Class Notes June, 1, 2016 8 Byzantine Modes

About the 8 Byzantine Modes


  • Modes:


    1. Influenced by ancient Greek Music.
    2. Three ‘families’:
      1. Diatonic: Modes in which your singing something close to only white keys on the piano.
      2. Chromatic: A lot of black keys.
      3. Enharmonic:
    3. Within the three families there are eight “Modes” which the Church adopted from the fifteen modes of the ancient Greeks.
      1. “A mode is the manner in which a melody progresses.” (Cavarnos, Byzantine Chant, 34) It is the way one goes about singing from start to finish. One could compare this to how we go about signing a melody in major or minor key in western music, yet in Byzantine music there are eight different manners in which a melody might progress.
    4. 8 Modes are distinguished into two groups of four.
      1. The Chief Modes: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.
      2. The Plagal (Variations) Modes: Plagal of the 1st, and 2nd; Varys, or, Grave Mode;  and Plagal of the 4th.
    5. More modes belong to the diatonic family than chromatic or enharmonic:
      1. To the Diatonic:
        1. The 1st, and Plagal of the 1st; 4th and plagal of the 4th.
      2. Chromatic:
        1. 2nd, and Plagal of the 2nd.
      3. Enharmonic:
        1. Third mode, and Varys.