Psalm Tone

   Melodic formula for chanting a psalm. In the Gregorian tradition, each psalm verse is split into halves (see figure 5). The psalm begins with a rising melodic figure, the intonation, and then settles on a reciting tone, or tenor, on which is sung as many syllables as necessary to reach the end of the first half, when a cadential figure, the mediant, is sung. The second half begins immediately on the same tenor, again prolonging it to accommodate all the remaining syllables in the verse except those for the final cadence, the {}termination. (The tonus peregrinus uses a different pitch for the tenor of the second half.) Subsequent verses of the psalm are sung in the same way, except that the intonation is omitted after the first verse. Verses with many words may have an extra cadence, or flex, within the first half verse. Optional notes in the cadential figures are used to ensure that the textual accent falls in the right place.
   The psalm itself is introduced and followed by the appropriate antiphon. The antiphon determines the mode being sung, usually by the range of its melody and the pitch of its last note. The mode then determines which of the many psalm tones will be used to sing the psalm text. The particular melodies of the intonation, the cadences, flex, and the pitch of the reciting tone are all determined, therefore, by the psalm tone and indirectly by the mode of the antiphon. Terminations may vary even within a single mode, in order to smooth the transition to the concluding antiphon.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

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