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.
Learn more about Gregorian chant with a free trial on Britannica.com.
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.