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Author Topic: Gregorian vs. Byzantine Chant  (Read 8819 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 11, 2011, 12:32:01 AM »

 I was just curious as to what the differences were between the two. I've never really heard gregorian chant before but a friend of mine heard me playing byzantine chant in my vehicle and thought it was gregorian so now I'm curious as to if they sound similar.
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 12:50:44 AM »

I was just curious as to what the differences were between the two. I've never really heard gregorian chant before but a friend of mine heard me playing byzantine chant in my vehicle and thought it was gregorian so now I'm curious as to if they sound similar.
The gentleman's youtube channel has a seemingly limitless amount of chant from the period of the undivided Church. It's rather hard to describe what both sound like without actually giving you examples to listen to. On Callixtinus's youtube channel, there are some hymns in Gregorian Chant, as well as Byzantine. You might also be interested in Old Roman Chant, too, which is a style of chanting that sounds remarkably Byzantine, but is done in Latin.

Hope this helps!

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Andrew
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 05:51:16 PM »

I've sung at over a liturgical year's worth of both.  They are quite different, even if there are similarities and even if there are some similarities between their musical theories.   

"Gregorian Chant" is a corpus of chant assigned to the Latin liturgy.   In current form, this is the chants assigned to the Latin liturgy of the hours in various books printed by the monks of Solesmes, as well as the Graduale Romanum, also by Solesmes, for the Roman Mass.   For the Graduale Romanum, this has a set of extended psalm verses for the parts of the Mass assembled and mandated for the Roman Mass by Pope St. Gregory I and assigned to the schola cantorum (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, etc.)  The current Graduale Romanum his is an edited/critical edition derived from many chant manuscripts available to Solesmes.  Most of the melodies of the Graduale Romanum are traceable to the 800-900s.   There is also a Kyriale attached to the Graduale which has music for the "proper" parts of the mass, i.e. the text which doesn't change, things like the Kyrie Eleison, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.   

"Byzantine chant" is a musical genre used in the Greek usage of the "Byzantine" liturgy (i.e. our liturgy).   It represents melodies for the unchanging parts of the liturgy sung by the people, as well as special monastic hymnody which changes each day.  Therefore, in function it's quite similar to Gregorian chant.   

However, a book with the musical scores of Byzantine chant which are in common use today would be FAR thicker than the books from Solesmes, and would have much more variety for each piece.   Also, unlike Gregorian chant,  I don't believe there are very many melodies currently in use that can be verifiably dated to much earlier than the 1300s, and much of the older chant melodies that have been recorded by specialists are quite different from the way it's sung today.   It also means, unlike Gregorian chant which Solesmes claims died during the Renaissance, Byzantine chant has remained  not only in use but also people continue to write new Byzantine chant melodies. 

For recordings, I'd recommend going to liturgica.com and ordering Gregorian chant from Solesmes or Santo Domingo de Silos, as well as Byzantine chant from Simonopetra or Vatopedi, which should give you an idea of how they sound.    Any of these monasteries' recordings are undisputably among the best recordings of their respective genres of chant.  [and curiously, there's reportedly a fair amount of mutual visitation between Solesmes and Simonopetra]

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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2011, 04:31:13 PM »

The differences are indeed fascinating.

As usual I agree with markos.
There is a much a person could say on this topic.
I'll only say a few things.

One of the biggest differences is the role and style of hymnody.

Hymnody in the west and Hymnody in the east took significantly different forms.

Much of the hymnody of Gregorian chant is less known today. What is typically heard from it is based primarily on psalms.
For Byzantine chant it is just the opposite, most of what is heard today is more so hymnody and less psalms or scriptural and in fact within the divine office many canticles formerly sung from the old and new testament have been replaced with odes and canons around the 8th century.

I think it is fair to say that the western liturgy in general is a survivor of a more primitive style, but also of course different cultural mindset for music. However part of this feeling is also because it has had much of it's hymnody in the forms of tropes and sequences was officially removed from it's important feast days during the reformation, thereby giving it a more sparse quality.

In the west hymnody was largely metrical. a certain amount of non-metrical hymnody exists in the ancient west (I can think of the hymn for the feast of st ursula and the 10,000 virgins for example) but I have not encountered non metrical hymnody very often.

In the east the use of metrical hymnody in the liturgy of the church was taboo from and early date and associated with pre-christian greco-roman-semitic pagan poetry. So it never developed with strict metre. 'Aghia Parthena', composed in the early 20th century by St Nectarius is an example of a metrical hymn from byzantine culture which is ment to be used outside of liturgy.

