Introduction to Kalophony, the Byzantine «Ars Nova»

The «Anagrammatismoi» and «Mathēmata» of Byzantine Chant

by Gregorios Th. Stathis (Author) Konstantinos Terzopoulos (Author)
©2015 Monographs XX, 331 Pages
Series: Studies in Eastern Orthodoxy, Volume 1


The anagrams, or more generally, the mathēmata and morphologically related kalophonic forms of Byzantine melopoeïa, constitute the artistic creations by which Psaltic Art is known in all its splendour and becomes an object of admiration. Kalophony as ars nova was born following the recovery of the city of Constantinople after the Latin occupation of Byzantium (AD 1204–1261) during the long reign of Andronicus II (1282–1328) and reached its final form in the first half of the fourteenth century. During the years 1300–1350, four key composers and teachers of the Psaltic Art imposed a new attitude of melic composition on the preexisting forms and designated new compositional techniques dominated by the beautifying kallopistic element. They created new compositions in the new spirit of kallōpismos and musical verbosity. This new musical creation was christened with the term kalophony and this period is the golden age of Byzantine Chant.
Originally published under the title Hoi anagrammatismoi kai ta mathemata tes byzantines melopoiïas (1979 plus seven reprints), this publication thoroughly investigates and reveals for the first time the entire magnitude of Byzantine kalophony with its individual forms, serving as a systematic introduction to the Greek Byzantine music culture and that of the Byzantine Psaltic Art at the height of its expression.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Author’s preface to the English edition
  • Translator’s note
  • Part One
  • Chapter 1: A synoptic review of Byzantine ecclesiastical melopœïa
  • Introductory: terminology
  • The genera and forms of Byzantine melopœïa
  • First genus: stichērarikon, with the following necessary distinctions
  • Second genus: heirmologikon, with the following necessary distinctions
  • Third genus: papadikon, with the following necessary distinctions
  • Periods of Byzantine melopœïa and parallel development of Byzantine notation
  • Chapter 2: The form of the Mathēmatarion
  • The genesis
  • The fully developed appearance of the Mathēmatarion eidos and its codification: AD 1336 as milieu
  • Kalophony [kalophōnia or kalliphōnia] as ‘ars nova’ in the fourteenth century and its defining elements
  • The first appearances of the kalophonic melos and the favourable historic circumstances surrounding its development
  • The terms: anagrammatismos, anapodismos, mathēma and others related to them, epiphōnēma, anaphōnēma, allagma, epibolē, parekbolē, prologos, katabasia, homonoia
  • Chapter 3: The tradition of the kalophonic melos
  • The formation and tradition of the related codices beginning from the fourteenth century
  • The Papadikē
  • The Kratēmatarion
  • The Kalophōnon Stichērarion or Mathēmatarion
  • Kontakarion or Oikēmatarion and the Akathistos
  • The principal composers of the kalophonic melos of the mathēmatarion
  • The brilliant ensemble of composers: Nikēphoros Ēthikos, Iohannes Glykys, Iohannes Koukouzelēs, and Xenos Korōnēs (first half of the fourteenth century)
  • Melourgoi contemporary to Iohannes Kladas the lampadarios (c. 1400)
  • Melourgoi contemporary to Manuel Chrysaphēs the lampadarios (c. 1453)
  • The sixteenth- and seventeenth-century transmitters and renewers of the tradition
  • Last appearance of the form of the mathēmata in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • Chapter 4: The analysis of the mathēmata
  • The text of the mathēmata
  • First Category: psalmic verses
  • Second Category: the mathēmata, proper
  • The forms based on content
  • Triadika (triadic – trinitarian)
  • Anastasima (resurrectional)
  • Dogmatika (dogmatic)
  • Doxastika
  • Theotokia
  • The morphological types of composition of the mathēmata proper
  • Part Two
  • Chapter 5: Incipits of the anagrams and mathēmata in the Mathēmatarion transcribed by Chourmouzios
  • Introductory note
  • ΜΠΤ 727: Mathēmatarion (volume I)
  • ΜΠΤ 728: Mathēmatarion (volume II)
  • ΜΠΤ 729: Mathēmatarion (volume III)
  • ΜΠΤ 730: Mathēmatarion (volume IV)
  • ΜΠΤ 731: Mathēmatarion (volume V)
  • ΜΠΤ 732: Mathēmatarion (volume VI)
  • ΜΠΤ 733: Mathēmatarion (volume VII — triōdion)
  • ΜΠΤ 734: Mathēmatarion (volume VIII — pentēcostarion)
  • ΜΠΤ 706: Papadikē (theotokiōn)
  • ΜΠΤ 706: Papadikē (volume V)
  • ΜΠΤ 712: Hapanta of Petros Bereketēs
  • Chapter 6: Reproduction of the kalophonic stichēron Προτυπων την αναστασιν from the feast of the transfiguration
  • Preliminary remarks
  • Transcriptions of the kalophonic stichēron προτυπων την αναστασιν
  • Text of the Doxastikon of the vespers for the feast of the Transfiguration
  • The text of the kalophonic stichēron from the chourmouzios mathēmatarion (ΜΠΤ 732)
  • Images of ΜΠΤ 732
  • Epilogue
  • Bibliography
  • Manuscripts used
  • Athos
  • Chilandariou
  • Dionysiou
  • Docheiariou
  • Gregoriou
  • Hagiou Pavlou
  • Iberon
  • Koutloumousiou
  • Konstamonitou
  • M. Lavra
  • Panteleimon
  • Philotheou
  • Vatopedi
  • Xenophontos
  • Athens
  • Hidryma Byzantines Mousikologias (IBM)
  • Historikes kai Ethnologikes Hetaireias (IEE)
  • National Library of Greece (EBE)
  • Constantinople
  • Metochion Panagiou Taphou (ΜΠΤ)
  • Meteora
  • Holy Transfiguration Monastery
  • Messina
  • Bibl. Regionale Universitaria
  • Paris
  • Bibliotèque nationale de France
  • Patmos
  • Monastery of Saint John the Theologian
  • Rome
  • Grottaferrata Badia Graeca
  • Sinai
  • Saint Catherine’s Monastery
  • St. Petersburg–Leningrad
  • National Library of Russia
  • Vienna
  • Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  • Works cited
  • Index of manuscripts
  • Index of topics and names
  • Series index

