Lesson 07 - Doxasticon of the Praises for the Nativity


Παλαιό Μέλος
Someone asked me to comment on his English adaptation of the Doxasticon of the Praises for the Nativity of Christ. Since some of my comments might be instructive for other people as well, I decided to post his composition and my comments here as another lesson. He based his composition on the melody composed by Konstantinos Byzantios in his Doxastarion. At the end of this message I have posted a scan of that original melody as well as a scan of the English adaptation.

My comments on his adaptation are as follows:

1. The melody in line 1 for "for thy coming upon earth" is a syllabic melody (i.e., it has basically one note per syllable). Although sticheraric melodies do use syllabic melodies, they are almost always used in conjunction with a sticheraric cadential formula immediately following. I call such syllabic melodies "heirmologic bridges" because they are heirmologic melodies that are used to bridge two sticheraric melodies together. If you want this phrase to end on Nee, I would suggest using the first 10001 formula on p. 585 of my collection of formulas. (You can download my collection for sticheraric plagal second melodies from: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Formula6.pdf) Since our phrase has an accentuation pattern: 0010001, in order to use that formula, we can use an ison for each of the first two words that are extra ("for thy") and then apply the formula to the remaining words ("coming upon earth").

2. At the end of line 1, the phrase "the world was enrolled" is again a syllabic melody that is not used in conjunction with a sticheraric cadential formula. If you want this phrase to ascend diatonically to Ga, I would suggest using the 0010001 formula on p. 51 in my formulas. (This is from my collection of sticheraric melodies in first mode, which is at: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Formula1.pdf) Since the formula has one more syllable than our phrase, we can simply remove the first ison of that formula to make it fit.

3. In line 2, the melody for the phrase "to be taxed" should emphasize the word "taxed" instead of "be". Also, the melody for the phrase "the first time" in line two is a melody that can only be used for a four-syllable phrase. Since "the first time" has only three syllables, this melody cannot be used. To solve both of these problems, we can combine these two phrases into one: "to be taxed for the first time", and then use either the X010010 formula on p. 532 or one of the 010010 formulas on p. 531. (Since the 010010 formulas on p. 531 have one less syllable than our phrase, we can simply use an ison for the first syllable of our phrase, and then apply that 010010 formula to the remaining syllables: "be taxed for the first time").

4. In line 3, the word "Thou" is emphasized by the melody. But when this phrase is spoken in English, the syllable "mind-" would receive more emphasis than "Thou" would because it is the verb. To solve this problem, the melody for "Thou minded" can be replaced with one of the 010 melodies at the top of p. 577.

5. The melody for "to enroll" in line 3 is fine, but since it is a syllabic melody, it needs to be joined with the sticheraric cadential formula immediately following it by removing the klasma from the syllable "-roll".

6. The melody for the word "believed" in line 4 is only used for three-syllable phrases. Since "believed" has only two syllables, this melody will not work. Also in line 4, the melody for the word "in" emphasizes it a little bit too much. We can solve both of these problems by combining the two phrases into one: "that believed in thy birth", which is a 001001 phrase. There is a 001001 formula on p. 538 that will work fine.

7. In line 5, the melody emphasizes the word "this" instead of "cause". I wouldn't say that this is exactly a mistake, but it does draw a lot of attention to the word "this", as if we are trying to emphasize that it is for this cause as opposed to some other cause.

8. In line 5, the melody for "such a decree" emphasizes the first syllable of "decree", whereas the word should be emphasized on its last syllable. This can be fixed by using one of the 01001 melodies on p. 563 for the words "was such a decree".

9. In line 6, the same melody is used twice for the words "since" and "and". To avoid this monotonous repetition, a syllabic melody can be used for the phrase "since Thy timeless". There are several such melodies to choose from on pp. 546-547 from the 0010 formulas. I think one of the first two would work best because of their brevity.

10. In line 9, the phrase "offer the wealth" has a diatonic cadence on Ga. Although it isn't exactly wrong, it is so rare for sticheraric plagal second mode to do so, that I can't remember ever seeing it happen. I realize that you are trying to imitate the original melody which has the same fthora and notes that you have. The difference is that the original melody had one more syllable, which allowed it to have a diatonic cadence on Di instead of Ga. In order to make this phrase end on Di diatonically, we should look in the formulas for sticheraric plagal first mode at: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Formula5.pdf We could use one of the 1001 formulas on p. 415 or one of the 001001 formulas on p. 391 by removing the first two notes. And then, to continue with your melody, it will be necessary to remove the kentema on the syllable "Or-" so that the phrase will end on Pa.

11. The final cadence on the last line emphasizes the word "of" too much. But even if it didn't, this melody would not be acceptable, because in sticheraric plagal second mode, final cadential formulas always have a minimum of four syllables. Therefore, we will need to regroup the final words so that the final phrase has more syllables. If we included the word "Savior" with the final words "of our souls", this would give us enough syllables, but it would make the previous phrase end with the word "and", which would be awkward. So it would be better to include even more words, so that the final grouping of words is: "the God and Savior of our souls" (8 syllables). We could use any of the 1000001, 1000X0X, or 10X0X0X formulas at the top of p. 602. Since these formulas are only meant for seven-syllable phrases, we will have to use an ison for the first word "the".
To combine this with the preceding words "unto Thee", we can use one of the 001 formulas on p. 540 or p. 569.

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim


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