To get more background information before reading this page, you may want to read first Chanting the psalms – before you start…
Sum-up of the video below:
- Music “creators” and the academia have convinced many people that musical notes are “random”, and that their art is to organize these notes. This belief has contributed to the laity leaving music to “the professionals”.
- This is a recent belief, and not a helpful one (details : Chant, traditional music of the spheres ).
- Musical notes are certainly not “random” in Liturgical Chant. There is order. Music is organized per a divinely created proportionality. Liturgical chant is easier to sing than “modern” music because it follows this proportionality, and the “square notes” music notation system reflects this simplicity.
- Knowing the do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do “major scale” is 90% of the theory one needs to know to sing the FULL REPERTOIRE of Gregorian chant of the Catholic Church. Do not let anyone confuse you with the details…
- This 8-note “major scale” needs to be internalized by the chanter, but to do so, you can start by reducing it to 5 notes: do-re-mi-fa-sol.
- With these 5 notes as “raw material”, those who memorized only 6 intervals can sight-read every chant in the Roman Gradual or Liber Usualis. These intervals are:
- minor second, also called “1/2 step”, abbreviated m2
- major second, also called “full step”, abbreviated M2
- minor third, abbreviated m3
- major third, abbreviated M3
- perfect fourth, P4
- perfect fifth, P5
How can you memorize these 5 notes, and the 6 intervals that represents the proportionality between them?
Good news! You already have memorized them with the music you already know. If you can recognize when your cell phone is ringing, then you likely already have what it takes…
Your memory contains these 6 intervals, just under (a) different form(s). Now you need to (re)organize them in your mind to make them accessible, and useful to chant.
The video below shows you the relationship between the 5 notes do-re-mi-fa-sol, the 6 intervals (m2, M2, m3, M3, P4, P5), and some famous tunes you already know.
You would prefer to use other tunes? You need help making that link? Email me the song(s) you know well at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will tell you what intervals you can memorize from each tune you send me.
IMPORTANT: use the help of a KEYBOARD to memorize these intervals. If you do not have one, your computer does. In the video, I use: https://www.apronus.com/music/flashpiano.htm
IMPORTANT: LEARNING TO SING THESE 5 NOTES AND 6 INTERVALS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. ONCE YOU KNOW THEM, YOU WILL HEAR MUSIC “FROM THE INSIDE”, AND YOU WILL SEE THE WORLD WITH A DIFFERENT SET OF GOGGLES.
START WITH ONE INTERVAL. ADD A SECOND… COMPARE THEM…
IT WILL NOT BE EASY THE FIRST WEEK… FRUSTRATING EVEN. DO NOT GIVE UP!
IT MAYBE NOT EASY THE SECOND WEEK EITHER, BUT IT WILL BE EASIER,… AND STILL EASIER THE THIRD WEEK…. YOU GET THE PICTURE… AS NIKE WOULD SAY, “JUST DO IT!”
Third and final video of this session:
- how do you find the 6 intervals on the page of music in front of you?
- How do you recognize a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th..?
- If to differentiate a minor 3rd from a Major 3rd, you need to know where the half-steps are… Then where are the half step?
Complement to the video above (excerpt from “Gregorian Chant practicum” by Justine Ward):
Now, once you have started working on internalizing the proportionality of ALL of music with these 6 intervals, it might be good to learn one single thing about music theory:
- most melodies, but especially Gregorian Chant melodies, are built “around” two notes. We will call these most important notes, the “anchors” of your melody: the DOMINANT, and the FINAL.
- How do we know which two notes are important? In Gregorian Chant, it is simple: it is written on the music sheet with a number from 1 to 8, often written as a Roman numeral: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII or VIII. Read this page to learn how this number from 1 to 8 gives you the two important notes: Modality – introduction
- When chanting the psalms, it is even easier. Not only the number of the mode (I,..,VIII) tells you the two most important notes, but you will RECITE most of the psalm on the DOMINANT. In psalmody, the DOMINANT = the RECITING TONE.