More Discoveries

By Sr. Fidelis

We have taken a “romp” through the eight Church Modes over these past weeks and, for each mode, we have talked about the principal pitches, the Reciting Tone, and Home Tone.  There is always a “descent,” to the Home Tone at the end of the chants we have looked at, which gives it a feeling of “settling,” or completion.

In some of the older books for the Divine Office and the Mass, you will see some chants with no Mode listed in the customary place to the left of the piece.  If you look carefully at the Agnus Dei posted below, here is a case in point!  This Agnus Dei begins on Sol.  It goes above and below this pitch, but then, instead of descending to a lower pitch, it returns to the same pitch it began on.  It is almost as if the melody were “circular” —returning to its start!

There have been many studies done on Modality over the years, and it has been discovered that some of the melodies that have the same Reciting and Home Tone are very ancient—the beginnings of the chant melodies.

We’ll be looking into some of these discoveries in the weeks to come!

Agnus Dei

(No audio this week.)

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