Is the final always final?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,979
    I'm writing a couple of pages on each of the modes for my schola, and I'm trying to avoid saying anything wrong, because the children are bound to find out and call me on it later. (So embarassing when that happens.)

    I started to write "RE is the basis and foundation for all the chants in Mode I: it is called the tonic (a word which is related to tone) and it is also called the final, because chants always end on the tonic or final tone."

    Is this exactly accurate? Do chants ALWAYS end on the tonic? Or should I say, "almost always"?
  • I think you should say 'almost always', or 'as a rule'. There are some which I have come across from time to time that don't. Then, I wonder, 'in what way may I be mistaken?' Perhaps Bruce Ford would be a more likely final authority here.
  • As an example of one that doesn't, I just remembered the communion antiphon 'passer invenit'. Marked mode I, it rests on 'la', the dominant. Clearly, this (and there are others) does not follow the rule. A greater scholar of chant than I can make a definitive comment or explanation.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,979
    Thanks! I might as well say "almost always," then.

    Btw, I'm attaching a draft of my pages introducing Mode I. Would appreciate comments, though I know folks are busy...
  • Cf Kyrie ad libitum II in the Kyriale..
  • Kathy, the final will always be the final unless it has been transposed. Transposition is the reason why some chants don't end on the tonic/home note.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,979
    Great--thanks for your help!
  • The mode LABEL assigned to pieces is based upon their finals. So the SHORT answer to your question is, as Jeffrey Morse said, "the final will always be the final unless it has been transposed. "

    Mode labels tell us what psalm tones to use with antiphons, but they don't tell us much about the modality of the compositions to which they are applied. Look, for instance, at the Maundy Thursday introit, "Nos autem." It bears the label "Mode 4," and the fourth psalm tone is used with it. Yet most of the piece is in the protus (Modes 1-2). transposed up a fourth. It modulates into the fourth mode only in the final phrase.

    Modality is a complex subject. Daniel Saulnier's THE GREGORIAN MODES is a well-respected current work that covers it thoroughly. It's fairly lucid but cannot be called "light reading."
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,979
    Thanks so much for all your help!

    Right now I'm just writing a very basic primer--an introduction to help kids see solfege as a reasonable exercise. Hopefully I'll have time for serious study sometime in the future!

    (Sinking)
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Jesu Dulcis Memoria is assigned as mode I and ends with La. It's not transposed, and it's a hymn. Is this common to ends on dominant? (or is it really in Aeolian mode which came out later? 16th.c? Maybe this chant was composed much later, or the monks already had chants in Aeolian mode wthiout know it?)
  • Miacoyne, what makes you think Jesu Dulcis is not transposed? Just curious....
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Aeolian and Dorian are very similar to each other. If you have 'te' instead of 'ti' in Dorian it would be the same Aeolian. So, if I take 'la' as 're' (4th up or 5th down)to make Dorian in this chant and add 'te' which is allowed, it is close, except it has to be hypo Dorian, mode II, not mode I, because of the range? So, i conclude this cannot be a transposed Mode I. Oh, please someone can help, if I'm wrong.
  • In mode one, "ti" is often flatted, think of the introit "Gaudeamus" or the little Christmas piece "Puer Natus in Bethlehem" or the solemn tone Salve Regina, or countless other pieces.
  • miacoyne, sorry, I'm used to using "tah" for the flatted "Ti" so I misread your post....

    Still, I think its always good to remember that modal theory came after much of the Chant was written. I am reminded by your post of the work of the first group of Cistercians. Off they went to Metz, to find the "real" Gregorian Chant, brought it back to France where upon looking at it were uneasy that much of it did not follow modal theory, and therefore set about to rewrite it all to fit the modal theories! Cistercian books STILL reflect this rewrite. So you are not the FIRST person to be bothered by the imperfections of the Chant repertoire in this way, and as a matter of fact, are keeping very good company, St Bernard of Clairvaux, and St Stephen Harding to name just two!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Oh, I'm not bothered ar all. I'm just wondering whether the final 'la' is the dominant of re mode in that chant or it's something else. maybe there were actually more than 8 modes in early chants, I don't know. Of course theory came after the actual music. We study music, gather up data and info and form a theory, but it also helps to understand the music in turn. And a composers don't write a music to fit a theory. (maybe except for the sake of learning the theory.) I also want to understand the chants better, not the theory. thanks for the info.
  • urli
    Posts: 35
    Why has this been sunk? I'm learning so much from reading it :/
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,979
    Sorry, that was me. It's unsunk now.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thanks, Kathy. Since it is 'unsunk' now, Id' like to explore this a bit more and learn more too. (I just wish I paid more attention to music theory when I was in school. Now I know it's a useful tool at all.)

    The function of dominant is mostly to give a little tension in a music. (besides being a psalm tone) For example, I have my schola sing 'O Panis Ducissime,' in solfege. This is a very good piece to practice solfege for beginners and to see the fuction of tonic and dominant of the mode. The entire melody of the first verse is made of only 3 'bars,' (3 'phrases'). The melody starts with tonic 're' followed by a short step motion, and each phrase starts with 3rd above the previous phrase. (re, fa, la -starting notes for each phrase) The second phrase builds up a bit more tension with higher notes, and the repeatition of the dominant also adds more. In the third phrase, the dominant skip down to tonic ' re' before the music ends on the tonic. This happens at about 2/3 of the piece, which is a typical place for a climax (in this piece the climax is very small because of the length of the piece.) I explained that the dominant is like a work place where you get a bit of tension and the tonic is like your home.

    Well, in Jesu Dulcis Memoria, is the final dominant of mode I, or tonic of different mode (in this case, Aeolinan, the natural minor scale). The range of the hymn is low re to an octave high re and the dominant (the final in thsi case) is right in the middle of the range. I wonder this is a common practice in chants.
    Alma Redeptoris Mater is assigned as mode V, and finishes with 'do.' To me it's in the major key (Ionian mode) with 'sol' as dominant.
    Of course, Adoro te devote is assinged as mode V, but it also sounds like in a Ionian mode with (Bb).

    Maybe not many people would like this kind of anyalsis, but it's kind of fun for me to look. Does anyone have more insight to mode and tonic and dominant?