In the west hymnody in came in about 4 forms. The #1 form was of divine office hymns, #2 form was sequences/proses intended exclusively for the mass, which came into full fruition by the 800s.

(l) Sequences (sequentioe, prosoe, prosa). These are the artistically constructed songs, consisting of strophe and counterstrophe, inserted in the Mass between the Epistle and the Gospel.

The sequences were based in their origin in the 700s on the melody of the melisma of the alleluia chants, though by the 800s they were no longer always based on the alleluia melodies. Originally sequences were had only one note per syllable and used a more free type of metre (making them more challenging to sing), but gradually by the 12th century the sequences being composed for new feasts and saints became more regularly metrical and at times simpler, though they more often used more than one note per syllable and were more greatly exploiting the full human vocal range by that time. (1 and 1/2 octaves?).


The #3 form was conductus and processional hymn (or processional antiphon) (various names I cant remember), which tended to repeat the same words over and over with different verses inbetween. Some of the "final antiphons of the blessed virgin mary" were originally sung this way. sometimes sequences were used at processions during the office.

A good example of this type of hymn to survive to the present day is the Gloria Laus et Honor for Palm Sunday.

The Salve Regina shown here is another example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoSuyUFiEYo
No one EVER sings the Salve regina with verses inbetween anymore today.

for the 4th type I will simply paste the quote from the catholic encylcopedia:

Hymnody of the missal or the gradual

(2) Tropes of the Mass (tropi graduales). During the Middle Ages, all those parts of the Mass which were not sung by the priest but by the choir, e.g. the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei (tropi ad ordinarium missoe) also the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, Communion (tropi ad proprium missarum) were provided with a rich setting of interpolatio, more even than the Breviary. These tropes came to be known as "Tropus ad Kyrie", "Tropus ad Gloria", etc. or "Troped Kyrie", "Troped Gloria", and so on.

One of the reasons why it is easier to adapt hymns of byzantine chant to various languages is because it is not based strictly on meter. This may prove to be a weakness for latin hymnody. Though a large portion of it has been put into english by anglicans, there is an inherent weakness in that the translations are not as literal as they could be due to the extent that paraphrase must be used at times to achieve metre in english.

The last comment I have is that I see strong similarities in the melody of the Glory in the Highest to God (Gloria in Excelsis Deo) "Great Doxology". The Latin melody for Mass setting II (fons bonitatis) in the Graduale Romanum is striklingly similar to that heard in several greek versions. Both of these were sung originally in Matins/Orthros east and west, so this is not surprising. Most of the other melodies are more different, but I continue to see resemblences across the board for the Great Doxology in both latin and greek melodies.

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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 10:47:30 PM »

Old Roman chant is much more similar to Byzantine chant than Gregorian is.

I've been told that Gregorian chant was at least partially some sort of synthesis of the chant of Rome and that of the Franks.
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 02:53:53 AM »

I was just curious as to what the differences were between the two. I've never really heard gregorian chant before but a friend of mine heard me playing byzantine chant in my vehicle and thought it was gregorian so now I'm curious as to if they sound similar.

Gregorian Chant is a decendent of "Old Roman Chant", and other various chants in the area, which are, in turn, decedents of Byzantine Chant.
The Byzantine Chant of today, however, has evolved and grown beyond what it probably was centuries ago. But I'm sure it's remained relatively the same.
If you listen to Old Roman Chant and Byzantine Chant, you can tell how close the two are.

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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 03:27:06 AM »


follow the neumes and listen to Lycourgos sing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji8klhW4Pdo

O quando in cruce (Good Friday Antiphon from Benevento)

You will see that the difference between Old Roman and Gregorian chant is not as significant different as the individual who sings the music. If one gives this music to the typical cantor, "Schola Cantorum" or "Precentor" at whatever in a Traditional Latin Mass community or Cathedral is privledged enough to still sing chant (most Papal Latin Catholic Cathedrals continue to sing modern banal post-vatican II music) you would find that they would not interpret/sing Otin Tou Stauron the way that Lycourgos does, in fact the way they sing it may not be nearly as interesting.

The manner of interpretation of the music is what changes and affects the listener more than the differences of neumes themselves. The Old Roman Chant can be more melismatic and have different patterns to the notes..but at its heart, the melodies are the same root origin of the gregorian.

