Mode 2 chant using Do clef?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 824
    What determines whether a chant in mode 2 is notated using a Fa clef or a Do clef? The Fa clef seems more common, but as I have flipped through hymnals I have noticed that the Do clef is not infrequent for mode 2.

    Does the intended vocal range or starting pitch of the piece determine the use of Fa or Do clef in mode 2? But all chants are movable in range.

    With a Fa clef the final pitch in mode 2 is Re, which is correct. But with a Do clef the final pitch is La, which is relatively correct to some extent but not quite mathematically correct since the modal scale starting on Re isn't identical to the scale starting on La: they differ with respect to the intervals between the fifth and sixth tones in the scale.

  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Mode II often uses Te if there’s a Fa clef, leading to the same intervals, just different solfege names.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    A similar comparison for Mode one,
    and on page 280 here, (page numbering can be found on the lower edge of the page) Nativitatis.pdf
  • I think there are several factors going on...

    One is that while we work with Chant in a movable DO, it still would have been written for a particular range of pitches initially. Mode 2 is typically pitched low - it is the lowest of the 8 modes. So in this case, the DO clef could indicate the lower DO rather than the upper DO of the scale (kind of like the Octave Treble Clef). In a fixed Clef, the RE = D. With the movable clef, I could choose a LA of D as well so this analogy isn't perfect, but it could explain the thinking of the composer.

    The other key is examining the actual range of the particular piece relative to its modality. As you mentioned LA - DO is the same interval as RE - FA... in fact, the sweet spot of the range is identical in terms of intervals until you the FA of the DO clef (which ryand pointed out is why you may see TE in the FA clef).

    For example, the Introit for Ss. John and Paul, martyrs. The Introit (Multae tribulationes iustorum on pg 1507 of the '61 Liber online) is written for the DO clef... but examine the range. If I write out the intervals according to the DO clef (the breaks correspond to each bar, regardless of length, dots indicate holds excluding long epizemata):

    Now compare to:

    Of the intervals in the piece, the only one that is not in the original modal scale is the TI (to be in the scale, it would need to be TE). I think you would find - with similar comparisons - that it is very rare to see pitches that fall outside the original modal arrangement of whole and half tones.

    Mode 2 is characterized by a tonic of RE and a dominant of FA. In the transposition to the FA clef, we see the tonic of RE and a dominant of FA.

    Transpositions can be very advantageous when properly used to transition between pieces. In some cases, the transposition is built-in... in others, we can choose transposition for a given purpose, as between Gradual and Alleluia / Tract. It may be advantageous - ending on a SOL of the first piece - to treat it as a DO in the second piece; or ending on a RE and treating it as the FA of the new piece and so on. It shouldn't be an arbitrary process, but one that involves assessing the scale of both pieces to determine the best fit, and one that - as much as possible - maintains the modal scale at least until singers have had a chance to acclimate to the new key.

    Hope this helps!

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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,040
    It has to do with the Hexachord and the Gamut. You cannot put a flat on the low 'B' on the Fa-clef because that is the Mi of the first durum (hard) Hexachord of the Gamut, running from Gamma-Ut to e-La-Mi. The b-flat (B Molle, soft B) cannot be used until the next octave, when it is the Fa of the first molle (soft) Hexachord, running from f-Fa-Ut to d'-La-Sol-Re.

    If a Mode II melody uses the B-flat below low C (that which would appear on the Fa-clef), it by necessity has to be transposed higher and written in the Do-clef (Ut-clef). One could keep the Finalis of the Mode on Re (D) and write the b-flat in each time, or save ink by transposing it so that the Finalis is on La (A), so that the whole-tone occurs consistently between F & G, rather than B-flat and C.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 824
    I'm way out of my league in some of these technical discussions.

    I don't know what a Hexachord or Gamut are. I'll have to look them up.
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,040
    Watch these--very helpful!

    Elam Rotem: Early Music Sources "Solmization and the Guidonian Hand"

    Dr. Mahrt: "Ut queant laxis with the Guidonian Hand"
  • My tuppence:

    When people speak of solfege, they mean two distinct things at the same time. On the one hand, the syllables of the scale start on do (or ut) and end on do (or ut) with the half steps in the predictable places (between mi and fa, and between ti and do). On the other hand, they speak of a moveable do, which is to say that 440 htz/sec could serve as the pitch called do; it can also mean that the do clef isn't required to stay on only one line of the four line staff.

    Incardination has done us some favors, and helped organize my thinking.

