Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Best Introduction to Chant as Music

There are many types of Gregorian chant books out there. There are theological books, pedagogical books, historical books, detailed scholarly studies, and more. But what if you want a book on chant as music, the same type of book that might be written about the opera or about the symphony, something that covers history, purpose, and practice? Here is a wonderful choice: Gregorian Chant by David Hiley, appearing in the Cambridge Introductions to Music series. I can't remember enjoying a book on chant more. It is sober without unnecessary academic apparatus, practical and clear without being overly focused on practitioners only, and historical without demanding vast prior knowledge. The prose is lovely and even charming, but one can be confident about its arguments and conclusions simply because Hiley is probably the world's leading expert. The price is also right. This book filled in many gaps in my own knowledge, and clarified many questions. For college classrooms, it is ideal! But everyone interested in the subject will benefit.
(Comment moderation is now in effect for this site.)