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Sat Jul 1 09:33:06 PDT 2006

century, there was much re-editing of the chant .  Notation began to record
a new kind of measured rhythm, akin to modern crotchets, quavers and dotted
crotchets.  Both rhythm and a revised text-underlay were co-opted into
ensuring that accented syllables received greater musical weight, and
unaccented less.  This applied also to chant adapted into vernacular
languages in churches of the Reformation (see also below, under "The Chant
in English"). France went further, so that "Gregorian" chants were often
replaced by modern imitations, known as "Neo-Gallican" chants. During this
period both Gregorian and Neo-Gallican chants were frequently accompanied by
musical instruments, especially by the serpent. In the nineteenth century,
the Solesmes monks began to study the early sources again, and restored the
melodies to their pre-seventeenth century form. In the early twentieth
century, the "restored" Editions of Solesmes became the official versions of
the chant used by the modern catholic church. At first, Dom Joseph Pothier
(1835-1923) advocated an "equalist" system, in which all notes were sung at
more-or-less the same speed. Soon after, Dom Andre Mocquereau (1849-1930)
worked out a rhythmic system which was added to the official Roman chant
books, which understood the melodies in terms of rhythmic groups of two or
three notes, and in which some notes were doubled in length. This system has
been criticised for ignoring some of the early manuscripts' rhythmic
indications, and inserting others not present in the manuscripts. Many of
the most popular chant records, including the earlier recordings of Solesmes
under Dom. Gajard , and those of the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos , were
recorded using this system. Some have suggested that the earliest chant
notation (of the post-Carolingian period) implies a "measured" system of
Gregorian rhythm (rather like modern crotchets and quavers). The most
detailed of these theories (based much more closely upon the written
notation than Mocquereau's theory) was that of J. W. A. Vollaerts (1901-56,
published posthumously 1958-60). R. John Blackley in America has recorded
chant in accordance with this system, and in the past The Deller Consort
recorded chant in this style. In the 1960's, another monk of Solesmes, Dom
Eugene Cardine, studied the earliest notation, but disagreed with Vollaerts,
preferring to conceive of the longer and shorter notes as rhythmic
"nuances". Nonetheless, Cardine's theories have served as the starting point
for many different sorts of performance, including some of great rhythmic
complexity (for example those of the Ensemble Gilles Binchois , in which the
contrast between longer and shorter sounds is so great that the word
"nuance" hardly seems to provide an apt description). >>


-----Original Message-----
From: minstrel-admin at [mailto:minstrel-admin at]On Behalf Of
Corrie Bergeron
Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2003 1:39 PM
To: minstrel at
Subject: minstrel: Chant notation

My understanding was that there WAS no duration in the notation (eesh -
I'm sounding like Ms. Frizzle!).

>>Right now I'm taking a whack at how to read chant
notation. ;-> Anybody out there know anything about
durational values?

Jehanne de Wodeford

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