I am interested in Gregorian chant. I would like to sing it but it is often sung in low ranges which makes it difficult for me as a tenor.

The range for eg Credo III can be C3-C4. It is very low for a tenor. It would be good for a baritone.

I am not even sure that Gregorian chant should have a tenor sound. You don't focus so much on being a tenor or a baritone in it. That is the focus in classical singing techniques.

How is singing Gregorian chant different from singing with classical techniques?

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    From Liber Usualis: "It must be clearly understood that in Plainsong the notation is not and was never meant to indicate the absolute but only the relative pitch of the melodic intervals. ... It must, therefore, be well understood that the notes read on the stave are to be sung at the pitch which is within the compass of the singers, according to the size of the building, and the special character of the piece." If it's too low for you, choose a higher pitch. If you're singing with others, ask for a higher pitch.
    – phoog
    Sep 4 at 10:46
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    You might want to edit the title; there are many ways in which medieval technique differed from modern, maybe even from modern attempts to replicate it, and it provides ample fodder for people to argue about for decades. Such a question would be too broad, but you seem to be focused on questions of range, register, and relative pitch. Sep 5 at 17:20
  • @AndyBonner from the asker's other questions I suspect that the desire isn't to sing chant in a medieval style but in a modern liturgical style (hence my earlier quotation from Liber usualis instead of a discussion about medieval pitch standards or the lack thereof). The question of vocal technique in modern approaches to Gregorian chant is far more manageable.
    – phoog
    Sep 6 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Singing chant is different from singing with classical technique so far as they have different aims. Classical technique is developed for creating lots of volume, for singing over accompaniment.

But this does not really appear to be your question. Regarding pitch: Medieval music (where chant originated in did not have a fixed pitch set. Rather the guidonean notenames specify the scale notes. So of course you’d be able to change the pitch to whatever works out. Also such chants are usually sung in so called scholæ and not by yourself. While you do not have the term tenor there (in chant tenor means something completely different) you do in fact get differentiation of vocal ranges. While not being hamonized there is the practice of organa, which means that instead of singing in unisons you’d add perfect fourths or fifths below. Also it is possible to double octaves.

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    "this does not really appear to be your question": it's possible that the question is "given a situation in which I must sing chant at a pitch that is too low for me, how should I approach that in terms of vocal technique?"
    – phoog
    Sep 4 at 16:00
  • I think that I am trying to have a more classical tenor sound when singing Gregorian melodies. I was listening to Ian Patridge singing When Laura smiles and I think I am trying to sing with that technique (although he might be better singer than me) Sep 6 at 13:50

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