Author’s preface to the English edition

The anagrams [anagrammatismoi], or more generally, the mathēmata and morphologically related kalophonic forms [eidē] of Byzantine melopœïa — anapodismoi, podes, anaphonēmata, allagma, epibolē, parekbolē, prologos, kratēma, etc. — constitute the artistic creations by which Psaltic Art [psaltikē technē] is known in all its splendour and becomes an object of admiration. Kalophony as ars nova was born following the recovery of the city of Constantinople after the Latin occupation of Byzantium (AD 1204–1261) during the long reign of Andronicus II (1282–1328) and reached its final form in the first half of the fourteenth century. During the years 1300–1350, four composers and teachers of the Psaltic Art, Nikēphoros Ēthikos the domestikos, Iohannēs prōtopsaltēs Glykys, Iohannēs maïstor Koukouzelēs and Xenos Korōnēs, imposed a new attitude of melic composition on the pre-existing forms and designated new compositional techniques dominated by the beautifying kallopistic element, which resulted in the lengthening of those works. Together with their contemporary composers, they created new compositions in the new spirit of kallōpismos and musical verbosity. This new musical creation was christened with the term kalophōnia, kalophony, and this period is the golden age of Byzantine Music, that is, of the Hellenic Psaltic Art of Orthodox Christian worship.

