Byzantine Chant 2 - Yearlong Course 2018-19

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Byzantine Chant 2 - Yearlong Course 2018-19


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from Classical Academic Press

St. Raphael School is an Orthodox online school within Scholé Academy, which is a division of Classical Academic Press.

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Course Details at a Glance:

Term: Yearlong 2018–19 (Find our academic calendar here.)
Target Grade Range: 10+, adult
Instructor: Mr. Gabriel Cremeens
Live Session Schedule: Mondays and Thursdays, 2:15–3:10 p.m. EST (1:15–2:10 p.m. CST), 55 min.
Price: $250.00
Technical Requirements: Learn about our updated technical requirements here.

Byzantine Chant 2 Course Description:

Byzantine Chant 2 is the second year (semesters three and four) of a three-year (six-semester) course sequence in Byzantine chant. The entire course of study is described below, and the scope and sequence for all six semesters is given below as well. Please note that in Byzantine Chant 2, students will complete semesters three and four of this sequence.

Successful completion of the Byzantine chant course sequence will give students the ability to chant all the essential Octoëchos hymns of the Saturday Vespers and Sunday Orthros services in Byzantine chant in English, offer basic background in the liturgical structure of those services, and provide the proper theological and historical context in which to study, learn, and appreciate Byzantine music, hymnography, and liturgics.

SUMMARY: Byzantine Chant: Context, Theory, Practice, Prayer
This introductory course in Byzantine chant at the St. Raphael School will serve two distinct purposes. First, it will function as a course in Byzantine musical notation and the 8-mode system (“the 8 tones”). Beginning in the first semester, students will be introduced to the Byzantine notational system and will begin studying the Plagal of the 4th Mode. New modes will be added semester by semester, and the concept of theseis (formulae) will be introduced early on as the basis for mastering each mode. By the end of this course of studies, students will have learned and become proficient in all 8 modes through their study of the Resurrectional Hymns of Vespers and Orthros (that is, the Anastasimatarion).

Equal time will also be dedicated to the second purpose of the course: providing the theological, historical, theoretical, and liturgical context in which Church music in general, and Byzantine chant specifically, must be understood. In order to achieve this goal, students will learn about the history and theology of Church music, and the important Saints and other historical figures who influenced the development of hymnography, Church music, and liturgics. A basic introduction to Vespers and Orthros—the liturgical context for the musical material learned —will also be incorporated.

COURSE MATERIALS (basic list—subject to change and revision)

  • Byzantine Chant, by Constantine Cavarnos
  • A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, by Egon Wellesz
  • Byzantine Chant: The Received Tradition, by John Michael Boyer
  • All other course materials will be provided in electronic format by the instructor.

Please note: The cost of books is not included in the course fee.


From the beginning of the course, students will be required to learn and master short notation-reading exercises and, later, entire hymns in the modes that they are studying. Students will demonstrate their mastery of the exercises by completing each week’s assigned homework, which will include making recordings of these exercises. Mastery of these small exercises and hymns is essential for making progress in Byzantine chant.

Students will also be expected to complete all short readings as provided and assigned by the instructor, as these readings will be indispensable for establishing the proper theological/historical/liturgical context for the music being learned.

Scope and Sequence:

Introduction to Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music


·         Theology of Church Music

·         Hagiography and Church Music: Important Figures

·         Brief Historical Overview of the New Method of Analytical Notation

·         Reading Neume Notation

·         Introduction to Modal Theory (The Diatonic Genus—Plagal 4th Mode)


The Diatonic Genus: Resurrectional Hymns of Saturday Vespers and Sunday Orthros in Plagal 4th and 1st Modes.
The Divine Services: The Lifeblood of the Church


·         Orthography: Proper “Spelling” in Byzantine Music

·         Theseis: The Concept of “Formulae” or Melodic Patterns in Byzantine Music

·         Modal Theory of the Plagal 4th and 1st Modes

·         Resurrectional Hymns in the Plagal 4th and 1st Modes

·         Introduction to Liturgics: The Structure of Vespers and Orthros

·         Introduction to the Liturgical Books


The Diatonic Genus, Continued: Plagal 1st Mode and 4th Mode
From the Early Church to the Present: A Historical Overview of Church Music


·         Modal Theory and Resurrectional Hymns of Plagal 1st Mode and 4th Modes

·         History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography


Introduction to the Enharmonic Genus: 3rd and Grave Modes
The Art of Byzantine Music Composition


·         Modal Theory of the Enharmonic Genus: 3rd and Grave Modes

·         Resurrectional Hymns in the 3rd and Grave Modes

·         Byzantine Music Composition: The Marriage of Text and Music

·         History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, Continued


The Chromatic Genus: 2nd and Plagal 2nd Modes
Prosomoia: Model Melodies of Vespers and Orthros


·         Modal Theory of the Chromatic Genus: 2nd and Plagal 2nd Modes

·         Resurrectional Hymns in the 2nd and Plagal 2nd Modes

·         Prosomoia: Melodies for Congregational Participation


The Divine Liturgy: The Heart of the Orthodox Church


·         Music for the Divine Liturgy

·         Structure of the Divine Liturgy

·         Theology of the Divine Liturgy

·         Core Byzantine Chant repertoire in the Greek language