The Gregorian melodies recorded in this Archive are all contained in the Vatican Graduale of 1908, as cited here in Resources. The Vatican Graduale was in 1908 a new edition of the traditional Gregorian melodies of the Propers of the Roman Catholic Mass. This edition was based on the work of Dom Pothier (1835–1923), and the work done subsequently on medieval chant sources at Solesmes.

Side by side with this work of chant restoration at Solesmes on medieval sources of the chant, there developed a new practice of chant performance at Solesmes, guided by Dom Gajard (1885–1972). And alongside this practice a new theory of chant performance, based on a system of unit pulse, was contributed by Dom Andre Mocquereau (1849–1930). As directions for performing Gregorian chant, certain rhythmic marks developed by Dom Mocquereau were added to the melodies as prepared for the Vatican Graduale, but only as published in the Solesmes Graduale, and other Solesmes chant publications, such as the Liber usualis, which was in widespread use from the 1930s until the time of the Second Council of the Vatican, 1964–66.

In the wake of new attitudes toward chant performance emerging after the Vatican Council, Eugene Cardine (1905–1988) brought a new emphasis on certain details of the earliest musical notation (tenth century) used for Gregorian chant. These details had long been known: Dom Mocquereau had made use of them in his system of chant rhythm, and Dom Cardine, disagreeing with aspects of that system, proposed using these notation details as the basis of a new approach to chant performance (1975). Regarding the notational details as involving subtle yet profound differences in performance, Dom Cardine call them signs of nuance, to be studied systematically in an approach he called “semiology,” based on the phenomenology of signs in context of the melodic style of Gregorian chant (as opposed to Dom Mocquereau’s more theoretical approach to musical rhythm). Extensive studies on the signs of nuance in stylistic context was undertaken by a small number of chant scholars (known as “Cardinists”), while a larger number of chant singers have tried out the signs of nuance ; but no performances demonstrating the use of the signs have as yet had an influence on current performance remotely approaching the long-term influence since 1930 of Solesmes performance or of Dom Mocquereau’s ideas of performance.

The most important result since the Vatican Council has been the publication at Solesmes in 1979 of the Graduale triplex (cited in Resources), which included copies of the earliest notation for every early chant. Still using the melodies of the Vatican Graduale of 1908, but also the rhythmic marks of Dom Mocquereau, the Graduale triplex included complete melodic notations from the important manuscripts of the tenth century, entered by hand by Marie-Claire Billecocq and Rupert Fischer, above and below the Vatican melodies.

The long-range goal of the Solesmes restoration project was a critical edition with variant apparatus of what was imagined would be of the original, authentic Gregorian repertory—an edition to be made in the tradition of European textual criticism as developed in the centuries since the Renaissance. That method had been applied by scholars to all kinds of texts, ancient, medieval, and modern; but because of gradual development of the idea of textual criticism in recent centuries, and because Gregorian chant as well as historical music in general appeared to be ill-suited to traditional textual criticism, the project of Gregorian restoration has undergone basic changes since 1950; the vision of a critical edition now seems out of reach. Practical editions such as the Vatican Graduale remain as editions based on tradition, refined as much as possible by the musical and textual scholarship as available, and as circumspect in use of sources as possible at the time.

In 2011 there appeared Volume I of Graduale novum editio magis critica iuxta SC 117, including only the repertory of Gregorian Mass Proper chants for feasts and saints’ days. The edition is for practical use (but I had completed recording the complete early repertory in 2010, and could make no use of it). The Graduale novum undertakes to improve the melodic readings of the 1908 Graduale by using variants selected from the tenth-century sources in order to meet the need for new readings made evident by the widespread use of the Graduale triplex since 1979. The Graduale novum also provides the musical notation from the tenth century manuscripts, as did the Graduale triplex, by entering these notations over and under the traditional square notation of the Vatican melodies, as improved with the variants. Critical apparatus as needed is given in the Beiträge zur Gregorianik; accordingly, the Graduale novum is described in its title as magis critica.


