In this chapter the historical narrative continues roughly from the point where it was left at the end of section 3.iii. We are mostly concerned here with the cataclysm of the sixteenth century and the attempted restoration of medieval chant in the nineteenth. The restoration had a practical aim, that of improving the standard of music and performance in the Roman church. But the great fund of musicological knowledge which it created also provided the foundations of modern academic chant scholarship, much of which is not concerned with the practicalities of church worship at all. At the same time, Gregorian chant has also moved outside the church, or at least been co-opted for non-religious purposes. Because of its special associations it has often been used in modern non-sacred music, for example, opera and orchestral music in the nineteenth century, film music in the twentieth, and latterly even pop music.
The final section of this book is not, however, about the modern uses of chant but offers some observations on the difficulties in performing it. For not only the notes of medieval chant had to be restored, a way of performing it had to be reconstructed – or, rather, constructed, since no ‘hard’ evidence exists about matters like medieval voice production, tempo and dynamic exists.
Chant in the age of humanism; the ‘Editio Medicaea’; neo-Gallican chant
In the early sixteenth century most of the Gregorian repertory from the early Middle Ages was still being sung.