Here is an example of a gregorian staff made with Harmony-Melody :
Some pieces of gregorian music are provided in the Demos folder ("Gregorian" subfolder).
I - Basics
Gregorian notation was designed primarily to commit to paper the sacred chants of the beginning of the second millenium.
The scale used is, in modern notes: C, D, E, F, G, A. The intervals between these notes are the same as in modern notation.
Notes are written on a 4-line staff. Each staff corresponds to a single singer, so there are no chords on such staves (a normal human being has difficulty in singing several notes at the same time !)
Only note pitch is written, the choir master (or singer) is left free to choose duration. In some cases, however, indications 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 notation.
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 Neume.
II - Neumes
The neume is the foundation of Gregorian notation.
A neume is defined by :
A neume always starts at the beginning of a syllable.
A neume is always read from left to right (like in modern notation) but from bottom to top when notes are written on the same column.
For example :
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 follows that there are 1+2+4+8, i.e. 15 different
neumes. Each one has its own name.
|1||None||Punctum (simple note) or Virga (note with stem)|
|2||Up (U)||Podatus (pes)|
|2||Down (D)||Clivis (flexa)|
III - Indicators of note duration
Generally, notes are of equal duration. It is
possible, however, to provide information about note duration on the score.
A longer note will be marked with a dot (punctum mora) as in modern notation.
A shorter note (liquescens) will be indicated by a smaller square. Generally this note is located at the end of the neume, and changes its name.
Two accidentals can be found in gregorian notation : flat and natural. Accidentals are notated in the same way as in modern music.
There are two kinds of clef :
These clefs can be placed on any line of the staff,
to indicate which line equates to the named note.
Key signatures (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 what the first note on the next line will be. Melody-Harmony generates and displays custos automatically.
All regular editing operations can be applied to a gregorian staff (Cut, Paste, Transpose, Insert, etc.). However, you can only cut & paste entire neumes.
Menu and paletteIX-Limitations
In the "Edit>Actions" menu, two commands have been added. The first one splits a neume into individual notes, the second one merges individual notes into a single neume.
A gregorian tools palette has been added in the "Windows" menu. A description of of its elements is given in the help window.
Creating a gregorian staff
Create a new document and select its type as "Gregorian model".
You can alse add a new staff to an existing document, and change its type to "Gregorian".
Selecting the clef
Select the clef change tool and click in the gregorian 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 gregorian staff.
The help line displays :
If the neume already contains 4 notes, thisfact is displayed in the help line; if you try nevertheless to add a new note to a 4-notes neume, an error message is displayed and the note is not added.
- The type of neume located under your mouse pointer (with the included note pitches)
- The kind of neume you will obtain if you add the note.
To add a note at the beginning of a neume, click before the neume on the right line.
To add a note at 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.
Adding a rest
Notes are sometimes graphically very close together within a neume. To be sure of clicking at the right place, increase the display scale of your document.
Select a rest in the palette and move over the gregorian staff. Click to insert a rest (breath). Click several times to increase the breath duration.
Deleting a note or a rest
Select the delete tool (lightning bolt) and click on the note (rest) to be deleted. If you click on a neume, only the note that is pointed at will be deleted from the neume.
Answer to the exercise :
- In order to synchronize several gregorian staves (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 not completely 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 corresponding puncta.
- It is possible to cut and paste between gregorian and modern staves. However, some groups of notes (for example, chords) can generate strange results on a gregorian staff.
It is a 3-note neume, going up then down, so it is a Torculus.