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1. Is there a commonly acceptable definition of the following
terms in Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music?
G. K. Michalakis: Firstly, it is interesting to note that there
are many definitions for each of the terms "chronos" and "rhythmos",
with lots of overlap, and this leads to an overall confusion, not only among authors
but mostly those reading their explanations. My answers are based on things I have
been told, as well as my own personal organisation of all this information.
In my view, it is important to distinguish between "Rhythmos",
which is a compositional criterion (ie method of notating psaltic
neumes) and "chronos", which is the way the neumes are actually
chanted according to traditional means of allocating "units of time" to each neume. Using a compostion written in a given "rhythmos"
and chanting it usding different types of "chonos" leads to creating
"other rhythmos", which are not written out. If a computer
were to transcibe the way the simple rhythm hymns are actually chanted, the result
would be a very compicated score. The compication will arise because some "standard
unit of time" will have to be established by the compouter. When using a particular
choronos which varies the unit of time, the computer will have to find the smallest
unit of time so as to describe the rest of what it "hears". The end
result will be (in this particular case of "compolex chonos counting")
a score where there will be no gerular rhythm within each measure (in contrast
to the original, written forme of the composition, which has some
"rhythm regularity" within measures). Yet, regularity in terms
of duration is still maintained among measures.
Description of "chronos": The cyclical motion
of a hand, moving upwards to eye-level and coming down upon the knee of a sitting
person is to be considered as one complete chronos. This
does not necessarily imply one measure, because one cyclical motion
may be used to describe anything from one beat to one measure to a
number of measures.
One chronos per beat = "monosimos" or "kata chronon paedagogical"
One chronos per measure = haplos when the duration of each beat's unit of time is
constant or "kata chronon"
One chronos per "set" of measures" = "thesis to thesis" counting, or "kata rhythmon". See below.
Furthermore, chronos is also a generic term used to describe all phenomena
having to do with the intensity of variations and durations within some regular
temporal domain. "Good chronos" is sometimes used to describe
a "good attack", a regularly good engagement into whatever measure is
Finally, combining all of the above "regularity", "good engagement",
"good intensity variations", good unit of time duration variations,
etc may all be constituents of "good chronos".
The way these
intensity and unti of duration phenomena are subdivided and used gives rise to Haplos,
diplos, syneptigmenos chronos, although there is much debate as to
the latter, of which I am an ardent defender. Haplos, diplos, and syneptigmenos
chronos are not to be confused with rhythmos, which may be
disimos, trisioms, tetrasimos, etc., and which is a matter of compostion.
As an example, a "terirem" composed in disimos rhythmos as it
is in classical editions may be "recomposed" as trisimos rhythmos as
well, but the disimos rhythmos composition may be interpreted as either haplos,
"kata chronon" or "kata rhythmon" (the term "syneptigmenos"" is sometimes used to describe this situation, when the tempo is quickened)
the case of "diplos chronos" is an interesting case, because here one
may see the link between "written form" rhythmos anda particualr interpretation
giving rise to a new rhythmos. What is called "diplos chronos" can be
though out as follows: take the syllabic heirmos "Anoixo". Either write
out a new composition, or just chant it by makin the duration of each beat the double
of its original value. While chanting, don't change the thesis (chant as if adding
a "klasma") but add "neumes" so as to make some melodu on
the arsis. If using the original syllabic score to do this, then the psaltis is
interpreting according to "diplos chronos". However, if one is to write
it out, as did Ioannis prosotpsaltis, we may say that the composition is written
in a particular diplos "rhythmos"... the term does not exis, of course,
but it shows how a single "paleographic" score can be used not only
in terms of "rhythmic emphasis" (see below", but in terms of chronos
variations as well, leading to numerous interpretations, even if we do not take
into consideration the various "analyseis=developments".
The case of
"diplos chronos" in "Anoixo" is interesting as well
in that it helps demonstarate the difficulty of getting one's chonos
correct. Some psaltis cannot vary the «arsis part» during
a duration compatible with «diplous rhythmos», and they
end up doing «trisimos». For excellent «chronos
diplou, kata rhythmons», listen to Metropolitis Eirinaios. Compare this
to other pslaltis doing either «trisimos-hexasimos» or «chronos
diplos kata chronon» (Stanitsas).
G. K. Michalakis:
One complete chronos duration may be divided into smaller temporal subsections.
Their number and their combinations of duration may give anything from Disymos to
anything else. Psaltiki does not use as many rhythms as demotic or "exoteric" = external = non ecclesiastical music does. Rhythmos is used
in theoretcial representations. A psaltis does not make use of rhythmos
when interpreting but only when learning to chant a piece, in which case
he counts accoridng to "chornos haplos paedagogikos": During this
phase, the psaltis determines regular temporal "signposts", and
then gives emphasis to different syllables depending on the accentuation and on
the significance of the word, when doing the actual interpretation of the hymn.
Strictly speaking, each syllable is no longer exactly equal to its neighbours as
far as duration is concerned. Therefore, what was initially composed
as disimos is no longer exactly disimos throughout during the interpretation, if
this is done according to "kata rhythmon" or "syneptigmenos".
Yet, the "signposts" are in the same temporal positions as with those
of a pure, disimos rhythmos interpreted in haplos chornos. This is one great
problem of contemporary psaltis, who seem to "drag" the melody.
Once the hymn has been well integrated, they way it will sound will be determined
by the chronos. Applying rhythm concepts instead of Chronos podas
to podas thinking will break down the fluidity of a chanted hymn.
On the other hand, not applying rhythmos when composing and when learning
will, of course, lead to unstructured hymns.
One great problem
with Gregorian chant is that there is no oral tradition as the rhythm… By consequence, all neumes have been counted in metrophonia, according to
different theories that give such and such a neume such or such an identical temporal
(duration) value, along with some debatable rhythmic concepts introduced
by the Solemenian School, which give perpetually alternating rhythms
that allow no room for good, regular chronos,
the result being that all the interpretations we hear are "insipid". However, many
such hymns seem to have inherent trisismos and Tetrasimos rhythm, which,
when chanted as such may "disrespectfully add and subtract durations to the
various neumes" but, when sung according to "kata rhythmon" or
"syneptigmenos" chronos, will reveal the inherent beauty of these hymns,
in complete agreement with the patriarchal "terirem" interpretation
which is neither disimos (regardless of the composition) as it is chanted by the
Karas et al school nor trisimùos as it is chanted by Athonites and
Thessalonicean "Patriarchal style" Protopsaltis. One must count
according to the chronos mentioned above, which allows one to extend
some neumes more than others, thus establishing some chronos regularity,
regardless of any internal "stricto sensu" rhythmic changes
(transcirbed by the "computer").
