What is plainchant?

Plainchant is a style of medieval vocal music.

Robert Hollingworth discusses Plainchant before I Fagiolini perform the traditional composition "Salve Regina"

Subject matter

Plainchant sets the words of the Roman Catholic mass or prayers to music. It is sung in Latin.

Melody and harmony

The music is modal and there is a single line of melody with voices singing in unison.

Rhythm and tempo

There is no regular time signature - instead the rhythm and tempo are dictated by the words being sung.


It is performed a cappella, and would have traditionally been performed by male voices only - priests or monks.