Books About Chant

These are books which I have found useful.


Plainchant for Everyone, Mary Berry

This little book covers the basic notation and an introduction to the modes. The section on singing psalms, and the way the psalm tones work, is particularly useful.

RSCM Handbooks code RB520, ISBN 0-85402-152-3. Available from Amazon.

Gregorian Chant: A Guide to the History and Liturgy, Daniel Saulnier, translated by Mary Berry

Do get Mary Berry's translation, which is excellent. it is currently available from both Amazon and Church House Bookshop.

Chant Made Simple, Robert Fowells

A simplified guide to using Cardine's theories in the performance of chant. The greater part of the book consists of discussions of the practical application of the theory to 42 chants, reprinted from the Graduale Triplex, in each case providing notes on the most important features.

2nd edition published 2007, Paraclete Press, ISBN 978-1-55725-529-7. You should be able to get this from Amazon.

Beginning Studies in Gregorian Chant, Dom Eugene Cardine

Available from Abbaye de Solesmes (Be careful of second-hand offers, which can be more expensive than buying new!)


Gregorian Semiology, Dom Eugene Cardine

A detailed exposition of Cardine's work on interpreting the rhythmic meaning of the musical notations used in the earliest surviving manuscripts. This is an important reference work, but not the sort of book you read from cover to cover.

Available from Solesmes.

The Gregorian Modes, Dom Daniel Saulnier

This book is a study of the modes, and and the theory of how they evolved historically. It covers a number of topics glossed over by the less advanced books, for example the fact that a number of chants do not really fit cleanly into the simple description of modes being based on a "dominant" and a "final". For each mode, there is a detailed discussion of the significance of each degree of the scale.

Available from Solesmes.

Music Editions

Liber Usualis

Be careful to get a square note version: there was also an edition printed using a form of modern notation, which is not as useful.

This book can be expensive. Look around the online bookshops for prices, for example Blackwell's Online.

Alternatively, for occasional use, there is a scan of the 1961 edition in one huge PDF file at the Musica Sacra web site.

Graduale Triplex

The chants for the Mass, with both Laon and St Gall musical notation copied respectively above and below the stave.

Available from Solesmes.

Offertoriale Triplex

Offertories with verses (the verses are omitted from the Graduale), and with both Laon and St Gall neumes above and below the stave. Available from Solesmes.

Graduale Novum

Reconstructions of chant melodies based on recent research. Like the Graduale Triplex, the chants are written on four-line staves with both Laon and St Gall musical notation copied as well.

Parish Book of Chant

A good selection of chants, plus the orders of Mass (both Ordinary Form, and Extraordinary) and other services. See the Church Music Association of America website for full details. It can also be downloaded as a freely re-distributable PDF