Song-Plain Chant

By | April 25, 2019


Gregorian Chant. Plain Song.


The performers will sing you a story using the ancient technique of plain chanting.


Plain Chant is the secular name for unaccompanied song (no instruments) that takes place in Christian churches. In the way back ago times these chants were only to be sung by one male without any instruments being used. Historically musical instruments and polyphony (more than one persona singing) was considered a barrier to experiencing God. The term Gregorian chant describes a patently religious singing form that was catalogued by Pope Gregory the First. So, a Plain Chant has always been secular and has a history of being both comedic and irreverent. A Plain Chant is not an affront to Christian values.

Plain chant with percussion.

The performers should line themselves up facing the audience. As each performer contributes a sentence, they should take a half step forward. The Plain Chant should not be a gimmick that ditches narrative. Before the written word chants and songs were the only way to transfer historical knowledge.  The Plain Chant does not have a chorus. Think of it as a sentence at a time story. The performers should utilize whatever narrative tool their house uses. Learn Improv uses the narrative tool STEPS.

The first performer sings their line in the characteristic undulating and haunting tone that is a plain chant. Once this single sentence solo is completed the performer steps back into the line and every performer repeats the sentence. The next performer steps forward and sings the next logical sentence solo and this this followed by all performers repeating the line. This process of solo sentence, chorus of copying, solo sentence continues until a story is told.

  • First Performer – Smedley is a goat of many colours.
  • All Performers – Smedley is a goat of many colours.
  • Second Performer – Smedley lived on a black and white farm.
  • All Performers – Smedley lived on a black and white farm.
  • Etc.

Synchronizing the ending to the story takes quite a bit of ensemble work. It is usually signalled by the narrative arc, and the by all the performers trailing off into silence together.


  • Stupid fake warm ups
  • Inordinately long contributions.
  • Feigning religious statures and stereotypes


  • Madrigal – Polyphonic.
  • Old School – A Plain Chant should sung by one performer who phenotypically appears male.


  • Information appreciated.