G. K. Michalakis: The moment the
hand hits the knee, we are in thesis. The very brief moment
that precedes it is the preparation phase and, if things are done correctly,
the vowels will explode exactly on thesis, just like the " ringing
of a bell ". Thesis literally means taking position. The whole podas
starts on the thesis.Thesis is the beginning of chronos: it's
the moment when one "bangs" one's foot and remains standing on it when
dancing. In psaltiki, it is the accentuated part of a musical
formula (and not always that of a Textual formula).
G. K. Michalakis."Arsis" literally means elevation. In poetry, the arsis was on the
accentuated syllable, where the upward movement of the hand would
be the representation of the upward movement of the voice = a pitch interval
= fifth so as to produce an oxeia, for instance. This definition of arsis
as used in poetry was erroneously utilized by the Solemnian school in an
inappropriate musical definition. In music, arsis is
the elevation of the hand so as to produce and maintain a cyclical motion.
If the arsis is
the exact temporal antipode of thesis (that is = delta time (thesis to arsis)
equals delta time (arsis to thesis), then we have haplos disimos chronos,
where the "unit of time" is constant. If the duration of the
first beat is slightly longer at times, we get "kata rhythmon" or "syneptigmenos", and the "unit of time" is variable.
But syneptigmenos is not trisismos. Trisimos means we apply the exact
same delta time (thesis to arsis) and delta time (arsis to thesis) throughout
the melody (althoughthe two deltas are not equal, contrary to the
previous, haplos chronos,
they are different between themselves, yet identical from one measure
to the next. In other words, the. "unit of time" is constant.. Syneptigmenos means we're thinking of an entire measure
= Podas, but not of where the arsis is: this will be determined by traditional
learning = memory, and it will not always be in the same temporal
position. the only regularity is in chronos duration among
measures (measure to measure = thesis to thesis) and not within a
G. K. Michalakis: Applied in quick
Heirmologic and Kratima. The composition isn't in regular rhythm. When it
is (example "Epinikos hymnos, Tin gar sin, Meg. Basileiou), we are dealing with
diplous chronos (actually written out as "rhytmos diplos ="zero
dot, one dot", for the most ).. That is, the composition is such that we hear
every thesis as a "double duration". We can apply syneptigmenos there as
well, but one has to be a good and well-learned performer. In the Kratimas and the
Heirmologics, Syneptigmenos is what gives some accentuated syllables
slightly longer duration that others. One learns syneptigmenos by chanting
while walking, and feeling the "alternating balancing motions " of the body. No
syneptigmenos has been put on record by Iakovos, although it was chanted in the
As for the question concerning the syneptigmenos
symbol in Boudouris’ transcriptions of Exapostilarions with the added comment
"haplos" chronos, my opinion is that, in these few cases,
he uses the symbol in the current, occidental use of "cut time" = give
every neume half its value without further extending or abbreviating the
durations, which would give rise to syneptigmenos, which is what one should
sing traditionally when the aforementioned symbol is indicated.
"Diastolae - Vertical lines single/double "
"Tonikos (accent-based) Rhythmos"
G. K. Michalakis: Two situations:
1) when the textual accentuated syllable is not on the thesis
of a musical rhythmic podas of an otherwise well-corresponding musical formula,
or 2) when the musical formula would be better suited by a
non-accentuated syllable where an accentuated one has been put. The first
case is rare in classical pieces. The second is more common, but a psaltis who has
learned how to apply the correct temporal redistribution (=duration of notes)
as well as the correct intensity changes, the famous "paratonon criticised" "eroooo" no longer sounds as the "EEEEro" in "o Angelos Eboa" of Chourmouzios' transcription
if one is to t apply "syneptigmenos" philosophy to this one measure so as
to avoid what otherwise sounds as paratonia if "haplos" chronos
is applied in this case, as it is thought to apply by the many who not learned the
traditional secrets of this piece =apply syneptigmenos philosophy to this
one measure. Most psaltis have dared call this composition "paratonon" and have
come up with other, extravagant "solutions".
2. Where there are disagreements on the definitions
above, what are the reasons?
(no answer yet)
3. Are vertical bars needed in Byzantine musical
G. K. Michalakis:
The lines exist in the composition, because there cannot be expression
without rhythm. When the composition has regular rhythm with a regular
syllable distribution, Chrysanthos speaks of rhythmiki emphasis. Old
melodic formulae are almost always tetrasismos, and use the same number of
syllables below them. Iakovos Prostopsaltis, "breaks" this tendency in some of his
Doxology compositions. When comparing Antiphons of Holy Friday, Ephesios respects
more of Rhythmic emphasis than does Stephanos and than do later on Iakovos
Nafpliotis and Pringos, who are either transcribed (Iakovos by Boudouris) or who
put on paper themselves (Pringos) abrreviated = condensed melodic
formulae for the same number of syllables. Such abbreviated formulae are
traditional condensed versions of older, more rhythmic emphasis respectful formulae.
Therefore, vertical bars are to be used for composition and learning
purposes. When one learns, one even counts chronos differently (haplos).
When performing, however, the more one sees on the score; the less
one is free, and the less one will think in terms of overall chronos
(if one is to think in terms or rhythmos while performing Psaltiki, one will
lose in fluidity). So, there is no need for vertical lines
on a final, analogion copy, so as to avoid rhythmic counting
in place of thesis to thesis chronos counting.
Although the terminology may differ, the
same principle seems to be advocated by Boudouris:
D. Koubaroulis: Boudouris says
that ecclesiastical pieces can be chanted both "by-beat" ("kata chronon")
and "by-rhythm" ("kata rhythmon"). He argues that although pieces can
be chanted beat by beat (monosimos), however, the pieces are not properly
executed until the experienced psalti adds the rhythmic element in the interpretation.
