Braille Byzantine Music Notation

Exercise Book

Chapter 8

Heirmologic Melodies

g) Second Mode

   Heirmologic second mode and uses the hard chromatic scale for some hymns and the soft chromatic scale for others. In this page, we shall briefly introduce the hard chromatic scale before presenting exercises using it, and then briefly introduce the soft chromatic scale before presenting exercises using it. But before we do, it is necessary to clarify a few things about martyrias in general.

 

Martyrias

   All martyrias consist of three braille symbols. The first symbol indicates the octave: dot 5 for high, dots 456 for middle, and dots 45 for low. Until now (i.e., for all diatonic martyrias), the second symbol has indicated the name of the pitch (the letter "n" for Nee, the letter "p" for Pa, etc.). This can be considered the "absolute pitch" of a note, since it indicates the pitch of a note in relation to the initial martyria, regardless of how the scales might have changed in the middle of a hymn after the initial martyria. And the third symbol until now (i.e., for diatonic martyrias) has indicated the "relative pitch." In other words, the third symbol indicates what the pitches relative to that note will be. Thus, for example, when the third symbol of a martyria is dots 256: 4 (which indicates the relative pitch for Nee in a diatonic scale), the intervals of notes above this martyria will correspond to the intervals of notes above a diatonic Nee. Usually the braille character indicating the relative pitch of Nee is only found on Nee. But in some complicated compositions, the scale is transposed such that this braille character is found on other notes (such as Pa or Di). Such a transposition would correspond to a scale D-major if that braille character were in a martyria of Pa, or G-major if that braille character were in a martyria of Di (although it is technically inaccurate to call a diatonic scale based on Nee to be a scale of C-major, since its intervals are not quite equivalent to the intervals of an equal-tempered major scale).

   The order of the second and third braille cells for martyrias for hard and soft chromatic scales is reversed. In other words, the absolute pitch is indicated by the third braille cell of a martyria, and the the relative pitch is indicated by the second braille cell of a martyria. Thus, for example, the hard chromatic martyria of Pa is: _5P  Notice that the third character is "P" for "Pa," and the second character is a symbol that indicates the tonic of a hard chromatic scale. The hard chromatic martyria of Di is: _8D  The third character is "D" for "Di," and the second character is a symbol that indicates the note three steps above the tonic in a hard chromatic scale.

   You may find it difficult to grasp these abstract musical concepts regarding how "absolute pitch" and "relative pitch" are indicated by a martyria. If so, don't despair! Many people find it easier to grasp these concepts by practical application rather than by theoretical explanations. If these theoretical explanations have left you with some unanswered questions, hopefully the answers to these questions will become self-evident as you progress through the rest of the exercises in this book.

 

Hard Chromatic Scale

   The pitches of Zo, Nee, Pa, Di, Ke, and High Pa in the hard chromatic scale are identical to the pitches of the same notes in the diatonic scale. The other notes have different pitches. In particular: Vou is always flat, Ga is slightly higher (it is 33 cents higher, i.e., one-third of a half-step), Zo is always flat, and High Nee is always sharp (it is actually 33 cents higher than C-sharp). Thus, the hard chromatic scale is approximately: B-natural, C, D (which is the tonic), E-flat, F, G, A, B-flat, C-sharp, D. Its tonic is on Pa, and its dominant notes are Pa and Di. The way its tonic is indicated is by placing the hard chromatic fthora of Pa after the word "Pa" at the beginning of a hymn. The hard chromatic fthora of Pa is written with the braille characters: -O  A peculiarity of heirmologic second mode is that instead of this fthora being placed on Pa, it is occasionally placed on Vou. Doing so won't really change the sound of anything; it merely transposes all the pitches up by one step. Exercises 162-165 below are all hard chromatic, but only 162 has its tonic on Pa, while 163-165 have their tonic on Vou.

   For the rest of the exercises in this online book, after the number of each exercise we have written in parenthesis the phonetics for the first few words of the exercise.

