[chant, chahnt]
chant, general name for one-voiced, unaccompanied, liturgical music. Usually it refers to the liturgical melodies of the Byzantine, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches and is analogous to cantillation in Jewish liturgical music, Qur'anic chanting in Islam, and single-line chanting in other religions. Roman Catholic chant, commonly called Gregorian chant or plainsong, is diatonic, modally organized (see mode), and has a free rhythm determined by the text. Anglican chant is a harmonized, metrical adaptation to English texts of the Gregorian method of psalm singing, in which a short melody is adjusted to the length of different psalm verses by repeating one tone, the recitation tone, for any number of words in the text. The texts of Anglican chant, used in many Protestant churches, are from the Book of Common Prayer.

Liturgical music of the Roman Catholic church consisting of unaccompanied melody sung in unison to Latin words. It is named for Pope Gregory I, who may have contributed to its collection and codification and who was traditionally represented as having received all the melodies directly from the Holy Spirit. Of the five bodies of medieval Latin liturgical music, it is the dominant repertoire, and the name is often used broadly to include them all. Gregorian chant apparently derived principally from Jewish cantillation, with other elements entering from the Eastern Church (see Byzantine chant) and elsewhere. Chant has traditionally been performed at the mass and the canonical hours (the eight prayer services traditionally held daily in monasteries). Its texts come primarily from the biblical psalms, metrical hymns, and texts specific to the mass and the hours. The melodies are classified as belonging to one or another of the eight church modes. Chant rhythm is not strictly metrical, and its notation does not indicate rhythm. Since the Second Vatican Council, the performance of chant has diminished greatly. Seealso cantus firmus.

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Chant (from Old French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music).

Chant as a spiritual practice

Chanting the Name of God/Spirit is a spiritual practice that is commonly used. Chants form part of many religious rituals, and diverse spiritual traditions consider chant a route to spiritual development. Some examples include chant in African and Native American cultures, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Jewish liturgical music (chazzanut), Qur'an reading, Baha'i chants, various Buddhist chants, various mantras, and the chanting of psalms and prayers especially in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches (see Anglican Chant). Tibetan Buddhist chant involves throat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. The concept of chanting mantras is of particular significance in many Hindu traditions and other closely related Dharmic Religions. For example, the Hare Krishna movement is based especially on the chanting of Sanskrit Names of God. Japanese Shigin (詩吟), or 'chanted poetry', mirrors Zen principles and is sung from the gut — the locus of power in Zen Buddhism.

Other uses of chant

Chants are used in a variety of settings from ritual to recreation. Supporters or players in sports contests may use them (see football chant). Warriors in ancient times would chant a battle cry. They are also used on protests, and are widely adapted with only a few words changed between topic. Chants are the main form of communication used by Auctioneers in the auction industry, in what is known as the auction chant or bid calling.

Recently, musical genres such as Hardcore, Grindcore, and other aggressive forms of music have adopted this concept. Many times during a 'breakdown' (the segment of the song where the time signature is half counted or significantly slowed in some way). The singer will recite a chant, the object of this is to get everyone involved and create a feeling of passion throughout the room causing overall reaction to the music, including pits, to be more intense. Rap music, which is primarily spoken rather than sung, depends heavily on a highly rhythmic delivery with many elements of chant, particularly in chorus sections.

Chanting is also popular in film and Video Game scores, such as the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy by Howard Shore, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace by John Williams , Ghost in the Shell by Kenji Kawai or King Kong vs Godzilla by Akira Ifukube, or in the case of games, the Halo (series) of First Person Shooters by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori.


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