Prologue by Gregorios Stathis

Concerning Adaptation

Concerning Notation

Byzantine vs. Western Notation

About the Translation

The History of Byzantine Chant

Writing Byzantine Music

Epilogue by
  Photios Kontoglou

Guidelines for Greek Pronunciation

The Intervals of the Soft Chromatic Modal Genre

The Intonations of the Eight Modes



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n some hymns, the English translation has a meter that is identical or similar to that of the original Greek version. In such instances, both texts are written in the same score of music. When slight modifications of the melody are made to accommodate the English version in the same score, notes that apply to only one language are written in red and enclosed in parentheses, as in the following measure:  
The melody would be chanted as follows in Greek:

whereas in English, it would be:
In most subsections, there are several alternative melodies provided for each hymn. For example, on pages 220-221 there are five different melodies for "Glory to Thee, O Lord" following the gospel. In such instances, the first melody provided is always the simplest. This format is used throughout the book so that one may begin with something simple, and then perhaps later learn a more elaborate melody. The only exceptions to this rule are the doxologies and the communion hymns; the first melody provided for a given communion hymn is the long, elaborate version, whereas the following melodies are briefer and simpler. When a given hymn (e.g., the cherubic hymn) is set in several modes, one would typically choose a version that is either in the mode of the week or in a mode that matches another hymn chanted that day. For example, on the Annunciation when the katavasia of the ninth ode is chanted in the Divine Liturgy in fourth mode, usually the cherubic hymn and the anaphora would also be chanted in the same mode.

In some very long and melismatic pieces (primarily the cherubic hymns and some communion hymns), entire sections of the melody are enclosed within large brackets. (For example, see page 228.) These sections may be omitted for brevity.

From around the fourteenth century, composers of Byzantine music have inserted meaningless consonants (such as [n],  [n], and χ [h]) into long, melismatic melodies. As Dr. Conomos explains: "Two problems were solved with the introduction of these foreign sounds into the text. First, a practical one: they had the effect of abbreviating an extended melodic phrase into groups of a few notes, thereby making it easier for the soloist or the choir to sing. Secondly, it solved an aesthetic problem; the consonants erased the unpleas­ant­ness of a sustained vowel and offered an incentive to the chanter to add emphasis at certain points where the composer, scribe or psalte [i.e., chanter] thought fit."[2]

In transcribing the music for this book, melodies containing such consonants have been preserved unchanged. These consonants are written in parentheses in the Greek text so that it is clear that they are not a part of the words. An attempt has not been made to insert similar consonants into the English line.

Since there are no bar lines to signal measure breaks, each staff is treated as a separate measure. For this reason, an accidental placed somewhere in a staff will apply for the remainder of that staff but not for the following staff. Courtesy accidentals are placed in parentheses wherever clarification is deemed necessary.

The Byzantine music symbols that apply stress to a note (the "psefiston" and the "vareia") are usually transcribed by placing an accent ( > ) above the note affected. However, these stresses in Byzantine music are usually not chanted with a significant increase in volume. Therefore, when encountering notes with accents in this book, one must be careful not to emphasize them unduly.

The "intonations" (ἀπηχήματα) that may be chanted before a hymn have been listed in Appendix III by number. The appropriate number for the intonation is provided only at the beginning of those hymns that Athonite chanters would typically precede with an intonation.

[2] Conomos, Dimitri E., Byzantine Trisagia and Cheroubika of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, Thessaloniki, 1974, p. 264.