Abstracts of issue 19 (2007)

Flora Kritikou

The Modes before the 9th Century: The Repertory of Latin Liturgical Hymns

According to the modal theory of the Gregorian chant, all the melodies are classified to the eight modes or tones of the Gregorian system. The Latin modes are distinguished in major-authentic and in plagal ones by a diastematical difference as well as the tenor. Nevertheless, the modal system and the repertory of Medieval Latin liturgical chant are not to be explained as the natural reflection of an inherent homology between a natural melodic modality in the chant and the closed, symmetrical system of the eight modes. The Gregorian chant is rather the result of medieval classification, adaptation, and adjustment. It took full advantage of the existing modality of the chant repertory and brought the eightfold system into as much harmony as possible with existing melodies, melody types, and psalmodic practices. In most cases they were easily managed, but there were many cases in Latin liturgical chant where a satisfactory fit was never really achieved. In this article a small number of hymnal melodies, not included in the modal system or representative of a really archaic stage of the modes, have been examined. The objective of this essay is the assessment of these melodies, as they constitute specimens of abnormalities of the modal system, and their modal analysis, in such a way as to display a more archaic stage of the Latin modes.

Musicology