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Poll
Question: What do you think of Kratemata being used in the LiturgY?
They don't bother me. - 8 (28.6%)
BThey are a lullaby for aby Jesus. - 0 (0%)
They are the songs of Angels. - 1 (3.6%)
They are an abomination! - 9 (32.1%)
What are Kratemata? - 10 (35.7%)
Total Voters: 28

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Author Topic: Kratemata- yea or nay?  (Read 3314 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 16, 2010, 03:38:02 PM »

We had an Agrypnia (All-Night Vigil) at the monastery, and as usual, some seminarians from St. Andrews Theological College in Sydney, and some of the students from the School of Byzantine Music in Sydney came to chant. Father tends to Liturgize slowly, so there were two occassions when the chanters used Kratemata to "fill the space". Kratemata are simply chanted syllables such as "te ri rem" - the equivalent of singing "tra la la" in English. St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain was dead against them if I recall properly (and so am I). The "regular" cantors at the monastery know where Father will take more time in the Liturgy, and simply chant slower. I've heard many attempts to justify Kratemata (they mimic the lullabies the Theotokos sang, they are the "language of Angels" etc) but I just don't buy it. I think they are an unfortunate blot on the Orthodox Chant time line that should just be allowed to die and be forgotten- but thats just my opinion.
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 03:48:24 PM »

Fascinating subject! I must confess I'd never before heard of "kratemata", or nonsense syllables, used in Orthodox church singing, but it reminds me of the nonsense syllables used in Hasidic nigguns (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fejk0AED0S8 ), which are considered a sort of spiritual ecstatic expression, if I remember correctly. But with nigguns, the entire song often consists of a sort of hypnotic "la,la,la" etc, whereas this is only for filler. It sounds like something very ancient. I am so unfamiliar with the Greek services that I simply could not offer any opinion(although I think I'd be somewhat in favour of just letting it be), but it's a very interesting and curious topic!

P.S. Is there a youtube video with an example of this kratemata?
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2010, 03:54:33 PM »

A rule of thumb:  If it's not prescribed by the Typicon, don't chant it.  As inoffensive as Terirem may be, using it in an Orthodox Liturgy is not warranted.
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2010, 03:56:19 PM »

I actually like the trick.
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2010, 03:58:11 PM »

I'm not really for them either. I remember that our chanter did it once during a service which I thought was interesting. I as well do not buy the "language of the angels" theory behind them and sometimes I find it similar to the gibberish some Protestants like to talk during services and I don't really think its a good idea. To fill time, maybe; but I think that the chanters can go slower or just repeat what they had just sung rather than using nonsense words. I do think they are beautiful though. I'm not too bothered by it though.

If I remember right, didn't they appear fairly recently on the Holy Mountain? I'm thinking maybe 17th, maybe 18th century perhaps?
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 03:58:21 PM »

I haven't voted because clearly it's not my place to vote. But I am curious about the subject.

Are these "extra syllables", and the melodies carrying them, completely random, or are they an extension of, or in some other way connected with, the actual words of a hymn? I'm basically trying to determine whether they resemble melismatic Coptic chant in any meaningful sense.
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2010, 03:59:45 PM »

St. Nicodemus was also against bishops wearing fancy clothes, and we see where that went!  Cheesy

Seriously, though, I think kratemata are so entrenched in the Byzantine style of singing that we might as well accept them. If you're chanting a 20 minute long cherubikon, there's a certain point where singing the same syllable for a really long time isn't any less "nonsensical" than a terirem. If nothing else, kratemata can convey a mood or an atmosphere which is conducive to prayer and reverence.
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2010, 04:00:35 PM »

P.S. Is there a youtube video with an example of this kratemata?

Click the link in the OP.

Here is an example of a Krathma being sung while the clergy are taking communion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGaHC5tBTqQ
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2010, 04:05:24 PM »

Also, I believe Saint John Koukouzelis composed kratemata.
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2010, 04:07:29 PM »

P.S. Is there a youtube video with an example of this kratemata?

