Song of Our Roots

Byzantine chant. The complexity behind the monody

The Psaltic Art represents the ecclesiastic liturgical music of the Orthodox Church, left as a heritage and a treasure by the Holy Hymnographs and composers. It consists of an exclusively vocal monody which is often accompanied by isokratima (chanting the text on sound-base of a mode).

Byzantine music, being part of the Divine Service, could not be a matter of aesthetic speculation. Therefore, the authentic context for this functional liturgical music will always remain the Divine Liturgy, the Vespers, the Matins and the other orthodox services.

Why do we mention all this? Because, apart from the technical complexity of this monody, the diversity of the modes, scales, musical formulas, intervals, attractions, ornaments, vocal timbres, glissandi, the very power of this music hides in the liturgical experience itself starting with the Divine Liturgy, and cannot be replaced by any kind of musical performance.

In very profound and mystical way, this music works in the same way as the Holy Fathers describe their spiritual experiences: it starts from silence, it can burst into all kind of extrovert ways of expression and it goes back to silence, in a continuous balance of two fundamental feelings in the prayer: joy (of the Resurrection) and sorrow (for our sins), from the Greek charmolype.

Having this in our minds, let us discover together some of the beauty and the profoundness of this liturgical music!