    Each mode has a distinct starting pitch, which means that the immovable half steps come at moveable places within the 8 pitches of a scale. The pitches which are consistent with that mode (if that's the right way to describe it) are defined by where the half tones come within the scale. Because of that, a gradual and an Alleluia can have the same written do, (top line, for example) but not have the same aspect (again, I think that's the correct term).

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  • Mark, it may be helpful to look at how the modes are constructed.

    The 8 modes in Chant are divided into 4 "authentic" modes (the ones numbered with an odd number) and 4 "plagal" modes (the ones evenly numbered). "Plagal" means that they are derived from the "authentic" modes.

    The four authentic modes each have a tonic that is successively higher... Mode 1 has a tonic of RE; 3 a tonic of MI; 5 a tonic of FA; and 7 a tonic of SOL.

    The standard modal scale for the authentic modes is developed originating from the tonic and ascending a fifth and then another fourth above that... so Mode 1 would have a modal scale of RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA + LA-TI-DO-RE - or RE to RE with the corresponding positioning of whole and half steps. The dominant for the mode is placed at the fifth above the tonic (in this case at the LA).

    Mode 3 would have a modal scale of MI to MI with the new arrangement of whole and half tones. In this case, however, the dominant is shifted from TI to DO (since TI is subject to the only existing accidental, it is considered unsuitable to be used as a dominant, and where it would be used, is automatically raised a half-tone to the more stable DO).

    Similarly for Mode 5 and 7.

    The plagal modes are derivations from the corresponding authentic mode. They share the same tonic - so Mode 2 has a tonic of RE; 4 a tonic of MI and so on.

    The modal scale, however, is constructed differently - it uses the fourth below the tonic and the fifth above - in the case of Mode 2, that would be LA - LA (which is the natural minor scale). And the dominant is a third lower than the corresponding authentic's dominant... so since the dominant of Mode 1 is LA, the dominant of Mode 2 is FA.

    Put another way, the modal scale of the plagal modes is always lower than the modal scale of the authentic modes. Mode 1 and 2 having the lowest tonic means that Mode 2 is the lowest of the modes in terms of the modal scale.

    The modal scale of the authentic modes is always higher than the modal scale of the plagal modes. Mode 7 and 8 having the highest tonic means that Mode 7 is the highest of the modes in terms of the modal scale.

    Part of the challenge in evaluating chants according to modal theory is 1) sometimes we see transpositions as discussed above and 2) melodies frequently cross from one mode into another. A "Mode 5" Introit may largely be written in Mode 5, but may exhibit characteristics (a different dominant, for example; or a strange resolving tonic) that correspond to another mode. Usually a Mode 5 means that it is mostly Mode 5!

    Here are some screen captures from how I briefly talk about modal structure in the choir books I have for my groups.

    The graphic may be particularly useful - it shows the modal scale, highlights the tonic and the dominant (showing the shift where appropriate) as well as the arrangement of whole and half steps in the basic modal scale. Of course we know that melodies can exceed the scale at either end, but the basic scale provides the general character of the mode.

    The other screen capture simply iterates what I've described above - how the scales are constructed as well as some other bullet items that may prove helpful as a starting point.
    682 x 880 - 72K
    680 x 356 - 27K
  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 150
    People have already indirectly hinted at these 3 things I will say (or basically already said them) but I want to do so succinctly:

    1. If you are seeing a Mode 2 chant with the Do clef, it could simply mean that its range of solfege is larger (usually higher, but could be lower) than LA to LA... Or,

    2. If you are seeing a Mode 2 chant with the Do clef that also has LA as its final instead of RE, then it has been transposed, so that it can have an interval of a half step (or whole step) where it wouldn't be able to have one in its native "scale" as Salieri said. I.e. by using the flatted TI in the transposed range.

    3. Finally, it is (in my opinion) important not to mix the names of the scale (do, re, mi, etc) with pitches (C, D, E) - although obviously these considerations are necessary for determining what range of pitches to use for a particular chant. In my experience, that can be more confusing than anything else if there aren't certain principles already learned.

    So yes, a given chant can certainly be sung to any range of "pitches" that respects the location of half and whole steps; but it is always keeping the same range of "solfege."

    Maybe I have a wrong way of looking at things - but with this way of looking at it, Mode II has a lower range of syllables, of solfege, but in practice, unless you have an experienced choir that has an amazing voice range, C is not equal to DO and therefore Mode II is not per se a lower range of "pitches."