Click the link in the OP.

Here is an example of a Krathma being sung while the clergy are taking communion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGaHC5tBTqQ

Thanks, Andrew! EmbarrassedHow could I have missed it?? It seems very beautiful to me-and no more nonsensical than  everything else! Tongue
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2010, 04:10:18 PM »

Thanks, Andrew! EmbarrassedHow could I have missed it?? It seems very beautiful to me-and no more nonsensical than  everything else! Tongue

No problem.

I think it is beautiful as well but the thing is that it is nonsense. The hymns of the Church make sense because they are saying something where the Krathma isn't saying anything. They aren't real words and they don't mean anything really.
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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2010, 04:35:40 PM »

Well I'd rather they do that then hear dead silence!
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2010, 05:28:08 PM »

I voted "What are Kratemata?" because, before I read the thread, I had no idea what that term referred to. I thought maybe you just couldn't remember how to spell kathismata or something  Tongue

Well I'd rather they do that then hear dead silence!

Silence can never be dead in Orthodoxy, because the Christian God is the god of the living and not the dead. It is simply... hesychia Wink

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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2010, 06:21:07 PM »

Sounds beautiful, but how about a beautiful hymn instead?
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2010, 06:36:42 PM »

I haven't voted because clearly it's not my place to vote. But I am curious about the subject.

Are these "extra syllables", and the melodies carrying them, completely random, or are they an extension of, or in some other way connected with, the actual words of a hymn? I'm basically trying to determine whether they resemble melismatic Coptic chant in any meaningful sense.

Although they serve a similar purpose to the "owowowow....eyeyey"s you get in Coptic chant, it isn't the same thing. Coptic chant simply extends/repeats a particular syllable of a word to make it longer. The kratemata are separate non-sensical words (Terirem usually) which are inserted into the hymn to allow the chanter to elaborate on the melody, either to give the priests more time to say the silent prayers or simply to show off.
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« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2010, 06:47:49 PM »

Glossolalia?  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2010, 08:09:13 PM »

A rule of thumb:  If it's not prescribed by the Typicon, don't chant it.  As inoffensive as Terirem may be, using it in an Orthodox Liturgy is not warranted.
THAT's what it was.  I saw a youtube with Orthodox icons, and this is what they were "singing" in the background.  It was driving me crazy (yes, short trip) as I couldn't make out at all what they were singing.

St. Paul advised against babbling in tongues.  Good advice.  If you need filler, fill it with something worth while. If nothing else, repeat a Tropar.
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« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2010, 08:13:41 PM »

I haven't voted because clearly it's not my place to vote. But I am curious about the subject.

Are these "extra syllables", and the melodies carrying them, completely random, or are they an extension of, or in some other way connected with, the actual words of a hymn? I'm basically trying to determine whether they resemble melismatic Coptic chant in any meaningful sense.
melismatic.  I'll have to remember that.

I'd so know, because Coptic chant is based on drawls on the vowels, as was Ancient Egyptian chant before it (there are Ancient Greeks who comment on that in Egyptian chant).  There are elongation of vowles in Constantinopolitan chant, but it seems this tirerem stuff is just filler nonsense.
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« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2010, 08:54:10 PM »

I'm against it in all cases except all-night Vigil.

to give the priests more time to say the silent prayers

or to add time to a hymn, if you're trying to make Vespers, Compline, Matins & Liturgy take 12+ hours.

or simply to show off.

They had better not, at least not while in Church (performances of Church music outside worship are a different story).
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« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2010, 09:06:42 PM »

I've heard many attempts to justify Kratemata (they mimic the lullabies the Theotokos sang, they are the "language of Angels" etc)

The Orthodox version of speaking in tongues?    Wink
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« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2010, 06:08:33 AM »

The "regular" cantors at the monastery know where Father will take more time in the Liturgy, and simply chant slower.

Which is almost as musically incorrect as the kratema, btw.

