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Author Topic: First part of a Byzantine chant  (Read 6190 times) Average Rating: 0
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wynd
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« on: April 14, 2008, 11:06:04 PM »

In all the Byzantine chant recordings I have ever heard, one person chants a series of notes such as "ne-ah-nes" or "ah-nah-nes" or "neh-ah-gi-eh" before everyone else starts singing. Is there a name for this?
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2008, 11:26:43 PM »

double post
No, that's not what it's called. Wink
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2008, 11:36:42 PM »

No, that's not what it's called. Wink

My Google searches have been in vain!  Cheesy
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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2008, 12:15:18 AM »

In all the Byzantine chant recordings I have ever heard, one person chants a series of notes such as "ne-ah-nes" or "ah-nah-nes" or "neh-ah-gi-eh" before everyone else starts singing. Is there a name for this?

This may help you out,
http://www.holycrossonline.org/our_ministries/parish_ministries/chant/byzantine_chant/
I think the word you are looking for is apichima Smiley 
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2008, 12:19:23 AM »

That might be it. As far as I can tell, it's just called "intonation."
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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2008, 12:27:25 AM »

That might be it. As far as I can tell, it's just called "intonation."

No it is more than that, it's not like a western choir director using her pitch pipe then humming loudly (and taking like 20 seconds to do so for one Amen ) do-mi-so-do and point at each respective part of the choir before they sing something. 
Someone correct me but if I understand right it is actually introducing a tone, but the actual notes for the words.
Just not an introduction for a note like in western music.
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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2008, 09:43:42 AM »

No it is more than that, it's not like a western choir director using her pitch pipe then humming loudly (and taking like 20 seconds to do so for one Amen ) do-mi-so-do and point at each respective part of the choir before they sing something. 
Someone correct me but if I understand right it is actually introducing a tone, but the actual notes for the words.
Just not an introduction for a note like in western music.

The "apechema" (which is what is described in the OP) is the melodic introduction that prepares the cantor or choir to chant in a Tone.  It is designed to do two things: to give the base pitch of the scale, and to indicate to others what mode the piece is in.  Many of the apechemata (the plural of Apechema) are Tone-specific (i.e. "A-na-nes" is for fist mode, "A-ne-a-nes" is for plagal first, "le-ge-tos" is for 4th mode quick style, etc.) and thus terrific indicators of the mode one is in.  I think they are underutilized by people in this country, which is why I've heard so many botched tone switches in my lifetime.
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2008, 10:33:09 AM »

The "apechema" (which is what is described in the OP) is the melodic introduction that prepares the cantor or choir to chant in a Tone.  It is designed to do two things: to give the base pitch of the scale, and to indicate to others what mode the piece is in.  Many of the apechemata (the plural of Apechema) are Tone-specific (i.e. "A-na-nes" is for fist mode, "A-ne-a-nes" is for plagal first, "le-ge-tos" is for 4th mode quick style, etc.) and thus terrific indicators of the mode one is in.  I think they are underutilized by people in this country, which is why I've heard so many botched tone switches in my lifetime.
Wow, I always wondered about this myself, and never thought to ask on OCnet!
Another question I have is: does the "Te-Ri-Rem" also serve a purpose, or is it just a gap filler?

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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2008, 10:53:53 AM »

Another question I have is: does the "Te-Ri-Rem" also serve a purpose, or is it just a gap filler?

As far as I know, it is a gap-filler of nonsense syllables, sort of the Byzantine equivalent of "la-la-la."
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2008, 10:56:47 AM »

The "apechema" (which is what is described in the OP) is the melodic introduction that prepares the cantor or choir to chant in a Tone.  It is designed to do two things: to give the base pitch of the scale, and to indicate to others what mode the piece is in.  Many of the apechemata (the plural of Apechema) are Tone-specific (i.e. "A-na-nes" is for fist mode, "A-ne-a-nes" is for plagal first, "le-ge-tos" is for 4th mode quick style, etc.) and thus terrific indicators of the mode one is in.  I think they are underutilized by people in this country, which is why I've heard so many botched tone switches in my lifetime.