    I am done with my main points, but - it may be accurate to associate C with DO, but for those just learning chants it seems better to talk about things in terms of solfege and relations between whole and half steps, and not the names of pitches, though this may be helpful at a certain point in one's chant education. If you teach one that DO is equal to C, then you have to also teach them "transposing" when that range of pitches won't work for a given chant - i.e. many mode VII pieces will be way too high, and you would have to then teach them that DO is actually F, FA is B-flat, etc. This, to me, seems like an unnecessary step for most people simply trying to learn the chants. Ok I am done babbling.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 824
    Thank you to all who have responded. I have learned from your posts and links.

    Consider the following mode 2 chant that uses a DO clef but doesn't fit any of the reasons given so far for why a DO clef would be chosen instead of a FA clef. Namely (using mode 2 solfege and if I have analyzed it correctly), it doesn't use TE instead of TI (skips TI/TE entirely), nor does its range extend beyond LA-LA. The chant's tonic (as notated using the DO clef) is LA, so it is a transposed mode 2 chant. But why transpose and why use the DO clef instead of FA clef in this case?

    Interestingly, the Dominican version of the same chant uses a FA clef. The melody differs from the Solesmes and Vatican versions, and the Dominican melody uses TI (but only twice near the beginning, at the end of "nomine"):
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  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,040
    The Offertory "Antiphons" are actually all that remains of a Responsory. (Interestingly, the only Offertory that remained as such is the Domine Jesu Christe of the Requiem Mass.) The Antiphon "Vir erat" is the Respond: in the Offertoriale (link below) this Antiphon with its ornate verses appears on Pp 122-125. In the verses, the melody actually ascends in many places up to Fa, and in a couple places up to Sol--which would be Te (B-molle) and Ut (C) in Fa-clef--and descends many times to Low Fa, which would be the impossible Low Te in Fa-clef.

    If my chronology is correct, the Offertory verses had basically fallen into disuse by the time the Dominican Rite established itself, with its chant based on the Roman Chant current at the time, rather that the restored melodies of Solesmes; without the verses, there really is NO need to transpose, and so the Dominican chant wasn't transposed.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 824
    Thank you. That all makes sense. I looked at the chant in the Offertoriale, and you're absolutely correct. Your explanation and knowledge have been really helpful. Thank you for sharing. I understand things much better now.
  • ...all that remains...
    This is quite right. And, being quite right, it makes the offertory 'antiphons' responsories - not antiphons. Responsories do not have anitphons, they have responsories, sometimes called responds. That is why such chants are called responsories, or responsorial.

    An excellent book on the offertories is Inside the Offertory: Aspects of Chronology and Transmission, by Rebecca Maloy (Oxford UP, 2010 - ISBN 978-0-19-531517-2)
  • CharlesSA,

    I take your point about pitching chant where comfortable for the choir... but I think you will still find that Mode 2 is typically lower than Mode 7 because of how the melody is structured to the particular modal scale. In a Mode 2 piece, the melody is more centered in the scale; in a Mode 7 piece, the melody is usually at the higher end of the scale... so if trying to keep a similar range for a given choir the Mode 7 piece will typically exhibit a higher tessitura.

    It isn't just about looking at the basic modal scale solely (any more than it is just about being able to pitch the chant wherever is comfortable)... it is also about the dominant and the typical structure of melodies in each mode.

    I selected four melodies (two of each mode) for comparison - two Alleluia verses and two Introits (which is particularly telling given the range of the psalm verse). I'm a baritone, so my pitches may be lower in general - but I try to keep melodies in relative proximity to C to C. I pitched these four melodies in much the same way for comparison. This isn't a large sample, but it exhibits what (in my experience) is fairly typical.

    Mode 2 Alleluia
    • range of C to C
    • melody hangs between E flat and A flat
    • dominant of A flat

    Mode 7 Alleluia
    • range of (low) B flat to D
    • melody hangs between G and C
    • dominant of B flat

    Mode 7 tessitura higher for the Alleluia by a minor third.

    Mode 2 Introit
    • range of C# to C#
    • melody hangs between E and A
    • dominant of A

    Mode 7 Introit
    • range of C to C
    • melody hangs between F# to B
    • dominant of A

    Mode 7 tessitura higher for the Introit by a whole step.