Exercise 162  (H anastasis sou)

_5P >-@] A-[ NA-V STA-\ SIS-,[\ SU-\ HRI-\ STE-: SJ-: T>R-O A-V PA-\ SAN-[ E-\ FJ-,: TI-\ SE-\ T>N-[> [-,: KU-\ ME-R N>N-R _5P K<-[ A-\ NE-: KA-: LE-,: SJ-\ TO-\ I-,:  DI-\\ ON-\  PLA-^V SMA-R _5P PAN-@] TO-:  DY-,: NA-\ ME-\ KY-,[\ RI-\ E-\ DO-,] XA-\ S[-( _5P

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Exercise 163 (Tin timioteran)

_5B T>N-[ TI-[ MI-: J-: TE-,:\ RAN-\ TJN-\ HE-: RU-: BIM-O _8K K<-\ EN-[ DO-: XO-: TE-,: RAN-\ A-\ SYG-[ KRI-:-!>: TJS-\ TJN-\ SE-\-R RA-\ FIM-O _8K T>N-@$ A-[ DI-: A-: F?O-,:# RJS-\ ?E-\ ON-\ LO-] GON-[ TE-\ KU-R SAN-R _5B T>N-[ ON-@W TJS-[ ?E-\ O-\ TO-V KON-\ SE-,[\ ME-\ GA-\ LY-,] NO-\ MEN-R _5B

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Exercise 164 (En to ourano)

_BU-O X1

   EN-[ TJ-[ U-: RA-: NJ-: TA-: OM-,: MA-\ TA-\ EK-[ PE-,[\ PJ-\ MU-: T>S-,: KAR-\ DI-R AS-\ _5B PROS-[  SE-: SJ-: T>R-O SJ-,[ SON-\ ME-\ S>-] E-[ PI-\

LAM-R &%-R _5B

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Exercise 165 (Eleison imas)

_5B E-[ LE-V >-\ SON-: >-: MAS-: TUS-[ PT<-V ON-\ TAS-8S" S[-M POL-: LA-O KA?-[ E-[ KA-,[ ST>N-\ J-\ RAN-: J-,: HRI-\ STE-R MU-R _5B K<-[ DOS-V PRO-\ TE-: LUS-: TRO-:# PUS-8R" TU-M ME-: TA-[ NO-$ %N-:>\ S[-R

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Soft Chromatic Scale

 

   The pitches of Nee, Vou, Ga, Di, High Zo, and High Nee in the soft chromatic scale are identical to the pitches of the same notes in the diatonic scale. The other two notes have different pitches. In particular: Pa is flat (its pitch is actually 33 cents higher than D-flat) and Ke is flat (its pitch is actually 33 cents higher than A-flat). The tonic of the soft chromatic scale is on Di, and its dominant notes are Vou and Di. Pa and Ga sometimes have melodic attractions towards the notes above them. In other words, sometimes Pa and Ga are executed with a sharp even when a sharp is not explicitly written in the music.

   Of all the scales in Byzantine music, the soft chromatic scale is the only one that cannot be satisfactorily approximated with corresponding pitches of an equal-tempered scale (which is the scale that most people in North America and Western Europe are accustomed to hearing and singing). As we explained in our brief article on the intervals of the soft chromatic scale, the reason why the soft chromatic scale cannot be approximated satisfactorily is because of the pitch of Ke: If Ke is equated with A-flat (which in itself is a reasonable approximation, since Ke is really only 33.3 cents higher than A-flat), and Zo is equated with B-natural (which in itself is also a reasonable approximation, since Zo is really only 33.3 cents lower than B-natural), then the interval Ke-Zo becomes 66.7 cents greater than what it should be (i.e., it becomes 300 instead of 233 cents). Although an error of 33 cents is not very noticeable, an error or 67 cents is quite obvious. Thus, chanting Ke as if it were A-flat is an unsatisfactory approximation.

   On the other hand, if instead one chants the pitch of Ke as if it were A-natural (and Zo still as B-natural), other problems ensue. Although the interval Ke-Zo becomes 200 cents (which is very close to its correct interval, which is 233 cents), the interval Di-Ke becomes 200 cents, which is 67 cents too large. And since an error of 67 cents is blatant, chanting Ke and A-natural is also an unsatisfactory approximation.

