Difference between revisions of "Byzantine Chant"

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Strictly speaking, '''Byzantine Chant''' is the sacred [[Church Music|chant]] of Christian Churches following the Orthodox rite. This tradition, encompassing the Greek-speaking world, developed in [[Eastern Roman Empire|Byzantium]] from the establishment of its capital, Constantinople, in 330 until [[Fall of Constantinople|its fall]] in 1453. It is undeniably of composite origin, drawing on the artistic and technical productions of the classical age, on [[Judaism|Jewish]] music, and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities of Alexandria, Antioch, and Ephesus.  In the [[Orthodox Church]] today, many churches use [[Byzantine]] Chant as their primary musical tradition, including the Churches of [[Church of Constantinople|Constantinople]], [[Church of Alexandria|Alexandria]], [[Church of Antioch|Antioch]], [[Church of Jerusalem|Jerusalem]], [[Church of Romania|Romania]], [[Church of Serbia|Serbia]], [[Church of Greece|Greece]], and [[Church of Cyprus|Cyprus]].
===Early Christian Period===
Byzantine chant manuscripts date from the ninth century, while [[lectionary|lectionaries]] of biblical readings in [[Ekphonetic Notation]] (a primitive graphic system designed to indicate the manner of reciting lessons from Scripture) begin about a century earlier and continue in use until the twelfth or thirteenth century. Our knowledge of the older period is derived from Church service books [[Typikon|Typika]], [[Church Fathers|patristic]] writings and medieval histories. Scattered examples of [[hymn]] texts from the early centuries of Greek Christianity still exist. Some of these employ the metrical schemes of classical Greek poetry; but the change of pronunciation had rendered those meters largely meaningless, and, except when classical forms were imitated, Byzantine hymns of the following centuries are prose-poetry, unrhymed verses of irregular length and accentual patterns. The common term for a short hymn of one stanza, or one of a series of stanzas, is [[troparion]] (this may carry the further connotation of a hymn interpolated between Psalm verses). A famous example, whose existence is attested as early as the fourth century, is the [[Vespers]] hymn, "''[[Phos Hilaron]]''" ("O Gladsome Light"); another, "''O Monogenes Yios''" ("Only Begotten Son"), ascribed to Emperor St. [[Justinian|Justinian the Great]] (r. 527-565), figures in the introductory portion of the [[Divine Liturgy]]. Perhaps the earliest set of troparia of known authorship are those of the [[monk]] Auxentios (first half of the fifth century), attested in his biography but not preserved in any later Byzantine order of service.
===Medieval Period===
Two concepts must be understood if we are to appreciate fully the function of music in Byzantine worship. The first, which retained currency in Greek theological and mystical speculation until the dissolution of the empire, was the belief in the [[angel]]ic transmission of sacred chant: the assumption that the early Church united men in the [[prayer]] of the angelic choirs. This notion is certainly older than the [[Apocalypse]] account ([[Book of Revelation|Revelation]] 4:8-11), for the musical function of angels as conceived in the [[Old Testament]] is brought out clearly by [[Book of Isaiah|Isaiah]] (6:1-4) and [[Book of Ezekiel|Ezekiel]] (3:12). Most significant in the fact, outlined in [[Exodus]] 25, that the pattern for the earthly worship of [[Israel]] was derived from [[Heaven]]. The allusion is perpetuated in the writings of the early [[Church Fathers]], such as [[Clement of Rome]], [[Justin Martyr|Justin]], [[Ignatius of Antioch]], [[Athenagoras of Athens]], and [[Dionysius the Areopagite]]. It receives acknowledgement later in the liturgical treatises of [[Nicolas Cabasilas]] and [[Symeon of Thessaloniki]] (''Patrologia Graeca'', CL, 368-492 and CLV, 536-699, respectively).
The effect that this concept had on church music was threefold: first, it bred a highly conservative attitude to musical composition; second, it stabilized the melodic tradition of certain hymns; and third, it continued, for a time, the anonymity of the composer. For if a chant is of heavenly origin, then the acknowledgement received by man in transmitting it to posterity ought to be minimal. This is especially true when he deals with hymns which were known to have been first sung by angelic choirs—such as the [[Amen]], [[Alleluia]], [[Trisagion]], [[Sanctus]], and [[Doxology]]. Consequently, until Palaeologan times, it was inconceivable for a composer to place his name beside a notated text in the manuscripts.
