A SURVEY OF STUDIES IN BYZANTINE MUSIC
I. BYZANTINE MUSICTHE term 'Byzantine music' has been applied by modern
scholars to Eastern ecclesiastical chant, sung in Greek, and
to the melodies of a certain group of ceremonial poems in honour
of the Emperor, the Imperial family, and high dignitaries of the
Orthodox Church. The restriction of the term to these two
groups of chants is not quite accurate, for it excludes secular
music, to which Christian authors and Byzantine historiographers
frequently refer. No trace, however, of this secular music has
come down to us, and the only knowledge we have of it is derived
from the Fathers of the Church and the Byzantine chroniclers
who contrast the evil influence of theatrical music with the
purifying spirit of sacred music. Remnants of Byzantine popular
songs may still live in Greek popular music of the present day, but
no attempt has yet been made to analyse the melodic structure
of these songs and to separate the different layers by stylistic
analysis, a procedure which would enable us to compare the
corpus of secular melodies with ecclesiastical, and to determine
whether any relationship can be observed between them. We
must, therefore, use the term 'Byzantine music' here in the same
restricted sense as our predecessors; but we shall try to add some
information from literary sources so as to give a more complete
account of the position which both ecclesiastical and secular
music occupied in the Eastern Empire.There are three groups of sources on which our knowledge of
the subject is based:
|1. ||Manuscripts, containing (a) collections of ecclesiastical
hymns, chants from the Ordinary of the Liturgy, and other
liturgical melodies; (b) acclamations and Polychronia, sung
by alternating choirs in honour of the Emperor, the Empress, and high dignitaries of the State and of the Church.|
|2. ||Treatises on musical theory and notation.|
|3. ||Descriptions of secular and ecclesiastical ceremonies and
feasts accompanied by hymns, chants, and instrumental
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography.
Contributors: Egon Wellesz - Author.
Publisher: Clarendon Press.
Place of publication: Oxford.
Publication year: 1961.
Page number: 1.
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