Thanks Cleveland. I was pretty sure that they were mode-specific, but I didn't know what they were called. Now, to learn to recognize them...
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 11:17:35 AM »

Another question I have is: does the "Te-Ri-Rem" also serve a purpose, or is it just a gap filler? 

Depends.  According to pious tradition, the "Te-ri-rem" and"Te-ne-na" and other sort of chants are the lullabies that the Panagia sung to Christ as an infant.  I don't know if I "buy" it.  But I do chant them on long pieces at the end of services (although generally not during services, except under the condition below:)

However, in practical use they're only done when extending a chant piece to a long melody.  In theory, they should really only be used in an all-night vigil when the services need to be extended.

I have had a Romanian priest in the GOA make the statement that chanting the "Te-ri-rem" in Church is contra-biblical, since it is gibberish, and if we argue that it's the "Angelic language" (which some have done) then the scripture directs us to have a translator present.
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 11:45:13 AM »

Thanks cleveland!
Do you have any idea how old the practice is and whether there is an equivalent in znamenny chant?
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 01:14:05 PM »

The "apechema" (which is what is described in the OP) is the melodic introduction that prepares the cantor or choir to chant in a Tone.  It is designed to do two things: to give the base pitch of the scale, and to indicate to others what mode the piece is in.  Many of the apechemata (the plural of Apechema) are Tone-specific (i.e. "A-na-nes" is for fist mode, "A-ne-a-nes" is for plagal first, "le-ge-tos" is for 4th mode quick style, etc.) and thus terrific indicators of the mode one is in.  I think they are underutilized by people in this country, which is why I've heard so many botched tone switches in my lifetime.


Disclaimer:  I'm not too experienced in Byzantine chant, but have hung out numerous times with experts.

I would actually disagree with Cleveland here.  It is more often the case that people mess up tones when they just don't know them well enough.  Furthermore, knowing some weird Greek syllable sequence for different tones doesn't tell the congregation anything.  I'll bet money that the Ya-yas wouldn't have a clue and it is completely irrelevant to those in the congregation that don't have authentic Byz chant training in Greek - it really is just a bunch of nonesense in the context of Byz chant in English.  While username! may blast using a tuning fork/pitch pipe (I think a fork is much better - it is quieter and easier to use), it is absolute, while the Protopsalti just makes up whatever pitch (s)he is comfortable with at the time.  Someone needs to prove to me that any of the highly skilled chanters out there actually have perfect pitch and whatever pitch they give isn't just whatever they have plucked out of the air.

ozgeorge:  doubtful it exists for Znammeny chant.  Maybe 500+ years ago.  Maybe some Old Believers out there might know.
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2008, 01:39:58 PM »

I would actually disagree with Cleveland here.  It is more often the case that people mess up tones when they just don't know them well enough.  Furthermore, knowing some weird Greek syllable sequence for different tones doesn't tell the congregation anything.  I'll bet money that the Ya-yas wouldn't have a clue and it is completely irrelevant to those in the congregation that don't have authentic Byz chant training in Greek - it really is just a bunch of nonesense in the context of Byz chant in English.  While username! may blast using a tuning fork/pitch pipe (I think a fork is much better - it is quieter and easier to use), it is absolute, while the Protopsalti just makes up whatever pitch (s)he is comfortable with at the time.  Someone needs to prove to me that any of the highly skilled chanters out there actually have perfect pitch and whatever pitch they give isn't just whatever they have plucked out of the air. 

Hmm, you bring up two different issues: one is whether or not the apechema is useful in getting into the tone, and the other is about the pitch.

One: the apechema isn't to let the congregation know as much as it is to let those chanting know.  And, yes, I've heard of people who ddin't take Byzantine Music classes who knew what the apechemata indicated.  The apechema is specifically to indicate the tone, while also serving the purpose of letting others know what pitch is to be taken.  The pitch can't always be absolute: one's voice is not as ready to chant the natural scale at the beginning of matins as it is at the beginning of Liturgy (after an hour or an hour and a half of chanting already); most of the time chanters will take the scale a note or two down from natural to begin with, and end up at the natural scale by the end of the service.  But it is through the apechema that they can "get the tone into their heads," which is especially useful if you've been chanting something in a different tone immediately before.