Lycourgos can sing Gregorian chants and you will think they sound like "old roman" chant.

To believe that "Old Roman" is especially different from Gregorian is an exaggeration based on ignorance of the finer details of the music and certainly with a lack of actually attempting to sing it yourself.

When you actually try to sing the music yourself than you really understand what is a difference and what is not a difference more clearly.

I will add that the notation that Old Roman Chant uses is different than the neumes posted above.
The oldest Gregorian chant before the 12th century frequently uses the same adiastematic neumes as the Old Roman. The notation above which is Beneventan Chant is an interpretation of the adiastematic neumes from 9th to 12th centuries, converted into the late late 12th/13th century notation which is the type that most people who sing chant today are familiar with.

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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 03:55:23 AM »

Furthermore I will add a difference between Latin and Constantinopolitan traditions in the chant/liturgy in the divine office which I remembered.

In the divine office originally we always had old testamant canticles sung at Matins/Orthros/Lauds/Morning prayers in all christian churches. These were lost in the Constantinopolitan tradition by the time the second millenium arrived.

They survive in the Latin tradition to present day, or at least before the effects of Vatican II (some of which is slowly being overturned).

see this fine article:

http://www.metropolitancantorinstitute.org/liturgy/Canons.html

Quote
In the early history of Christian liturgy, the psalms and the canticles of Sacred Scripture formed the main part of church singing. The canticles were often sung as part of the morning service of Lauds, which was eventually incorporated into our service of Matins.

Over time, however, monastic and cathedral singers began to insert composed hymns or prayers in between the verses of the canticles, much as we do with the stichera at the Lamplighting Psalms of Vespers. Saint Andrew of Crete seems to have been the first to compose a canon as we know it, with an irmos and troparia to be sung in alternation with each canticle's verses. In the eighth century, there was a great flowering of canon-writing, and the canon replaced the kontakion as the premier hymn of the Byzantine Rite.

At some point, the singing of the scriptural canticles themselves disappeared, except on the weekdays of the Great Fast. (The Canticle of the Theokotos was retained at Matins, being sung before the ninth ode of the canon.) Simple fixed refrains replaced the canticle verses, giving us the canon as we know it today.

In certain ways the Canons which now replace the Canticles are a parallel to the hymn-like Tropes that were added to antiphons and other liturgical music in the Latin West between 9th and 14th centuries, except that within the West the trend ended and they were removed under the influence of the protestant reformation because they were not "from the bible". But all the medieval music books contain them. What is in the Gradual Romanum (official latin chant book published around 1890s) is not so much a received tradition, as a reconstruction of an amalgam of the most commonly reccurring chants consistently sung across the varying local traditions of western europe as they were before non-biblical verses came to regularly be part of them, as they were before the 10th century, closer to the time of Charlemagne and Gregory the Great (Dialogos) from whence their name originates (though he did not compose or necessarily exercise great influence on their music).

So many of these tendencies of musical standardization and centralization can be connected also the eccesliological centralization which the Curia and Roman papacy developed throughout the 2nd millenium. It is all intereconnected, and less the Byzantine Orthodox be so bold to think it is immune from this one can note that the replacement within the Antiochian Church of their native liturgy and chant (as preserved by the Syriac Non-Chalcedonians) is an example of similar ideaology.

SO had things gone differently the west could have ended up with music being used today which would have more in common with the present day eastern music, or vice versa...

It would seem that the Latin tradition in it's official music, though rarely used and more technicality than reality, is more reliant on solely the books of the bible, and less so on para-biblical hymnody and words.





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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 04:29:00 AM »

One last comparison:

the Old Roman Gradual for Resurrection Sunday sung by a greek orthodox cantor and french catholic cantor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yajYuhHzVVk

and the same Gradual in shortened version, sung by a german-american lutheran pastor in the midwest in english: http://www.llpb.us/MP3Hymns/SeasonalPropers/327%201%20This%20is%20the%20Day.MP3

One is Old Roman, the other Gregorian, do they have strikelingly different interpretation? strikingly different languages and locales? YES...

is the melody inherently the same? YES...

is it evidence of christianity transcending all races, cultures and places? YES

Someday we will have it sung in Chinese quite possibly, hopefully theyll develop their own melodies too eventually.

(not to gloat, but I am probably the only person online who has searched around enough to find these two very diverse links)
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