from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sign used in the notation of plainsong during the Middle Ages, surviving today in transcriptions of Gregorian chants.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sign used in early musical notation

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Modulation of the voice in singing.
  • n. In music:
  • n. A sign or character used in early medieval music to indicate a tone or a phrase.
  • n. A melodic phrase or division, sung to a single syllable, especially at the end of a clause or sentence; a sequence.


Middle English, series of notes sung on one syllable, from Medieval Latin pneuma, from Greek, breath; see pneuma.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • In any case, using his editions allow any choir to put the language and neume issues on the shelf for a time, while still permitting the Gregorian melody to be sung.

    The Offertory Proper, Latin and English (updated)

  • Here, there are 19 syllables in Latin and only 15 in English, so you'll have to spread a few of the words out over some neume-groups.

    Pánis, quem égo dédero

  • That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.

    Archive 2006-07-01

  • In the course of two or three centuries these marks were added to and modified quite considerably, and the system of notation which thus grew up was called "neume notation," the word _neume_

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • The elements of neume-writing as given by Riemann in his Dictionary of

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • Neume notation was used mostly in connection with the "plain-song melodies" of the Church, and since the words of these chants were sung as they would be pronounced in reading, the deficiency of the neume system in not expressing definite duration values was not felt.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • The clefs at the beginning of the staffs are of course simply altered forms of the letters F, C, and G, which were written at first by Guido and others to make the old neume notation more definite.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • Another writer [38] gives a somewhat different explanation, stating that the staff system with the use of clefs came about through writing a letter (C or F) in the margin of the manuscript and drawing a line from this letter to the neume which was to represent the tone for which this particular letter stood.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • Here then we observe the greatest weakness of the neume system -- its lack of uniformity and its consequent inability accurately to express musical ideas for universal interpretation.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • In the system of "musica mensurabilis" or _measured music_ which was inaugurated a little later, the _virga_ (which had meanwhile developed into a square-headed neume) was adopted as the

    Music Notation and Terminology


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