Ideas of originality and free invention similar to those seen in later music probably never existed in early Byzantine times. The very notion of using traditional formulas (or melody-types) as a compositional technique shows an archaic concept in liturgical chant, and is quite the opposite of free, original creation. It seems evident that the chants of the Byzantine repertory found in musical manuscripts from the tenth century to the time of the [[Fourth Crusade]] (1204-1261), represent the final and only surviving stage of an evolution, the beginnings of which go back at least to the sixth century and possibly even to the chant of the [[Synagogue]]. What exact changes took place in the music during the formative stage is difficult to say; but certain chants in use even today exhibit characteristics which may throw light on the subject. These include recitation formulas, melody-types, and standard phrases that are clearly evident in the folk music and other traditional music of various cultures of the East, including the music of the Jews.
The second, less permanent, concept was that of ''koinonia'' or "communion." This was less permanent because, after the fourth century, when it was analyzed and integrated into a theological system, the bond and "oneness" that united the [[clergy]] and the [[laity|faithful]] in liturgical worship was less potent. It is, however, one of the key ideas for understanding a number of realities for which we now have different names. With regard to musical performance, this concept of koinonia may be applied to the primitive use of the word choros. It referred, not to a separate group within the congregation entrusted with musical responsibilities, but to the congregation as a whole. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to the Church in Ephesus [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/fathers.vi.ii.iii.i.html] in the following way:
:"''You must every man of you join in a choir so that being harmonious and in concord and taking the keynote of God in unison, you may sing with one voice through [[Jesus Christ]] to the Father, so that He may hear you and through your good deeds recognize that you are parts of His Son.''"
A marked feature of liturgical ceremony was the active part taken by the people in its performance, particularly in the recitation or chanting of hymns, responses, and psalms. The terms ''choros'', ''koinonia'', and ''ekklesia'' were used synonymously in the early Byzantine Church. In [[Psalms]] 149 and 150, the [[Septuagint]] translates the Hebrew word ''machol'' (dance) by the Greek word ''choros''. As a result, the early Church borrowed this word from classical antiquity as a designation for the congregation, at worship and in song, both in heaven and on earth. Before long, however, a clericalizing tendency soon began to manifest itself in linguistic usage, particularly after the [[Council of Laodicea]], whose fifteenth [[Canon Law|Canon]] permitted only the canonical ''psaltai'' ("[[chanter]]s") to sing at the services. The word ''choros'' came to refer to the special [[priest]]ly function in the [[Divine Liturgy|Liturgy]]—just as, architecturally speaking, the choir became a reserved area near the [[sanctuary]]—and ''choros'' eventually became the equivalent of the word ''kleros''.
The development of large-scale [[hymnography|hymnographic]] forms begins in the fifth century with the rise of the kontakion, a long and elaborate metrical [[sermon]], reputedly of Syriac origin, which finds its acme in the work of St. [[Roman the Melodist|Romanos the Melodist]] (sixth century). This dramatic [[homily]], which usually paraphrases a [[Holy Scripture|Biblical]] narrative, comprises some 20 to 30 stanzas and was sung during the Morning Office ([[Orthros]]) in a simple and direct syllabic style (one note per syllable). The earliest musical versions, however, are "melismatic" (that is, many notes per syllable of text), and belong to the time of the ninth century and later when kontakia were reduced to the ''ptooimion'' (introductory verse) and first ''oikos'' (stanza). In the second half of the seventh century, the kontakion was supplanted by a new type of hymn, the [[canon|kanon]], initiated by St. [[Andrew of Crete]] (ca. 660-ca. 740) and developed by [[Saint]]s [[John of Damascus]] and [[Kosmas of Jerusalem]] (both eighth century). Essentially, the kanon is an hymnodic complex comprised of nine odes which were originally attached to the nine [[Biblical Odes|Biblical canticles]] and to which they were related by means of corresponding poetic allusion or textual quotation.
The nine canticles are:
* (1)-(2) The two songs of [[Moses]] ([[Exodus]] 15:1-19 and [[Deuteronomy]] 32:1-43);
* (3)-(7) The prayers of [[Hannah]], [[Habakkuk]], [[Isaiah]], [[Jonah]], and the [[Three Holy Children]] ([[I Kingdoms|1 Samuel]] 2:1-10; [[Book of Habakkuk|Habakkuk]] 3:1-19; [[Book of Isaiah|Isaiah]] 26:9-20; [[Book of Jonah|Jonah]] 2:3-10; [[Apocrypha|Apoc.]] [[Book of Daniel|Daniel]] 3:26-56);
* (8) The [[Prayer of the Three Holy Children]] (Apoc. [[Book of Daniel|Daniel]] 3:57-88);
* (9) The [[Magnificat]] and the Benedictus ([[Gospel of Luke|Luke]] 1:46-55 and 68-79).
Each ode consists of an initial troparion, the [[irmos|heirmos]], followed by three, four or more [[troparion|troparia]] which are the exact metrical reproductions of the heirmos, thereby allowing the same music to fit all troparia equally well.