I've heard many attempts to justify Kratemata (they mimic the lullabies the Theotokos sang, they are the "language of Angels" etc) but I just don't buy it.

Neither do I, and I think attempts to use these lines to justify their existence don't do us justice in Orthodoxy.

I think they are an unfortunate blot on the Orthodox Chant time line that should just be allowed to die and be forgotten- but thats just my opinion.

One reason why I think they can be appropriate in Vigil is that we have this established monastic worship tradition that the monks continue with the prayer of the heart during the services of Vigil.  To this end, the longer hymns can provide an uplifting background to that prayer, and in that specific instance I would not believe that the kratema would be distracting from said prayer.
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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2010, 06:18:01 AM »

Here is an example of a Krathma being sung while the clergy are taking communion
I particularly have a problem with this also. The closing of the curtain for the Communion of the Clergy creates the impression that there are somehow "two Communions"- the "Communion of the Clergy" vs. the "Communion of the Faithful", and people think that Holy Communion begins when the curtain opens and the Priest emerges and says "With fear of God, Faith and Love approach." This ought not be so I think. We are all One when it comes to Holy Communion, which, after all, is a visible sign of our Unity. Communion has actually already begun when the Clergy Commune, and there is only one Communion, not two. Ideally I think the curtain should not be closed and the Communion Kontakion should be chanted while the clergy Commune and continue being chanted while the Faithful Commune. In Parishes, I've seen what I consider even worse practices, with donations being collected and/or sermons preached once the curtain is closed during the "Communion of the Clergy".
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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2010, 02:22:39 PM »

What on Earth is this? Is it some sort of tsifteteli in slow motion?

Okay, at the beginning, it sounded nice, but the chanters in the video are just overdoing it.
Down with it.
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2010, 02:36:29 PM »

A rule of thumb:  If it's not prescribed by the Typicon, don't chant it.  As inoffensive as Terirem may be, using it in an Orthodox Liturgy is not warranted.

I tend to agree with this line of thinking.
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« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2010, 02:38:12 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX2M0Zmkd_Q

I quite like this one. I suppose I can understand how it (minus the instrumentation) could be conducive to prayer during an all-night vigil, where believers were concentrating on repetition of the Jesus Prayer or something similar.
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« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2010, 02:57:15 PM »

Another reason I love this forum ...  Grin

In 2001, I tape recorded an Internet Divine Liturgy broadcast from a GOA Church (in a Metropolis Cathedral) in the USA.  Before Communion, the chanters were doing the "te-ri-rem" which I thought was unusual.  Nine years later, this "te-ri-rem" finally has a term which I never heard of before yesterday.

I may not understand the pros/cons behind kratemata; however, the recorded broadcast is the only place that I've heard kratemata.
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« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2010, 03:16:27 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX2M0Zmkd_Q

I quite like this one. I suppose I can understand how it (minus the instrumentation) could be conducive to prayer during an all-night vigil, where believers were concentrating on repetition of the Jesus Prayer or something similar.
The video you posted is not Church music, it's Byzantine "secular" music ("Κοσμική-kosmiki-of the cosmos"). Khristodoulos Khalaris is a well known Greek musicologist/composer who has dedicated his entire life to interpret Byzantine music manuscripts of secular music he found in Athos and of ancient Greek music. A few samples of his work:
Ancient Greek music-Hymn to the Sun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5fN6ekycm8

Secular Byzantine Music-Emperor Nikephoros Phocas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJzhiAr7NQM

Secular Byzantine Music-Emperor Theophilos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8pbLPVZWko

Well known composers who composed both Ecclesiastical and Secular Music were st. John Koukouzelis and John Glykys  

As for the "kratemata", if they're well performed by chanters who know their job, they are pure masterpieces:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j07pdXbRf8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZB56qkfzJM
 







 
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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2010, 06:02:55 PM »

Can any of you Greeks provide links to some great Pontian music for purchase from an English website?

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« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2010, 06:16:05 PM »

The video you posted is not Church music, it's Byzantine "secular" music ("Κοσμική-kosmiki-of the cosmos").

