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Example 1 Research, Part 5: Pentatonicism in the Gregorian Chant

In the introductory post, I mentioned how the first pentatonic example I wrote, combined with the free flow of the melody, somehow ended up resembling a Western chant, which inspired me to start this research and brought me to a stream of scholarly thought, where pentatonic scale is seen as the underlying framework of the Gregorian chant[1].

This link is not surprising, since, as I’ve mentioned before, pentatonic scale is common to early cultures through the world. Beside the Far Eastern and Celtic cultures, Engel (1870: 138, 153-57), Gavaert (1875: 4-5), Helmholtz (1890: 257-258), Riemann (1916), Sachs (1943: 204, 218-221) and others suggest its relationship in the antiquity with the West and the Middle East, including the Greek, Assyrian and Egyptian music. Also, authors like Szabolcsi (1948: 309-13) and Sendrey (1969: 212) argue that early Hebraic melodies appeared to have been based largely on the pentatonic scale. Furthermore, Glantz (2008: 192-193) points out that the Nusach service for the weekday morning Amidah is based on the pentatonic scale – its original mode, and his theory asserts that Ashkenazi liturgical music repertoire is almost entirely under the pentatonic scale. Continue reading “Example 1 Research, Part 5: Pentatonicism in the Gregorian Chant”