The nine heirmoi, however, are metrically dissimilar; consequently, an entire kanon comprises nine independent melodies (eight, when the second ode is omitted), which are united musically by the same mode and textually by references to the general theme of the liturgical occasion, and sometimes by an acrostic. Heirmoi in syllabic style are gathered in the ''[[Heirmologion]]'', a bulky volume which first appeared in the middle of the tenth century and contains over a thousand model troparia arranged into an [[oktoechos]] (the eight-mode musical system).
Another kind of hymn, important both for its number and for the variety of its liturgical use, is the [[sticheron]]. [[Feast|Festal]] stichera, accompanying both the fixed psalms at the beginning and end of Vespers and the psalmody of the Lauds (the [[Ainoi]]) in the Morning Office, exist for all special days of the year, the [[Sunday]]s and weekdays of [[Great Lent|Lent]], and for the recurrent cycle of eight weeks in the order of the modes beginning with [[Pascha]]. Their melodies preserved in the ''[[Sticherarion]]'', are considerably more elaborate and varied than in the tradition of the ''Heirmologion''.
===Later Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods===
With the end of creative poetical composition, Byzantine chant entered its final period, devoted largely to the production of more elaborate musical settings of the traditional texts: either embellishments of the earlier simpler melodies, or original music in highly ornamental style. This was the work of the so-called ''Maistores'', "masters," of whom the most celebrated was St. [[John Koukouzeles]] (active ca. 1300), compared in Byzantine writings to St. John of Damascus himself, as an innovator in the development of chant. The multiplication of new settings and elaborations of the old continued in the centuries following the [[Fall of Constantinople]], until by the end of the eighteenth century the original musical repertory of the medieval musical manuscripts had been quite replaced by later compositions, and even the basic model system had undergone profound modification.
[[Chrysanthos of Madytos]] (ca. 1770-1846), [[Gregory the Protopsaltes]], and [[Chourmouzios the Archivist]] were responsible for a much needed reform of the notation of Greek ecclesiastical music. Essentially, this work consisted of a simplification of the Byzantine musical symbols which, by the early 19th century, had become so complex and technical that only highly skilled chanters were able to interpret them correctly. Despite its numerous shortcomings the work of the three reformers is a landmark in the history of Greek Church music, since it introduced the system of neo-Byzantine music upon which are based the present-day chants of the Greek Orthodox Church.
==General Information==
The current usage of Byzantine chant is built upon eight modes (tones), each mode with its own specific tonality.  The modes change sequentially from week to week, starting the Monday after the [[Sunday of St. Thomas]], with mode 1.  Within [[Bright Week]] itself, the mode changes each day, thus:
:Sunday – mode 1,
:Monday – mode 2,
:Tuesday – mode 3,
:Wednesday – mode 4,
:Thursday – mode plagal of the first (5),
:Friday – mode plagal of the second (6),
:Saturday – mode plagal of the fourth (8). 
The grave mode (7) was chosen as the mode to be left out due to its heavier sound, considered least appropriate for the festal period among the eight modes.  Since [[Pentecost]] falls on the Sunday when the grave mode would have been used in the normal sequence, the mode is once again skipped and the hymns of Pentecost are used.  The sequence resumes the following week with plagal of the fourth.
In the time between a [[Great Feasts|great feast]] and its [[Leavetaking|leave-taking]], for example, during the week following Pentecost, the hymns of the feast are chanted rather than the hymns pertaining to the mode of the week.
===The scale===
The Byzantine chant scale consists of seven notes: Νη, Πα, Βου, Γα, Δι, Κε, Ζω.  These notes, together with the repeated Νη, cover a span of one octave.  Within that octave, the relative pitch of each note varies according to the mode or tone of the scale.  Current Byzantine chant theory divides the octave into 72 intervals (moria).  The Western tone (whole-step) thus consists of 12 moria, with the semi-tone (half-step) consisting of 6.
The position of the notes within the octave varies according to the mode (tone) in which a melody is chanted.  Byzantine chant consists of eight basic modes, although several modes exhibit variations in the scale.  The modes are grouped in three categories: natural, enharmonic, and chromatic.
===The diatonic modes===
These are numbered 1, 4, Plagal of the first (5), and Plagal of the fourth (8).  The scale for these modes is very similar to the Western scale.  The distances between notes is
| Nη ||    || Πα ||    || Βου ||  || Γα ||    || Δι ||    || Κε ||    || Ζω ||  || Nη
|    || 12 ||    || 10 ||    || 8 ||    || 12 ||    || 12 ||    || 10 ||    || 8 ||
Thus, this looks like the C major scale, with a slightly lowered third and seventh notes.  The tonic (base note) for the four natural modes is:
'''Mode 1''': Πα, rendering it a tonality close to the Western minor scale<br>
'''Mode 4''': Βου, Πα, or Δι, depending on the type of hymn chanted<br>
'''Mode Plagal of the first''': Πα or Κε, depending on the type of hymn chanted.  This again has a tonality close to the Western minor scale<br>
'''Mode Plagal of the fourth''': Nη or Γα, depending on the type of hymn changed.  The Nη-based variety renders a tonality close to the Western major scale.
