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Broadly speaking, plainsong (also known as plainchant) is the name given to the body of traditional songs used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. The liturgies of the Orthodox Church, though in many ways similar, are generally not classified as plainsong, though the musical form is nearly as old as Christendom itself.

Plainsong is monophonic, and is in free rather than measured rhythm. Gregorian chant is a variety of plainsong that is named after Pope Gregory I (6th century AD). However, it is a myth that Gregory invented the chant, or that he ordered the suppression of previous chant styles, such as the Ambrosian or Mozarabic. For several centuries, different plainchant styles existed concurrently, and standardization on Gregorian chant was not completed, even in Italy until the 12th century. Plainchant represents the first revival of musical notation after knowledge of the ancient Greek system was lost. Plainsong notation differs from the modern system in having only four lines to the staff and a system of note-shapes called neumes.

There was a significant plainsong revival in the 19th century AD when much work was done to restore the correct notation and performance-style of the old plainsong collections, notably by the monks of the Abbaye de Solesmes in Northern France. The use of plainsong is now mostly confined to the Monastic Orders. In the late 1980s, plainchant achieved a certain vogue as music for relaxation, and several recordings of plainchant became "classical chart hits".

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Home | Up | Anthem | Aria | Ballad | Chant | Madrigal | Aubade | Carol | Chanson | Devotional song | Frottola | Hymn | Lament | Laude | Lullaby | Plainsong | Recitative | Tagelied | Villancico

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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