But all such “coincidences” seem to be restricted to smaller parts of the heirmoi, not the entire melodies, and usually are based on two-three occurrences of formulae. In the end he arrives at the table like the one you showed, which to me is too rigid and simplistic to be true. If his method were correct, he must have been able to transcribe heirmoi in the neumatic notation that were not used in his analysis, compared transcriptions to the notated versions from the 19th c., and validated his results. But as far as I know he has no example like that.

Zaal does indeed work with statistic methods, not only concerning neumes, but also concerning the intervals. The interesting fact is that there is also a certain role of German ethnomusicologists like Siegfried Nadel (“Georgische Gesänge”, 1933), later Susanne Ziegler within the history of research. The former also used staff notation in beautiful transcriptions realised in copperplate engraving, but emphasised at the same time that the intervals are different so that staff as medium of transcription was somehow misleading. He simply measured them in cent (which nobody can really hear).

Right now Frank Scherbaum who regularly visits polyphony conferences at Tbilisi, checked these hypotheses by an automatic transcription of field recordings made of Artem Erkomaishvili in 1966. Since he was the last church singer left, he had to sing all the parts alone, before they were arranged simultaneously:

https://www.audiolabs-erlangen.de/resources/MIR/2017-GeorgianMusic-Erkomaishvili
Here you can go to each recording, switch on and off each of the parts, and there is even an automatic transcription in a kind of spectogramme.

I know these problems well. It needs some time until philologists and ethnomusicologists will finally meet together, but for the Georgian tradition there is such an interdisciplinary challenge thanks to the initiative of the transcription movement. If one likes it or not ;D

I don’t claim I can or will ever be able to “decipher” (?) the Georgian notation (this is an impossible task given its imprecise, mnemonic character), but its strucural implications are in so many ways linked to the melodies passed in the classical Byzantine heirmologion / sticherarion that it would be strange to ignore it. This concerns both the minute details, such as occurrence of melismatic passages, or more global features like repetition of certain neumatic patterns, or even entire structures of the hymns as we know them from the middle Byzantine sources.

I fear the term “deciphering” became abused since Constantin Floros’ claim that he had deciphered Kondakarian notation. Since then this kind of notation is claimed to be “finally deciphered” each year by another Russian scholar.

I wonder a little why Floros choose this term which is not quite accurate, if one tries to describe his own method which is very precise. He never tried to decipher Kondakarian notation, but just those sources in Middle Byzantine round notation, and made comparisons in a second step.

The simple truth is, we have not even deciphered any source of the past (whatever the notation is) and the

*Transcripta series* of MMB has not been continued for decades. This would require a competence concerning the method needed for the thesis of the melos. Who can really claim to have it?

Neumatic notation (whether Western or Eastern) never had any scientific precision since it was defined according to Aristotle as an art (τέχνη) which is always related to a sum of possibilities as its potential (δύναμις) of being. Not exactly what a scientist is looking for...