodies, and which of the three categories utilize free melodies over recitative.
Basically, although the sentences in this section all make sense by themselves, as a whole, I'm having a lot of trouble understanding what's going on with the melodic types. Maybe the section should start with something like "Gregorian chant melodies can be classified in terms of X, Y, and Z." And then define the variables and their relationships. I'm just a little lost as is.
  • The categories that the scholars have used are not easy to make clear. There are several different ways the chants are categorized (free/recitative, antiphonal/responsorial, syllabic/melismatic, Proper/Ordinary, etc.) and those different categorizations have a lot of crossover with each other. The big problem in this section is that not all free melodies are psalmodic, and not all psalmodic chants are free. The big, important categories are liturgical recitative, antiphonal, and responsorial, but these aren't species of a single genus. Moreover, not all chants fall within these three groups. Then, to make matters worse, not all antiphonal chants have antiphons and not all responsorial chants have responds... I'll try to make it flow better, but the blunt reality is that the chants do not divide neatly into a simple Linnaean taxonomy. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

4. "Charlemagne, now elevated to Holy Roman Emperor, aggressively spread Gregorian chant throughout his empire to consolidate religious and secular power, requiring the clergy to use the new repertory on pain of death."

This sentence uses the word now indicating some passage of time but does not say exactly when.
  • That's for the very good reason that I don't know exactly when. I haven't the slightest idea when Charlemagne started this process. Maybe it was as soon as he became Emperor; maybe it was years after the coronation. How about "once elevated"? I am trying to indicate that the expansion occurred under Charlemagne's rule, not Pepin's. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

5."the G-A-C triad"

Well, it's three notes, but not exactly what we usually call a triad. Is this an error?
  • No, it's not. But you're right that many people may be confused by this atypical use of "triad." I'll shorten and reword it. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

6. "Similarly, certain Introits in Mode 3, including Loquetur Dominus above, do not merely have E as a final and C as a dominant; they use both G and C as reciting tones, constituting a family of tonally related melodies."

I'm a little confused by this sentence. Part of it is that we haven't defined which modes have which dominant note in this article, and now we're talking about specific notes. Part of it is just the jump from the general to the very specific. Maybe the section should start by talking about "families" of melodies and then move to examples. Better yet, maybe the section should start by mentioning everything we're going to talk about in the section. As it is, I'm wondering when I start reading, "so what's going to be different from the modes section. . ." and some things I don't find out until the very end of the section, like the triads and conjunct and disjunct melodic motion. Maybe tonality just isn't the right word for this section anyway? Thoughts?
  • I really don't want to go into excruciating detail about the finals, dominants, and tessituras of the eight modes. That's covered in the Musical modes article, it's covered in any standard history of music... heck, that's pretty much all that's covered in any standard history of music, as though every Lydian chant were pretty much a cookie-cutter variation of the next, little more than a patter of c's ending on an F. In reality, knowing which mode a chant is in generally tells you very little about what the melody is going to do. However - and this is a big "however" - within a chant genre, chant families tend to be grouped by mode. Tracts of mode 2 aren't all alike, and they don't resemble Introits of mode 2 at all, but you will find a group of related chants among the mode 2 Tracts. The fact that the chants are in the same mode is more important than the formal definition (final, dominant, and tessitura) of that mode. My personal POV is that modes are wildly artificial and overrated, and that a big part of understanding Gregorian chant is understanding the melodic idioms, which really have very little to do with dominants, finals, and tessituras. Gregorian chant is not melodically homogeneous; the centonization of Tracts, the quasi-recitative of Introits, and the repeat structures of Offertory verses are all very different phenomena. Nevertheless, once you know these features, you can "hear" the difference between a melody that sounds like a Gregorian chant and one that doesn't. I suppose "quiddity" is a more precise word for "the stuff that makes chant sound like chant," but I usually say "tonality." Is there a better word you would recommend? In the meantime, I'll revise the section to try to address your critique. Peirigill 10:32, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