That is to aggregate the beats ("xronous") of the piece into groups ("podes")
to form rhythms (as he says elsewhere in the definition of rhythm). He went
on to say that the Patriarchal psaltai are exemplary for chanting by-rhythm
and not by-beat.
G. K. Michalakis: Boudouris calls "kata chronon" "by-beat" (monosimos) what I have called either "haplos chronos
paedagogikos", which is to applied when learning, and which is used
by Iakovos throughout his recordings for pedagogical purposes or
. Boudouris calls ("kata rhythmon") the "aggregation of beats
("chronous") of the piece into groups ("podes") to form more "complex" rhythms (as he says elsewhere in the definition of rhythm). This is what I
call "thesis to thesis "chronos counting, which avoids
internal rhythmic punctuation which would be that of the compositon,
and giving rise to a new, humanly "impossible to transcribe" interpretation,
which can only be learned by tradition (example, the famous syneptigmenos of terirem,
which is neither disimos nor trisimos… this principle can also be applied to
Gregorian chant, revealing thus all its beauty that has been lost because
of textual applications of what is otherwise oral/aural tradition.
D. Koubaroulis: Boudouris (in
the footnote) considers vertical bars in texts an "innovation" that destroys the
structure and movement of melos. He seems to contradict himself because
in the main text of the chapter he supports the view of counting 1-2 (thesis-arsis,
down-up, knee-air) and always stressing the downbeat more than the upbeat.
On one hand he says "count 1-2 and always stress 1", but "never write this
down, because it destroys the structure of the melos".
G. K. Michalakis: In the first case, Boudouris is referring to "thesis
to thesis" counting… he is referring to chronos regularity, with an
arsis which is simply an upward motion (the thesis, however, is invariably
the "stressed downbeat". Don’t write it down means "don’t
tire the eye with vertical lines, because this extra information will push the brain
to be "too careful" with arsis, thus breaking the "fluidity" of the patriarchal style of chanting. In the second case, he is most probably referring
to "kata chronon paedagogikos", where much more emphasis is given to
the thesis, so as to mark the accents. Some pslatis (Eirinaies, or instance, applies
the principle even when chanting "kata rhythmos", thus stressing the
accent of each word).
4. Can it be that there is no such thing as rhythm
in Byzantine music?
D. Koubaroulis: P. Agathocles seems to be the only author to claim so. Does
he really mean it?
G. K. Michalakis: Rhythm is the
foundation of life, and the environment that surrounds it. There is regularity in
many temporal aspects (from less than nanosecond periods of the electron
to microsecond periods of vocal vibration to second periods of a baseball flying
according to de Broglie’s theorum, to hundreds of years as concerns planetary
orbits around some star). There cannot be prayer without some form of regularity,
even though this regularity may be broken from to time to time, but not
so as to give some destructured compositions some wish to suggest. The problem
with not putting vertical lines is that, if one does not learn traditionally
in parallel, one will sing like contemporary Solemnian chanters (= arhythmos and
5. Is Tetrasemos
an "haplos" (primitive) or "synthetos" (complex) rhythm?
D. Koubaroulis: A. Efthemiadis is not sure.
G. K. Michalakis: For some classical formualae, we can hear is as an haplos..
In some contemporary ones, it sounds as synthetos.
6. Has rhythm sometimes been influenced by external
For instance take pieces in Trisemos by Simonopetra Monastery (Mt Athos).
G. K. Michalakis: Here is where
the whole issue of syneptigmenos finds its importance. Not having learned
how to do it correctly, some hear a thesis syllable being somewhat
prolonged at times. From then on, even though the manuscripts show gorgon
on chi = cut time = which is not cut time, but syneptigmenos,
they prolong each and every thesis regularly...
and we get trisimos terirem. Now, if in Anoixo to stoma mou =diplous
chronos = one hasn't learnt the traditional way, that too will, at many points,
become trisimos. I believe that trisimos is the outcome of bad syneptigmenos
and Diplous chronos applications, and that it has no place in the hymns it
is used for (especially Kratimas).
7. How do we count each type of rhythm?
What movements of the hand should we use to count rhythm while learning and
when in church (if any).
G. K. Michalakis: When learning,
one must chant very, very slowly (48/min). Chronos is counted with
the hand, and the foot: the foot counts thesis to thesis. The
hand counts the famous "tak tak" = tak for thesis, tak for arsis, tak for en eventual
second arsis (in trisimos, we'd say thesis, mesis, arsis). This method helps punctuate
each and every neume, and helps learn the steps (patimata) correctly by "tuning" into the master's parallagi. When alone, the Parallagi will "tune" the hymn.
In church, we forget about the
rhythm of individual measures: it's already there, inherent within
a well-balanced composition (be it utterly or only partially respectful of Rhythmic
Emphasis). We only care about thesis as to chronos or, to paraphrase
Boudouris, according to overall = combined "kata rhythmon") counting.
Here, we have "Thesis, arsis, chronos eis" = the entire
time taken from thesis to arsis back to thesis is to be considered as one
time = one measure, and we shouldn't be breaking if
down rationally into smaller rhythms by various regular "thesis and
arsis durations. Here, we let tradition do her job: we may alternate between
syneptigmenos andHaplos (and even diplos, if we decide to add Klasmas here
and there), or we may do syneptigmenos throughout. We may even do Trisimos.
But we'll count the measures by a vertical cyclical (wide elliptical)
motion of the hand, and not by the famous 1-2-3 triangle, or the 1-2 "up
down", or some "1-2-3-4" baguette motion type of counting (as we see some occidental
music orchestra directors do): all traditional psaltis do vertical
cyclical thesis to thesis motions.
Chronos is of such importance (and that's
why I put first on the list of priorities for hyphos), that the Protocanonarchos
Stylianos Tsolakidis would keep track of it using 3 parts of his body: each
hand as well as his foot! But let's take things from the beginning.
Firstly, when one is learning or practising
(so, what will follow is not a description of theatrical movements
during church services), chronos is kept by an ample circular
movement of one hand. The hand rises well above the head, from where it is suddenly
thrust forward and downward in circular motion, not with constant speed, but with
acceleration, before "hitting" the minimal height position
(which is just in front of the thigh) which corresponds to the thesis, or
the most intense part of a measure.
