Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos

Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos, Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Španija

Website of the Sanctuary

947 39 00 49

Every day: from 10.00 to 13.00 and 16.30 to 18.00

Benedictine Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, famed for their monks’ beautiful recordings of the Gregorian chant – benedictine monks chant . The monastery is a universal Romanesque gem, which has become a centre of spiritual and artistic pilgrimage.

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The monks originally sang Mozarabic chant. At some point around the eleventh century they switched to Gregorian chant. In the nineteenth century the abbey became a member of the Solesmes Congregation, and the singing has since been influenced by the scholarship and performance style of Solesmes Abbey.

Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos

Benedictine monks chant of Santo Domingo de Silos

The monks of Silos became internationally famous for singing Gregorian chant through the album Chant, one of a number of recordings they have made. First released on LP, Chant became popular when re-released by Angel Records in 1994 and strongly marketed. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 music chart, and was certified as triple platinum, becoming the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released. It was followed by Chant Noel Chants For The Holiday Season (also released in 1994) and Chant II (1995).

Technically, the Silos monks are surpassed by other choirs, but they are undoubtedly authentic in the sense that they sing Gregorian chant as part of their daily worship. As a reviewer in Gramophone puts it: “The ensemble is not always perfect, but if these are not professional singers, they are, and they sound like, truly professional monks.”

The monks are also one of the few choirs to have recorded Mozarabic chant.

Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song of the western Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions.

Although popular legend credits Pope St. Gregory the Great with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant.

Gregorian chants were organized initially into four, then eight, and finally 12 modes. Typical melodic features include a characteristic ambitus, and also characteristic intervallic patterns relative to a referential mode final, incipits and cadences, the use of reciting tones at a particular distance from the final, around which the other notes of the melody revolve, and a vocabulary of musical motifs woven together through a process called centonization to create families of related chants.

The scale patterns are organized against a background pattern formed of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords, producing a larger pitch system called the gamut. The chants can be sung by using six-note patterns called hexachords.

Gregorian melodies are traditionally written using neumes, an early form of musical notation from which the modern four-line and five-line staff developed. Multi-voice elaborations of Gregorian chant, known as organum, were an early stage in the development of Western polyphony.

Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys in churches, or by men and women of religious orders in their chapels. It is the music of the Roman Rite, performed in the Mass and the monastic Office.

Although Gregorian chant supplanted or marginalized the other indigenous plainchant traditions of the Christian West to become the official music of the Christian liturgy, Ambrosian chant still continues in use in Milan, and there are musicologists exploring both that and the Mozarabic chant of Christian Spain.

Although Gregorian chant is no longer obligatory, the Roman Catholic Church still officially considers it the music most suitable for worship. During the 20th century, Gregorian chant underwent a musicological and popular resurgence.

Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos

The monastery dates back to the Visigothic period of the 7th century. In the 10th century, the abbey was called San Sebastián de Silos, but acquired its current name when Santo Domingo was entrusted to renovate the abbey by Fernando the Great, King of Castile and León.

The abbot designed the church to have a central nave with two side aisles and five chapels attached to its apse and transept. When Santo Domingo died in 1073, work on the church and the cloister was handed over to Abbot Fortunius, who saw the rest of the construction to its completion. The church was subsequently rebuilt by the neoclassical architect Ventura Rodríguez.

In 1835 the abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos was closed, along with other monasteries in Spain. Benedictine monks from Solesmes in France revived the foundation in 1880.

The monks originally sang Mozarabic chant. At some point around the eleventh century they switched to Gregorian chant. In the nineteenth century the abbey became a member of the Solesmes Congregation, and the singing has since been influenced by the scholarship and performance style of Solesmes Abbey.

The monks of Silos became internationally famous for singing Gregorian chant through the album Chant, one of a number of recordings they have made. First released on LP, Chant became popular when re-released by Angel Records in 1994 and strongly marketed. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 music chart, and was certified as triple platinum, becoming the best-selling album of Gregorian chant ever released. It was followed by Chant Noel Chants For The Holiday Season (also released in 1994) and Chant II (1995).

Technically, the Silos monks are surpassed by other choirs, but they are undoubtedly authentic in the sense that they sing Gregorian chant as part of their daily worship. As a reviewer in Gramophone puts it: “The ensemble is not always perfect, but if these are not professional singers, they are, and they sound like, truly professional monks.”

The monks are also one of the few choirs to have recorded Mozarabic chant.

Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song of the western Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions. Although popular legend credits Pope St. Gregory the Great with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant.

Gregorian chants were organized initially into four, then eight, and finally 12 modes. Typical melodic features include a characteristic ambitus, and also characteristic intervallic patterns relative to a referential mode final, incipits and cadences, the use of reciting tones at a particular distance from the final, around which the other notes of the melody revolve, and a vocabulary of musical motifs woven together through a process called centonization to create families of related chants. The scale patterns are organized against a background pattern formed of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords, producing a larger pitch system called the gamut. The chants can be sung by using six-note patterns called hexachords. Gregorian melodies are traditionally written using neumes, an early form of musical notation from which the modern four-line and five-line staff developed. Multi-voice elaborations of Gregorian chant, known as organum, were an early stage in the development of Western polyphony.

Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys in churches, or by men and women of religious orders in their chapels. It is the music of the Roman Rite, performed in the Mass and the monastic Office. Although Gregorian chant supplanted or marginalized the other indigenous plainchant traditions of the Christian West to become the official music of the Christian liturgy, Ambrosian chant still continues in use in Milan, and there are musicologists exploring both that and the Mozarabic chant of Christian Spain. Although Gregorian chant is no longer obligatory, the Roman Catholic Church still officially considers it the music most suitable for worship. During the 20th century, Gregorian chant underwent a musicological and popular resurgence.

The monastery dates back to the Visigothic period of the 7th century. In the 10th century, the abbey was called San Sebastián de Silos, but acquired its current name when Santo Domingo was entrusted to renovate the abbey by Fernando the Great, King of Castile and León. The abbot designed the church to have a central nave with two side aisles and five chapels attached to its apse and transept. When Santo Domingo died in 1073, work on the church and the cloister was handed over to Abbot Fortunius, who saw the rest of the construction to its completion. The church was subsequently rebuilt by the neoclassical architect Ventura Rodríguez.

In 1835 the abbey of Silos was closed, along with other monasteries in Spain. Benedictine monks from Solesmes in France revived the foundation in 1880.

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