Kalophony has three basic elements: (i) the elaborate and long melos; (ii) the reworking of the poetic text, the anagrams, through the repetition of words and phrases or insertion of new text; and (iii) the insertion of the kratēma — a specific melody using the syllables nena, titi, toto, tororo and especially the terirem — one, two, three or more times at particular points within the kalophonic work. That third element defines the morphological type of composition as single-part, two-part, three-part, many-part or oktaēchon [eight-modal]. In this way, the composers ‘sign’ their creations and the musical art form becomes eponymous and autonomous. Thanks to the wise system of Hellenic music notation born of the Greek alphabet ← xiii | xiv → in the mid-tenth century, middle Byzantium, a plethora of composers with their oceanic corpus of works created one of the largest musical cultures of the world (take, for instance, the Polyeleos composition in Constantinople and all the world, works by various ancient and newer composers, Athens, Nat. Libr. Ms. 2458 from the year 1336, fol. 75r). The fourteenth-century chant compositions of kalophony are masterpieces that filled the magnificent Byzantine Church structures such as the Hagia Sophia, with their evocative mosaics, frescoes and ever-increasing iconographic programmes. As artists, these magnificent composers of chant music are equal in cultural value to the great painters, poets and philosophers of the same noble and aristocratic spirit that would be the last shining moments of the Byzantine Empire, the highest form of artistic and cultural originality and expression that can be observed throughout the long history of Byzantine civilization.

The book in hand, originally published under the title Οἱ ἀναγραμματισμοὶ καὶ τὰ μαθήματα τῆς βυζαντινῆς μελοποιίας (Stathēs 1979a), thoroughly investigates and reveals for the first time the entire magnitude of Byzantine kalophony with its individual forms [eidē] of melic composition, basically serving as a systematic introduction to the Greek Byzantine music culture, that of the Byzantine Psaltic Art at the height of its expression.

To sketch the historical and morphological frame within which these truly wondrous monuments of monophonic Byzantine and post-Byzantine melic composition hold the primary position of honour, Part One embarks on a necessary introduction to the related terminology, the genera [genē] and forms [eidē] of melopœïa, as well as the developmental periods. All that is examined and said thereafter, on the genesis of the form of the mathēma, the appearance of kalophony and its components, its specialized structures of composition and legacy, even regarding the composers — creators of these compositions and their morphology from the aspects of text and melody — serves to make more understandable and clarify every facet of the principal topic of the kalophony of the Psaltic Art.

Part Two proffers the incipits of the mathēmata with their epigraphic description from the eight-volume manuscript Mathēmatarion and three more volumes of the Papadikē, according to the exēgēsis transcription into the New Method of analytical chant notation by Chourmouzios Chartophylax (c. 1825). The internal order of the contents of these codices ← xiv | xv → follows the liturgical calendar as it unfolds in the Menologion, Triodion and Pentekostarion ecclesiastical hymnbooks. The usefulness of these descriptions and their publication is obvious, for it makes almost the entire corpus of the fourteenth- to fifteenth-century and seventeenth- to eighteenth-century mathēmata available to modern chanters and contemporary chant musicologists, transcribed into the present form of chant notation from 1814–1815. Reviewing the folios of those manuscripts, we can chant and enjoy the kalophony of the Psaltic Art. An opportunity to sample this cultural treasure is provided with the stichēron idiomelon Προτυπῶν τὴν ἀνάστασιν from the feast of the Transfiguration as preserved on the pages of Metochion Panagiou Taphou (ΜΠΤ) Ms. 732, fols. 234r–251v (used with permission), and the accompanying comparative transcription into western staff notation and the fifteenth-century Athens, Nat. Libr. Ms. 886, fol. 379v.

The manifestation of Byzantine kalophony in all its scope and splendour enchanted an entire generation of modern musicologists, made up of the chorus of my many students and doctoral candidates, fifty all together. Twelve of them dealt with aspects of kalophony in their dissertations and it is both worthy and right to list their names here along with the titles of their papers as it is impossible for me to now go back and reference their works in detail. These papers, as well as others dealing with different aspects of Byzantine chant, are published in the series Meletae of the Institute of Byzantine Musicology of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.

