Definition that Plainchant

Plainchant (or plainsong) is the traditional routine singing of the west Christian Church that very first developed throughout the earliest century of Christianity.

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Plainchant/plainsong in the strictest sense explains the following:

A single line of unaccompanied vocal melody (monophony),Lyrics room in Latin,Sung in totally free rhythm – not split into bar-lengths. The indigenous recited (prayers and also psalms, etc..) provide rise come a cost-free plainsong rhythm linked with speech fairly than strict rhythms that music.Uses modes (instead the major/minor scales).

It is called Cantus planus in Latin and Canto plano in Italian.

Have a listen to this instance of monophonic plainchant titled Pange Lingua:


Plainchant Example

It is helpful to understand just how Cantus Planus (plainchant) contrasted v other forms of Cantus (song). In Cantus figuratus (florid song), counterpoint was included to the melody, whilst Cantus mesuratus (measured song) had regular rhythms.

Plainchant Notation

Plainchant has actually its own form of notation. It provides a stave that has actually 4 lines rather of the 5 discovered in typical sheet music. Have actually a look at this instance of middle ages plainchant from the 13th century:


A 13th century Cistercian gradual from the Abbey of san Stephano in ~ Corno, Lodi, Italy

Gregorian Chant

Gregorian Chant describes the collection of the Franco-Roman chant. Have actually a hear to this example that Gregorian Chant title Deum Verum.

Note: The Greek Orthodox Church and the Jewish Synagogue have comparable traditions the unaccompanied melodic song, yet these are not generally covered under the terms plainchant or plainsong.

Performing Plainchant

Plainchant is composed to it is in performed in miscellaneous ways:

Monophonic Plainchant – this plainchant is written to be performed through a solo voice (as in the very first audio instance on this page) Responsorial Plainchant – in a responsory, a solo singer alternates with a choir. Have actually a listen to this performance of a Matin responsory by Palestrina (1525-1594) (it is based on the original, however with English lyrics). Antiphonal Plainchant – this plainchant consists of alternate singing by 2 teams of singers.

The breakthrough of Plainchant

Plainchant, like all layouts of music has developed and readjusted through time. However, the advancement of the plainchant format has been intrinsically attached with the west church and has therefore been affected by various events in church national politics over the centuries. For example, Pope Gregory instituted a major reform in the sixth century and also other subsequent church-led reforms followed in the 16th and also 19th centuries. Plainchant is currently performed by choirs and, as in the responsory instance above, has sometimes been analyzed or set to English lyrics.

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Contemporary Plainchant

Whilst modern compositions the plainchant are reasonably rare, the enchanting and ethereal nature that the music proceeds to attract audiences in the contemporary world and also each year look at the release of new choral albums celebrating the genre.