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THE GREGORIAN CHANT HISTORY

 

The Gregorian chant is the oldest musical manifestation of the Occident and it has its roots in the songs of the old synagogues, since Jesus Christ`s times.

The first Christians and disciples of Christ, were converted Jewish that, persevering in prayer, continued to sing the psalms and songs of the Old Testament as they were used, although with other sense. As long as the Greek, not Jews and Romans were also becoming Christian, elements of the music and the Greek-French-Roman culture were being included to the Jewish songs.

The formation period of the Gregorian chant includes the centuries I to VI, reaching the peak in the centuries IX, X and XI, beginning of the Medium Age; it begins, then, its decadence.

The name is an homage to Pope Gregory I (540-604) that did a collection of pieces, publishing them in two books: Antiphonarium, group or referring melodies at the Canonical Hours, and the Graduale Romanum, containing Santa Mass`s songs. He also began the “Schola Cantorum” that gave great development to the Gregorian chant.

Starting from the initiative talent of D. Moquereau, at the end of XIX century, the Saint Pierre of Solesmes Monastery, in France, became the great center of studies and practice of the Gregorian chant. Its monks, at that time, led off a paleography work (the study of the old manuscripts) of Gregorian chant and a recovery of the signs written in the centuries VII and IX. Then, appears the Gregorian semiology, which is the interpretation of the signs, back to the source, establishing a more authentic interpretation of the Gregorian chant; among others it appears the talent work of Eugène Cardine, OSB.

At the beginning of XX century, Pope Pious X asks the Benedictine monks to make a modern edition of the manuscripts, appearing then the Vatican Edition. In 1985 another edition called “Graduale Triplex” with three notations of the Gregorian chant: the Vatican, the one of Laon (France) and the other of Saint Gaal (Switzerland).

After the accomplishment of the Vatican II Council (1965), Latin stopped being the official language in the liturgy of the Church, and the liturgical celebrations became accomplished of the vernacular language of each country and the practice of the Gregorian chant was then restricted to the monasteries and admirers` groups, who were found of the beauty of this “word-song”.

The principal characteristics of the Gregorian chant, also known as “plain song”, are: the melodies are sung in unison (monodic), without predominance of voices, in other words, strictly homofonic. with free rhythm, without compass, just based on the accentuation and it`s sung “a capella”, that is, without accompaniment of any musical instruments and the lyrics are in Latin, removing, in its great majority, of the biblical texts, specially the psalms.

In 1994 it happened a “renaissance” of the Gregorian chant when it was released by EMI, in CD, a record which have been recorded for more than 20 years ago for the monks of Santo Domingo Monastery, of Silos, north of Spain. The record reached the first place in sales in several countries, and sold the mark of 5 million copies.

After that success several CDs were released by monks or laymen and some sang in rock style, as for example the one of the German rock groups  Enigma, they recorded a CD “MCMXC A.D.” with great success all over the world and  Gregorian with beautiful CDs recorded Masters of Chant, Lesiem. Besides this, other groups recorded CDs: The Ultimate Compilation – Real Sadness & Other Gregorian Mysteries, Gregorian Dance and Chantmania, recorded by the Benzedrine Monks of Santo Domonica.

 

 

 

GREGORIAN CHANT IN THE INTERNET

 

Besides the links that you found here, you can listen our first CD Rorate (male and female voices) at the channel of Radio Set with Gregorian chant and sacred music. If you want to know more, search for the word Gregorian Chant in other language in several: search engines sites you can see here in this page:

 

German Gregorianische Gesäng
Spanish Canto Gregoriano
French Chant Grégorien
Latin Cantus Gregorianus
Italian Canto Gregoriano
Dutch Gregoriaans

 


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