Have you ever wondered how music looked alike before Mozart, Bach and other famous musicians? I have to disappoint you, but it didn’t suck. You can still hear it today and people like it.
One of those early types of music was Byzantine music. Yeah, that big powerful country that existed for thousand years. It was a very smart country and had love for art in any way art existed.
That’s how it sounds. As for me, they knew what they were doing. It is very complex. When I learned about their music I found it easy to remember everything about it: their style, purpose of this music and famous musicians. But, their notation – very complex and still a puzzle for historians.
Style is very different from the Western Europe style in those days. The Emperor was leader of the country and of the church (Caesaropapism) and that made church and folk music almost equal. Unfortunately, wars and economic disasters didn’t allow their Byzantine music to become more complex and now we can only hear something like that in orthodox churches.
Music forms were interesting. There are 4 types: hymns, troparias, kontakias and kanonas.
Hymns consisted of troparias and psalmic lines between them.
Kontakias had 18-21 verses which had melodies like the first verse.
Kanonas were complex. They had 9 odes and each one of them had usually 4 verses.
Troparias were the verses in hymns but they had always new melodic line and new text.
Famous writers (well, they weren’t really composers) were Roman the Melodist, Ioannis Damaskius who created ochtoichius and Ioannis Koukouzelis.
Ok, so, now that I wrote something about their music i will show you something very strange. It is their notation. The signs that they used were called neumas (I am not very good at translation) and people wrote them above or bellow the text. They represented intervals of the voice that was singing.
Hope you liked it…