Anastasiou, Gregorios (2005), Τὰ κρατήματα στὴν Ψαλτικὴ Τέχνη, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 12; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Apostolopoulos, Thomas (2002), Ὁ Ἀπόστολος Κώνστας ὁ Χῖος καὶ ἡ συμβολή του στὴ θεωρία τῆς Μουσικῆς Τέχνης, ed. Institute of Byzantine Musicology of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece (Meletai, 4; Athens).

Balageōrgos, Dēmētrios (2003), Ἡ ψαλτικὴ παράδοση τῶν Ἀκολουθιῶν τοῦ Βυζαντινοῦ Κοσμικοῦ Τυπικοῦ, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 6; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Chaldaiakēs, Achileas (2003), Ὁ Πολυέλεος στὴ βυζαντινὴ καὶ μεταβυζαντινὴ μελοποιία, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 5; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Giannopoulos, Emmanouel St. (2004), Ἡ ἄνθηση τῆς Ψαλτικῆς Τέχνης στὴν Κρήτη (1566–1669), ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 11; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology). ← xv | xvi →

Karagounēs, Kōnstantinos (2003), Ἡ παράδοση καὶ ἐξήγηση τοῦ μέλους τῶν Χερουβικῶν τῆς βυζαντινῆς καὶ μεταβυζαντινῆς μελοποιίας, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 7; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Karanos, Grammenos (forthcoming), Τὸ Καλοφωνικὸ Εἱρμολόγιο, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Krētikou, Flōra (2004), Ὁ Ἀκάθιστος Ὕμνος στὴ βυζαντινὴ καὶ μεταβυζαντινὴ μελοποιία, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 10; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Liakos, Iōannēs (2007), Ἡ βυζαντινὴ ψαλτικὴ παράδοση τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης κατὰ τὸν ιδ´ αἰῶνα, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 15; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Mazera-Mamalē, Sebē (2007), Τὰ Μεγαλυνάρια Θεοτοκία τῆς Ψαλτικῆς Τέχνης, ed. Grēgorios Th. Stathēs (Meletai, 15; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Spyrakou, Euangelia (2008), Οἱ Χοροὶ Ψαλτῶν κατὰ τὴν βυζαντινὴ παράδοση, ed. Gr. Th. Stathes (Meletai, 14; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Terzopoulos, Kōnstantinos (2004), Ὁ πρωτοψάλτης τῆς Μεγάλης τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἐκκλησίας Κωνσταντῖνος Βυζάντιος († 30 Ἰουνίου 1862)· ἡ συμβολή του στὴν Ψαλτικὴ Τέχνη, ed. Gr. Th. Stathis (Meletai, 9; Athens: Institute of Byzantine Musicology).

Having reached the end of the present work for a second time, I extend once again my heartfelt gratitude to all those who contributed to the writing and publication of this book in its first edition. As an academic textbook used during my twenty-five years as professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, it is already in its seventh printing since first being published by the Institute of Byzantine Musicology in 1979. It is now made available in English translation for the first time owing to the efforts of my doctoral student, the Revd Dr Konstantinos Terzopoulos. Through his dedication in promoting the advancement of Byzantine and post-Byzantine Hellenic Psaltic Art, with the hope of substantially contributing to the historical and theoretical documentation for a growing international following, including the area of Orthodox worship all around the world, and interest in the study of the notation of this wondrous Psaltic Art, Dr Terzopoulos has taken care to offer the contents of this book in a coherent and vibrant fashion; I thank him wholeheartedly.

Although I cannot worthily express my gratitude, special appreciation must be directed to THE J. F. COSTOPOULOS FOUNDATION for its kind support toward covering the majority of the costs for publication. ← xvi | xvii →

Also, a grant from PSALTIKI, INC., an American non-profit organisation dedicated to the Byzantine chant heritage, faithfully covered the remaining publication expenses. We wish them continued success in their mission.

