Byzantine music is the type of music being used in ecclesiastical services of Christian Greek Orthodox church. The music is written in symbolic characters and each note is depended on the previous note. The rhythms are categorized in two-beat, three-beat and four-beat rhythms as well as slower and faster rhythms. Byzantine music is chanted acapella and when accompanied by a second or more voices to “keep” the base note of a melody( isokratima, in Greek) produces an aesthetic result. For a detailed reference to the Byzantine music notation, download here the PDF file.
The music scales that are used in the Byzantine music fall into three categories, diatonic scale, chromatic scale, and harmonic scale. Octaves are divided in 72 cents. Byzantine music has eight modes. The modes are: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Plagal of First, Plagal of Second, Grave, and Plagal of Fourth.
First Mode uses the diatonic scale, starting from the note RE( ΠΑ, in Greek) The scale is shown in the next diagram:
RE MI FA SOL LA SI DO RE ( Western European notation )
π β γ δ κ ζ ν π ( Greek notation )
Pa Vou Ga Di Ke Zo Ni Pa ( Reference notation )
Listen to the scale.
Some famous Byzantine music composers are: Saint Damaskinos who is considered the father of Byzantine music, Petros Lampadarios, Redestinos, Hatziathansiou. A couple of notorious Byzantine music cantors, who chanted at the Greek Patriarchate in Constantinople, were Stanitsas and PriggosNext mode, plagal of First mode
Sample of Byzantine music
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