Monday, October 13, 2014


Fr. Chadwick has picked up our post on Sarum chant and commented on his own experience running a choir that employed the, dare I say, effete Solesmes method of chant during his tenure with the ICRSS. Here is a comparison of some different interpretations of the Introit for the Mass of the Resurrection.

The Solesmes method

An "Organum" interpretation based on research into
the structure of chant in the Roman basilicas in
the 7th and 8th centuries

A recording from a Paschal Mass in 1978. This follows
the more mainstream method, one which, I think, descends
more naturally in timbre and style from the old
Roman style above


  1. Here's one that's based on the Graduale Triplex, which is a work by Solesmes scholars that attempts to reconstruct the rhythm of the Gregorian corpus at St. Gall:

  2. Why did the Solesmes amariconado way of chanting appear? That strange kindg of chant seems to be an oddity!

    K. e.

  3. "Why did the Solesmes amariconado way of chanting appear? That strange kindg of chant seems to be an oddity!"

    It's rather complicated, but it mostly comes down to a few scholarly and aesthetic opinions of the musicologists at Solesmes, especially of Dom Joseph Pothier OSB. Let's be clear here and say that most Gregorian chant enthusiasts don't think the Solesmes method is the most beautiful, but it is still widely promoted because (a) it's very easy to learn [an important point to remember in these dark days where tradition is scorned and mocked], and (b) a huge amount of explanatory and training material exists for the Solesmes method in comparison to other schools [see prior].

    It's also important to remember that the Solesmes method was primarily constructed as an improvement upon the Medici-edition chants, which I think most people would agree sound rather awful in comparison. The Dies Irae in particular is rather jarring to listen to.


    Now this is the best version

  5. and about all the versions.
    the last one is just lower tonality. the second one is byzantinized solesmes, as organum always does. i don't think there is much scholarship behind them. if roman chant sounded like that, that late, how did we get all the chants of the ordinary to sound like what they sound now?

    1. Last I checked, the current theory in vogue is that as polyphony started to emerge in the Renaissance, some hip & modern musicologists went through all the chant books and made changes that would allow the Gregorian antiphonale to be sung with multiple voices (i.e. changing notes here and there to prevent bad chords). It's also when the rhythm and tonality became standardized. Meanwhile over in Constantinople, the cathedral cantors retained their melismas that the Byzantine corpus has to this day.

      At least that's the theory.

    2. well that wouldn't explain basic uniformity of the western essential Mass melodies - preface dialogue, prefaces, Dominical Oration etc.

      And also, byzantine chant as it sounds today sounded almost nothing like that in the days before the fall. i urge you to listen to this. it is a byzantine hymn/canon to st. Thomas Aquinas

    3. Ah, sorry, I misunderstood your query.