Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dies Irae (What Else?)

Yes, I would dearly love to be unpredictable, but I had the good fortune to hear an all-male schola sing the "Dies Irae" at Mass yesterday, and remembered just how much I liked it. Perhaps it is the rhyming scheme that sets it apart from most other long Gregorian pieces; this four-line structure makes it a bit more song-like, to my ears, rather than pure chant. Then again, there is the modal structure, which, I am told is a combination of the Dorian and Hypodorian modes. . .(Don't take this to mean I know the first thing about modes; I am just parroting what I read). Whatever the cause, I have always found it a most impressive piece. Sobering, to be sure, but impressive. Here is a solo version by an Italian singer named Giovanni Vianini who directs a Gregorian schola.

1 comment:

John said...

The first verse of Dies Iræ fits rather well on the pipe scale. The second mostly. But it gets a bit dicey after that.

When you just need a little bit of a tune for a short procession at a Catholic funeral it works rather well. It's familiar to a lot of people; they just don't quite remember where they heard it.

Somewhere out there is a doctoral thesis waiting to be written comparing piobaireachd and Gregorian chant.