The return upwards is at constant speed,
the same as that of the initial downward movement. You may wish to call this maximal
height position arsis, but it does not always correspond to maxima=arsis=
antipode of thesis, as it does in occidental musical theory books = . thesis
and only thesis corresponds to thesis!
All focuses on the preparation
of this thesis. The whole body moves so as to establish this regularity
of thesis in the brain…. Indeed, if one wishes to learn
chronos, one must walk, balance one's arms and chant
according to each thesis footstep. Learning chronos while walking
is important because of a lever effect: Legs are longer, and the brain has
more time to integrate the position of the thesis once it has
given out the command to take a step. Bringing chronos to the hand corresponds to
shortening this lever effect. Just standing on an analoghion, leaning with
both arms outstretched on the stasidion, and doing little cheiromic movements is
certainly not keeping chronos, for there is no lever effect
and, worse of all, if the chanter never did learn how to sing while walking,
the correlation between vocal cords and hand by the brain is only illusionary!!!
Doesn't the Euaggelion say something about this? So, not only does one learn chronos,
but above all, one is in constant prayer by this method of chanting while walking.
Getting back to practising chronos
with my teacher (he was too short so as to keep up with me using a constant pace,
so he showed me the method and let me work on it). We then resorted to using
the ample circular, thesis-oriented acceleration movement
of the hand: the whole body was programmed to strive towards the thesis.
For those that have also studied traditional
Hellenic dances as myself, the principle is the same: for most dances, it's the
right foot (podas) that controls all movement so as to coincide with
the musician's thesis. Now, one should not confound the poetic arsis,
which is the accentuated syllable, for which the voice goes up by at least
a fifth (and which thus corresponds to the musical thesis), with the
musical Arsis. Poetic arsis (accentuated syllable) thus corresponds
to Musical thesis for which the podas (the foot) should be stepping
What is the importance of all this
ample movement? It is that of engaging correctly into the following thesis!
so, once my hand is up, I'm already starting to prepare
my consonants, in such manner as to have completed their vocalisation
and to be started on that of the vowel when my hand is in front of my chest.
At this point, the vowel is fully articulated, just in time for the accelerating
movement, which will give my whole body impetus so as to explode
that vowel upon the hand's arrival at the thesis position. If I have many
consonants, I prepare them even before the return to the "arsis" position.
I hope it is becoming evident that arsis is almost illusionary, especially
in rapid tempo.
«Thesis kai arsis,
chronos enas: (or "eis")" because arsis is not
the temporal opposite of thesis: it is just an upwards movement of the hand,
whereas thesis is an exact explosion of sound!!! So
why did Tsolakidis use three body parts to count tempo? Well, at the analoghion,
we do not have the luxury of ample circular motion, nor that of being able
to "skip" a step (just as one might do so as to walk in pace at a military
parade in case everybody else is on pace on the other foot!) for rhythmic
changes. Stylianos Tsolakidis would stand up straight, head tilted slightly
upwards, facing the icon of Jesus at the north entrance (so, he wasn't
looking at books, he wasn't hanging on to some stasidion, and both his arms dropped
beside his thighs). He kept chronos with small movements of the left hand,
with a slight touch of his fingers upon his left thigh. The left foot would discretely
tap every 2nd thesis (importance of equilibrated 4/4 measures in most
chants of tradition). His right hand would take control fro rhythmical changes,
by transiently counting both thesis and arsis, and the left hand would
pick up again.
Interesting, isn't it, that a 80 year-old
man would place so many "controls and regulators" for a piece such as "Idi Baptetai,
which was second nature to him. Yet, chronos could not succumb to any compromise
8. In a line with a series of ison signs,
is there such a thing as hitting a thesis at every sign ("monos chronos",
"tak tak tak")?
D. Koubaroulis: D. Nerantzis seems to be the only author explicitly supporting
it, although he also supports disemos/trisemos/tetrasemos for learning.
G. K. Michalakis: When learning,
yes, we'll count slowly and by hitting each isson symbol as a thesis
by tapping one’s finger on the table = small cirular motion, one per isson.
When chanting the exercises, one will pass from the previous "tak tak" = "by beat counting" to 1-2 counting (one beat thesis, the other arsis).
Finally, we'll give fluidity to the hymn by counting using the vertical
cyclical motion:the melody will then become disimos or trisimos, depending on how
many ison will be between the thesis, and will become haplos
or syneptigmenos depending on the extra, non-equal and non-regular
hesitations we'll add on some
of the first isons of each measure.
9. Is S. Karas' syneptygmenos the same as the
Patriarchal psaltai syneptygmenos?
G. K. Michalakis:
Many have tried and many "try" to do syneptigmenos chronos. Panagiotidis does it more or less decently at times,
Taliadoros quite rarely as well. Tsolakidis, of course, is the best I've heard.
I don't know what Karas' definiton is. If it is simply "cut time", = chant the thing
at twice the tempo", then I certainly don't agree. I've never heard ebx do
syneptigmenos ( therefore, much less so as according to the Patriarcal definition)?
10. What does A.
Boudouris' "haplos chronos" mean e.g. in "Agios o Kyrios o Theos Hmwn"?
G. K. Michalakis: Concerning
the syneptigmenos symbol in Boudouris’ transcriptions of Exapostilarions
with the added comment "haplos" chronos, my opinion is that,
in these few cases, he uses the symbol in the current, occidental use of "cut
time" = give every neume half its value without further extending or
abbreviating the durations, which would give rise to syneptigmenos, which
is what one should sing traditionally when the aforementioned symbol is indicated.
11. Are there Ecclesiastical
compositions that are written in one rhythm from beginning to end? For instance
consider the debate about "Theotoke h Elpis" as done by S. Karas.
G. K. Michalakis: Rare are the rhythmic changes in old, papadic pieces = very respectful
of identical rhythmic emphasis. In Gregorios’ transcription of
Petros’ Heirmologion, we note that the trisimos is "interrupted" at the end of each line by a tetrasimos….This suggests that the cyclical motions
were of the "kata rhythmon" or "syneptigmenos" type, and
on the last measure, an extra "small circular motion" is added so as
to mark a "pause"… In my opinion, all this is not proof
of "regular trisimos", but of "syneptigmenos with marked pauses"….
