recto tono chant

This is the easiest simplest type of chant for psalmody I have heard. I would like to try it out for the liturgy of the hours to get started, but there is one problem. I am so completely musically illiterate that I have no idea what the written descriptions online mean. No idea at all whatsoever what a “note” is in singing, I thought that was something for instruments. Music notes might as well be lines of text in arabic or chinese to my eyes I could not read them to save my life and have no idea what they mean. in church I always just listen until I get a feel for the sound of a hymn and then join in. Is there a place with a simple audio file of an example of recto tono chant? even just a youtube video? There seems to be nothing anywhere. I have looked in the archives here, and done exhaustive google searches ant it would appear that the answer is so obvious to anyone who knows anything about music that it does not warrant an audio track.

Well, doesn’t “recto tono” mean “straight tone” - that is, staying on one tone the whole time? In that case, the only basic musical talent you would need for that is being able to stay on one pitch, I would think. Do you think you are able to stay on one pitch? For an extended period of time? (Since singing the Liturgy of the Hours would be quite a long time to sing on one pitch.)

That makes sense at least. but isn’t there something about lengthening certain syllables for a kind of rythm? such as 'Gloria Patri et Filio et Spirituuuuui Saaaaaaaaancto sicut erat in principio et nuuuuuuunc et seeeeeeeeeemper et in secula secularum amen" couldn’t think of any other way to provide an example. but anyone know what I mean? if it is in one tone with no fluctuation of voice what makes it any different from regular speech?

I don’t get it.

It’s not very pleasant to hear. And it’s not unique to religion/the Church. Lots of secular occasions make use of this kind of chant. (e.g., “ten o clock and all is well.”)

I just can’t understand why recto tono chant would make people “feel” reverent and closer to God. It grates on my nerves.

And I honestly can’t imagine that God really prefers this to just hearing us talk in our normal human voices as long as we are here on this earth in our non-glorified bodies. Did Jesus teach His disciples to pray the Our Father in recto tono chant? I can’t imagine.

JMO. And to each his/her own. If it helps you, that’s wonderful.

Il dépends. Some monastères/communities do, some don’t. The Benedictines I’ve been with usually maintain the same cadence for the Gloria Patri but instead stand and bow.

For recto-tono in community, you need to be able to maintain the same pitch as everyone else. If chanting alone, use a pitch you’re comfortable with, neither too high nor too low, just practice maintaining that pitch (the usual tendency is to drift down in pitch; that’s what you try to avoid).

You don’t need any musical notation, and unlike Gregorian psalm tones, it works in any language.

Once you master recto-tono you can graduate to in directum which is nearly as easy, and good for most languages, but if done in Latin will introduce the notion of Latin accentuation, which is essential for the Gregorian tones.

I have to agree. It’s a memory from my childhood that I found rather distasteful.

I hear it often in our abbey. I’m of the opposite view, it is simple and soothing to see an entire community gathered in prayer and chanting together. It has to be well done though. Surprisingly, recto-tono is one of the most difficult styles to pull of in community recitation as there’s nothing to modulate it and it makes it though for everyone to be at the same place, at the same pitch, at the same time.

A monk explained to me the rationale of recto-tono once. It is so that the reader doesn’t taint the text with his own personal bias by choosing what to emphasize through inflections, emphasis, punctuation, etc. The monk simply is the instrument God uses to pass along His word.

It has a beautiful simplicity. At the abbey it’s used for the minor hours (Terce, Sext and None) as well as Vigils (at 5 am). The readings in the refectory are also done recto-tono, for the same reasons.

in more elaborate chant, the composer has chosen where the place the emphasis and color the text and again the cantor/community are merely instruments to pass that along.

Ah, that’s interesting. Thanks for sharing this information. Makes sense to me.

Monks live in community, right?

It makes me wonder if chant would be more appealing for Catholics to do and hear IF we had more of a “community” in our parishes, or at least the “feeling” of community.

When people love and trust each other, spend lots of time together on their journey to heaven, and work together to advance the Kingdom of God, perhaps singing/chanting together would come more naturally and be a joy rather than a chore.

But when people don’t know each other, and in fact, don’t know ANYONE in the parish, let alone work together with all those strangers sitting around them during Mass, no wonder they feel self-conscious about recto tono chanting with all these strangers.

I hope no one will say that people don’t need others to sing/chant in church. That’s what the Evangelical Protestants are doing now–Praise and Worship music in which you pay little attention to anyone else around you (even your own children), but instead, you close your eyes, raise your hands, and concentrate on worshipping the Lord and shutting out everything and everything else. Some people are really good at it, but for many, these Praise and Worship times are not comfortable because they don’t “feel” the emotions that some of the people around them apparently feel. It’s very awkward to worship God in your soul while you’re standing with a thousand other people.

That’s the beauty of singing congregational hymns, and perhaps also the recto tono chant with a community. This is true CORPORATE worship, something we can’t do at home by ourselves.

I’ve only really experienced recto-tono chant in community (of monks), for the Divine Office and readings in the refectory.

I do use it myself for praying some of the Hours, but for the main hours (Lauds, Vespers, Compline and sometimes mid-day), I use Gregorian chant.

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