Byzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire and by extension the music of its culture(s) as they continued

in the Orthodox Christian parts of the population after the fall of the empire to the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The extent of Byzantine music culture vs. liturgical chant proper The term Byzantine music is commonly associated with what should more correctly be termed the medieval sacred chant of Christian Churches following the Orthodox rite. The identification of "Byzantine music" with "eastern Christian liturgical chant" is a misconception due to historical cultural reasons. Its main cause is the leading role of the Church as bearer of learning and official culture in the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), a phenomenon that was not always that extreme but that was exacerbated towards the end of the empire's reign (14th century onwards) as great secular scholars migrated away from a decliningConstantinople to rising western cities, bringing with them much of the learning that would spur the development of the European Renaissance. The shrinking of Greekspeaking official culture around a church nucleus was even more accentuated by political force when the official culture of the court changed after the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453. Today, far too few sources and studies exist about Byzantine music on the whole. It is beyond doubt that Byzantine music included a rich tradition of instrumental court music and dance. Any other picture would be both incongruous with the historically and archaeologically documented opulence of the Eastern Roman Empire. There survive a few but explicit accounts of secular music. A characteristic example are the accounts of pneumatic organs, whose construction was most advanced in the eastern empire prior to their development in the west after the Renaissance. To a certain degree we may look for remnants of Byzantine or early (Greekspeaking, Orthodox Christian) near eastern music in the music of the Ottoman Court. Examples such as that of the eminent composer and theorist Prince Kantemir of Romania learning music from the Greek musician Angelos indicate the continuing participation of Greek-speaking people in court culture. However the sources are too scarce to permit any well-founded stipulations about what cultural musical changes took place when and under which influences during the long histories of the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires. Hypotheses that Turkish (Ottoman) music was influenced by Byzantine music, or the other way around, remain on the level of more or less consciously nationalistic or romantically motivated personal views, and are far too simplistic as to be of any value considering the breadth and complexity of cultures historically involved in these geographic regions. It seems more logical to consider that these influences

etc. etc. Gothic. Nordic/Viking. Northwestern and Central European including Franc. Vandal. The rest of this article confines itself to a discussion of the musical tradition of Greek Orthodox liturgical chant. considering the breadth and length of duration of these empires and the great number of ethnicities and major or minor cultures that they encompassed or came in touch with at each stage of their development (Egyptian. other Semitic and northern African. Jewish. Arabic. Conomos' text as cited at the end of the article Characters of Byzantine Music . Central Asian including Avar. last but importantly not least south central Asian Gypsy. Persian. Slavic. Roman. Moghul.were probably more manifold than it is possible to reconstruct historically. Tatar and Turkic. Greek. and is reproduced from Dr.).

Gospel Lectionary (Evangelistarion) 7th century (British Library. drawing on the artistic and technical productions of the classical age. and inspired by the monophonic vocal music that evolved in the early Christian cities of Alexandria. in 330 until its fall in 1453. encompassing the Greek-speaking world. but the change of pronunciation had rendered those meters largely meaningless. Some of these employ the metrical schemes of classical Greek poetry. Constantinople. Add. Byzantine chant manuscripts date from the 9th century. . MS 5111) Origins and Early Christian Period The tradition of eastern liturgical chant. developed in the Byzantine Empire from the establishment of its capital. Our knowledge of the older period is derived from Church service books Typika. It is undeniably of composite origin. while 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 12th or 13th century. Scattered examples of hymn texts from the early centuries of Greek Christianity still exist. patristic writings and medieval histories. Antioch and Ephesus. on Jewish music.

11th century Musical Instruments. Phos Hilaron. "Only Begotten Son. or one of a series of stanzas. The common term for a short hymn of one stanza. Byzantine hymns of the following centuries are prose-poetry. 12th century . whose existence is attested as early as the 4th century. is troparion (this may carry the further connotation of a hymn interpolated between psalm verses). unrhymed verses of irregular length and accentual patterns. Musical Instruments. O Monogenes Yios. attested in his biography but not preserved in any later Byzantine order of service. 11th century Dance." ascribed to Justinian I (527-565). figures in the introductory portion of the Divine Liturgy. another. is the Vesper hymn. Perhaps the earliest set of troparia of known authorship are those of the monk Auxentios (first half of the 5th century).and. except when classical forms were imitated. A famous example. "Gladsome Light".

