About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and six children.
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“We know that originally the offertories of the repertoire included a series of verses, just like the introit and the communion, but generally more ornate. Many of these are musical compositions of great beauty. They quickly fell into disuse, and we find them only in the most ancient manuscripts. The only remaining trace of this older arrangement in our present-day liturgy is that of the offertory of the Requiem Mass.”
— Dom Joseph Gajard (1956)

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Forget the First Note, give me the Do
published 14 January 2017 by Veronica Brandt

Nuns Singing Square HERE ARE LOTS of familiar pieces I can sing from a first note, but somehow when it comes to sight reading chant I need the Do or tonic note.

There is a habit passed around some choirs here to sing a descending few notes – Do La Fa – to anchor the ear and find the right note. The sequence helps get away from the modern major scale and cue the brain for more modal sounds.

And it’s not just for the beginning of a piece, but often as a safety net in case of mishaps along the way.

So, if you are helping me out at Mass and we’re ready to begin the Communion Antiphon, hum a Do, La, Fa before giving me the starting note.

I don’t know where this practice comes from, but I find it very handy myself. I offer it here in case someone else finds it useful.