    Last point... I agree that with a choir it is far more useful to think chant in terms of sol-fege... but there does have to be some connection to pitch for a variety of reasons. Not least is that there is a fair amount of repertoire that interweaves chant and polyphony. Just as I want singers to be fluent with sol-fege in chant, and named pitch in modern music; I also want them to be able to "speak" sol-fege for modern music - and be able to relate why a particular pitch may be a good choice for a given chant or mixed piece - how it relates. Rome wasn't built in a day, so it requires patient repetition, but singers definitely grow and evolve as they began to develop a sense of the theory between the two types of music.
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  • Incardination,

    Regarding your first point:

    You seem to be talking about pitching chants - i.e. as you put it, choosing whatever pitch fits for the choir. In that case, any mode can be higher or lower than any mode. I was talking about the fact that if DO is always C, then mode 7 is always higher than mode 2. Unless, of course, you just do mode 7 an octave lower, and then it will always be a lower - again, this is if DO is considered to be equal to C. This is inevitable due to the normal range of solfege for these 2 modes.

    Regarding your second point:

    Fair enough. I would never put myself in the position of interweaving polyphony with chant - my focus is to chant everything, in which case there would be no pressing reason to connect a pitch to a solfege syllable, except for me as the director. But for those who do interweave, then sure, there might be more of a necessity to do so.
  • Charles,

    I had a sort of Epiphany last evening when my choir director asked me to sing Mirabantur Omnes of Heinrich Isaac. Last time we tried to sing it, he tried to make the psalm-tone verses work with the polyphony which, for various reasons, failed abysmally. I suggested to him last night a way in which one could actually, seamlessly, go back and forth from one to the other, and it relies directly on your observation that one might connect a pitch to a solfege syllable. If we keep the 1/2 step in the same place (i.e., a - b-flat), a simple step down solves the problem: the chant begins on F (sol) the verses begin on the same F (sol), and the polyphony begins on G (do, as it happens, in the polyphony, but a successful bridge back and forth).

  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    @Chris Garton-Zavesky

    We too had problems singing the Issac with the psalm verse supplied in the Psalmorum, Our problem was the ending of the psalm made it difficult for our ladies to find the first note of the Issac, Last week we took a breath and gave them the correct pitch.

    What we are going to do next week, is we are going to use the more complex psalm ending (INT) as that leads up to the note they need. Will let you know if it works when we practice on Wednesday.

    N.B. Last week also sang the wonderful Palestrina setting of the Dextera Domine, and the Alma Redemptoris by Guerrero.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    Or, one could just add C & F sharps to Isaac.
    The way of joining Mirabantur to tone 7 verses is shown at Communio. Isaac's incipit is abbreviated, but also curiously adds a flat to ti. If one looks carefully at the polyphony one might conclude that the incipit given in DTÖ is simply placed one note too high. Corinne Cooze came up with an inventive peregrine-tone solution here.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    Wow, the plot thickens: there are are 4 Mirabantur's at the Graduale Synopticon site, version 2 designated mode 8 but close to the Solesmes mode 7 Communion, and a 1st mode version 1 Communion identical to Isaac's.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    We have been singing the Mode VIII as found in the 'Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum' as we are alternating between the Issac and the chant Mirabantur hmm, will have to chat to our former director. Anyway we will try a few things at choir practice on Thursday.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    We sang the Isaac Communio again today thanks @CCooze

    We used the mode 1 psalm with the chant mode 1 version as found above.

    It was wonderful!

    We also sang the Palestrina, Dextera Domine and the Issac Alleluia, thanks again to @CCooze
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CCooze
  • Tom,

    (Apologies for resurrecting this thread from 2 years ago)

    This is the second week in a row when the mode of the Communion verses didn't match the mode of the Antiphon. Do you have any insights as to why this might be... and if it might be easier to sing the verses with the Isaac if we sang the (otherwise) assigned mode?

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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    Ahh, The Communion Mirabantur for today has two different melodies..

    Issac wrote his setting for the Mode 1 version, so to alternate with Psalm verses you need to use Mode 1 psalm verses. N.B. The Liber has mode the 7 version that could also be mode 8 as shown by the second link.

    I see last week Dixit Dominus Implete Is assigned mode 6 in the Liber, 6/1 according to the Synopticum, and in Psalmorum mode 5?

    I have been told by those with far more knowledge than me, that some chant pieces are not in one mode and could be said to move, say start in one mode and end in another. I suspect that those choosing the assigned mode, did not think about Psalm verses. We rarely sing Psalm verses and now only when we sing Isaac Communions, but those that sing them regularly may have found better ways of choosing modes for psalm verses that make the cantors life easier.