Photo credit: Fred Pihl

Photo credit: Fred Pihl

About Listening to Chant

On this website you can hear, chant by chant, the whole early repertory of Gregorian chant, the standard repertory of nearly six hundred chants for the Propers of the Roman Mass. This is a study edition for enjoying and comparing recorded solo performances by Richard Crocker and three or four friends, of Gregorian chant sung according to current tradition updated with the results of current research on the earliest medieval notation. 

If you, as listener, have heard only a little Gregorian chant, or none at all and are just curious, click on a track, any track (I suggest Universi, on Listen to Chant/ Graduals in modes 1 and 7, track 1) and let it sound. The musical experience of Gregorian chant takes no effort, but it develops at its own rate. Hear Universi again, or a few other tracks. In fifty years of teaching Gregorian chant I have learned that Gregorian speaks to whomsoever it speaks (which is not everyone) without needing preparation or context. And do not listen for anything, listen only for what is there. 

Many listeners feel the need to read a little something to prepare for hearing Gregorian chant. On SAMPLER, you will find a few of my favorite chants, each provided with a few words of preparation for listening to that specific chant. You can find a more general account in my Introduction to Gregorian Chant (Yale University Press 2000). A similar introductory account was published by my collaborator David Hiley as Gregorian Chant (Cambridge 2010), which I recommend with great enthusiasm. 

After fifty years of teaching, studying, and writing about chant, I found that what I really wanted to do was sing it and record it. For me, the most important aspect of chant performance has become the so-called nuance notation. Found in certain of the earliest manuscript sources, this notation calls for subtle interpretation on the part of scholars and especially singers. For an introductory mention of this notation and of my use of it, see About the Archive. 

This Gregorian Archive originated in my effort to provide chant singers and scholars, who were familiar and often expert in Gregorian chant, with recorded performances of all the chants known to be in the early repertory, in an easily accessible format in which any chant could be immediately heard for study and compared to any other chant. Besides referring each chant to standard sources and tools, I include as Notes, for each group of chants, technical observations on certain matters of liturgical documentation and also use of modal resources. In About the Archive I give a fuller account of these matters and of the development of the Archive.

 Universi—let it sound!

“Used with permission of the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, University of Missouri – Kansas City”.