As to the pitch: most cantors don't have perfect pitch, but most of the professionals I know (the ones who have been properly trained, and aren't just doing it from "memory" or what their papou taught them) use a pitch-pipe or tuning fork (our professor always used a fork).  Some, however, do have perfect pitch (I used to be able to do "A" with no problem, when I was chanting everyday, and I have a friend who was trained for perfect pitch).  Sometimes, however, the scale must be modified; not only in the conditions I list in the above paragraph, but also dictated by the music.  To wit: there are times in certain modes (I'll use plagal of the 1st as an example) when in the quick style of the mode the melody rests in the upper tetrachord for the entire piece; for some, this is difficult to manage consistently, and they will (even when warmed up) move the scale down a note or two from natural to make it easier to chant or to encourage others (i.e. congregation) to chant along.  Other times (like in first mode) the piece will spend an inordinate amount of time in a very low section of the range and will necessitate moving the scale up one or two notes above natural.

As for the botched switches that I refer to: I'm not including those who don't know the tones in that, I'm only referring to people who have been trained in the different modes who don't do the apechema when they're supposed to switch from one piece to the other and who tank the switch because they haven't given their minds/ears a chance to cleanse themselves.  My ability to switch tones improved dramatically when I decided to use the apechema, and it helped those who chanted around me.
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2008, 02:33:43 PM »

You also missed the practicality of even doing the apechema when chanting in English....got busy at work.  Will respond more this evening if I have time.
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2008, 04:52:12 PM »

You also missed the practicality of even doing the apechema when chanting in English....got busy at work.  Will respond more this evening if I have time. 

The apechema, regardless of how it's rendered (most apechemata can be done using "Amen" as the word rather than the Greek "gibberish") is one of the most useful tools for someone doing Byzantine Music; that's my opinion as one trained in Byzantine Music, who teaches it, and certainly it was the opinion of my professor.  Remember, the apechema is not just the word, it's the notes on which it is done which indicates which Mode you're in - and this won't make much sense unless one has an introduction to the Modes to know how the Byzantine scales work.
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2008, 05:25:54 PM »

The apechema, regardless of how it's rendered (most apechemata can be done using "Amen" as the word rather than the Greek "gibberish") is one of the most useful tools for someone doing Byzantine Music; that's my opinion as one trained in Byzantine Music, who teaches it, and certainly it was the opinion of my professor.  Remember, the apechema is not just the word, it's the notes on which it is done which indicates which Mode you're in - and this won't make much sense unless one has an introduction to the Modes to know how the Byzantine scales work.

I'm not an expert at all on Byzantine Chant but music is my best subject Smiley  The apechema as described seemingly lets people know exactly what the mode is and how it is sang.  How many times do you hear people say, "I don't know my tones."  Well here we have an apechema being chanted before the tone begins, thusly letting people know what to sing.
Do I have that right? 
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« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2008, 11:42:26 PM »

I'm not an expert at all on Byzantine Chant but music is my best subject Smiley  The apechema as described seemingly lets people know exactly what the mode is and how it is sang.  How many times do you hear people say, "I don't know my tones."  Well here we have an apechema being chanted before the tone begins, thusly letting people know what to sing.
Do I have that right? 

I had a great response to this when I was at work, and somehow closed the window before I could post it.  Let me try to reconstruct:

You have it right.  The reason why the apechema is so critical is less about the pitch and more about the scale - because there is so much variance to the Byzantine scales (as there was in Western scales before the movement for equitemperment) there has to be a way of indicating that one is operating on a new system.