Finally, this author is also grateful to Peter Lang International Academic Publishers for the unique honour of inaugurating their new series, Studies in Eastern Orthodoxy. I congratulate them on their new series and sincerely thank them.

Translator’s note

Although Byzantium has been the subject of much study in recent decades for inspiring religious splendour through its artistic, especially iconographic and architectural artefacts of the Middle Byzantine period (AD 843–1204) and the so-called Palaeologan Renaissance (1261–1325), including the areas of literature, learning, theological controversy and liturgy, the opposite is mostly true of Byzantine musical culture. Clearly, the main reason for this is that the analysis of the preserved artefacts of Byzantium’s musical life, namely, the Medieval manuscripts containing Byzantine chant notation, have been the specialized domain of musicologists, whose observations have been largely unavailable to an English-reading audience.

Even in optimal circumstances, no single scholar could ever be expected to sift through the thousands of extant Byzantine music manuscripts, presupposing the necessary permissions, time and resources to travel to remote locations for the painstaking and tedious task of manual inspection. This is exactly why this important, seminal study by Grēgorios Stathēs, an internationally renowned Byzantine musicologist, professor emeritus of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and my doctoral professor, is such a significant contribution to the discussion of Byzantium’s musical legacy. He possesses an intimate knowledge of the vast caches of Medieval manuscripts containing Byzantine chant notation in the numerous libraries on the Monastic Republic of Mount Athos in northern Greece and beyond — and his monumental cataloguing is now in its fifth volume.

Within the great multiplicity of styles and forms utilized in the Byzantine chant repertoire, there exists the compositional technique referred to as kalophony [kalophōnia], meaning beautiful voice or beautiful singing. This highly artistic and virtuosic musical expression, that reached its height in the fourteenth-century homo byzantinus, is the ars nova of the latter Byzantine spirit. The publication of this Introduction to Kalophony, translated into English for the first time, brings this lesser-known and often ← xix | xx → misunderstood chapter in the cultural and musical history of Byzantium to an English-speaking readership, thus making it more available to musicians, scholars and students of music history and Byzantium.

While much has transpired since the writing of this original work in 1979,1 it still remains an essential resource for anyone interested in attaining an informed knowledge regarding Byzantine chant because the work succinctly, and yet in a detailed and thorough manner, covers all the basic genera [genē] and forms [eidē] of melopœïa, thus simultaneously offering the reader a foundation upon which to stand when approaching any other aspect of the rich Byzantine chant heritage.

For this reason, special care has been taken in the translation to assure technical accuracy in the terminology used here. In this way, even the novice and non-musical reader is initiated into the Byzantine Music lexicon foundational for further study. Toula Polygalaktos, Dr Peter Jeffreys and Oonagh Walker provided many helpful suggestions in their proofs of my translation for which I express genuine appreciation.

This work is broader than most of its kind. Those who can take in its contents will receive an advanced education. It is my distinct honour and pleasure to contribute in this way to the advancement of the world treasure that is our Byzantine chant heritage.

Aegina Island, 2014 ← xx | 1 →


  1 In addition to the works listed in the author’s preface above, the following may serve as starting points for a survey of more recent scholarship concerning kalophony: Alexandru 2011–2012; Conomos 2001; Ioannidou 2009; Jung 1998; Krētikou 2008; Lingas 2004; Schartau 2008; Troelgård 2004, 2008. In the area of Slavonic chant notations, increasingly important to the study of early Byzantine chant notations, welcome additions to the English bibliography include the following important works by Constantin Floros: Floros and Moran 2005; Floros 2009.


← 1 | 2 →

← 2 | 3 →


A synoptic review of Byzantine ecclesiastical melopϕa


Melopϕa1 [melic composition] and melourgia are terms that designate the art of the composition of melodies based on particular rules for the correct use of poetic and musical elements primarily destined for ecclesiastical use. This is indicated by the use of the word melos in both terms.

