Introduction to the Interpretation of Gregorian Chant

Author: Kelly, Columba
This translation of Volume One of the two-volume work of Agustoni and Göschl has brought together the most accepted and recent scholarship in the field of Gregorian chant. It is a thorough and systematic presentation of this material for the very purpose of aiding those who wish to bring this music to life in actual performance and in a manner that is more faithful to its very nature as the musical enhancement of a sacred text. Such an aid to performance has only been available since 1987 in the original German and then in 2001, in a French translation of Volume I by Dom Daniel Saulnier. The French translation by Dom Saulnier has been used as the basis of this translation, since it contains material on the Tironian notes that was not available at the time of the original German work. This English translation begins to answer the need of English-speaking directors and singers of Gregorian chant for performance guidelines that are based on solid scholarship.


“The book now placed in translation before an English-speaking readership is a remarkable one in many respects. Although called an ‘introduction,’ it is not written for the beginner who knows little or nothing about Gregorian chant. It is intended primarily for those with the responsibility of directing a choir, who need to explore more deeply the special way in which Gregorian chant articulates the Latin word, and the way in which the musical notation of the oldest preserved manuscripts makes the articulation particularly clear ...” – Professor David Hiley, Universität Regensburg

“Those who will attentively read this book will discover a treasury of knowledge and of unsuspected artistic discernment. The terminology will sometimes be surprising: it is almost unknown in non-German speaking circles. Even though it is directed toward performance, it is not a work of popularization, but rather a systematic and truly scholarly work that is intended to provide the material for a historically informed interpretation of Gregorian chant based on its early tradition ...” Fr. Daniel Saulnier, Monk of Solesmes

Table of Contents

Preface to the English translation by Fr. Columba Kelly
Preface by Dr. David Hiley
Preface to the French edition by Fr. Daniel Saulnier
Preface to the Original German edition by Luigi Agustoni and Johannes Berchmans Göschl
Table of Abbreviations and Additional References
1. General Foundations for the Interpretation of Gregorian Chant
2. The text as key for understanding Gregorian rhythm
3. The single note neumes: the paleographic forms and their melodic signification
4. Single note neumes: Interpretation
5. The horizontal repetition of pitches
A Select Bibliography