   Even though neither A-flat nor A-natural is a good way to chant Ke in the soft chromatic scale for the reasons mentioned above, it should be noted that many people resort to these approximations. In particular, Byzantine music in Arabic (and English adaptations of such music in the Antiochian Church) almost always approximates Ke as A-flat (thus changing the soft chromatic scale into the hard chromatic scale), while most adaptations of Byzantine music in staff notation done by Greek Orthodox composers in North America approximate Ke as A-natural (thus changing the soft chromatic scale into D major).

   The ideal solution would, of course, be to manage to chant the pitches of Ke and Zo exactly where they should be. Although this is not easy, it can be done, especially if one listens carefully to many recordings of traditional chanters. But until you are able to chant these pitches with their proper intervals, we recommend chanting Ke as A-natural except when the melody oscillates between Di and Ke (without ascending to Zo), in which case Ke should be chanted as A-flat.

   There are two ways to indicate that a hymn will be chanted in the soft chromatic scale. One way (as seen below in exercise 166) is to place the soft chromatic martyria of Di before the hymn. In Braille Byzantine notation, this is written with the braille characters: _6D  The other way is simply to write the word "Di" in braille, preceded by the braille character for underlining in Greek (dots 456) and followed by the soft chromatic fthora of Di, as is done below for exercise 167. The soft chromatic fthora of Di is written with the braille characters: -P

   In Byzantine Music notation, there are only two soft chromatic fthoras for all seven notes of the scale. Thus, a soft chromatic fthora for Di, for example, is the same symbol used for the soft chromatic fthora of Vou, Nee, and high Zo. Therefore, when one sees that fthora, the context does not always make obvious which of these notes is intended. To avoid confusion, Byzantine music notation for the sighted often inserts a tiny letter "beta" (to indicate Vou) or "zeta" (to indicate Zo) so that one knows where in the scale one is. In Braille Byzantine Music notation, a similar solution is employed. As we just mentioned, the soft chromatic fthora of Di is written in braille as a hyphen followed by the letter "p." To indicate that this fthora is for Vou, Nee, or High Zo, the braille letter "b," "n," or "z" respectively is written immediately after the "p." The same method for clarification is also used for hard chromatic fthoras.

Exercise 166  (Theos Kyrios)

_6D X1

   ?E-\ OS-[#8[\H KY-S>: RI-[ OS-[ K<-[ E-[ PE-: FA-: NEN-[ >-[ MIN-8[ :-\ LO-[ G>-\ ME-: NOS-[ O-[ ER-\ HO-[>: ME-\ NOS-R _6D EN-\ O-: NO-,: MA-\ TI-\ KY-\ RI-[#::9 U-[( _6D

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Exercise 167  (O efschimon)

_DI-P

   O-$ :-[ SH>-S>: MJN-[ I-[ J-[ S>F-: A-: PO-[ TU-\ XY-,] LU-\ KA-\ ?E-\ LJN-[ TO-[ A-V HRAN-\ TON-V SU-\ SJ-8[\H*[>A9[H MA-S _6B SIN-[ DO-: NI-[ KA-[ ?A-[ RA-: %-[ L>-8[ SAS-\ K<-[ A-\ RJ-[>: MA-[ SIN-S _6D EN-[ MN>-,] MA-\ TI-\ K<-\ NJ-O K>-[ D:-V SAS-\ A-[ PE-8S ?E-\ TO-R _6B ALL-[ LA-: TRI-[ >-: ME-[ ROS-[ A-\ NE-8[ ST>S-\ KY-[>: RI-[ E-S PA-: RE-,: HJN-\ TO-\ KO-,: SMJ-\ TO-\ ME-V GA-$ E-[#:: LE-\ OS-! _6D

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   Fine work! You are now ready to move on to the last section of heirmologic melodies: ecclesiastical hymns with melodies in heirmologic plagal second mode.

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