Melos2 is every musically enunciated utterance, that is, anything sung by the human voice. This utterance, the words of the verses in a sung text, can have meaning, but they can also be without meaning, as is the case ← 3 | 4 → with the ēchēmata or kratēmata3te-ri-rem, te-ne-na, ti-ti-ti, to-ro-ron and so on. In any case, the presupposition for melos is that the syllables be pronounced by the human voice. Melos, then, literally and properly speaking belongs to the musical category termed ‘vocal’ and only by exception is it applied to instrumental music.4 This is the organic, essential reason that the term melos is preferred over the other terms generally used in art music. These other terms would include the following: melōdia, psalmōdia, psalmos, psalma, and music composition. From these terms, the first four, even by their etymology, signify a sung poetic text vocally uttered and clad in a musical garb. These terms, however, simultaneously signify a particular poetic text that submits to the musical expression, regardless of the fact that they later attained a generalized meaning and came to refer to anything sung. The meanings of the terms hymnos, epos,5 poiēma, odē, ainos, asma, deēsis and proseuchē should also be understood in this light; that is, the original meanings of these words signified specific, unique types6 of poetic texts. They later lost their original technical meaning and came to denote anything sung in worship unto the doxology and thanksgiving of God or the praise of the Saints and the Mother of God and Theotokos.

From a musical standpoint, the Greek term synthesis [composition or arrangement] belongs chiefly to instrumental music; it signifies the combining of various elements, poetic and musical, the compounding of different voices based on the rules of harmony and the combining of both instruments and voices or just musical instruments. It does not assume the ← 4 | 5 → existence of a poetic text. It is only recently and by exception that we consider the musical embellishment of a poetic text as a synthesis or composition for a text intended for ecclesiastical use. Nevertheless, it is useful as a technical term with the meaning of composition in referring generally to the creations of Byzantine Chant; this is convenient for the categorisation of these works into types in order to better understand and study them.

The terms troparion,7 kontakion, kanōn,8 stichēron idiomelon, automelon prosomoion and prologos, which signify a particular poetic form [eidos], albeit developed in a specific musical context, require special consideration.

These terms are the basic objects of study for the field of Byzantine Hymnography.9 They regard poetry and signify the different forms [eidē] of poetry used in Christian worship. Music, however, lent a defining tone to a number of them. Thus, in contrast to the first set of terms considered above, regarding generally anything sung, these hymnographic terms cannot be generalized, each one signifying a particular poetic form, eidos in Greek, of melopœïa; however, two or more can be grouped together and categorized into a single form.

From everything presented thus far, it becomes clear that the only fitting term regarding Byzantine melopœïa in general, that clearly expresses the musical enrichment and affect on the poetic text with ecclesiastical character, is melos. This particular meaning of the term — referring specifically to the Church’s teleturgic — is strengthened by the descriptions of other melodies, such as ‘Ambrosian melos’, ‘Gregorian melos’ and ‘Mozambican melos’, which are employed to point to the particular ecclesiastical chant ← 5 | 6 → forms of a specific ecclesiastical character suitable to the purpose of the faithful’s dialogue with God the Father.10

This specialized meaning of the term in the ecclesiastical climate forces us to make a distinction between the ecclesiastical melos and secular melos, referred to as ‘exoteric’ [exōterikon] in Byzantium. The exoteric melos is usually characterized as ethnikon melos; in Byzantine Music the ethnikon melos refers specifically to the melos of the eastern peoples of other faiths. This is further defined through terms such as persikon, or ismaēlitikon, organikon and so on.11 The terms melos dytikon or melos frangikon are encountered less frequently and always after the Latin occupation of Constantinople (AD 1204).

