Lesson 12 - Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Orthros Idiomelon


Παλαιό Μέλος
Someone composed the seventh idiomelon of the Liti for St. Nicholas (which is also chanted in Orthros after the gospel) and gave me permission to post it here along with my suggestions. The PDF file is at the end of this message.

1. The first ten notes are exactly like the original Greek melody, but unfortunately for us, the English text has a slightly different accentuation pattern. In particular, the wrong syllable of the word "servant" on line 2 is emphasized by the melody. There are several ways to fix this by using one of the formulas ending in 1010 on p. 565 of the collection of formulas. I like the first 010X010 formula on that page for the words "thou good and faithful servant", because near the end it goes down to Ga and Vou. This is nice not only because that's what the original melody does, but especially because it offers some variety in contrast to the melodies immediately preceding and following it, both of which stay in the vacinity of Di-Ke-Zo.

Another very subtle problem is with the first two notes on line 1. In my opinion, the words "well done" are two words that both need to be emphasized by the melody, because if one were to read the text of this hymn out loud, both would be emphasized. Although there aren't any two-syllable formulas with both syllables accented in my collection of formulas, we can at least use a 10 formula that holds the first syllable for an even number of beats. The advantage of having an even number of beats for this syllable is that the following syllable will be on the downbeat, which will give it enough of an emphasis to suit the text. All the 10 formulas on p. 546 hold the first syllable for an even number of beats except for the fourth one, so we could use any of them except for that one. The third and fifth formulas hold the first syllable for four beats, which, in my opinion, is a little too much for this instance. So this leaves us with only the first and second of the 10 formulas to choose from. Bearing in mind that we will need to remove the klasma of the last syllable of this formula, I think the second formula would sound best, because my ear is telling me that the final klasma in the first formula is not optional, whereas the final klasma in the second formula is optional.

2. The martyria on line 5 should be deleted, because martyrias are usually placed only after a note held for two or more beats—in other words, between phrases.

3. The melody in line 7 is borderline unacceptable. My complaint is that it gives much more emphasis to the word "hast" than it does to the syllable "-creased" of the word "increased". In terms of the formulas, you have used the X00010 formula on p. 551 for a phrase with a 001010 accentuation ("hast increased the talent"). I think it would be better to use a 1010 formula on p. 564 preceded by a heirmologic bridge to account for the preceding syllables "and hast in-", or we could use one of the 01010, 001010, or 0001010 formulas on p. 565. Since the melody before this phrase ascends only to Zo, I would suggest choosing a melody for this phrase that ascends up to Nee in order to have more variety.

4. On page 2, line 1, the heirmologic bridge melody for "wherefore the" strikes me as rather unusual for a sticheraric melody (although it is in my formulas in the file with hard chromatic verses in plagal second on p. 657). Even though it doesn't break any rules about heirmologic bridges, it strikes me as unusual because it is much more common for a heirmologic bridge in this mode to use one of the first two 100 formulas on p. 555.

5. I am not entirely pleased with the melody on line 4 of page 2, because the phrase "enter into the joy of thy Lord" is a 100001001 phrase, but the melody used is a 001001001 formula. In other words, the syllable "en-" of "enter" is not emphasized enough, and the "in-" of "into" arguably gets more emphasis than it should. I say "arguably" because I suppose one could argue that it should be emphasized. If you feel strongly that it should indeed by emphasized, then I would suggest changing the melody for the word "into" to correspond to the first "10" part of the 0010010100 formula on p. 561.

[As an instructive aside, I wanted to explain the way I found that formula on p. 561. I was looking for a 100001001 formula, but I couldn't find one in the appropriate subsection, which would have been sebsection H), which has medial cadences on Di accented on the fourth to last syllable. But since my memory tells me that there are also formulas accented on the third to last syllable that have the same melodic ending as the one we use, I was hoping to find an appropriate melody in subsection G). That is when I stumbled across the formula at the top of p. 561 and noticed that we could borrow the beginning part of it, since the ending is essentially the same as our existing melody. In general, a composer relying on my formulas should be aware that one needs to keep one's eyes open for tricks like this, especially when looking for a formula accented on the fourth to last syllable, because sections in my collection of formulas for phrases accented on the fourth to last syllable are emptier than they should be. This happened because I collected my formulas from music written in Greek, and only a relatively small percentage of Greek hymns have phrases accented on the fourth to last syllable.]

Getting back to the melody on line 4 of page 2, I suggest that we should not overemphasize the syllable "in-" of the word "into" since it's just a preposition. Since there's no 100001001 formula to cover our entire phrase, we'll have to use a 01001 or 1001 phrase and create a heirmologic bridge for the rest. Since the fourth to last syllable is the word "joy", it would be nice if we could find a formula that gives that syllable a diatonic melody. It turns out that the 1001 formula on p. 564 and the last 01001 formula on the top of p. 565 have diatonic melodies. I would suggest using the 01001 formula since the melody of the 1001 formula has already been used more than once in this composition.
To account for the extra syllables preceeding this ("enter into the"), we can use one of the 10010 heirmologic bridge formulas on p. 547. Admittedly, these have the slight drawback of placing a little too much emphasis on the syllable "-to" of the word "into". So if you don't want one of them, we could instead use the 00100 formula on p. 555.

6. The reason why the original Greek melody in Kypsele has a final cadence at the end of this troparion is because that is how this troparion is chanted after the gospel in Orthros. But when it is chanted as one of the many troparia of the Liti, it should not be chanted with a final cadence. It would be good to include both versions in this composition so that people aren't caught off-guard if they are chanting it in the Liti without having seen ahead of time the final cadence.
The only difference is that the melody for the word "Nicholas" should be one of the melodies at the top of p. 601, beginning the word "Nicholas" where the first red notes are.

If anyone disagrees with any of my suggestions, please speak up!

in Christ,
+Fr. Ephraim



Παλαιό Μέλος
The composer of this idiomelon incorporated my suggestions, and here is the final product. I noticed only one very minor thing that could be adjusted for clarity: In the alternate ending at the end of page 2, the aple beneath the apostrophos would be more visible if it were directly beneath the apostrophos to the right rather than beneath it to the left.