Psalm tones

For our purpose, the Psalm tones are a recitative and repetitive way of chanting that is a great tool for beginners.
Britannica’s definition: Psalm tone, melodic recitation formula used in the singing of the psalms and canticles of the Bible, followed by the “Gloria Patri” (“Glory Be to the Father”) during the chanting of the liturgical hours, or divine office. In the Gregorian chant repertory there are eight psalm tones. Because each psalm verse is divided into two halves, the psalm tones have a binary, or two-part, form. The first part consists of the initium, or intonation, of a melodic fragment; tenor, or recitation note; flexa, or downward inflection, used only if the first half of the verse is long; and mediatio, or middle cadence (resting point). The second part comprises the tenor, sung until the terminatio, or final cadence. (Read all at this link).

When Singing the Mass at Mass, one simple way to sing the Psalms as verses for the Introit, the Offertory and Communion, and thus adjust the duration of the chant to accompany these processions, is to sing these Psalm tones: The 1974 Graduale Romanum thus gives us these “Gloria Patri tones”: Gloria Patri tones Graduale Romanun 1974

The book “Communio” has a very good 5-page sum-up of how these tones are constructed. Download here: Verses for Introit and Communion – 8 tones . The links to each tone (see below) start with music files illustrating these 5 pages:

First tone (Gregorian mode I)

Second tone (Gregorian mode II)

Third tone (Gregorian mode III)

Fourth tone (Gregorian mode IV)

Fifth tone (Gregorian mode V)

Sixth tone (Gregorian mode VI)

Seventh tone (Gregorian mode VII)

Eighth tone (Gregorian mode VIII)

In the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form), one common way to sing the Proper and meet the rubrics for a “Missa Cantata” is to sing the Proper on these psalm tones (see Rossini Psalm tones).

(For more details, see the eight psalm tones as defined in the 1961 Liber Usualis: liber-1961-eight psalm tones or download these 20 pages explaining the chanting of the psalms: Chanting the psalms – sunol )

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