Isn't it the same melody chanted by Ketzetsis in the video posted above?
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« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2010, 09:28:29 AM »

The video you posted is not Church music, it's Byzantine "secular" music ("Κοσμική-kosmiki-of the cosmos").

Isn't it the same melody chanted by Ketzetsis in the video posted above?
I don't think so, the one chanted by Ketsentzis is in legetos and its form and melody are Ecclesiastical, the one you posted is definitely secular (it even reminds me of post-Byzantine Greek folk music).
Here's a kratema performed by Karamanis (a composition of Manuel Chrysaphes):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sLf7TSVZY8
The kratema is a late-Byzantine innovation and is the result of the birth of individualism in the Byzantine society (early 10th century). For many historians this period is characterised as an "Early Renaissance in the East". Its result in music was the calophonic irmos where the composer although composes hymns that reflect the presence of traditional compositional procedures, he adds personal characteristics and improvisations (to "show off" his level of knowledge of music). A few samples:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1YaxiDcYYY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmJBFKfgkKw

PS1: If you're interested in Secular Byzantine Music->ht tp://www.amazon.com/Byzantine-Secular-Classical-Music-Vol/dp/B000003VC8
PS2: A secular song composed by Theodore Phocaeus (plagal of the 4th) and can be found in his "Pandora":
http://www.houpas.com/makam/TiSklirotis_NKonst.rm  
A traditional secular song from minor asia ("of the table", sang around the table when the whole family was gathered for lunch, in second mode):
http://www.houpas.com/makam/MiaParaskevi_Saragoud.rm
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« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2010, 10:46:42 PM »

As for the "kratemata", if they're well performed by chanters who know their job, they are pure masterpieces:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j07pdXbRf8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZB56qkfzJM

These are masterpieces (especially the first). The kratemata are very beautiful when well done.

Here is another good one done by the monks of Simonopetra in Plagal of the First Tone which is one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6ooLAI3eIk

I was wondering, does anyone have any kratemata in sheet music form? I would love to find some. Especially the one in Plagal of the First I would very much like to learn.
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« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2010, 10:56:31 PM »

I don't normally like or listen to Byzantine chant, but this is piquing my interest. Quite fascinating pieces! It must be very difficult to sing like this. I think the terirems are charming.
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« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2010, 09:17:56 PM »

The long Eucharistic Prayer of the Liturgy of St. Basil today meant there were some beautiful peiods of silence at Liturgy today. The silence was golden. You could hear the Angels flapping their wings!
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2010, 09:25:25 PM »

I don't normally like or listen to Byzantine chant, ...

Really? You're not the first person I've heard to say this, but as for me- I really love Byzantine chant.  It's just so <cheesy alert  Tongue> spiritual for me.
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2010, 09:31:18 PM »

Okay, I admit I'm partial to Slavic polyphonic chant, but that was just awful! What's wrong with silence?
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« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2010, 12:11:30 AM »

A mixed response: About 30 years ago, a noted chanter from the Metropolis of Athens---Greece, visited my parish and chanted the terirem, loudly, his mouth close to the microphone.  (His chanting otherwise was beautiful.) I couldn't believe this was something acceptable in an Orthodox Church; it sounded like a rock version of ecclesial chant. I don't think it's even proper to express how inappropriate I thought it sounded.  It was done during the Divine Liturgy, after "Praise the Lord...," while the priest communes. However, there is some terirem executed on YouTube, from a Mt. Athos monastery, perhaps what is linked above, that I found quite pleasing to my ear, melodious, and appropriate to the church.
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« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2010, 05:36:09 PM »

P.S. Is there a youtube video with an example of this kratemata?

Click the link in the OP.

Here is an example of a Krathma being sung while the clergy are taking communion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGaHC5tBTqQ

I miss chanting with my Byzantine music professor (the one chanting in the video).  One of the real treats in my 4 years in Brookline. 
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Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
Tags: Kratemata chant 
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