The first. it stabilized the melodic tradition of certain hymns. The allusion is perpetuated in the writings of the early Fathers. The effect that this concept had on church music was threefold: first. the anonymity of the composer. and is quite the opposite of free. The very notion of using traditional formulas (or melody-types) as a compositional technique shows an archaic concept in liturgical chant. secondly. Consequently. outlined in Exodus 25. Justin. for the musical function of angels as conceived in the Old Testament is brought out dearly by Isaiah (6:1-4) and Ezekiel (3:12). 536699. This is especially true when he deals with hymns which were known to have been first sung by angelic choirs . It receives acknowledgement later in the liturgical treatises of Nicolas Kavasilas and Symeon of Thessaloniki (Patrologia Graeca. This notion is certainly older than the Apocalypse account (Revelations 4:8-11). was inconceivable for a composer to place his name beside a notated text in the manuscripts. respectively). for a time. which retained currency in Greek theological and mystical speculation until the dissolution of the empire.Dance of Miriam Medieval Period Two concepts must be understood to appreciate fully the function of music in Byzantine worship. original creation. until Palaeologan times. 368-492 and CLV. Ideas of originality and free invention similar to those seen in later music probably never existed in early Byzantine times. It seems evident that the chants of the Byzantine repertory found in musical manuscripts from the tenth century to the time of the . Trisagion.such as the Amen. that the pattern for the earthly worship of Israel was derived from heaven. it bred a highly conservative attitude to musical composition. Most significant in the fact. Sanctus and Doxology. such as Clement of Rome. Alleluia. and thirdly. Athenagoras of Athens and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. it continued. Ignatius of Antioch. For if a chant is of heavenly origin. CL. then the acknowledgement received by man in transmitting it to posterity ought to be minimal. was the belief in the angelic transmission of sacred chant: the assumption that the early Church united men in the prayer of the angelic choirs.

however. the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word machol (dance) by the Greek word choros. St. particularly in the recitation or chanting of hymns. which usually . the bond and "oneness" that united the clergy and the faithful in liturgical worship was less potent. a long and elaborate metrical sermon. one of the key ideas for understanding a number of realities for which we now have different names. responses and psalms. The word choros came to refer to the special priestly function in the liturgy . at worship and in song in heaven and on earth both. It is. the beginnings of which go back at least to the sixth century and possibly even to the chant of the Synagogue. The second. This dramatic homily. melody-types. It referred. architecturally speaking. less permanent. this concept of koinonia may be applied to the primitive use of the word choros. As a result. but certain chants in use even today exhibit characteristics whichmay throw light on the subject. which finds its acme in the work of St. These include recitation formulas. whose fifteenth Canon permitted only the canonical psaltai. but to the congregation as a whole. What exact changes took place in the music during the formative stage is difficult to say. The terms choros. including the music of the Jews. represent the final and only surviving stage of an evolution." This was less permanent because.just as. and standard phrases that are clearly evident in the folk music and other traditional music of various cultures of the East. after the fourth century. you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. however.and choros eventually became the equivalent of the word kleros. koinonia and ekklesia were used synonymously in the early Byzantine Church. Before long. the early Church borrowed this word from classical antiquity as a designation for the congregation. the choir became a reserved area near the sanctuary . With regard to musical performance. so that He may hear you and through your good deeds recognize that you are parts of His Son. In Psalms 149 and 150." A marked feature of liturgical ceremony was the active part taken by the people in its performance. concept was that of koinonia or "communion. a clericalizing tendency soon began to manifest itself in linguistic usage.Fourth Crusade (1204-1261). not to a separate group within the congregation entrusted with musical responsibilities." to sing at the services. Ignatius wrote to the Church in Ephesus in the following way: "You must every man of you join in a choir so that bring harmonious and in concord and taking the keynote of God in unison. The development of large scale hymnographic forms begins in the fifth century with the rise of the kontakion. reputedly of Syriac origin. when it was analyzed and integrated into a theological system. "chanters. particularly after the Council of Laodicea. Romanos the Melodos (sixth century).

