C and F clef in Mode II Chant
  • CantorCole
    Posts: 40
    Hello all,

    I have a question about mode II. From what I can tell, most modes are consistent in which clef they use. With mode II however, there seems to be a non-negligible usage of F clef in addition to the more typical C-clef. I am wondering if the mode 2, C-clef Alleluia O Filii et Filiae can be used with an F-clef Mode II chant without sounding off (my initial guess is no).

    I am a self-taught amateur chanter who has forgotten most of the basic music theory I inculcated subconsciously in middle school band, so I am asking for some help.

    Thank you,
  • Yes, it works just fine to substitute. If the chant had the note Fa, there would be an issue, but it doesn't, so everything is fine.

    The scale of Fa to Fa with Ti flatted to Te is exactly the same as the scale of Do to Do (in terms of intervals, where the whole steps and half steps are).
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  • CantorCole
    Posts: 40
    @OMagnumMysterium ,

    So if the "O Filii et Filiae" Alleluia had a Fa, then it would be an issue, you are saying?
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
  • @CantorCole

    Well, it would still be possible to notate "O Filii et Filiae" in Fa clef even if it had a Fa originally, but every Fa would have to become a Te, and would need a flat sign (following the usual conventions). It could be a bit messy but not necessarily an issue.

    The Fa of the Do-Do scale is the equivalent note of the Ti in the Fa-Fa scale. But if you overlay the Fa-Fa and Do-Do scales, making the two scales start and end on the same notes, Ti is half a step higher than Fa. Fa has its half step with the note below (Mi), but Ti with the note above (Do). Flattening the Ti to Te would make the two scales line up perfectly, just like how the C major scale with B flat is the F major scale.


    Out of curiosity, what would mode IX be then?
  • CantorCole
    Posts: 40

    Like this?

    annotation: 2
    (f3) AL(fxf)le(f)lú(g){ia},(fxfe) al(fxf)le(hg)lú(fxf){ia},(c.) (;) al(g)le(h)lú(g){ia}.(fxf.) V/.(::) Sur(c)ré(ef)xit(ef) Chris(f)tus,(fhf/gvFE) (;) qui(h) cre(h)á(h)vit(gh/ihhg) óm(f)ni(f!gwhgh)a:(gf) (:) et(f) mi(fi)sér(i)tus(hg/hvGFg) est(gf) (;) hu(fgffe)má(h)no(ghgg) *() gé(f)ne(fgf)ri.(f) (,) (fg!hi//giHGF//e!hhhvGF/ggf) (::)

    Or do I need to shift the actual Alleluia notes on the barlines to a different position?

    Please excuse my laughable ignorance of such basic musical knowledge.
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  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
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  • @CantorCole

    No, you put a flat before Re, but that would not be necessary. Although that second line from the bottom is Fa most of the time (when Do is the top line), in the original notation for O Filii et Filiae, that line (second from bottom) is La, since it is the second note below Do (which was the third line, since that's where the clef was).

    In the original chant there is no note on Fa, so you can simply change the clef like this:

    Now, if you do have a Fa in the original chant (like in the incipit of the Offertory "Dextera Domini"), the Fa becomes Ti after the clef change, which must be flatted to Te:

    Your ignorance is certainly forgiven. Nobody is born with this knowledge! It definitely can get confusing to transpose between different clefs.
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  • @FSSPmusic What is the source that says mode 9 should have B-flat? I haven't seen that much. My understanding was that mode 9 was the authentic mode ending on A. Are you referring to the fact that mode-1 chants that use B-flat exclusively are essentially in a transposed A mode?

