THE prominent part which music held in the daily life of the Eastern Empire can be seen from the reports of ceremonies and festivities by Byzantine historians. To these may be added the arguments of Christian writers and the decrees of councils against the pernicious effects on morality of public shows and spectacles. Yet anyone who looks for records of secular music in Byzantine manuscripts will be disappointed, since no trace of this kind of music has been discovered in any document up to the present day. This fact will not surprise the student of the history of music, as there is a similar absence of documents for secular music in the West before the twelfth century. This lack of documents for Byzantine secular music is regrettable, but we are faced with the same absence of written evidence in every other branch of Eastern secular music, and it is hardly to be expected that we should be in a more favourable position with regard to that of Byzantium alone.
Eastern secular music has been transmitted orally up to the present day, and the instrumentalists were used to accompanying the singers by heart. Byzantine musical notation, was exclusively used for fixing ecclesiastical hymns and some of the acclamations (ἄκτα) sung during ceremonies of the court in honour of the Emperor and the Empress, or of the Church in honour of a visiting ecclesiastical dignitary. The specific character of this musical notation with which we shall have to deal fully later on, would have made its use impossible for any other purpose before its final development as an interval notation at the beginning of the thirteenth century. But even at that stage its application to secular music would have been most unlikely. The clergy, the courtiers, and other members of the educated classes who collected books and ordered them to be written treated with contempt public shows, ballets, pantomimes, and other theatrical performances accompanied by music. They would never, therefore, have suggested that the system of musical signs used for the transmission of hymns or acclamations in honour of the