===The enharmonic modes===
These are modes 3 and Grave (Βαρυς, Plagal of the third, 7).  The scale for mode three is the Western major scale with a flat seventh:
| Nη ||    || Πα ||    || Βου ||  || Γα ||    || Δι ||    || Κε ||    || Ζω ||  || Nη
|    || 12 ||    || 12 ||    || 6 ||    || 12 ||    || 12 ||    || 12 ||    || 6 ||
The grave mode often uses the same scale as mode 3, but there are several variations proper to the mode.  One of the most common is shown below:
| Ζω ||  || Nη ||    || Πα ||    || Βου ||    || Γα ||  || Δι ||    || Κε ||  || Ζω ||
|    || 8 ||    || 12 ||    || 10 ||    || 12 ||    || 8 ||    || 16 ||    || 8 ||
The tonic of the enharmonic modes is:
'''Mode 3''': Γα<br>
'''Grave Mode''': Γα, when using the scale of mode 3, Ζω otherwise.
===The chromatic modes===
These are modes 2 and Plagal of the second (6).  The scales of these two modes are different.  The scale for mode 2, known as the soft-chromatic scale, is:
| Νη ||    || Πα ||    || Βου ||  || Γα ||    || Δι ||    || Κε ||    || Ζω ||  || Νη
|    || 8 ||    || 14 ||    || 8 ||    || 12 ||    || 8 ||    || 14 ||    || 8 ||
Thus, properly speaking, the intervals between Δι and Κε on one hand and between Ζω and Νη on the other are 1/3 larger than a semi-tone, while the Κε-Ζω and Πα-Βου intervals are 1/3 of a semi-tone larger than a tone.
The scale of Plagal of the second, known as the hard chromatic scale, is:
| Πα ||    || Βου ||  || Γα ||    || Δι ||    || Κε ||    || Ζω ||  || Νη ||  || Πα
|    || 6 ||    || 20 ||    || 4 ||    || 12 ||    || 6 ||    || 20 ||    || 4 ||
Thus, the intervals between Βου and Γα on one hand and between Ζω and Νη on the other is 1/3 of a semi-tone larger than a minor third, and the Γα-Δι and Νη-Πα intervals are 2/3 of a semi-tone.
The tonic for the chromatic modes is:
'''Mode 2''': Δι<br>
'''Mode Plagal of the second''': Πα
It should be noted that there are many instances in which hymns in mode 2 will use the hard chromatic scale and hymns in plagal of the second will use the soft chromatic scale.
==See also==
*[[Byzantine Notation]]
*[[osource:The Eight Tones]]
*[[Orthodox Media]]
== Sources ==
* [[Wikipedia:Byzantine music]]
*Original text (pre-Wikification) reproduced with permission from Dr. D. Conomos's [http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7069.asp text] at the website of the [[Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]].
==External links==
*[http://stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Index.html Divine Music Project] from [[St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery (Florence, Arizona)|St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery]] with an up-to-date list of Byzantine music links, recordings, articles, free font software, and more than 2000 pages of music in English and Greek in staff and Byzantine notation.
*[http://www.0wned.org/~pavlos/ Byzantine Chant]
*[http://chant.theologian.org/ Byzantine Chant Studies Page]
*[http://www.liturgica.com/cart/recommend_byzantine.jsp Recommended Selections of Byzantine Chant for New, Intermediate, and Advanced Listeners]
*[http://www.analogion.com/ Analogion] - an extensive, analytic site on most - if not all - facets of Byzantine chant.
*[http://www.ieropsaltis.com/ Ieropsaltis] (Greek) - A site with individual tribute pages to different chanters in Greece
*[http://www.ecclesia.gr/Multimedia/Audio_index/audioindex_en.html Ecclesia] The chanting page of the official website of the Church of Greece
*[http://www.kelfar.net/orthodoxiaradio/ Orthodoxia Radio] - Source for information and recordings of Byzantine chant as sung in the Church of Antioch
*[http://www.jamilsamara.com/sacredmusic/music.asp Sacred Music (Orthodox Liturgical Music)] - Official Antiochian Archdiocese site for free music downloads, including many Byzantine chant
*[http://chant.hchc.edu/ Learn Byzantine Chant] - A simplistic flash presentation from the [[Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Brookline, Massachusetts)|Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology]]
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Revision as of 10:51, June 10, 2008