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Introduction to Kalophony, the Byzantine «Ars Nova»

The «Anagrammatismoi» and «Mathēmata» of Byzantine Chant


Gregorios Th. Stathis and Konstantinos Terzopoulos

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.
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Chapter 2: The form of the Mathēmatarion



The form of the Mathēmatarion


As we have already observed (p. 31), the form of the Mathēmatarion belongs to the papadic genus of Byzantine melopœïa. Before delving more deeply and examining our subject more closely, however, it is necessary to review the papadic genus, albeit in summary form. Considering the present overview, based on the manuscript tradition, it should be said in advance that during the middle of the fourteenth century the papadic genus and its branches, the eidē of melos, have already inherently developed into a high art form and reveal an amazing level of accomplishment from a morphological point of view. This means that a pre-existent change in composition has already long taken place, insofar as we are presented with an autonomous art form in its own right, represented by many famous masters, known in Greek as didaskaloi. It is through the works of these composers that we arrive at the preceding years and are able to perceive how this change in the asmatic tradition of Byzantine worship gradually occurred during the first century of the Palaeologian era (AD 1261–1360).1

The fully developed appearance of the Mathēmatarion eidos and its codification: AD 1336 as milieu

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