Lesson 04 - For the Entreaty - Sunday Before the Nativity


Παλαιό Μέλος
Dear Sam,

Thanks for finishing another one. I noticed a few places where the melody could be improved:

1. In line 3, we are faced with a tricky situation, because we have two consecutive accented syllables: the "-vine" of "divine" and the "or-" of oracles. This is tricky because very few formulas have two consecutive "1's" (which represent accented syllables). The composers of Byzantine music in Greek found two solutions to this problem: 1) find a formula treat one of those accented syllables as an unaccented syllable, or 2) instead of a formula that has a "11" in it, find one that has a "101" in it, and then stretch out the first "1" to include the notes of that "0". Solution #2 usually only works for heirmologic melodies. Since our melody in sticheraric, we will have to use solution #1, that is, treat one of those accented syllables as if it were unaccented.

The question then is, which one do we choose? The only way to determine this is by trial and error. In other words, try finding a formula that will fit if you replace the first syllable with a "0", and if the formula gives enough of a melodic emphasis to this "0", then all is well. If not, treat the second syllable as a "0" instead, and hopefully you will find something appropriate.

I can see that you tried assuming that the first syllable could be treated as a "0", but the resulting melody doesn't work very well, because it makes the word "divine" sound as if you were saying "DI-vine". If we try treating the other syllable (the "or-") as a "0", we will be searching for a 1001 formula. Fortunately for us, the 0100X formula on p. 41 gives enough melodic emphasis to the syllable "or-", so we should use this one instead.

2. In lines 1 and 2, there is the phrase "lightning-flashes". The problem with your melody is that the formula for "lightning" is only used when the syllable "-ning" is either held for two beats or when it is followed by a syllable on the upbeat. Since the following syllable is an accented syllable, it will have to be on the downbeat. We could still use your melody is we held "-ning" for two beats, but the problem with this is that it breaks up the phrase "lightning-flashes" into two pieces. So we'll have to find another solution.

We basically have to decide if we want to treat our initial phrase "Shining with the lightning-flashes of the divine oracles," as one phrase or as two. Since there is no punctuation in the middle of this phrase, the most natural solution would be to treat it as a single phrase. Since we already have decided on a melody for the end of this phrase ("divine oracles"), all that remains for us to do is to compose a "heirmologic bridge" melody for the first words: "Shining with the lightning-flashes of the". Since we know that melodies in sticheraric first mode revolve around Pa and Ga, we will come up with something that emphasizes those notes. We also need to start and end on Pa. I think something like this would work just fine:


The way I came up with this melody was by bearing in mind that the accented syllables in heirmologic bridges are either followed by a descending note, or they are an ascending note followed by at least one ison.

3. Your melody for "Prophets of great name" emphasizes the word "great" too much (since the word "great" is an ascending note followed by an ison, which, as I just mentioned, means that it is an accented syllable in a heirmologic bridge.) I think the word "name" in this phrase should have more emphasis. Bearing in mind the rules I just mentioned for accented syllables in a heirmologic bridge, we can easily devise another melody:

4. The melodies for "forever" in line 5 and "the fruit" in line 6 are almost identical. Although it's not wrong, it's a little monotonous. Another problem with these lines is that you inserted a martyria between the phrases "laden with the fruit" and "of the Spirit's sayings". This is a problem because there was no punctuation between the two phrases, which usually means that a phrase should not be broken up into smaller melodic pieces. Another reason why it shouldn't be broken up there is becuase this makes the second of the two parts begin with the word "of". This is usually incorrect, since the prepositional phrase following the word "of" is usually treated as a single grammatical unit with the noun that precedes it.

To solve both of these problems at once, we can look for a longer formula that will end with a 1001010 pattern (for the words "fruit of the Spirit's sayings). Fortunately for us, we have three choices on p. 42: XX0X0XX, 1X0X0XX, and 01X0X0XX. You can choose whichever one you like best, since they all work fine.

And since we said that we don't want to repeat the melody of line 5 on line 6, we can simply create a heirmologic bridge for those words "laden with the". Something simple like this will work just fine:

One minor point is that in line 5, you had placed the vareia immediately after the petaste, leaving a big gap between the vareia and the following apostrophos. For a rough draft like this, spacing doesn't really matter, but bear in mind that the vareia affects the following note, so it would make more sense to place it right next to the following note. The same applies to the vareias in line 10 and on line 3 of the next page.

5. Although the formula you used for "all men" in line 8 is a valid 01 formula, it should only be used when followed by a syllable on the downbeat. In general, when searching for a formula, it is usually preferable to search first if there is a formula with a long binary code that matches our text, and if not, to search for a formula with a shorter binary code. In other words, it is preferable to search for a 0010010 formula first, and then if there isn't one, to search for a 010010 or a 10010 formula before resorting to a 0010, 010, or 10 formula. Using this strategy, we will find a X010010 formula on p. 33 that works. Another good option would be the 010010 melodies on pp. 32-33. All of them would work fine except for the first one, since its cadence is more appropriate for a phrase that ends with a punctuation mark.

6. The phrase "And passing their life... conversation," ends on Pa. But since this phrase ends with a comma (and not a period or a semicolon) it would be better to end it on Ga instead of Pa, especially considering that we already had plenty of cadences on Pa so far, and only a few on Ga. I would suggest using one of the 10X010 melodies on p. 52. To join this formula with the preceding notes, you will need to alter your heirmologic bridge for the words: "And passing their life in an exceedingly" so that it ends on Ga. Try creating one based on the guidelines I told you above at the end of my comment #2, and if you don't get it right, I'll correct it.

7. The way you made the melody ascend to Di just before the final cadence (for the words "lawfully attained") is not wrong, but it is uncommon. What I mean is that if you look at all the ways that a phrase accented on the last syllable ascends to Di (on pages 64 and 67), you will notice that more than 90% of them end with a jump of two held for two beats. So this means that when we compose melodies, we should try to maintain that same percentage by avoiding those uncommon formulas 90% of the time. And since it just so happens that the original melody also has the same accentuation pattern for the phrase ascending to Di, we might as well use it, which is the 010001 phrase on p. 64.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim
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Παλαιό Μέλος
Thanks, Samuel. It looks fine now. The only thing missing is a psefiston beneath the second note on page two for the word "life".