Benedict. Singing psalms made up a large part of the life in a monastic community, while a smaller group and soloists sang the chants. In its long history Gregorian Chant has been subjected to many gradual changes and some reforms. By the 13th century, the neumes of Gregorian chant were usually written in square notation on a staff with four lines and three spaces and a clef marker. In square notation, small groups of ascending notes on a syllable are shown as stacked squares, read from bottom to top, while descending notes are written with diamonds read from left to right.
In melismatic chants, in which a syllable may be sung to a large number of notes, a series of smaller such groups of neumes are written in succession, read from left to right. A special symbol called the custos, placed at the end of a system, showed which pitch came next at the start of the following system. Special neumes such as the oriscus, quilisma, and liquescent neumes, indicate particular vocal treatments for these notes. This system of square notation is standard in modern chantbooks.
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