Example (using the piano for reference):

Only third mode can be played properly on a Piano without re-tuning it.  It can be played (most simply) on all white keys, with F as the base of the scale.  If one wanted to shift the scale up a note, they could (using the D major scale, with G as the base of the scale).  However, since it is played from F, it cannot be properly called a major scale (just as A minor is also played on all white keys, but because it is based on A it has acquired a different sound than C major)

Plagal of the 4th is the next easiest, closely corresponding to a major scale (I'll use C major as an example).  However, D and B would be too sharp by 1/3 of a half-step.  In addition, B would need to be flattened by an additional 1/3 to 2/3 of a half-step when going down from it or from a note higher than it.  Finally, in the medium and slow styles of Plagal of the 4th D is sometimes sharpened by 1/3 of a half-step.

*Note* Byzantine music theorists spent a lot of time working on these systems, and determined that 1/3 of a half-step (or 1/6 of a whole step) is the smallest variance in pitch that can still be accurately controlled by the human voice.

Theoretically, Plagal of the 2nd Mode can be rendered fairly well on the piano.  If one works on a D-D scale, the notes would go: D-D#-F#-G-A-A#-C#-D.  However, even using this system, the notes of F# and C# are still too flat by 1/3 of a half-step.

Now Fourth Mode is a nightmare; If one takes it as a white-key scale, the slow mode is based on G, with Ab and F# frequently needed and each one insufficient on their own (each one is too sharp for the scales by about 1/3 of a half-step).  The fast mode, meanwhile, is based on E with an occasional D# (which is too sharp by 1/3 of a half-step) and the standard Ab/G# (which is, again, too sharp).  The medium mode only has the G# which is standard for the 4 diatonic tones, but it can switch between its own style and the fast and slow.

Hence, why the apechema is useful - so you know which scale you're working with.
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2008, 12:43:01 AM »

Awesome!  Thank you for the excellent post Clevland.  BTW I liked the explaination of the fourth mode.
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2008, 06:53:04 AM »

Awesome!  Thank you for the excellent post Clevland.  BTW I liked the explaination of the fourth mode.

Lol.  You're welcome.  At least I didn't get into "Grave Mode" (a.k.a. Plagal of the 3rd) which has the weirdest scale of them all.
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« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2008, 11:17:12 AM »

I'm going to have to actually hear this done, with several different tones and prosomia in sucession (e.g. all 10 stichera for Great Vespers with maybe two different prosomia) in English, and with some anglicized form of the apechema to be able tell whether or not it just sounds like a bunch of weird nonesense.  Everytime I've been in a service and sung with kelfar or Jon Boyer, it hasn't sounded like anything different than some weird byzantine mumbo jumbo to my ears.
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2008, 11:31:54 AM »

Oh brother.....

Note to Self: Never, EVER EVER EVER agree again to take cantor lessons...EVER *kick kick*
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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2008, 11:44:53 PM »

Lol.  You're welcome.  At least I didn't get into "Grave Mode" (a.k.a. Plagal of the 3rd) which has the weirdest scale of them all.
Funny that the Obikhod (Russian court chant) stichera setting in Tone 7 (the equivalent of your Plagal of the 3rd Mode) also has some of the weirdest sounds in all of the Obikhod collection of Russian chant.  The interval between the highest and lowest notes in the soprano line is a tritone (the devil's interval), for crying out loud! Tongue  I can see why Tone 7 is used so rarely for stichera outside of the Octoechos.
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2008, 11:52:43 PM »

Funny that the Obikhod (Russian court chant) stichera setting in Tone 7 (the equivalent of your Plagal of the 3rd Mode) also has some of the weirdest sounds in all of the Obikhod collection of Russian chant.  The interval between the highest and lowest notes in the soprano line is a tritone (the devil's interval), for crying out loud! Tongue  I can see why Tone 7 is used so rarely for stichera outside of the Octoechos.

