This essay is designed to trace the origins and development of the Byzantine troparion (monostrophic or single – versed hymn) from its beginnings as a congregational response to and poetic expansion of a Biblical text or texts (especially the psalms) to the functional chants found in the liturgical services. What can be observed is the gradual stripping of the troparion from its Scriptural associations and its subsequent evolution into an independent poem set to music. In their later forms, troparia are governed by liturgical requirements: they cover liturgical actions and gestures and add solemnity to festal services. In this latter manifestation, the musical responsibility for chanting troparia is taken from the faithful and assumed by professional cantors.
In the present study the issue of the Greek-speaking Instruction of the Psaltic Art will be examined (as it is made clear by the phrasing of the subtitle) in three periods:
- The period between the 14th and 19th centuries (PAST) when the decisive important facts of the imposition of the New Method of analytical Notation, the publication of the theoretical works of Chrysanthos and, finally, the organization of Psaltic Art Instruction through known Patriarchal Music Schools, come as succession to scarce information offered by previously existed relevant sources.
- The period between the 19th and mainly the 20th century (PRESENT), when Psaltic Art Instruction is taught systematically in Conservatories and various Music Schools based on a homogenized educational model which is not always in accord with the facts of the past; in certain occasions it is even influenced by foreign music models.
- The current period (FUTURE), during which one should hope for a new era in regards to Psaltic Art Instruction (considering the rapid progress of the science of Byzantine Musicology in the last years or through the Instruction of Psaltic Art in highest educational Institutions).
It should be stated from the beginning that among the similar facts regarding the above mentioned three periods there is almost no correlation. For instance, there is abundant information available on the Instruction of Psaltic Art during the 2nd period, whereas there is almost none for the 1st. This is the reason why my interest here will focus on the 1st period; I will dare to undertake a task, which – from what I know – has not been undertaken yet; I will try to re-structure the undercurrent old methodology of Psaltic Art Instruction, so that we can suspect how the Art was taught until the 19th century. This will aid in proving that minimal (almost insignificant) elements of this period have been incorporated to the following period. However, scientific research thus far as well as the respective practical experience safely indicate that the deeper we know the facts of the past about Psaltic Art Instruction the better a present we will secure to contemporary music studies, bequeathing, at the same time, a more hopeful, enriched and palpably improved Psaltic Art Instruction method to future generations.
Nikolaos Docheiarites, Priest-Monk in Mount Athos (1781- 1846?): an Exegete and Teacher of Ecclesiastical Music
Nikephoros-Nikolaos Docheiarites (born in Omvriaki Domokos, 1781, died in Karyes of Mount Athos, 1846?) was a major figure of Mount Athos monasticism in the 19th century. As a priest-monk and a chanter, undertaking administrating duties in the frame of Mount Athos community, he was distinguished in the field of 19th century ecclesiastical music as a productive scribe of manuscript codices of ecclesiastical music, as an accomplished teacher of chanting art, as a composer and, most of all, as a talented and erudite exegete of Old Musical Notation. Nikolaos Docheiarites went down in history as one of the three Athonite exegetes who transcribed chants from the Old Notation to the New Notational System (established in 1814 by virtue of the Reform of the “Three Teachers”). Nikolaos expanded his activities in Slavic area, adapting the melodies of Greek hymns to the Slavonic liturgical text. The archives of the Docheiariou Monastery and his manuscript codices allow us to get a comprehensive understanding of his life and his musical work.
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