Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Byzantine Music on Mount Athos

Byzantine Music, the music of the Orthodox Church[1], is the continuation of the ancient Greek music, created by Greek mathematicians-musicians. This tradition is continued and well preserved on Mount Athos, the monastic community in Northern Greece, one of the most holy places within the Orthodox World.
After the new explanations and the formation of the new, simpler, notation system that was realised in the 19th century, many books and hymns were widely spread within Orthodoxy, therefore allowing for the faithful, outside of the Holy Mountain, to listen and chant the hymns according to tradition formed on Mount Athos.

Many musicians and chanters excelled within the monastic environment on the Holy Mountain. Therefore, we have the creation of the agioritiko ifos, i.e. the style of chanting according to the monks on the Holy Mountain, whereby they have a good knowledge of ecclesiastical music and a praying ethos and style, since the chanters are monks.
The monks, in the beginning of their new life that they have chosen, are not allowed to chant. When they eventual are permitted to chant they do so in a praying and modest style. The monks eventually chant “as speaking to God”, according to St. John Chrysostom. Due to this ancient tradition, new styles, alien to the Holy Mountain, do not enter its practice and monasteries. However, they seem to have been influenced by Constantinos Priggos and Thrasivoulos Stanitsas (two chanters from the Ecumenical Patriarchate). Nevertheless, they have preserved and respected the music of great chanters of the Church, such as Iakovos the Protopsaltis.
Here we give the reader a number of paradigms, showing the richness of Byzantine Music on the Holy Mountain. 

[1] However, many Orthodox Churches have adopted the European music, such as the many Slavonic churches and some islands of the Greek world. 

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