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date: 14 November 2019

Plainchant [plainsong] (from Lat. cantus planus; Fr. plainchant; Ger. Choral; It. canto plano)locked

  • Kenneth Levy,
  • John A. Emerson,
  • Jane Bellingham,
  • David Hiley
  •  and Bennett Mitchell Zon


[plainsong] (from Lat. cantus planus; Fr. plainchant; Ger. Choral; It. canto plano)

The official monophonic unison chant (originally unaccompanied) of the Christian liturgies. The term, though general, is used to refer particularly to the chant repertories with Latin texts – that is, those of the five major Western Christian liturgies – or in a more restricted sense to the repertory of Franco-Roman chant (Gregorian chant). A third meaning refers to a style of measured ecclesiastical music, often accompanied by a bassoon, serpent or organ, cultivated in Roman Catholic France during the 17th to 19th centuries (see Plain-chant musical). This article is concerned with the chant of the Roman and derived rites considered historically, including its place within Christian chant as a whole and its relationship to the liturgy that it serves.

Kenneth Levy

The roots of the liturgical chant of the Christian Churches lie partly in established Jewish Synagogue practice of the apostolic period, partly in new developments within early Christianity itself and partly in pagan music at the diverse centres where the first churches were established (...

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