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Church Modes
(120 words)

[German Version]

are a system for classifying plainchant (Singing: III) according to its final pitch (“finalis”), which is identical to the tonic note (D, E, F or G), its range (authentic or plagal), and its melodic type (figuration). The system, developed by the Franks in the 8th century, was possibly modeled after the Byzantine octoechoi. Classification aided memorization, ensured a smooth connection between antiphons and psalmody, and formed a link with Late Antique music theory. With many adaptations, the system remained an important part of music on into…

Cite this page
Flynn, William T., “Church Modes”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 21 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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