WORDS AND MUSIC
FROM the study of the formulae we also come to understand the technique of Byzantine hymn-writers in adapting the melodies to the words of the hymns. As in Gregorian chant, a large number of texts are set to a single melody, and great skill was required to achieve a perfect union between the music and the words. A new stanza had to consist not only of the same number of syllables as the model stanza, but it also had to have the stress accent in the same places, in order to make the highest points of the melodic curves coincide with the stresses of the verses.
If a line of the new stanza had one or two more unaccented syllables before the accented one than the model stanza had had, some notes without dynamic significance were inserted, either on the same pitch as the note to which they were added or leading up to it by steps.
It must, however, be pointed out that we do not regard every syllable as accented which bears an accent in writing, but only those syllables which carry the stress in the metrical structure. In Byzantine poetry the article, for example, in all genders and cases is treated as unaccented, and the same rule applies to a number of monosyllabic words, as καί, γάρ, μή, πω + ̑ς, ὤν, and others.
The simplest way of setting a line to music is the recitation of a number of unaccented syllables on a repeated note, the tenor, followed by a cadence which starts on the note of recitation. This melodic type occurs frequently as an opening phrase in the first mode.
In the following table fourteen opening lines of hymns are collected, all of which are sung to the same melodic phrase. In two of the hymns, nos. 4 and 6, the melody starts on the first note of the cadence, in all the others one or three or five Isons on a precede the Ison with Oxeia, the first accented note of the cadence. In ten out of fourteen examples the musical accent coincides with the metrical accent. This accent, however, is weak. The strong accent of the line is set on the two combined notes, g-a, of the cadence, which coincides in thirteen out of fourteen cases with the metrical accent. The exception occurs in the fourteenth example on the word Ἀββακούμ, which derives from the Hebrew.