With Septuagesima, we definitely abandon Christmas Time to enter the Easter cycle. External rites peculiar to this new liturgical season are: suppression of the Glória at mass, deletion of joyful Alleluias everywhere in the celebration, even at Deus in adjutorium meum intende, to which it virtually adheres, purple ornaments. All this is singularly evocative and sufficient to characterize the atmosphere in which the liturgy will now take place: it is a spirit of penance that will - increasingly so as we approach the holy celebration of the mystery of the Lord's passion - be the hallmark of the Church prayer.
The handing out of communion often takes a while. Strangely enough, the gregorian tune sung on that occasion is the shortest one of the whole mass. Actually, it is not a responsorial chant like the gradual, which is a response to a lecture, but a communion antiphony, which was formerly chanted in alternance with a psalm.
The Trait is a chant that is sung in one go, ie not interrupted by a chorus (as the alleluia or the offertory and communion antiphons), so it is a non responsorial chant(today, one would call it a chant without a chorus).This should not be seen as evidence of a particularly slow and even less monotonous performance.
It is a commonplace to say that Gregorian chant experienced a decline between the twelfth and nineteenth century, and was "resurrected" through the work of Solesmes, a school which now supposedly presents Gregorian chant as it would have been or should be.
The Solesmes school itself has changed considerably during the twentieth century - which is to his credit - under the influences of both Dom Mocquereau's theory and Dom Cardine semiotics.
Yet, there is room for a certain number of questions:
- Is there one single reference for the interpretation of gregorian chant?
- And supposing we were able to define the performance style that prevailed at the time of the creation of the Gregorian (sixth-tenth centuries), would such a style still be valid in the twenty-first century?
- Besides, who says that during such a long period of time and in such a large geographical space, a unique style would have been adopted?
- Does each period of time not consider liturgical chant against its own criteria?
- Don't we speak of evolution or decline in relation with those criteria and the mindset of the times?
As You may see, the question of interpretive styles in Gregorian Chant is far from resolved and we have no claim to draw definitive conclusions. The text below is taken from the work of Jacques Viret: "The Gregorian chant and Gregorian tradition" (pages 58-59, L'Age d'Homme edition) it gives the status quaestionis, the state of the question. This already enables to broaden the debate and avoid focusing on systems or theories which may be too exclusive.
The Gregorian notation is made from basic elements called neumes. In order to interpret the Gregorian chant, it is, in a first step, indispensable to be able to break down a melody into neumes ; it is the basic requirement of rhythmic interpretation.
The present article lists the various neumes and their characteristics. A training video will be attached ... Basic notions of Gregorian chant