four or more troparia which are the exact metrical reproductions of the heirmos. Andrew of Crete (ca. 660-ca. 740) and developed by Saints John of Damascus and Kosmas of Jerusalem (both eighth century). Festal stichera. are considerably more elaborate and varied than in the tradition of the Heirmologion. The nine heirmoi. and belong to the time of the ninth century and later when kontakia were reduced to the ptooimion (introductory verse) and first oikos (stanza). which are united musically by the same mode and textually by references to the general theme of the liturgical occasion. In the second half of the seventh century. exist for all special days of the year. Daniel 3:26-56). and for the recurrent cycle of eight weeks in the order of the modes beginning with Easter. are metrically dissimilar.paraphrases a Biblical narrative. Essentially. Each ode consists of an initial troparion. the heirmos. Jonah and the Three Children (1 Kings [1 Samuel] 2:1-10. Isaiah. The earliest musical versions. are "melismatic" (that is. Isaiah 26:9-20. (8) The song of the Three Children (Apoc. Habbakuk 3:1-19. many notes per syllable of text). the kanon is an hymnodic complex comprised of nine odes which were originally attached to the nine Biblical canticles and to which they were related by means of corresponding poetic allusion or textual quotation. is the sticheron. Their melodies preserved in the Sticherarion. The nine canticles are:     (1)-(2) The two songs of Moses (Exodus 15:1-19 and Deuteronomy 32:1-43). and sometimes by an acrostic. the kontakion was supplanted by a new type of hymn. however. Heirmoi in syllabic style are gathered in the Heirmologion. (3)-(7) The prayers of Hannah. initiated by St. however. (9) The Magnificat and the Benedictus (Luke 1:46-55 and 68-79). . Jonah 2:3-10. Apoc. followed by three. important both for its number and for the variety of its liturgical use. the Sundays and weekdays of Lent. accompanying both the fixed psalms at the beginning and end of Vespers and the psalmody of the Lauds (the Ainoi) in the Morning Office. an entire kanon comprises nine independent melodies (eight. thereby allowing the same music to fit all troparia equally well. consequently. 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). 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). the kanon. Habbakuk. Another kind of hymn. Daniel 3:57-88). when the second ode is omitted).

1734 Byzantinian Museum of Chios) Later Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Periods .John of Damascus holding a manuscript with a hymn to Theotokos (Michael Anagnostos.

devoted largely to the production of more elaborate musical settings of the traditional texts: either embellishments of the earlier simpler melodies. until by the end of the eighteenth century the original musical repertory of the medieval musical manuscripts had been quite replaced by later compositions. Essentially. John Koukouzeles on a post-Byzantine music documentm 15th century (Monatery Megisti Lavra) With the end of creative poetical composition. John of Damascus himself. this work consisted . and Chourmouzios the Archivist were responsible for a much needed reform of the notation of Greek ecclesiastical music. as an innovator in the development of chant. John Koukouzeles (active c. compared in Byzantine writings to St. "masters.1300). Byzantine chant entered its final period. The multiplication of new settings and elaborations of the old continued in the centuries following the fall of Constantinople. Gregory the Protopsaltes. and even the basic model system had undergone profound modification. or original music in highly ornamental style. Chrysanthos of Madytos (ca.St." of whom the most celebrated was St. This was the work of the so-called Maistores. 1770-46).

since it introduced the system of neo-Byzantine music upon which are based the present-day chants of the Greek Orthodox Church. Conomos' text at the website of the "Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America". Text reproduced with permission from Dr. Despite its numerous shortcomings the work of the three reformers is a landmark in the history of Greek Church music. had become so complex and technical that only highly skilled chanters were able to interpret them correctly.goarch. by the early 19th . http://www.of a simplification of the Byzantine musical symbols which.

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