12. What about the rhythm of the kratema of Theotoke
Parthene of Bereketis?
D. Koubaroulis: A. Boudouris mentions elsewhere that it is a mistake to chant
it in Trisemos (as many modern Patriarchal teachers do).
G. K. Michalakis. He is absolutely
right… it is not trisimos but syneptigmenos which has been reduced
to Trisimos by untraditionally-trained psaltis.…
13. What is the "rhythm of the prosomoia" that Petros
Byzantios was so irritated to see Iakovos Protopsaltis "destroy"?
G. K. Michalakis. Rhythmiki
emphasis. An example of decent rhythmiki emphasis theses days is the compositon
"Idi Vaptetai" by Nafpliotis as transcribed by Pringos...
D. Koubaroulis: See more on this on the analogion (link pending)
14. Is a hexasemos bar the same as two trisemos
bars? For instance, are Athonite stixologiai chanted in hexasemos or trisemos?
(no answer yet)
15. Is there any evidence about rhythm in Ecclesiastical
chant before Ms EBE 716?
(no answer yet)
16. Does the energy (effect) of the musical signs
contradict with the division of a composition into bars? Is D. Neratzis correct
to claim so in his book?
G. K. Michalakis: Sometimes you hear
me doing an « oligon, anatinagma [antikenoma], gorgon, which is in the end
of some theorectical podas `measure) by taking a break in the middle
of the measure, by giving it a lot of brief energy, and by connecting to
the next note, which will be the thesis. If I was counting using vertical
lines, I wouldn't feel free to do this "breaking of a measure". But because I'm
thinking of thesis to thesis, I use the above symbol combination as
a preparation for the upcoming thesis. So, it gets more energy
than a usual arsis, but I'm already thinking thesis, because I'm not "guided" by some vertical line (which, I repeat, exists in the composition, but is
abolished in the interpretation, in favour for a more global thinking
while counting chronos)
17. What is the fast and slow "dromos" (way of chanting)
of heirmologic pieces? Is it equal to chanting the same piece in "haplos" and
G. K. Michalakis: When doing syneptigmenos
and slowly, we're in « slow dromos»: listen to how I do the "Thou
Kyrie" in the Third mode Kekragarions ...
18. Is thesis-arsis time interval the same as arsis-thesis?
D. Koubaroulis: A. Boudouris says the hand movements are completely isochronous
(equal in time). G. K. Michalakis disagrees.
G. K. Michalakis: I didn't read the
passage. The movement of the hand is regular. When singing paedagogically
and haplos, up = down (but we still do a cyclical motion = wide ellipse,
not just simple "up and down". When singing syneptimenos, however, the [thesis to
hypothetical arsis] is not equal to the [hypothetical arsis to thesis] duration.
Thesis to thesis is, of course, isochronous… Where I seem to disagree is when
I say that there are "larger and smaller" circles... this is due to
the "rhytm of the composition". In classical "argon" mathima,
there is almost never any need for any variation as to the duration of a "circles".
19. Is there such
a thing as "ad lib" rhythm in Ecclesiastical music (excluding Kalophonikoi Heirmoi)?
Many famous masters nowadays are chanting slow pieces with no rhythmic emphasis.
G. K. Michalakis: Rhythmic emphasis
is a composition criterion. "loose Chronos", "faint impulse", "laxist singing
without pulsations/impulse, are intensity criteria of interpretation
Kalophonikos heirmos is not ad lib = "achronon" in its interpretation.
The measures are well defined, they are mostly in fours. So, there
is rhythmos. But when counting chronos without punctuating
the beginning of each podas correctly, when loosening the "engagement too" much, one tends to do "ad lib" which is arythmos or, more correctly, achronos
and invertebrate. However, kalophonikos heirmos does require less
punctuation and "smoothening" of attacks, but in no way is it arythmos or achronos.
All "Ad lib" must fall back to
its "feet". There may be some small passages, just like a violin solo in some island
melody, while the percussion maintain regular rhythm on the backround. The
classical transcription example is in the "chaire Nymphi anympheute", just after
the gorgon on chi = trisimos /dysismos dysimos /trisimos, and the melody "shifts
from the "backround percussion" only to fall back on its feet). The initial "trisimos" gives an "eternalising" effect, and it sounds "ad lib" but it is well accounted
for in terms of Overall rhythmic structure.
20. Should tempo slow down before the final cadence
of the piece?
D. Koubaroulis: Th. Stanitsas disagrees (in his interview published
G. K. Michalakis: I agree. We
shouldn't even be starting off "slower so as to go faster" = Therefore, "no"
to initial acceleration and "no" to final deceleration is warranted.
S. Gugushvili: Slowing down at
the end is witnessed in classical books. This one by Ioannis Protopsaltis,
published by his son, Dimitrios Protopsaltis.
(click for larger image)
21. Chrysanthos claims that all ancient pieces
are suited to be chanted in Tetrasimos. What does that mean? How to count
D. Koubaroulis: Possible examples of counting:
thesis-thesis-thesis-thesis (as in monos chronos)
thesis-arsis-thesis-arsis (as in two disemos)
thesis-arsis-arsis-arsis (as in 4/4 in Western music)
thesis (slow as to include two beats) - arsis (slow as to include two beats) (as
in S. Karas' syneptygmenos)
Are there more?
22. Is Disemos, Trisemos, Tetrasimos of Ecclesiastical
music the same as 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 of Western music? (e.g. are the strong/weak beats
G. K. Michalakis. Yes in terms of
composition. No in terms of interpretation (except if done too
23. What is "engagement into chronos" mentioned
by G. K. Michalakis?
G. K. Michalakis: Chronos kai
"lipsis chronou", as taught by Tsolakidis. Andrea Atlanti came to her own
identical conclusions without any mention of the protocanonarchos' teachings.
She called it "anticipation" of "tempo". Kyriakos Tsiappoutas very
correctly coined the English term "chronos and Engagement into tempo).
Thesis is where the vowel explodes,
and corresponds to a maximum point on the intensity vs. time wave
function we see on the computer. Regularity of the chanted piece is determined
by the regularity of those maximal thesis points, and a good analogy
is the electorcardiogram. Irregularities can be pathological if they appear
punctually (the chronos = "trips up") because one is most likely using part
of what belongs to it, by erroneoulsy allocating it to the previous measure.