    To go back to the question (hinted at above) of what modes 9 to 12 are, Glarean's big idea was that it would be way more rational to have modes that end on all seven diatonic notes, rather than just the four (D, E, F, and G) that are used in the traditional 8-mode system. So he added two modes for each of the other notes, A, B, and C. B modes are rejected as not having a perfect fifth above the final (B to F is a diminished fifth). So he ends up rejecting those and settling on a twelve-mode system, with two modes each on D, E, F, G, A, and C. Zarlino also adopted this, and it became widespread in theory, existing side-by-side with the old 8-mode system that was retained for chanting, especially because of the connection with the psalm tones. Confusingly enough, Zarlino in a later book kept the twelve modes but renumbered them to start on C. At the same time, the psalm tones each get sort of associated with a particular key, often called the church keys or church tones, so the eight of those are what we might now call D minor, G minor, A minor, E minor, C major, F major, G major, D major. If you've ever accompanied vespers those eight church keys might make sense to you!

    The upshot is that when you are reading what anyone says about mode from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, you have to bear in mind which system the writer is using, 8 traditional modes, 12 modes (in two different numberings), 8 church keys. It can get confusing!

    The broader question, which relates to your original post, is "what does the 8-mode system make of chants that end on A?" It turns out that these irregular finals are always related to one of the normal ones, because these finals have an affinity with the normal ones because of where they are in relation to the half steps and whole steps. So all those mode-2 graduals end on A but are considered mode 2. This actually does happen in other modes too. For instance, the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus of Mass 1 are all in mode 4, even though they end on B. The simple Salve Regina is mode 5, even though it ends on C. Notice that it is basically the same scale as Credo 3, which ends on F, because there is an affinity there; because of the B-flat you wouldn't really be wrong to say that those two chants are in the major mode.

    @OMM, in your last examples, I'm reminded of the recent hexachordal-solmization thread. In all your comparative examples, the two versions would have the same solmization in that older system.
  • Indeed, Dr. Weaver. It's harder for me to calculate things in terms of hexachordal-solmization, but I also thought about what you had recently written on the matter when considering the present question. Particularly the idea of a Te always being called/becoming Fa (forgive me if that's a misquotation).


    I've found the easiest way to get a hold of transposed chants is to just sit down at a keyboard and work it out. It's a lot easier to see intervals on a keyboard than just all in your head.

    One of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given, which has helped me progress in chant tremendously, was when a member of our schola told me "always keep track of where the half steps are". If you know where the half steps are on any given staff, and you can hear the difference between a whole step and a half step, that will go a long way. If you know where the half steps are, you can tell which thirds are major, and which are minor. In chant, all fourth and fifths will be perfect, so that helps, but if you just learn the basic intervals, it goes a long way.
  • One of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given, which has helped me progress in chant tremendously, was when a member of our schola told me "always keep track of where the half steps are".

    I couldn't agree more. In a way, this sums up the point of the hexachord thing, and it relates to your clef stuff above as well. Another way you might phrase the principle is: "Always know where Fa is." Since Fa sits on top of a half step, this is really the same thing, if you are thinking that every half step is Mi-Fa of some kind. You might even say, "Fa is the key to the scale." And from there it's just a bit of French translation "key=clef" to see that the point of the clefs is that they show you where Fa is, that is, where the half steps are. That's why the F and the C lines were singled out in the first place when the staff was invented, and it's why they get the clefs in Gregorian chant.
  • FSSPmusic
    Posts: 245
    @Charles_Weaver is correct and I've deleted my previous comments.
    Mode Ia or I with B-flat throughout and final on D=mode IX.
    Mode IIa or II with B-flat throughout and final on D=mode X.
    Dorian with B-flat throughout becomes Aeolian/natural minor.
    Aeolian with B-flat throughout becomes Lydian Phrygian [I'm going to stop now.] (IX♭=III, X♭=IV).
    Likewise mode V with B-flat throughout=mode XI.
    Mode VI with B-flat throughout=mode XII.
    Lydian with B-flat throughout becomes Ionian/major (IX=III, X=IV).
    Sorry for the confusion.

