Byzantine Music Course Descriptions

History of Byzantine Music and Christian Hymnography 

This course provides an overview of the history and development of the Psaltic Art of Greek Orthodox worship. Among the topics covered are: the beginnings of Christian hymnography and musical composition; the main hymnographic genres; the history of neume notation; the major landmarks in the development of the various genres of psaltic composition; the life and works of the great composers; and the current state of affairs in Greek Orthodox liturgical music in Constantinople, Greece, the United States and elsewhere. 

Ecclesiastical Chant in English 

This is an introductory study of the eight modes of Byzantine Music. Hymns from various services, including Vespers and the Divine Liturgy, are studied in English. 2 

Byzantine Music I – Introduction 

This course is a systematic introduction to the basic theory and notation of the Psaltic Art. It will provide a solid foundation for a further study of the liturgical repertoire of the Greek Orthodox Church. Topics to be covered include the history and function of the notation, a thorough examination of key musical concepts (e.g. note, interval, scale, tempo, rhythm, genus, mode, tetrachord, etc.), and a study of the role of music in Greek Orthodox worship. By the end of the semester students will be able to sight-read and perform simple hymns written in the New Method of Analytical Notation in both parallage (solmization) and melos (melody). 

Byzantine Music II - Anastasimatarion (1st & Pl. 4th Modes) 

This course is a systematic study of the theoretical and practical aspects of the First and Plagal Fourth Modes of the Psaltic Art within the context of the Anastasimatarion. We will study the resurrectional hymns of the liturgical book of Octoechos or Parakletike of the aforementioned modes in both parallage (solmization) and melos (melody). Additionally, we will examine the characteristics of the diatonic genus and the heirmologic and sticheraric styles of chant. 

Byzantine Music III - Anastasimatarion (3rd, 4th & Pl. 1st Modes) 

This course is a systematic study of the theoretical and practical aspects of the Third, Fourth and Plagal First Modes of the Psaltic Art within the context of the Anastasimatarion. By the end of the semester students will be able to perform the resurrectional hymns of the liturgical book of Octoechos or Parakletike of the aforementioned modes in both parallage (solmization) and melos (melody). 

Byzantine Music IV - Anastasimatarion (Varys, 2nd & Pl. 2nd Modes) 

This course is a systematic study of the theoretical and practical aspects of the Second, Plagal Second and Varys Modes of the Psaltic Art within the context of the Anastasimatarion. By the end of the semester students will be able to perform the resurrectional hymns of the liturgical book of Octoechos or Parakletike of the aforementioned modes in both parallage (solmization) and melos (melody). 

Byzantine Music V – Prosomoia & Sacraments 

This course is a systematic study of (i) the model melodies (prologoi-prosomoia) commonly used in musical settings of Byzantine hymns, and (ii) the hymns chanted in sacraments and other services of the Greek Orthodox Church (baptism, wedding, funeral, sanctification of water, etc.). By the end of the semester students will be able to perform the majority of hymns found in the liturgical books without relying on a musical score. 

Byzantine Music VI – Holy Week 

This course is a systematic study of the hymns chanted during the Great and Holy Week and the Feast of Pascha in the Greek Orthodox Church. The repertoire includes hymns in all eight modes and in all three melodic styles (heirmologic, sticheraric and papadic). Additionally, we will study the structure and rubrics of Holy Week and Pascha services. 

Byzantine Music VII – Doxastarion & Heirmologion 

This course is a systematic study of Byzantine hymns chanted during major feast days of the ecclesiastical year of the Greek Orthodox Church within the context of the Doxastarion. A great emphasis will be placed on studying the idiomela and doxastika for the feasts of Christmas, Theophany, Annunciation, Dormition of the Virgin Mary, as well as the idiomela and doxastika for the periods of Triodion and Pentecostarion. Additionally, we will study the slow katavasiai of the most important periods of the liturgical year. 3 

Byzantine Music VIII – Papadic Genus 

This course is a systematic study of the papadic genus of the Psaltic Art in all eight modes with a great emphasis on hymns for the Divine Liturgy (trisagion, cherubic hymn, communion hymn, etc.). We will also briefly study slow doxologies, Triodion hymns and kalophonic heirmoi. 

Byzantine Music IX – Papadike & Old Sticherarion 

The material taught in this course is equivalent to the material taught in the 4th year of Greek conservatories and provides comprehensive preparation for the final examination required for a Holy Cross Certificate in Byzantine Music. Students are expected to become competent in performing more technically demanding repertoire, including Gregory Protopsaltis’ cherubic hymns, Petros the Peloponnesian’s communion hymns, Petros the Peloponnesian’s Kyrie i en pollais amartiais, Ioannis Koukouzelis’ Anothen oi profitai, the ancient hymn Ton despotin kai archierea, and the anaphora hymns for the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil. 

Byzantine Music X – Papadike, Old Sticherarion & Kalophonic Heirmologion 

The material taught in this course is equivalent to the material taught in the 5th year of Greek conservatories and provides comprehensive preparation for the final examination required for a Holy Cross Certificate in Byzantine Music. Students are expected to become competent in performing more technically demanding repertoire, including Petros Bereketis’ eight-mode composition Theotoke Parthene, the Athenian funeral Trisagion, kalophonic heirmoi and kratimata in all eight modes, and a selection of verses from Ioannis Koukouzelis’ Anoixantaria. 

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