This chapter presents information on the origin of graduals, one of the cantatorial Mass chants. The singing of the gradual psalm was well established in eastern centers such as Antioch, and in western centers such as Milan, Carthage, and Hippo, by the end of the fourth century. Both the respond and verse of the gradual are generally described as melismatic, such that each sense unit of the text, a phrase or short clause of some three, four, or five words, interjects one melisma of some twenty, thirty, or forty notes into its typically neumatic texture. The verse is marginally more melismatic than the respond and has a somewhat higher tessitura. Graduals are the most formulaic of Mass chants. The trait can be detected in virtually all of the 105 chants of the core repertory, but it is most pronounced in two melodic types that include those mode-2 Gregorian graduals which share an A-final with the Roman version and mode-5 chants that share an F-final with the Roman.
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