Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

by Sr Fidelis  

Another “Relative”

Just as there are two RE Modes (Modes 1 and 2), the MI Mode comes in pairs as well — Modes 3 and 4. Mode 3 has some specific characteristics: a more expansive range, often going above the reciting tone TI, and the characteristic ending of FA-MI.

Mode 4 recites on LA (a note lower than TI), but shares the home tone of MI. For the most part, Mode 4 pieces dwell in the lower part of the range, and often the reciting tone LA, is the highest pitch of the piece. Take a look and listen to the example below.

The next example is a short antiphon from the Midday Office.

The first five notes of this brief piece go right down the modal scale from LA to MI.  We hear the characteristic FA-MI sound twice in this antiphon.

Although these short snippets give us the essence of each Mode, it is important to remember that Modal theory was applied years after pieces that were already freely composed! There are some that do not fit into the molds. That’s what makes the study of Gregorian Chant so fascinating. Only the Holy Spirit could inspire such melodies.
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About Sr. Fidelis

I am 46 years old, and have been a Sister at the Community of Jesus for 26 years. Having grown up here, I have been singing Gregorian chant since I was 10! I was very blessed to study Gregorian chant with Dr. Mary Berry in Cambridge, England and here at home. Recently, I have been able to do some radio and tv interviews, sharing about the blessings of Gregorian chant. I love leading chant workshops, and have been able to do that in the US and abroad.

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