HEN WE SPOKE about Palestrina’s marvelous setting of Kyrie II (“fons bonitatis”), I mentioned a book published by Solesmes Abbey called “Cantus Varii.” In the past, I have also had occasion to mention another special book by Solesmes Abbey from 1928: Cantus Varii. These are books that essentially contain “random bits” of Gregorian chant. They’re marvelous books. The 1957 Cantus Selecti is particularly interesting because towards the end, information is provided vis-à-vis the provenance of these pieces.
I thought readers might appreciate these links:
* PDF Download • “Variae Preces” (1892)
—Variæ preces ex liturgia tum hodierna tum antiqua collectae aut usu receptae.
* PDF Download • “Cantus Varii” (1902)
—This book includes a supplement from 1895.
* PDF Download • “Cantus Varii” (1928)
—Cantus Varii Ad Benedictionem SS. Sacramenti.
* PDF Download • “Cantus Selecti” (1957)
—The final pages contain information about the provenance of these chants.
These books contain hundreds of wonderful plainsong—much of it sublime. By the way, “Salve Turba”, number 181 from Cantus Selecti (1957), doesn’t have any ictus markings, and I am not really sure why that is.
What I find fascinating are the final pages of the “Variæ Preces” (1892) because they give an explanation in French, not Latin of the melismatic mora vocis:
We have been speaking of “random bits and pieces”—and now I offer you another somewhat random thought. Monsignor Schmitt wrote that Bach’s C Minor Passacaglia is based upon the Communion antiphon “Acceptabis sacrifícium.” His observation is quite clever:
…but surely this is a coincidence, no? As one of my professors used to say: “There are only seven notes.” (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti) His point was that tons of melodies sound like other melodies because there are only seven notes. Moreover, Bach would probably have seen a corrupted edition of plainsong, such as that of Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers—and I doubt the pitches are the same as the Editio Vaticana.