[Top Page] > [Gloria Diary] > [Gloria Diary 2004(1)] > [Gregorian Chant in Modern Notation]

[English](ENG) [Japanese / Nihongo](JPN) [Korean / Han-gug-eo](KOR)

"Gloria Diary 2004" Extra
Gregorian Chant "Requiem" in Modern Notation

Gregorian chant is the important music of Church in middle age's Europe written in monophony style. At first, please let me explain why I wrote down "Gregorian chant" into the music sheets of modern notation.

As you know in my "Gloria Diary 2004", we are now going to play Durufle(Maurice Duruflé)'s requiem. Duruflé's requiem is the music based on "Gregorian chant", so I became to want to know what music Gregorian requiem is.

However, Gregorian chant is not written with modern notation but with neumatic notation (neuma(Lat.), neumes(Eng.)). I have not been accustomed to it and it is difficult to read for me.

This reason let me write down Gregorian chant in the music sheets with modern notation system to myself. I will show it for all people who are going to perform Duruflé's requiem.


As I wrote above, the purpose to write them is to compare Gregorian chant with Duruflé's requiem. It would be bad to try to read complete Gregorian chant from them. I don't feel that you can read the complete contents of the requiem of Gregorian chant from them. In addition, these music sheets are my arbitrary writing and they do not have any relations with the official things or publications of Roman-Catholic church. And please notice that there may be a lot of errors, wrongs, or mistakes(bomb!). (I should aspire you to let me know when you found wrongs or mistakes in them(^_^;).

The original neumatic notation can be referred with WWW. See Reference.

1. The Music

You can see the music sheets selecting the following.

These are also used in Duruflé's requiem. Most of "Sequentia"(Dies Iræ) is omitted in his requiem. But the music of "Pie Jesu domine, dona eis Requiem" is used. So I will show the whole of "Sequentia". (The beginning melody of "Sequentia" is famous for being used by many composers, for example, Hector Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique) or Sergei Rachmaninoff (Paganini Rhapsody).

2. Notation

Normal modern notation system is used. But please let me notify the following.

2.1. Pitch

The original neumatic notation of Gregorian chant has staff (stave) of four lines to assign the pitch of each note and clef (c-clef or f-clef) so the pitch can be translated to modern notation system readily.

But we should notice that c-clef or f-clef appointed not the absolute pitch but the relational pitch in each of music. It means that the pitch of "C" note is quite different with "C" note in modern music and that the pitch of "C" note is different with each other.

2.2. Time Value, Rhythm and Beat

The neumatic notation of Gregorian chant does not have the system to write the length of each note. So it is difficult to reading the time value of each note in Gregorian chant.

I have used eighth notes, or quavers except the notes with dot. The notes with dot in neumes are treated like a dotted note in modern music. But the length is not absolutely 1.5 times of the note without dot. I wrote dotted notes in muemes as quarter notes, or crockets in my music sheets. And the notes with horizontal line in neumes should be sung with slowing down or holding them. I wrote them using tenuto signature in my music sheets.

I should notice that quarter note does not have the twice length of eighth note in these music sheets. It is to be understood that quarter notes tends to be hold in somewhat longer times than eighth notes. Additionally saying, tenuto signatures in my notation are not equivalent to usual tenuto. Rather, it has the sense of ritardando.

As above things, the concept of "beat" can be hardly observed in the notation system of Gregorian chant. So there are no time signatures in Gregorian chant and my music sheets.


The first and the third references were introduced by my friend Uttchy-san. This is Uttchy-san's site (in Japanese). I would like to show appreciation for his kindness.

Please let me know your impressions or opinions via e-mail or BBS.

[Top]Return to Top Page