Is Obikhod based off of Byzantine chant? What about znammeny?
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« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2008, 12:03:03 AM »

Is Obikhod based off of Byzantine chant? What about znammeny?
To my knowledge, the Obikhod collection of chant styles draws from a variety of ancient Russian chant traditions, such as the Znamenny and Kievan, but it really doesn't draw much at all (that I know of) from Byzantine chant.
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« Reply #25 on: April 17, 2008, 03:13:17 PM »

Ananes-->Mode 1st
Neanes-->Mode 2nd
Nana-->Mode 3rd
Legetos (for heirmologic (quick) style), Aghia (for both sticheraric (semi-slow) and papadic (slow) style)-->Mode 4th
Aneanes-->Mode Plagal of the 1st
Neheanes-->Mode Plagal of the 2nd
Aanes-->Mode Grave
Neaghie-->Mode Plagal of the 4th
Add to these the hundreds (literally) of variations and commixture between the modes (The first-second comes in mind [Protodeuteros in Greek], a combination of the first and the second mode), or even a secession from one gender to another (Plagal of the 4th chromatic for instance). It's a mess!
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« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2008, 05:00:01 PM »

Ananes-->Mode 1st
Neanes-->Mode 2nd
Nana-->Mode 3rd
Legetos (for heirmologic (quick) style), Aghia (for both sticheraric (semi-slow) and papadic (slow) style)-->Mode 4th
Aneanes-->Mode Plagal of the 1st
Neheanes-->Mode Plagal of the 2nd
Aanes-->Mode Grave
Neaghie-->Mode Plagal of the 4th
Add to these the hundreds (literally) of variations and commixture between the modes (The first-second comes in mind [Protodeuteros in Greek], a combination of the first and the second mode), or even a secession from one gender to another (Plagal of the 4th chromatic for instance). It's a mess!

Don't forget "nenano" for Pl 2nd from Di-Ke, just plain "Agie" for Pl 4th.  Neanes is also used for Friggios (Plagal of the 1st Enharmonic).

Some of the in-between and combination tones are so beautiful (like Defteroprotos and Friggios) and the complex single tones (Protos Eptafonos, for example).
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« Reply #27 on: April 17, 2008, 06:40:16 PM »

Don't forget "nenano" for Pl 2nd from Di-Ke, just plain "Agie" for Pl 4th.  Neanes is also used for Friggios (Plagal of the 1st Enharmonic).

Some of the in-between and combination tones are so beautiful (like Defteroprotos and Friggios) and the complex single tones (Protos Eptafonos, for example).

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« Reply #28 on: April 17, 2008, 07:30:46 PM »

Well said, wynd, well said.  Undecided
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« Reply #29 on: April 18, 2008, 03:38:35 AM »

Is Obikhod based off of Byzantine chant? What about znammeny?

No one ever asks about prostopinije  Cry
« Last Edit: April 18, 2008, 03:38:48 AM by username! » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: April 18, 2008, 07:26:21 AM »

Quote from: cleveland
Don't forget "nenano" for Pl 2nd from Di-Ke, just plain "Agie" for Pl 4th.  Neanes is also used for Friggios (Plagal of the 1st Enharmonic*)
And "Naos" for 1st chromatic  Grin
Yes I'm aware of the variations, I was just trying to give the 8 primary Modes.
Mode Pl 4th "chromatic":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N8uWJgSi_M
Mode Grave Heptaphonic Diatonic:
http://www.byzantinehymns.com/music/MitisFthoras_PsaltCrete.ra
Mode Grave Pentaphonic Diatonic
http://www.byzantinehymns.com/music/Doxologia_PsaltCrete.ra
Deuteroprotos (could not find it in ecclestiastical music, only in demotic):
http://www.houpas.net/trad/Barbaroula_EKrok.rm
*Also known as "minoraki" (small minor) Grin :
http://www.houpas.net/music/KyrieEleison_PLA_HAthanasiou_IStavrou.rm
« Last Edit: April 18, 2008, 07:44:47 AM by Apostolos » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: April 18, 2008, 11:25:34 AM »

No one ever asks about prostopinije  Cry

That's because it sucks....just kidding.  If I have a moment tonight, I'll ask an expert tonight (Fr. Stephan Meholick) about it - he's knows almost everything about Slavic chant traditions and has almost every special melody memorized. 
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