Engagement is the delay
necessary for the good, sudden, well-accelerating intensity transition
to a maximum = vowel explosion, as if "ringing a bell"(=dixit
Zacharias Paschalides). If this "refractory" period is not respected,
we either do not hear an explosion, or the explosion is "pushed away" = " trips up". When one
has not learned to do vocalisations (= trills = laryngismos) traditionally,
one will usually do them too late in the measure, thus taking up the
upcoming preparation = chronos engagement time. This is what all beginners
do. The experts ( and I certainly don't include90% of those recording these
days) do nice explosions with excellent, well-balanced trills on the
explosions, without hindering the upcoming engagement time.
Finally, sufficient engagement
time allows for a good preparation and for a nice, sudden transition
to the thesis maximum, thus giving intensity punctuation
and impetus to the measure and to the whole hymn. The lack of chronos
Engagement is today's greatest Psaltiki epidemic, and leads to solemnian
= Westernised = invertebrate and effeminate chanting, which is well applauded
by the Western audiences who indulge in this pathology, and which has found its
way into our unvigilant church life.
This engagement into tempo principle
is the foundation of positivist attitude in psaltiki, which
should reflect the continuous Resurrection message of the Orthodox
Church, as opposed to the sentimentalist, expiatory, purgatory and auto-flagellating
attitudes that have tainted off into the occidental vocal church music.
24. Can the same musical phrase sometimes be interpreted
in slow or fast "dromos" (way)?
D. Koubaroulis: In papadic pieces Chourmouzios often seems to transcribe
one musical phrase in a slow manner (say spanning 8 beats) whereas Gregorios transcribes
the same phrase in a fast manner (say spanning 4 beats). For at least one
specific example, compare the score of Koinonikon "Agaliasthe" of Petros (on the
analogion, transcribed by Gregorios) with that of Tameion Anthologias (Th. Fokaeus,
transcribed by Chourmouzios).
25. Are there paratonismoi in
classical texts? If yes, are they mistakes that should be corrected? Should every
single accented syllable fall on a thesis (downbeat)?
(a contentious topic)
G. K. Michalakis. When one knows
how to apply transient syneptigmenos, there is no need whatsoever
to touch on anything of the classical
26. What is the relationship of the tempo of an appended
kratema with respect to the tempo of the preceding and following (non-kratema) melody? Is it always a 2:1 ratio?
G. K. Michalakis: The hand should
be turning at the same speed, but we sing twice as many notes as in the "before" and "after" sections". We still count thesis to thesis but syneptigmenos
on top of that (so for an initial tempo of 60, terirem should sound like 120/min,
but it is to be counted by sets of four isons vs. sets of two
isons of the principle piece)? We may wish to slow it down a bit or speed it u p
bit, by ± about 16/min?
G. K. Michalakis: Let us take
the terrirem. In ancient editions, it is in simple time. Yet Priggos seems to sing
at trisimos, and all new editions of "patriarchal style chanters" have
it written in trisimos. In Agion oros, as well, we have "top of the chart" trisimos chants. Is there a link between what Priggos sings in the Theotoke parthene
and the way contemporary chanters have understood and transcribed? It all depends
on the tempo chosen. If one is to sing slowly a terirem, and neglecting
arsis in simple rhythm, most of the time the rhythm is trisimos.
But when I'd ask my teacher to sing it faster, it did not become a
disimos 1-2, 1-2!!! No, it became something which is indescribable: neither
disimos, neither trisimos.
Apparently, that is what I do as well,
when I sing terirem quickly (that is what an occidental musicologist told me once).
So, put otherwise, arsis is not always (systematically) an equal
temporal fragment of a measure: it is simply a preparatory
process for the thesis explosion!
27. What does "free tempo" ("eleutheros
G. K. Michalakis: Tsolakidis
(see S. Tsolakidis page for audio sample of "Kai Eulogemenos") is singing "eleutheros
chronos" = "free counting of tempo", and this has absolutely nothing to do with
"Kalophonikos Heirmos type of Chronos". Chronos does not necessarily mean
keeping up with a metronome. That's why I so insistently dealt with "engagement
of tempo" as Kyriakos so correctly adjusted the original "anticipation of chronos" principle. I put that file up because it is one of the rare pieces he sings in this
style, and that so many try to copy in their interpretation of Theotoke Parthene's
"Evlogimenos" in plagal 1st mode), regardless of the original. Even though his tempo
is not consistent, his chronos in general is, because of correct engagement
(I will not go back into this) of the Thesis part of the measure, even if he does
continuously change "Tempo".
Now, I don't know where this version
of "Evlogimenos" comes from. But it's in all contemporary books. I personally don't
sing it like that, I just follow the book. I use all the elements Tsolakidis gave
me so as to re-establish what is there in notes. He had agreed with my project,
and he never said that what he sang was better than what was in the book. For instance,
Abagianos' Dynamis was never chanted at the Patriarcheion: only at Agios Ioannis
o Chios, which was where most of the rich businessmen would go, and where Binakis
would sing (eventually other businessmen from Chios put in a lot of money so at
to bring him to Chios, were he taught many other disciples, of which Chantzistamatis
and some old man I met between New York and Montreal, whose son owns a restaurant
where Greyhound buses stop). As for the Kyrie Triplexes by Kamarados, well, Tsolakidis
heard those from the composer himself.
So, Chronos is not to be understood
as pure Tempo. The piece was chosen to show that, even with free tempo, there
is still chronos, because of the engagement principle. And this, I've said
already, is the foundation of all traditional psaltiki and all of traditional chanting
28. In what tempo should the
Katavasiai be chanted?
G. K. Michalakis. Katavassiae
are nowadays sung according to "syndomes" with slow tempo, Cheroubikon as
a Kalophonikos Heirmos etc. Although Thrasyboulos Stanitsas gives some indication
of tempo in this Triodion, it still does not correspond to Iakovos Nafpliotis's
tiempos. eg. Troparion at Vespers can be as slow as 56/min, and as fast as
240/min in some occasions. Katavasiai were always "argon version chanted
at about 110 to 120/min and not syntomes at 60. People complain that we have
no time to sing complete services. This is not so. Most chanters do not know how
to read quickly enough (one doubts if they ever did any Biblical readings in Church),
and are ignorant of heirmological formulae used in canons. In about 100 years, we
have lost more than half of the hymnological singing repertoire, in favour of "autocomposed
" doxasticons and Cheroubikons that go in all sorts of directions...
