This course will focus on Byzantine chanting. We will examine some indicative vocal pieces of Byzantine music from the Middle Ages to the present. Our practice will be based on transcriptions of pieces in the Turkish five-line score, which is an adaptation of the Western score suitable for modal music systems. We will practice specific vocal techniques and become familiar with basic ornamentation used in this music.
Each class will be dedicated to one of the eight modes (echoi) of Byzantine music theory, each of which includes a variety of specific melodic behaviors. We will also explore the relationship between the lyrics and different aspects of the music, including modulations and the “texture” of the piece – syllabic, neumatic or melismatic. Throughout the course we will reference notions of Western music theory, Greek modes (dromoi) and Ottoman makam in order to place the Byzantine musical tradition within a wider musical spectrum. Students don’t need to have prior knowledge of Byzantine music. Some vocal experience will be helpful.