I spent my day today, working on my opening movement, and also on my third movement Gregorian Chant flavored idea. I have this crazy plan of bringing in a slow movement with
Gregorian style orchestra and a soloing violin above. Mad eh?
I hear it in my head and really think it can work well and be a very interesting and unique touch to the musical story. With that said, I was dictating down some chant today to get a feel for its structure and tonality. I was focusing on an ancient chant called Gloria Laus Dominica in Palmis.
It was interesting to notice the ascending melodic minor scale.
I managed to identify a few of the dominant characteristics of the melodic style I am
chasing down, which was good. I have loved chant for years, and the work of Arvo Part has really been an inspiration to me in my desire to realize these sounds in my imagination. From years of listening, and even a memorable stint singing chants at morning mass in my
one year of boarding school in St. Finian’s in Mullingar, I am already familiar with the texture and expressiveness of the style.
Although Gregorian Chant has no meter or rhythmic markings at all, I intend to specifically call on the tonality we all are familiar with. I think Part has achieved this with his work on pieces such as Fratres, which I think is an amazing piece of work.
Gregorian Chant does however, have a suggested rhythm, through groupings of notes.
Vertical lines separate musical phrases and create what could be considered a pause for taking a breath. This helps generate a grouping of notes and gives the impression of rhythmic devisions.
The separation lines look something like
As I mentioned earlier, Gregorian Chant is not in a major or minor key as such, but in modes and the chants I was listening too were melodic minor in mode.
What else? Well, Gregorian Chant is written on a 4-line staff, instead of the more familiar 5 line staff that we are used to music being written on today. To help make sense of the pitch, a specific clef mark was utilized to mark the tonic pitch on the staff.
For Example, if marks where Doh is on the staff, here on the third line from the bottom. If we associate Doh with the pitch/note C, then the four lines of the the staff would be F-A-C-E.
A slightly different clef would be the Fah Clef () indicating where Fah is on the staff. This would mean Do would be on the bottom space.
Enough Gregorian mumbo jumbo? I hope so 🙂