During the penitential seasons of Advent (before Christmas) and Lent (before Easter), and on certain other occasions in the church year, the Alleluia is omitted, and a Tract is sung instead. The Tract, like the Gradual and Alleluia, is associated with solo singing and thus tends to be very florid and ornate. It is not clear whether Tracts were originally sung responsorially or direct (by a soloist without a response from the choir).
Interestingly, all of the Tracts are either in mode 2 or in mode 8, and they tend to be melodically related to other Tracts in the same mode. This suggests that all the Tract melodies developed over the centuries from a small number of original formulas.
The second edition of NAWM had an example of a Tract (see NAWM 3f).
Last updated: 19 August 2006
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