This chapter introduces the
basic principles of Gregorian notation and
how to write scores
in Gregorian notation with Harmony-Melody.
If you do not know this notation, we hope that
reading the present chapter will make you want to
Here is an example of a gregorian staff made with
Some pieces of gregorian music are provided in
the Demos folder ("Gregorian" subfolder).
Gregorian notation was designed primarily to
to paper the sacred chants of the beginning of the
The scale used is, in modern notes: C, D, E, F,
G, A. The intervals between these notes are the
same as in modern
Notes are written on a 4-line staff. Each staff
corresponds to a single singer, so there are
no chords on such
(a normal human being has difficulty in singing
several notes at the
Only note pitch is written, the choir
(or singer) is left free to choose duration. In
some cases, however,
of longer or shorter notes can be given.
Places where the singer
can breathe (rests) are written too.
These are equivalent to pauses and rests in modern
Because we are talking about chants, lyrics
are almost always associated with the staff.
Each lyrics word (or syllable) matches one or
several notes (up to 4).
All notes sung on the same word or syllable are
grouped into an entity called a
The neume is the foundation of Gregorian
A neume is defined by:
Each neume has a different name. Notes
the neume are drawn with a square, a diamond or a
the notes composing the neume (from one to four)
the intervals between these notes (upward or
A neume always starts at the beginning of a
A neume is always read from left to right (like
in modern notation) but from bottom to top when
notes are written on
Here are three notes in modern notation. Pitch
is increased from the first to the second, and
increased again from the
second to the third.
It is the “Scandicus” neume, drawn like this
in gregorian notation:
From 1 to 4 notes can be drawn in the same neume.
Thus there can be up to 3 pitch changes (inflexions)
in a single neume.
It follows that there are 1+2+4+8, i.e. 15
neumes. Each one has its own name.
||Punctum (simple note) or Virga (note
Here is a neume. Find its name in the array above
(answer at the bottom of this page)
Neume names are given only for
will not be necessary to know
these names to work with
Indicators of note duration
Generally, notes are of equal duration. It is
possible, however, to provide information about
note duration on the
A longer note will be marked with a dot
(punctum mora) as in modern notation.
A shorter note (liquescens) will be
by a smaller square. Generally this note is
located at the end of the
and changes its name.
Two accidentals can be
found in gregorian notation: flat and
are notated in the same way
as in modern music.
There are two kinds of clef:
(C is located on the line marked with the
(F is located on the line marked with
These clefs can be placed on any line of the
to indicate which line equates to the named
(accidentals just after the clef) are rare but
possible: sometimes you
will come across one flat as a key signature.
Breath indicators are the equivalent of pauses
and rests in modern notation. They are written as
a vertical bar.
Custos are little notes written on the
staff, at the right hand edge of the paper. They
forewarn the singer
the first note on the next line will be.
and displays custos automatically.
All regular editing operations can be applied
to a gregorian staff (Cut, Paste, Transpose,
Insert, etc.). However,
can only cut & paste
A gregorian tools palette is available in the
"Windows" menu. A description of of its elements
is provided in the help window.
Creating a gregorian staff
Create a new document and select its type as
You can also add a new staff to an existing
and change its type to "Gregorian".
Selecting the clef
Select the clef change tool and click in the
staff. Select then the C or F clef and the base
line of the clef.
Adding a note
Select a note duration in the Gregorian tools
palette (dotted punctum, punctum or liquescens)
and move over the
The help line displays:
If the neume already contains 4 notes, this fact
displayed in the help line; if you try
nevertheless to add a new note
a 4-notes neume, an error message is displayed and
the note is not
The type of neume located under your mouse
(with the included note pitches)
The kind of neume you will obtain if you add
To add a note to the beginning of a neume,
before the neume on the right line.
To add a note to the end of a neume, click after
the neume on the right line.
To add a note in the middle of a neume, click
at the right location in the neume.
Notes are sometimes graphically
very close together
within a neume. To be sure to
click at the right place,
display scale of your document.
Adding a rest
Select a rest in the palette and move over the
gregorian staff. Click to insert a rest
(breath). Click several times
increase the breath duration.
Deleting a note or a rest
Select the delete tool (lightning bolt) and
on the note (rest) to be deleted. If you click
on a neume, only the
that is pointed at will be deleted from the
Answer to the
In order to synchronize several gregorian
(or a gregorian staff with a regular staff),
you need to select a time
signature for the document. With a 16/4
time signature however, you
can write 32 puncta in a single bar.
- Neume graphical location within the bar is
free. You will not be able, for example, to
add a punctum just after a
4-note neume: the area used by a neume is
always the sum of the
- It is possible to cut and paste between
and modern staves. However, some groups of
notes (for example, chords)
can generate strange results on a gregorian
It is a 3-note neume,
up then down, so
it is a Torculus.