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Question for those well-versed in the Russian tradition of hymnology

88Devin12

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I've become a student of the Byzantine tradition of chant. As I've learned more and more over the previous year, I've realized that according to the Byzantine tradition of chant, that Byzantine Chant is much like iconography.

Rather than painting visual icons with paint, you are painting audible icons with your words and melody.

As such, Byzantine Chant follows a set "canon" of various formula and patterns that one must follow based on syllabic construction, sentence structure, word order etc...

Much like iconography, new hymns can be composed and are being composed, and the tradition is constantly growing and evolving.

However, also much like iconography, you can't just do what you want with it. Some parishes today, especially those using Byzantine Chant that is written in western notation, haven't been educated in this, and end up re-writing aspects of the Byzantine Chant that they feel are "odd" or that they don't think flow well, based on what they think should happen from a western music perspective. Though, for those who start studying the Byzantine tradition, this isn't something that you can just do without proper knowledge.

This leads into my question...

For those who are well versed in the Russian tradition (not just Slavic, but Russian specifically) of Orthodox chant. Is it similar to the Byzantine, are there set formula and patterns that you should follow, or is it more free-form?

I know there are traditions such as Valaam and Znamenny chant. Then there are more contemporary, composed pieces influenced by the west, such as Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Bortniansky etc...

What is the general rule of thumb for Russian hymnology? Is it seen like the Byzantine, where the melody is secondary to the words, and the melody serves to bring the words to life in a sort of audible iconography, and as such must follow a set pattern & formula? Or is it more "free-form"?
 

Sam G

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88Devin12 said:
What is the general rule of thumb for Russian hymnology? Is it seen like the Byzantine, where the melody is secondary to the words, and the melody serves to bring the words to life in a sort of audible iconography, and as such must follow a set pattern & formula? Or is it more "free-form"?
The late Bishop Daniel of Erie was once quoted as saying that Znamenny chant was the chant of the Russian Orthodox Church par excellence, so I'm going to base my answer off of my experience with Znamenny, which I also happen to chant on a weekly basis.

I would say that the melody is secondary to the words in Znamenny. All of what we sing follows a set pattern based off of the tone for the week or feast. Literally nothing is left to the interpretation of the chanter, choir leader, rector, etc.... the melodies for the tones do not change. i.e. a stichera in tone eight will always have the same melody.

A couple of weeks, if not months, ago I posed a link on here to a recording of a Divine Liturgy chanted in Znamenny Chant. You can find the link for the dropbox here.

If you have any more detailed questions on Znamenny chant, PM me and I can give you the contact information of our rector, who knows way more about it than I do.
 

mike

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88Devin12 said:
What is the general rule of thumb for Russian hymnology? Is it seen like the Byzantine, where the melody is secondary to the words, and the melody serves to bring the words to life in a sort of audible iconography, and as such must follow a set pattern & formula? Or is it more "free-form"?
You answered yourself:

I know there are traditions such as Valaam and Znamenny chant. Then there are more contemporary, composed pieces influenced by the west, such as Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Bortniansky etc...
 
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