    If you look for accompaniments to Credo III or the simple tone Salve Regina or Regina caeli, most of them will be in a major key rather than Lydian mode with a flat notated throughout.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,044
    This is why, incidentally, I find the Guidonian hand helpful; there are chants where you can’t simply change the clef and therefore must resort to other things (not just the flat sign, but accounting for a flat below the staff that doesn’t exist for Guido). Nevertheless, quite a few common chants can be written with either clef — I don’t see a reason why Solesmes couldn’t have assigned a Fa clef to the monastic version of the hymn Conditor alme siderum. (This is in mode IV, untransposed, so something slightly different is at work, but the general idea is the same.)

    So if you change the clef, you get a new idea of the relations, even if you use the modern set of seven syllables instead of Guido’s, and you get yet a different insight if you use Guido’s syllables with the clef found in the modern book (probably a Do clef!)

    We have seen above that this isn’t always desirable; the flat in Dextera Domini with a clef change is a little ugly to me.

    I keep recommending Early Music Sources here, but his videos on modes in the Renaissance and on chant are very well-done, so I’ll repeat my recommendation for those who like to learn from Youtube videos.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,061
    Mode II with whatever clef on the 3rd line sings well in treble clef, using a key signature of 2 flats (B and E) for the C clef and 1 flat (B) for the F clef. Depending on where people's theory deficiencies are (modern vs. ancient), that might be an easy way around the issue.
    always keep track of where the half steps are

    Preaching to the choir which is preaching it to their choirs. I have a group which is solfège-resistant (though I use it to sing things to them, and refer them to Nick Lemme's chant recordings), so I have to use clef awareness. But when I have intonation problems, half the time it's a half-step that people aren't sure is there (the rest is descending 4ths, or vocal passagio issues)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,044
    OK so why can descending fourths be an issue (in chant)? This is also an issue for my schola.
  • Nisi
    Posts: 149
    Professor Weaver, you are a born teacher. Thank you for your postings here.
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  • OK so why can descending fourths be an issue (in chant)? This is also an issue for my schola.

    I struggle with descending fourths too.

    There's probably a better explanation for this being a general issue, but for myself, my best guess if the following:

    All the other intervals, up and down, I have some theme I remember them by, whether it's from a well known chant or a movie soundtrack.

    Half step, up and down - Jaws theme
    Whole step - sometimes happy birthday, but usually it's just the small step which is bigger than the half step, just kind of the normal step.
    Minor third up - Emperor's theme (Star Wars), or Pueri Hebreorum (Palm Sunday)
    Minor third down - Flexus from mode 8 psalm tone (Sunday and Tuesday Compline)
    I don't really have anything for major thirds, which kind of messes up my theory.
    Fourth up, tone 8 Magnificat (solemn psalm tone)
    Fifth up, Puer Natus Est (Christmas Introit)
    Fifth down, Solemn Salve

    My thinking is that the fourth down is hard because it is not an interval I am as used to hearing often or one that I associate with anything memorable. Perhaps the fourth is the most dissonant of the "chant intervals". Or maybe the half step is the most dissonant, but larger intervals are harder to memorize?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,164
    Fourth down - "Ave" at the beginning of the traditional "Ave Maria".
    Fourth down - "Veni" at the beginning of the Mahler 8th Symphony.
    Fourth down - "Thus saith" at beginning of aria "Thus saith the Lord" from Handel's Messiah.
    Major third down - "Wer hat" at beginning of chorale "Wer hat Dich so geschlagen" from Bach's St John Passion.
    Major third up - "Christ the" at beginning of Easter hymn "Christ the Lord is ris'n today".
    Major third up _ "Jesus" at beginning of the hymn "Jesus shall reign".
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 321
    Fourth down - eine kleine Nachtmusik
    Fourth up - Taps

    But in the moment, in the chant, not sure if these help...
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,061
    It's a soprano thing. Basses of course live on descending 4ths. My theory is that in common-practice melodies one only hears the descending 4th in the context of DO-SOL, which one almost never finds in chant. I suspect that for most people descending intervals are a little harder than ascending.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,044
    Sure I can use all the tricks, and I do. But it’s a tad unsatisfying if it happens a lot.

    Upper Do-Sol and Sol-Do both occurred in the propers of Passion Sunday, in the gradual and in the tract…