Unmercenary Sacred Music

Choir Practice Resources

October 19, 2003

Parishioners Present:

Sloan, Nick G, Mike, Sevasti, Cindy, and Troy.

Business Matters:

In Two Weeks: Tenetatively, there will only be a short rehearsal on November 2, 2003 due to Stewardship presentations being given during the first three weeks in November.

Daylight Saving Time: It ends October 26, 2003; that is next week.  Feel free to forget it since I would be very happy to see everyone come an hour early!!!

Old Music

We again reviewed the singing of the hymn to Theotokos based on a melody called Joy of the Heavenly Hosts..  See October 5, 2003 notes for more information.

We are still struggling with the Entrance Antiphon.  Please review!

We have completed primliminary rehearsing of the new anaphora.  We will begin using it next week (October 26, 2003).  Review the music and be ready to sing it!.  I urge everyone to sing through it daily and try to memorize it..  We want to do more than just sing it; we want to pray it.

New Music

Galician Tone Two Prokeimenon and Alleluia: This melody is used for both Alleluia and Prokeimena.  It consists of three phrases.  When used for a prokeimenon, the middle phrase is optional; it used only when the length of the psalm requires it.

Sunday Prokeimenon


Lesson: The Eight Tones

A distinctive element of Christian chant systems, both East and West, is the adherence to a fixed set of tones, namely eight of them.  The most fundamental source of the eight tones are the four sets of scales that are codified under Greek names.  These four scales are Lydian, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Phrygian.  The plagals, that is the "plagerized tones", are these same four scales starting at aa different spot (a fourth up) in the scale.  These eight scales are the basis for both the Gregorian and Byzantine chant scales.  A tone can also be called a mode.  This name has also been used to categorize such chants as "modal."  This is a common way to distinguish them from the two scales that dominate our Western educated minds, major and minor scales.

Certain Greek modes were considered inappropriate for chant (due to the then current social understanding of a certain tone being linked to some immoral use such as use in the theater and, therefore, considered offensive).  Thus, we have a limited number of tones.  Overtime, tones began to develop and started to have associations with particular texts.  The power of particular melodies can be used to elicit connections between tones and texts.  For example, the use of the tone eight melody, "O Marvelous Wonder," in a particular feast should make one think of the Exultation of the Cross.  So when it is used for a feast of a monastic saint, perhaps we are to recall the triumph of the cross in how such a saint took up his or her cross daily and followed Christ.  We hear the following from the "Lord, I Call" stikheron of the Venerable Father Titus the Wonderwork sung in that melody:

Titus, our divinely wise father, you took up your Cross and followed Christ. You made all the passions subject to your soul! Therefore you received grace from on high to heal the sufferings and put down the afflictions of those who turn to you and to cast out evil spirits.  Therefore we celebrate and bless your memory!

But as you probably have noticed, there seem to be more than eight tones.  First, there are different systems related to national or regional churches.  The west uses the Gregorian eight tones.  The Greeks use the Byzantine system, which originally used the same eight scales that the Gregorian system used.  However, the Byzantine modes have evolved to have variances in the scales for reasons I will not go into.  Byzantine chant is used by all the Churches of the old Byzantine Empire: Alexandria, Antiochian, Jerusalem, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and Rumania. 

The Georgian and East Slavs have there own styles of chant.  Chant is more than just "Slavic" or "Greek."  This becomes evident when we see that the South Slavs like the Serbians use Byzantine chant.  The Eastern Slavs of Russia, Byelorus', Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Slovakia, have several styles.  At the heart of their chant is a system called Stolp or Znamenny chant.  This chant system has evolved over several hundred years.  The earliest Znamenny is not decipherable since its notation is not fully understood.  The later varieties of this chant are understood and are used extensively by the Old Believer's.  A later variation and possibly a simplification of the Znamenny is called Kievan chant.  Likewise, there is a chant called "Greek" which is not Greek at all.  Two other variations that combine elements of both Kievan and Znamenny are the Galician (Western Ukraine) and Carpatho-Rusyn chants (South-East Ukraine and Western Slovakia).  The Russian Church currently uses a greatly simplified variation of Kievan and "Greek" chant.  Many call it Obikhod or common chant.  An Obikhod is actually a collection of chants, not a style.  This chant system is actually the St. Petersburg Court Chant, which was the combined work of two directors of the Court Chapel, Nikolai Bakhmetev and Alexander L'vov.  It is a harmonized chant, very simple, but often lacking in any melodic value.  In the OCA, this style of chant has slowly obliterated the use of the once more common Galician and Carpatho-Rusyn chants. 

Chants are further broken up into functions.  The terminology listed here is not used by everyone; however, it is what we will use to designate the various melodies, which we use.  I use the Slavonic terms, which no longer mean the same thing they originally meant when they were translated from Greek.

Each of the eight tones has several melodies that are used (although not limited only to this list).

  1. Samohlas.  This consists of two parts:
    1. Stikhiron tone.  This is used for the opening psalms and stikhira or verses of Psalm 140 at vespers ("Lord, I call…"), for the apostikha, the praises at matins and other texts used at matins.  Generally, if a text consists of a verse followed by a psalm verse and another verse and is not a prokeimenon, it will use the samohlas tone.
    2. Psalm or Pripiv tone.  The psalm verses that are sung between the verses have a related tone.  I have included them on their own page.  Each one consists of two or three parts.  A complete division of a palms verse uses all of the tone.
  2. Troparion and Kontakion tones.  Often they use the same tone.  However, some have different tones for troparion and kontakion.  When troparion and kontakion are separated by a doxology, the doxology is sung in the kontakion tone.
  3. Sessional or S'idalen Troparia tones.  These tones are used for the kathisma hymns used at matins.
  4. Prokimenon/Alleluia tones.  The prokeimenon and alleluia both use these same tones.  The verses for both are typically sung recitative.
  5. Irmosi tones.  These tones are used for the irmoi of the canon for matins.  These tones are generally not patterns and are therefore not a pattern guide.  The irmosi tones are generally similar in each tone but are generally crafted to uniquely fit each ode of the canon.
  6. Bulharski tones.  The Bulharski or "Bulgarian" tones consists of a single melody for special feastal hymns.  The Bulgarian tone are not actually from Bulgaria.  But they are used in the Galician, Carpatho-Rusyn, and Russian traditions.  They are similar to the samohlas tones, each having two parts, and are used for festal stikhira, especially for Litiya.
  7. Samopodobny, that is, special melodies, are generally used in place of a samohlas tone.  Like the samohlas they can have both a stikhiron and a psalm tone.  Those without their own psalm tone, if one is required, use the samohlas psalm tone melody of the same tone.

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