Musicology Seminar (a)


Week 11: Plainchant in the Twentieth Century

Essay Titles

  1. Critically assess the Solesmes principle of editing plainchant from the earliest available sources and its consequences for performance practice.

  2. Do modern opinions on the rhythmic interpretation of plainchant represent matters of principle or changes of fashion?


  1. Graduel de Laon F-LA Ms 239 IMSLP or Bibliothèque Municipale de Laon

  2. St Gall Codex 359 (c. 900) e-codices

  3. St Gall Codex 339 (tenth century) e-codices

  4. Einsiedeln Codex 121 e-codices

  5. Montpellier H. 159 IMSLP

  6. Many manuscripts reproduced in Paléographie musicale

Printed Chant Books

  1. Many chant books are available for download at CC Watershed and at Gregorian Books (the latter also includes a timeline of key events and publications)



‘Old Solesmes’ / Joseph Pothier

  1. Joseph Pothier, Les mélodies grégoriennes d'apres la tradition (Tournai: Desclée, Lefebvre & Co., 1880)

‘Neo-Solesmes’ / André Mocquereau

  1. Lura F. Heckenlively, The Fundamentals of Gregorian Chant: A Simple Exposition of the Solesmes Principles Founded Mainly on Le Nombre Musical Grégorien of Dom André Mocquereau (Tournai: Desclée & Co., 1900) pp. 150–73

  2. Gregory Murray, The Accompaniment of Plainsong (London: Society of St Gregory the Great, 1947) pp. 20–7

  3. Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, A Manual of Gregorian Chant Compiled from the Solesmes Books and from Ancient Manuscripts (Rome & Tournai: Desclée, Lefebvre & Co., 1903) pp. xviii–xxii


  1. R. John Blackley, ‘On Realizing Gregorian Chant’ and ‘Rhythm and Nuance in Chant’ Schola Antiqua website

  2. Antoine Dechevrens, Études de science musicale (Paris: Blanc, 1898) vol. 3

  3. Gregory Murray,'Gregorian Rhythm in the Gregorian Centuries: The Literary Evidence', Caecilia, 84 (1957) (web)

  4. ————, Gregorian Chant According to the Manuscripts (London: L.J. Carey, 1963) CC Watershed (comparative analysis of Alleluia: Pascha Nostrum pp. 73–5 with neumed example on p. 18 of the musical supplement)

Background Literature

  1. David Hiley, Western Plainchant (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)(particularly pp. 373–85) (library)

  2. Willi Apel, Gregorian Chant (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1958) (particularly chapter 2)

  3. Richard Crocker, An Introduction to Gregorian Chant (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2000) (particularly chapter 8) (library)

  4. Mary Berry, ‘Gregorian Chant: The Restoration of the Chant and Seventy-Five Years of Recording’, Early Music, 7 (1979),  197–217 (jstor)

  5. Katharine Ellis, The Politics of Plainchant in fin-de-siècle France (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) (library)

  6. Ian Davidson, The French Revolution: from Englightenment to Tyranny (New York: Pegasus, 2016) (library)

  7. John Tresch, The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology After Napoleon (Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press, 2012) (particularly chapter 5) (library)