Gregorian Chant Dies Irae

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Gregorian chants were organized initially into four, then eight, and finally 12 modes. Typical melodic features include a characteristic ambitus, and also characteristic intervallic patterns relative to a referential mode final, incipits and cadences, the use of reciting tones at a particular distance from the final, around which the other notes of the melody revolve, and a vocabulary of musical motifs woven together through a process called centonization to create families of related chants. The scale patterns are organized against a background pattern formed of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords, producing a larger pitch system called the gamut. The chants can be sung by using six-note patterns called hexachords. Gregorian melodies are traditionally written using neumes, an early form of musical notation from which the modern four-line and five-line staff developed. Multi-voice elaborations of Gregorian chant, known as organum, were an early stage in the development of Western polyphony.