28. What tempo fits each composition style?
G. K. Michalakis. There is a
difference when counting Chronos in a Kalophonikos Heirmos, vs. a Canona, vs.Cheroubikon,
vs the Epinikios Hymnos (victory Hymn) in 2nd mode (syneptigmenos). Today's chanters
do not distinguish but two varieties: Kalophonikos style and an almost 1-2
"schola" chronos. This means that the Cheroubikon of most chanters sounds as a Kalophonikos
Heirmos (sometimes, it is so "loose" is chronos, that it becomes a "drunk man's
song" type of chanting). This also means that the "Agios, agios" of
the Liturgy of Megas Vasileios is just simply "faster". I sent out some samples
of the canon, for instance. What's the difference between that and what we hear
today: the way I count the chronos? If the piece sounds "heavy" in that it is not
"melsimatic", it is not "super trilled" in a 1-2 count as Stanitsas would do it.
Let's take the Agios Agios: one should not count in twos, but in fours. That is,
the First thesis is fundamental, and all the other three counts are "free" (the
two mesis and the arsis are not always in the same place"). Now, it takes a lot
of listening to do that correctly. As far as Iakovos' recordings are concerned,
and according to Tsolakidis, he used the simplest way to count time. Apparently,
he had more of a pedagogical goal in mind rather than to show off. So, the "Tin
gar sin mitran" he has chanted on record is not the "ultimate" in chronos complexity he'd execute.
Older topics of discussion
Selected topics from the Typikon and byzantinechant
A. Lingas: There appears to be some confusion here between 'rhythm' and 'metre'.
As Fr. Constantine and Don have pointed out, the idea of music without rhythm is
problematic (as avant garde composers who have tried to write pieces without rhythm
have discovered), because pitches will inevitably have a measurable duration. In
'free rhythm' the durations supposedly do not adhere exactly to prescribed and predetermined
values, but are supposed to vary according to a number of factors: e.g. the shape
of the phrase, the text, signs of indeterminate lengthening or shortening. This
is certainly not true of Kievan square notes or Chrysanthine notation, both of which
possess a hierarchy of predetermined note values (which may be affected, of course,
in performance by rubato, 'lilt', etc.). In the case of either notation, it is possible
to provide bar lines for chants originally written without them in order to clarify
the larger rhythmic groups which are the constituent elements of the metre, which
may be irregular. Consequently, a transcription of Slavonic or Byzantine chant without
bar lines (other than a recitative) that faithfully renders the relative durations
of the original notation would certainly have both rhythm and metre (the divisions
of the latter would simply remain unnotated, as in the original).
As for 'free rhythm' in medieval Byzantine chant, this concept was imported by Tillyard
and Wellesz from the Solesmes school of interpreting Gregorian chant. They did this
for a variety of scholarly and ideological reasons reasons and without getting into
the historiographic issues here (my forthcoming Royaumont paper discusses them in
some detail), it might be useful for me to note that the rhythmic theories of Dom
Mocquereau--despite their wide influence--have been thoroughly discredited. Even
at the time that Mocquereau was propounding his theories, many other scholars of
Gregorian chant rejected his interpretations, preferring instead a variety of 'mensural'
interpretations (substantiated by some medieval theorists) in which Gregorian neumes
had precise durations. The debate continues to this day
(for brief introductions to these issues, see David Hiley's Western Plainchant:
A Handbook and his remarks about Gregorian chant in the medieval section of the
New Grove article on performing practice).
Regarding rhythm in medieval Byzantine notation, I defer to my colleague Ioannis
Arvanitis, who has done extensive work on the subject.
The main witness is Chrysanthos, who says the following: He was a good grammarian
and would have been an excellent chanter if he didn't have bad rhythm (eton
kakorhythmos). This is because, ignoring the rules of rhythm and poetry--supposedly
to preserve the meaning of the troparion--he didn't preserve the rhythm of the
prosomoia. ok, now I understand that the problem isn't concerned
with Iakovos' Papadic compositions or Doxastarion, Chrysanthos talks about prosomia.
A. Lingas: According to Chrysanthos Iakovos' general stance was one of conservatism
(cf. ThM, ii, li, where he says that Iakovos 'did not really approve of innovations
(den echaire toson eis neoterismous)'. Iakovos' conservatism seems to have led him
into conflict with Agapios and, if you prefer, at least profound disagreement with
Petros over two areas: a) melodic style and b) performance practice. How these were
related is hard to discern from the brief comments of Chrysanthos, who was in any
case clearly biased toward Petros.
S. Gugushvili: He admits that Iakovos knew the
grammar well. What could "supposedly to preserve the meaning of the troparion" refer to? Can it mean that he was avoiding wrong accentuation/paratonismos?
On the other hand "he didn't preserve the rhythm of the prosomoia" seems
to be contradicting to this conjecture. In general, how could Iakovos
be "a good grammarian", if he was ignoring "the rules of rhythm and
A. Lingas: Although Chrysanthos mentions the prosomoia as his specific example,
it remains possible that his general condemnation of Iakovos as 'kakorhythmos' affected
his performance of other repertories. Since this is hard to prove with the available
evidence, I won't insist on this idea.
Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that one of the New Method's greatest achievements
was the systematisation of different levels of rhythmic subdivision, something that
the medieval notation could only show by implication. In the absence of the Chrysanthine
system's precise regulation of rhythm through gorga, digorga, etc., it is conceivable
that a chanter reading from the old notation could have exercised in performance
a greater degree of rhythmic freedom than would generally be allowed when reading
from scores written according to the New Method (itself a product of Petros' students).
That being said, some cantors today may be heard who sing either occasionally or
constantly with a great degree of rubato, turning apparently regular rhythms into
a kind of dramatic recitative (Vasilikos, for example, does this at times).