MarkBuckles 06:20, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

What about "melodic idioms"? You used that phrase in your response and it seems to make a lot more sense to me than "tonality."
I think these changes are all helpful improvements. I'll go over them a bit more, along with the rest of the article, later this week. MarkBuckles 02:11, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
"Musical idiom" is reading better. The capitalization issue is bothering me. "consider the following sentence: "The Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, sequence, Offertory and Communion chants are part of the Proper of the Mass." That just sticks out like a sore thumb. Peirigill 17:47, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Yuck. What are your feelings on decapitalizing all of them? I agree it should be one way or the other for sentences like that.
Do you think the grues will eat us if we capitalize "Sequence" for just that one sentence? Peirigill 00:29, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
And musical idiom works fine I think. MarkBuckles 23:41, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. If I may, one preemptive edit: you made a change (which Makemi, I think, correctly reverted) that I believe was meant to suggest that the modes are inherent in the sound of chant. Except for the psalm tones, I don't think that's accurate. The modes are an imperfect tool for categorization, not a template for composition. Peirigill 00:29, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Okay, but the sentence should be rewritten somehow. As it is, (the sound of Gregorian chant focuses on the modes), "sound" is the subject and "focuses" is the predicate. That just doesn't make sense. How can sound focus on anything? I understand the meaning but it's awkward. I think "sound" is probably is not the best word to start with anyway - it's just so vague. Maybe could the subject of the topic sentence be "musical idiom" instead? For example, "much of the musical idiom of Gregorian Chant is derived from the modes." Or if derived is inaccurate, something else, but you take my meaning. MarkBuckles 01:12, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

??? The subject of the sentence is "discussion," not "sound." Peirigill 02:14, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
You're right. Blindness from reading the same sentence too many times. MarkBuckles 22:31, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Been there. (pats on back) Still, you've got a point. Let me try to tighten that up a bit. Peirigill 22:56, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

A little bit of confusion

From the Dissemination and hegemony section

Gregorian chant eventually replaced the local chant traditions of Rome itself. In the tenth century, virtually no musical manuscripts were being notated in Italy.

This confuses me a bit. Is what's really meant that no new chants were being written by Italians? Were there really no manuscripts being copied out for church use in Italy? that seems very unlikely to me. Even if they were importing the musical ideas, I would think that copyists would still have to be at work to make enough copies to keep up with the demand for performance copies. Mak (talk) 01:07, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

IIRC, the musical manuscript tradition was weak in Italy at that time, even though the chant traditions themselves were going strong. Consider that the first notated scores of Ambrosian, Old Roman, and Beneventan chant date from the 12th century (11th at the very earliest). The real action was in the north and west, impelled by the Carolingians and the German Holy Roman Emperors. There may well have been a thriving manuscript tradition in Italy at the time, but musical notation wasn't involved. Don't forget that notation itself was still fairly new - Guido's Micrologus wasn't until about 1025 - and most chants were still transmitted orally. The Italian chant traditions were also primarily local phenomena, unlike the "international" dissemination of Gregorian. The local communities in Rome, Milan, and Benevento/Montecassino didn't need to have lots of copies, because only a small group of local performers needed their particular chants. Charlemagne et al. wanted everyone in their dominion using a unified Gregorian across large distances, so manuscripts were much more needed. Still, it probably deserves a citation; I'll see if I can dig up where I got that info. Peirigill 18:42, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

(On a side note... I'm glad you expanded that sentence about the New Testament. I thought that line was too abrupt, and considered changing it on several occasions. My original version was less blunt, but didn't pass Tony's "word redundancy is evil" test.)  ;-) My only concern is that after my original revision the article was around 40 KB, and it's now threatening to pass 50 KB because of various editors' requests that some tidbit be added or some paragraph explained in greater detail. Raul will accept longer articles for FA, but there are FA reviewers who will oppose any article longer than 50 KB. Peirigill 18:42, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Ok, makes sense for the notated bit. I have no idea why, I had it in my mind we were talking about a completely different century. It might still be good to have a source, but don't sweat it. I wasn't even thinking about article size when I added 18 words and a template, but I can see how it would all add up. For the record, it was an honest question, not in any way meant to be an attack, but rather a request for information, which you fulfilled admirably. I just didn't get it, because in my addled pate I was thinking about the 13th century, rather than the tenth. Mak (talk) 19:09, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
Also for the record, "big Mak attack" was nothing more than a pun.  :) Peirigill 20:25, 27 July 2006 (UTC)