Psaltic Calligraphy

I have some interest in trying to learn to write Byzantine music in a more advanced fashion than just my own scribbles when adapting/composing. I assume there are sources that explain the art of Psaltic Calligraphy, but where would I find them? Any direction would be helpful. Thank you.



Νεκτάριος Ρ.
In my opinion the only way to avoid your scribbles is write them on a Computer. This is also essential, if it is to be chanted by others too.
Or else, for handwriting, just keep on writing carefully, trying to give each note a specific shape. At some point your handwriting will be better than Computer typing. And the most important is that your notes will have something special, its "art". On the other hand Byzantine Computer Fonts and usually plain.
As for sources of Psaltic Calligraphy, i dont have any in mind but I am also interested
Thank you for the advice. the reason I ask is just for recommendations on pen style and stroke style. I have read to write an oligon it is actually written in the opposite direction that one would do from intuition (write it left to right, not right to left), and I wanted to see what other ones are possibly written differently than one would expect and such. Otherwise it probably is just practice, practice, practice.


Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
I don't know of any resources about that. It's all art indeed and there is great variability in manuscripts anyway. Get a calligraphy set and try to mimic the handwriting of manuscript examples (there are plenty on the net). With a bit of practice you will get there I am sure. If you want feedback on your calligraphic attempts you can post examples here. I don't think you should be worried about which direction to write the oligon :) Try both directions and stick to whatever suits better.


Ἱεροδιάκονος Δαβίδ Γενικός συντονιστής
Personally I must say that I do hate and detest calligraphy :mad:and I prefer scores as simple and as close to printing style as possible. Of course I might be the minority.... or this might be due to the fact that I was not taught calligraphy at school:D


Super Moderator Team
what an interesting topic... (the broader topic of calligraphy I mean)
I wonder if there are (or were at some stage) schools/styles/traditions or even lines of tradition passed down from teacher to student with regards to the calligraphy of Byzantine chant. I also wonder what influences and/or parallels there existed between this calligraphy and others within the Byzantine culture (like secular music) or indeed other traditions like western calligraphy. We need an art historian with a particular interest in Byzantium... Anyone out there know one? Or fit this description? :) I will ask Magdalene (artist and iconographer as well as chanter) from the Greek part of the forums for any leads.
ps. by "calligraphy" I mean general manuscript ornamentation as well as the writing out of the musical text
This is my very first try. I did a composition of my own so as not to "defame" the classics :). My own observations of my own work are below:

1. For my own work I will actually have to put in the most effort at heading and lettering. I don't have much artistic talent so it will take a lot of work to get precise at it. Perhaps a basic art class will help.

2. I found it extremely hard to keep everything on a straight line. Any recommendations outside the use of lined paper (which would look tacky in my opinion) are welcome!

3. I played around with different stokes and different ways to hold the pen. I found the most satisfactory way to do it in terms of how it came out is on page two for the end of it and beginning of Ws ton basilea. This looked the best to me in artistic value and readability. Also, in the first page I alternated between a fine tipped red pen and an actual calligraphy pen and on page 2 i went with just the calligraphy pen, and i like the calligraphy pen results better overall.

4. The advantage of a computer is it is easy to correct messups. As you see here, I messed up a few times and if this was a final work, I would have had to scrap the page and start over.

5. I played around on how to write a kentima and finally figured out a decent way to write them in the same section that i found the best way to hold the pen. For some reason everything seemed to come together for those 4 or 5 lines.

Any comments, criticisms, and advice is welcome for this. I have A LOT I need to improve but I will say I was pretty encouraged by my first attempt. I think with practice I will get out the kinks and be more consistent.




Δημήτρης Κουμπαρούλης, Administrator
Staff member
Nice try Sam. Needs some work to make the lines straight as you say. You can take a white page and write 100 oligons for instance until you find what looks best and how to do it.

2. I found it extremely hard to keep everything on a straight line. Any recommendations outside the use of lined paper (which would look tacky in my opinion) are welcome!
Print a lined paper with relatively thick lines so that you can see them when placing the lined paper underneath the paper you write on (choose a relatively thin paper to write on). I have used this trick in the past with success. The other thing you can do is write the lines thinly with pencil and then rub them off however that's a tedious task.

I will send more when I get some time.