By Sr. Fidelis
The chant repertoire runs the gamut between very ornate, melismatic chants, and those which are simple, 2- or 3-note recitations. As we said last week, many of the simplest chants are the most ancient. The recitation tone takes a dominant role and the others become ornamental. These ancient modes of 3 or 4 pitches are called “Mother Modes,” because all other melodic development came from these basic roots.
Look at the antiphon below—a perfect example! It recites on LA and returns to LA. (Remember that solfege came after the fact) These simple cantillations were already in existence. Listen to Lauda Jerusalem, which then segues into Psalm 147, verses 12-20. The Psalm tone also returns to the LA, just as the antiphon does.
Stay tuned next week, when we’ll look at several other antiphons which use these same pitches, but then descend to a lower pitch, so we can actually see this evolution!