During the first period of Byzantine Hymnography (up to Iconoclasm and the fourteenth century), the characterisation exōterikon melos refers to the melos of heretical hymnography, through which the heretical doctrines were disseminated. The heretical hymnographers knew the power of music to penetrate and corrupt opinion, and wrote their heretical hymns ← 6 | 7 → to already existing melodies.12 In order to protect the Orthodox faithful from this onslaught, the Church Fathers responded with new Orthodox hymnography, whose melodies, even though similar to the heretical melodies, eventually defined the boundaries of another genuinely ecclesiastical melos. From then on, the difference between ecclesiastical and exōterikon melos became even more distinct,13 and is eventually finalized in the eighth century when, according to tradition, Iohannes Damascenus institutes the oktōēchos14 system into Byzantine ecclesiastical melopœïa. ← 7 | 8 →

It still remains, however, for the present introductory examination of the terminology of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, to consider the following terms: melopœïamelourgiahymnographia, together with the terms melopoiosmelourgos, melographosmelōdos and hymnographos.

Melopœïa and melourgia, along with the corresponding terms melopoiosmelourgosmelōdos, as well as melographos, are terms that correspond to the creation of a composed poetic text and melody by the same poet. In Byzantine Music it is noteworthy that the word poiētēs [poet] refers mainly to the musical composer and replaces the terms melopoios, melōdos and melourgos. Encountered mostly during the first period of Byzantine Hymnography up to the Iconoclastic controversy and derived from the above terms, melōdoi, melopoioi and hymnōdoi15 are also included. From about the sixth century, the prosomoiac [pros + homoion = toward + the same] poetry of the troparia, however, belonging to various poetic forms themselves, contributed to the creation of the terms hymnographia [hymnography] and hymnographos [hymnographer]. These terms refer mainly to the creation of a poetic text for use with already established prototype melodies. This is how we have prosomoiac kontakia and prosomoiac canons. Surely, the hymnographer-poets of these works also knew music and many of them even created completely new compositions, whether they be kontakia, canons or idiomela troparia, but mostly stichēra, since they were not only hymnographers [composers of hymnic poems] but also melōdoi [composers of melos].

During the late Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods there is confusion regarding these terms. Having lost their original meaning, the majority have now been abandoned. Today, the terms melopoios, melographos and melourgos come to refer only to the composers of melody. The music aspires to another level and becomes the high art of melopœïa, which morphologically comes to recognize or, rather, define forms of composition. Some ← 8 | 9 → melographoi even created new forms regarding the text, like the dekapentasyllabic mathēma,16 and, until just recently, were completely unknown. The classification melōdos applied to the lampadarios Iohannes Kladas and Petros Bereketēs17 refers to the melodic talent perceived in their compositions. This intention is also attested to by the description glykys [sweet] — Iohannes protopsaltes ho Glykys or Petros Beretekēs ho neos Glykys; the dexterity with which they composed and the quality of those melē are also expressed through these terms. Byzantine Music’s development into an ars perfecta from the twelfth century is borne witness to by distinctly musical terms such as maïstōr [maestro] and didaskalos tēs mousikēs [teacher of music].

To complete this section on the related terminology, the terms protopsaltes, lampadarios, domestikos, kanonarchos, monophōnarēs, bastaktai, choros and kalophōnarēs18 must also be addressed.

The terms maïstōr19 and didaskalos [teacher] of music are equivalent and denote the paramount teacher of music, the ideal technician of the art [technē] of the modes [ēchoi], those who possess complete knowledge regarding the theory of music and are the source of the terms, rules and methodoi [methods] of Music. The maïstores and teachers are usually endowed with sweet and melodic voices connoting virtuosity. They are also distinguished in their service at the analogion and bēma [the chanter’s podium] in the sacred churches, in both the composition of melodies and the teaching of music. From these two terms, the second, didaskalos tēs mousikēs, can refer to all the known melodists of Byzantine Chant and, naturally, primarily to the most famous personalities. The term maïstōr is bestowed on only a few musicians and chiefly to Iohannes Koukouzelēs ← 9 | 10 → Papadopoulos.20 Because of Koukouzelēs’ importance to Byzantine Music the term maïstōr holds special meaning and is considered the crown of musical titles. Other melodists with the title maïstōr are witnessed to in the manuscripts during the late Byzantine period (1200–1453) and include Iohannes Kallistos the maïstōr, Manuel Argyropoulos the maïstōr, Manuel Chrysaphēs the maïstōr and others.