S. Gugushvili: From what you said, it seems Iakovos
didn't chant/teach the pieces in new sticheraric/heirmologic style, therefore
the problem (if there was a problem) was concerned with e.g. old heirmologion. Do
we know what repertory Iakovos was using for heirmologic pieces? Was it the
heirmologion of Balasios? What might be wrong with it? In general can we fit somehow
this "controversy" into the interpretation of the rhythm of the Byzantine
chantIoannis Arvanitis offered?
Ioannis Arvanitis and Ioannis Plemmenos (who completed a doctoral
thesis at Cambridge on the Phanariote Greeks) are far more qualified to answer this
question than me. Ioannis A, any comments?
S. Gugushvili: For this reason all the students were
taught the old lessons by both Iakovos and Petros, whereas the new ones were taught
by Petros alone (ThMeg, Part ii, liv). Do we know who was responsible for
the curriculum? Did Iakovos have absolute authority or Petros could also select
pieces according to his taste?
I'm not sure exactly how formal of a curriculum it was. Chrysanthos
merely says that although both taught, only Petros taught the new repertories. Both
Petros and Iakovos, however, are mentioned as being responsible for teaching in
the prologue to patriarchal encyclical establishing the school (printed by Chrysanthos
in the ThM, Part ii
S. Gugushvili: I'm sorry for being ambiguous. What I
meant in notation was "style of notating", i.e. was Iakovos making exegesis, writing
out some of the melismas?
Some but not all, making his notational style rather close to
that of Petros Pel. Thomas Apostolopoulos in his book on Apostolos Konstas on pages
320-27 includes an interesting example of a doxastikon by Iakovos and its transcriptions
(exegeseis) by Apostolos and the Three Teachers.
S. Gugushvili: All in all,
was there a real controversy among Iakobos and e.g. Petros? From the comments
of Chrysanthos, the answer would appear to be 'yes'. The fact of
appearance of Iakovos' Doxastarion, as well as some of his other compositions,
abbreviated from the older ones (Kekragaria and Pasapnoaria), for me
is an indication, that he was following the same general direction as Petros
(producing more concise melodies), but not the same path. Until we "decipher" what Chrysanthos really meant, talking about the conflict seems to be premature.
A. Lingas: Chrysanthos' strongly critical language of Iakovos' rhythmic sense,
hisdescription of Petros' frustrations, the fact that Iakovos only taught theold
lessons seems to me to be evidence enough to indicate 'conflict' in theform of 'profound
disagreement', as I noted above. This doesn't mean that you are not perfectly correct
in saying that Petros and Iakovos were, inmany ways, going in the same direction.
As we know from today's chant scene, however, going in the same general direction
is not enough to eliminate conflicts between, for example, various teachers and
their partisans (Karas, Stathis, Simonopetrites, Angelopoulos, etc.).
I. Arvanitis: I think that , in order to understand the passage of Chrysanthos
concerning the 'rhythm' of Iakovos' singing, we must have in mind the original (or
another, old) meaning of the word 'rhythm', ie. 'shape'. In this sense we can also
speak about 'rhythm' in the visual arts. So, Iakovos was distroying the 'shape'
of the automelon, so that its prosomoion has a full (entelh) cadence at the end
of a period of the words, a medial cadence at the place of a comma of the words
of the prosomoion, in others words to make the syntactic structure of the prosomoion
conform with its music. But because the syntactic structure of the prosomoion does
not always coincide with the syntactic structure of the automelon, Iakovos tried
to alter the music of the Automelon when adapting the words of the prosomoion (retaining
of course some similarity to the music of the Automelon) , so the music of the prosomoion
reflects faithfully its syntactic structure. So, he was singing with (Chrysanthos'
expression:) 'melopoiia kata ta nooumena', ie. setting to music according to the
meaning. This is exactly reflected in the whole Iakovos' work: eg. in his Doxologies.
The older Doxologies by Balasios, Bereketis, Germanos and, to a lower degree those
by Daniel and Petros Lampadarios, follow basically the same pattern in every one
of their verses. Although the verses of a doxology are not prosomoia, their singing,
as well as the singing of the old or older polyeleoi, followed the custom found
in the ancient psalmody (see eg. the rubrics in Asmatic offices; very often only
the music of the first verse is given in the Mss and the rest are sung 'according
to this'), ie. a certain pattern to be followed (the same custom holds also for
western psalmody). But Iakovos Doxologies deviate strongly from this rule; they
are composed according the meaning, using new high or low points, phthorai and ither
devices of 'word painting'. In other words, they are not so much 'strophic'; they
are 'through composed'. The same manner of composition has strongly affected his
Doxastarion: in a frame of old sticheraric, traditional, long 'theseis', new compositional
devices are present, eg. a) new (frequent) use of phthorai but through old formulas
b) short sticheraric formulas (coinciding to the ones by Petros) etc. So, Iakovos
is at the same time traditional and innovative. He wanted to protect the long old
sticherarion (= his conservatism) from disappearance (it was thought already as
too long, so Iak. composed only a Doxastarion and not a full stichararion), but
he thought he had to shorten and to 'modernize' it (through devices like the above
mentioned ), so that at least something of it be preserved; this was maybe the only
way to for the old sticherarion to survive. (I have collected material for writing
an article on Iakovos' Doxastarion and its notation. I don't know when I'll be able
to write it. You know about my situation. Maybe I'll have the chance to present
it in some conference)
On the matters of phrasing and paratonismoi in prosomoia, I 'd have much to say
(defending the older books) , but allow me to stop here for the present. I hope
to give details in my PhD. My article that Shota referred to, give some basic things
on this. Concerning the style of composing old stichera, Wellesz is still valuable,
as well some articles by J. Raasted. What is important, is that the Melodoi were
very artful and careful when composing. As I have studied and concluded, the manner
of composition of the now used chants (I mean the 'classical' compositions) has
its roots in their work (despite the apparent differences). So, one should not easily
criticize the older composers (eg. Petros) as not having composed artfully and appropriately.
Sometimes it is as if one criticizes or accuses St. John
or St. Kosmas as being ignorant of the grammar, the syntax etc. Sorry, it's a very
long story to be described here.
Articles on Chronos and Rhythm by Panayotis Papademetriou [html
Comments on Katsoulis' lesson on Syneptygmenos rhythm by G. K. Michalakis