The melodies sung in the Archive are in the “Vatican Graduale,”  Graduale sacrosanctae romanae ecclesiae de tempore et de sanctis SS. D. N. Pii X. pontificis maximi jussu restitutum et editum (Romae: Typis vaticanis 1908);

and in the Graduale triplex, seu Graduale romanum Pauli PP.VI cura recognitum & rhythmicis signis a Solesmensibus monachis omatum neumis Laudunensibus (cod.239) et Sangallensibus (codicum San Gallensis 359 et Einsidelensis 121) nunc auctum (Solesmes 1979).

The Graduale triplex includes the “signs of nuance” in the original notation entered by hand by Marie-Claire Billecocq and Rupert Fischer, from the chant books Laon MS 239 (“L”), published in facsimile in Paléographie musicale X (1909); St. Gall Cod. 359 (“C”), published in facsimile in Paléographie musicale  IIe serie, II (1924); “E” is published in facsimile as Codex 121 Einsiedeln, Faksimile und Kommentar zum Faksimile, ed. Odo Lang, (Weinheim 1991).

Rupert Fischer provided reports on C, E, and L in Beiträge zur Gregorianik, as follows:

“I—St. Gallen Stiftsbibliothek Codex 359,” in 19 (1994), 61–70;

“II—Einsiedeln Stiftsbibliothek Codex 121,” in 20 (1995), 47–60;

“III—Laon, Bibl. de la ville, 239,” in 21 (1996), 75–92.

Preliminaries for a “restitution of melodies of the Graduale romanum” begin in Beiträge zur Gregorianik 21 (1996), 7–42.

The Carolingian liturgical context for the melodies of the Roman Mass Propers is provided by René-Jean Hesbert, Antiphonale missarum sextuplex (Brussels 1935); reference in the Archive is to the number of the Mass formulary in the Sextuplex, preceded by “M.”

The words of the melodies are as in the received version of the melodies; they are cited according to the verse numbering in Biblia sacra iuxta vulgatam versionem ed. R. Weber, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: Wurttemberg Bibelanstalt 1975).

The adjunct letters used in the signs of nuance are identified in a list attributred to Notker, as given by J. Froger, “L'Epitre de Notker sur les lettres significatives,” Etudes grégoriennes 5 (1962), pp. 23–72.

The signs of nuance were given a fresh study by Eugene Cardine, Gregorian Semiology (Solesmes 1982), trans. by R. Fowels from “Semiologie grégorienne,” Etudes grégoriennes 11 (1970), pp. 1–158. Extensive detailed studies in “semiology” appeared and are referred to in Beiträge zur Gregorianik from its beginning in 1985. Other detailed, comparative studies of individual signs of notation appeared in Etudes grégoriennes from 1954.

A comprehensive bibliography on all aspects of Gregorian chant was assembled by Thomas Kohlhase and Gunther Paucker for Beiträge zur Gregorianik 9/10 (1990) as Bibliographie Gregorianischer Choral; there were later additions.

The standard work on the Gregorian chant repertory, with another comprehensive bibliography, is by David Hiley, Western Plainchant, A Handbook (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1993). See also The Early Middle Ages to 1300, in The New Oxford History of Music, Vol. II (new edition, Oxford University Press 1990), ed. R. Crocker and D. Hiley; and Richard L Crocker, Introduction to Gregorian Chant (Yale University Press 2001).

For an extensive, detailed study of the development of the Gregorian repertory, see James McKinnon, The Advent Project. The later seventh-century creation of the Roman Mass Proper (University of California Press 2000).

For a series of very detailed studies on the possible meaning and development of a Carolingian “archetype” of Gregorian chant, see Kenneth Levy, Gregorian chant and the Carolingians (Princeton University Press 1998).

For a lengthy discussion of the problems of current chant research, including the difficulties of applying traditional textual criticism, see Richard Crocker, “Gregorian Studies in the twenty-first century,” Plainsong and Medieval Music 4, 33–86 (1995).