The terms protopsaltes, domestikos, laosynaktēs and primikērios, together with the archon of the kontakion, are found in the seventh pentad of ecclesiastical offices [ophphikia] according to the enumeration of Ps.-Codinus.21 The two domestikoi — of the first and second choir respectively — were the leaders and overseers of the melodies and singers during the divine services. It was understood that they were the teachers of the members of the choir [choros], responsible for the knowledge of every melody. In the Office of the Pannychis, the domestikoi made the initus [enarxis], proclaiming to the bishop or priest the eulogēson, despota [bless, master].22 Regarding this particular rubric, we read in codex Athos, Konstamonitou 86 (first half of the fifteenth century): (fol. 39v) ‘Πληρουμένων δὲ τούτων εὐθὺς ποιεῖ ὁ ἱερεὺς τὴν μεγάλην συναπτὴν καὶ μετὰ τὴν ἐκφώνησιν βάλλει ὁ κανονάρχος μετάνοιαν τὸν ἕτερον δομέστικον τοῦ β΄ χοροῦ καὶ ἄρχεται τὸ Mακάριος ἀνήρ, γεγονωτέρᾳ τῇ φωνῂ ἀπ’ ἔξω εἰς διπλασμόν’ [when this is completed the priest straighaway does the great synaptē]; (fol. 51r) ‘[…] καὶ εὐθὺς ἄρχεται ὁ α΄ χορὸς καὶ ἀλλάσσει ὁ δομέστικος· ἀπὸ χοροῦ, ἀρχαῖον, ἦχος πλ. δ΄, πολίτικον, ’Aνοίξαντός σου τὴν χεῖρα’ [the first choir immediate begins and the domestikos changes; from the choir, ancient, mode IV plagal]; (fol. 56v) ‘Eἶτα γίνεται μεγάλη συναπτὴ καὶ εὐθὺς ὁ δομέστικος ἀπ’ ἔξω, ἦχος πλ. δ΄ Mακάριος ἀνήρ [then the great synaptē and straightaway the domestikos from outside, mode IV plagal Makarios anēr]; (fol. 106r) ‘[…] ὁ δομέστικος τοῦ ἄρχοντος χοροῦ· ἦχος α΄ Kύριε ἐκέκραξα’ [the domestikos of the chief choir; mode I ← 10 | 11 → Kyrie ekekraxa]; and, (fol. 125v) ‘Ὁ δομέστικος εὐθὺς τὸ Πᾶσα πνοὴ πλ. δ΄’ [immediately, the domestikos performs the Pasa pnoē].23


XX, 331
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (November)
Psaltic Art musical verbosity golden age
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2014. XX, 331 pp., 44 b/w ill., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Gregorios Th. Stathis (Author) Konstantinos Terzopoulos (Author)

Gregorios Stathis is professor emeritus of Byzantine musicology and hymnology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and a preeminent, internationally recognized scholar in the field. He has studied the vast repository of medieval and late Greek music manuscripts containing Byzantine chant notations the world over, including Mount Sinai and Mount Athos. The author of many publications and choirmaster of numerous recordings of Byzantine and post-Byzantine chant, he is most recognized for his award-winning catalogue of the chant manuscripts on Mount Athos, now in its fifth volume, as well as his descriptive catalogue of the chant manuscripts in the monasteries of Meteora. Konstantinos Terzopoulos, one of the author’s doctoral students, is a parish priest, an independent scholar and researcher in Byzantine musicology and Orthodox theology and liturgy. He is the author of works on Byzantine chant, Byzantine liturgy and Typikon. He is currently preparing a critical edition and English translation of the homilies of Anastasius Sinaita.


Title: Introduction to Kalophony, the Byzantine «Ars Nova»
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354 pages