New Age Gregorian Chant

by carlyjroman

A few weeks ago, when I was home for the holiday, I mentioned to my family that I was somehow going to have to be able to identify different Gregorian chants in a listening quiz. Some family members laughed and asked how I would be able to do that. But my uncle went over to his computer and put on a song that sounded like a Gregorian chant. Several voices started singing a monophonic, non-metric chant and at the time, I dreaded hearing it because I thought it would only confuse me more by adding in another indistinguishable Gregorian chant to my mind. Looking back, my first thought was actually, “why does my uncle have Gregorian chants on his iTunes?” It soon became clear as a drum set fill and rhythm joined in that this was not a regular Gregorian chant like those I had heard in class. It was Enigma’s “Sadeness Part 1,” of the new age genre. Some of you may recognize it from the movie Tropic Thunder. Today, I was telling another person about the classes I’m taking and I mentioned this music class and bragged that I now can tell apart different opera songs and Gregorian chants through their different musical technicalities. The first thing the woman said back to me was “Wait! I have to play this song for you! It was really popular in the 90’s!” And sure enough, it was the same modernized Gregorian chant that my uncle had played for me.

I was not sure I was going to write about this song because the drum rhythms and background melodies don’t seem to go with the Gregorian chants at some parts and make it somewhat unpleasant to listen to. However, as I listened to the song over and over, I had the same experience as I did when I was studying for the listening quiz. The song started to sound more natural and I started to enjoy it. Later in the song, some ominous voices sing, or whisper, words that I cannot fully understand (I believe they’re in French), and the Gregorian chant becomes the background music. The progression of this song from a predominant Gregorian chant to a Gregorian chant with rock music in the background, to whispered singing with a peaceful-sounding background band and background Gregorian chant is very original and worth a listen.