Composing Byzantine Music

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#1
Composing Byzantine music properly in any language is a task that requires knowledge of not just the orthographic rules of Byzantine music but most importantly the formulaic rules. The orthographic rules dictate when, for example, an oligon must be used instead of a petaste, whereas the formulaic rules dictate which melodic phrases are permissible for a given syllabic pattern. If we make an analogy of composing Byzantine music to composing poetry, the orthographic rules are like the spelling rules, and the formulaic rules are like the grammatical rules. Just as it is impossible to compose good poetry without knowing the spelling rules and especially the grammatical rules, likewise is it impossible to compose good Byzantine music without knowing the orthographic rules and especially the formulaic rules.

To help composers accomplish this task of learning the rules, I have attempted to codify the orthographic rules of Byzantine music at:
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/ByzOrthography.pdf
and the formulaic rules at:
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Formula.html

I have also written a little article demonstrating various correct and incorrect ways to adapt a Byzantine music hymn into a foreign language at:
http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Adaptation.htm

Any suggestions or comments regarding these things would be greatly appreciated.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim
 

Panagiotis

Γενικός συντονιστής
#2
Ι have adapted several melodies in church slavonic (Bulgarian pronunciation), moslty stichera of saints or feasts which were 'absent' from the psaltic books used by our Slav brethren. Most are in psaltic notation and 2-3 in linear notation. If anyone wishes to have them, let him/her contact me via email or personal message.
 

frephraim

Παλαιό Μέλος
#3
I was recently challenged by Georgios Michalakis, who believes that my method of adapting Greek hymns into English is untraditional. In particular, he feels that the master composers who adapted Greek hymns into other languages (such as Slavonic and Rumanian) preserved the original melodic contour at the expense of breaking the formulaic rules. I, on the other hand, believe that those masters laid much more emphasis on following the formulaic rules rather than preserving the original melodic contour of a hymn. To resolve our disagreement, I did a little experiment, and I decided to post my results here, since some of you might find them helpful.

Note that this issue is slightly different than the issue I discussed in my article Concerning Adaptation. In that article, the issue was whether specific melodies should be preserved at the expense of the formulaic rules, whereas here the issue is whether melodic contours (i.e., the general melodic shape) should be preserved at the expense of the formulaic rules.

To find a definitive resolution to our disagreement would require comparing hundreds of pages of Byzantine music in non-Greek languages with the Greek originals. Since I don't have the time required to do such a thorough project, I picked a few pages at random instead to see if this small statistical sampling would provide strong enough evidence to support one of our opinions.

For my samples, I chose pages from three Anastasimataria in languages other than Greek that were composed by masters of Byzantine chant: two in Slavonic and one in Rumanian. I selected about four pages in each of them, and have attached scans of them to end of this message. I have included my analysis of these pages at the end of this message.

My results were as follows:
1) In the eight pages of music in Slavonic I examined, I found 7 instances where the melodic contour was altered while adhering to the formulaic rules and only 1 instance where the the formulaic rules were broken in order to preserve the melodic contour of the original.
2) In the four pages of music in Rumanian I examined. I found 11 instances where the melodic contour was altered while adhering to the formulaic rules, and not a single instance where the formulaic rules were broken in order to preserve the melodic contour of the original.

* * * * *​

Due to the small size of this statistical sampling, any conclusions drawn will have a significant degree of error. Nevertheless, since the results show that there is an overwhelming majority of instances where the formulaic rules are preserved while the contour was not, it is safe to conclude that master composers who adapted Byzantine chant into foreign languages laid much more emphasis on adhering to the formulaic rules, even if it meant that the contour of the original melody was discarded.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim


Here are the details of my analysis of those pages:

1) The first selection is from the Anastasimatarion in Slavonic by Economov (Т. Икономов, Обширен Псалтикиен Възкресник, Осмогласник, Утренни Възкресни Стихири).
a. On page 85, line 2, the melody does not descend to Nee as does the original Greek version (Πᾶσα πνοή)
b. On p. 85, ln. 4, the final cadence preserves the original Greek melody, but breaks the formulaic rules for this 1010 phrase.
c. On p. 85, ln. 8, the last note takes the melody down to Nee, which is a melodic movement that does not occur in the original Greek troparion in the same place (Ἀνέστη Χριστὸς ἐκ νεκρῶν).
d. On p. 86, line 8, the last note takes the melody down to Nee, which is a melodic movement that does not occur in the original Greek troparion in the same place (Τί ἀνταποδώσομεν τῷ Κυρίῳ).
e. The troparion on pp. 86-87 has two medial cadences on Pa, whereas the original Greek version has none.
2) The second selection is from the Anastasimatarion published in Bucharest in 1847 by Nikola Triandafilov.
a. On p. 37, ln. 10, there is a medial cadence on Pa, whereas the original Greek troparion (Τῷ σῷ σταυρῷ Χριστέ) does not have any on Pa.
b. On p. 37, ln. 11, there is a medial cadence on Nee, whereas the original Greek version does not have any on Nee.
c. On p. 38, the last troparion on the page has the following sequence of cadences: (Ke)-Pa-Ke-Pa-Ga. The original Greek version (Ὑμνοῦμεν τὸν Σωτῆρα), however, has the following sequence: Ke-Pa-Pa-Pa-Ga.
d. On p. 39, the troparion in the middle of the pages (ln. 6-11) has the following sequence of cadences: Ke-Pa-Ke-Pa-Ke-Ga. The original Greek version (Τοῖς ἐν Ἅδῃ), however, has the following sequence: Ke-Pa-Ke-Pa-Pa-Ga.​
3) The third book is the Anastasimatarion in Rumanian by Suceveanu (Anastasimatarul, Sfintei Monastiri Neamţu, Bucureşti, 1943).
a. On p. 37, ln. 5, there is a cadence on Ga, whereas the original Greek troparion (Τὸν πρὸ αἰώνων) has no such cadence.
b. On p. 37, ln. 10, there is a cadence on Zo, whereas the original Greek troparion (Χριστὸς ὁ Σωτήρ) has no such cadence.
c. On the same line, there is also a hard chromatic fthora, which does not exist in the original Greek version.
d. On p. 38, ln. 1, there is a cadence on Zo, whereas the original Greek troparion (Σὺν ἀρχαγγέλοις) has no such cadence.
e. On p. 38, ln. 2, there is a no cadence on Vou as there is in the original Greek version.
f. On p. 38, ln. 3, there is a cadence on Zo, whereas the original Greek troparion has no such cadence.
g. On p. 38, ln. 6, there is a cadence on Ga, whereas the original Greek troparion has no such cadence.
h. On p. 38, ln. 11, there is a cadence on Zo, whereas the original Greek troparion (Σὲ τὸν σταυρωθέντα) has no such cadence.
i. On p. 39, ln. 2. The original Greek version of this troparion descends to Nee on the word παντοδύναμος ("almighty"). The Rumanian version descends to Nee only later in the melody and on word for "immortal."
j. On p. 39, ln. 11, the melody ascends to high Pa, which is something that does not happen in the original Greek troparion (Ἠνοίγησάν σοι).
k. On p. 39, ln. 12, there is a cadence on Ga, whereas the original Greek troparion has no such cadence.
 

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