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Reconstructing the echema AIANEOEANE (Alia musica) on the base of neumes in Hartvic (D-Mbs clm 14272)

Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

clm 14272, fol. 177v

Tonary of the alia musica compilation (manuscript M) with neumed intonations, psalmody, and glossed tonaries, music theoretical collection of the Abbey St Emmeram, Regensburg (1006-1028).

When I published my article about this particular intonation:

Gerlach, O., 2011. About the Import of the Byzantine Intonation AIANEOEANE in an 11th-Century Tonary. In M. Altripp, ed. Byzanz in Europa. Europas östliches Erbe: Akten des Kolloquiums „Byzanz in Europa“ vom 11. bis 15. Dezember 2007 in Greifswald. Turnhout: Brepols, S. 172–183. Available at:

Hartvic's tonary was not yet online, so that I could reconstruct the original echema as it was notated in this manuscript. It is one of those with a melisma and the last syllable:

The text (Chailley 1965, 141):

Hoc quoque senties canendo A[punctum]I[virga cum episema]A[virga cum episema]-NE[climacus/pressus?]O[punctum]E[pes]A[pes]NE[clinis, salicus & torculus].

Siquidem a paramese [♮], peracta quarta specie diapente, ad lichanos hypaton [D] descendit, et ad lichanos meson [G] per singulas chordas ascendendo diapente intendit, rursusque ad trite diezeugmenon [c] gravando remittit; ad extremum in sua finali hoc est hypate meson [E] definitum.

I think we could do this reconstruction work together, based on this source.

Any suggestions, how this echema AIANEOEANE should sound like according to the neumes and the verbal description?

You might download this graphic to insert letter notation:

Tags: AIANEOEANE, AliaMusica, Hucbald, Tonary

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Replies to This Discussion

Dear Oliver,

To understand how to possibly sing the intonations like AIANEOEANE, we need first to know a little about the pronounciation in singing in these Byzantine times; following Christian Hannick, with whom I discussed the matter many years ago, these intonations were sung in a nasal way. Moreover, the precise intervals (non tempered) are essential because depending on a clear or dark vowel are intonated high or low intervals; e.g. the high Pythagorian third or the natural one, the high (neutral) minor third or the natural one, etc. Concerning these intervals, in the Western Chant, I'm supposed to write a paper; it is possible to have a rather good understanding of such intervals.

Iegor Reznikoff

You are absolutely right, my essay was about the particular low intonation of MI, since the name of the echema already tells us that it was a mesos tetartos, because "aia" is in fact a transliteration of ἅγια ("holy", something like ἅγια νεανὲ)... It also explains, why it has in fact three syllables and the liquida "i" is a syllable of its own!

This low intonation was obviously something interesting for Latin cantors and I am confident that this particular echema tried to imitate it. The other difficult question is, what was the usual intonation between the phthongoi protos and plagios devteros [α᾽—πλβ᾽] in Byzantine practice, since the nenano tetrachord connected them sometimes? Quite frankly, I do not know.

But a low intonation (probably to an excessive degree similar to "perde kürdî" in Ottoman times which is even lower than "perde segâh") of plagios devteros definitely existed as a tetartos melos, where the pentachord is between kyrios and plagios [δ᾽—πλδ᾽] which was G and C (with a low intonation of E somewhere inbetween the Pythagorean ditonus and semiditonus with respect to C). Hence, a lower intonation was possible under this circumstance...

By the way, Christian Hannick was present during my paper in Greifswald and his excellent ison helped me a lot to get the intonation right, while I was performing «Confessio et pulchritudo» as a kind of echos legetos...

The author of this alia musica compilation also mentioned that a low MI intonation could be followed by an intense one which is definitely different from the practice we know from Orthodox singers today and their concept of echos legetos. This is just a hint, how the salicus could be transcribed...

I see that you master this questions of intonations and modes quite well. As to the natural third (5/4), it can be shown that it was the main third in the G mode (while in F mode, it is clearly the Pythagorean which moreover was the theoretical one). I regret I didn't hear your duet with Christian!

You are very kind with respect to my vocational diseases... but I just tried to respond to your ideas concerning pronounciation. Of course, (Western) neumes and transliterated Greek are fundamental sources which have to offer plenty of information about it. Nina-Maria Wanek judged on the base of transliterated Greek texts in Carolingian manuscripts that the medieval Constantinopolitan pronounciation of liturgical texts was not that far from the common pronounciation of these texts today (unlike the peripheral pronounciation in Italy and Cyprus which has still preserved rather archaic elements).

Any suggestions concerning the echema and its intervals to continue with a second step?

Concerning suggestions, I have to return to the matter; it's a long while I havn't worked on. But I shall try.

I would be very grateful for any of your ideas!

Of course, I do not expect they will coincide with mine, but this truly proves how manyfold ideas might be to understand such a source.

First, I have to read carefully your paper. I don't have the book and don't plan to buy it; is it possible to ask you to send me the paper?

Interesting is certainly Hartvic's addition "hoc est hypate meson definitum" which does not exist in Chailley's edition (note that Hartvic's copy does also start on page 99 of Chailley's edition, the beginning of his source is missing in the collection of St Emmeram). He pointed right at the odd circumstance that a low intonation of E was beyond the systema teleion, since the first and last element (phthongos) of the meson tetrachord was immobile (estōtes) and therefore did not exist within the Boethian diagramme.

This problem confronts us right with the synthesis between the Ancient Greek Great Perfect System (GPS) and the oktōēchoi in church music. The Byzantine theory defines "D" as the first element or "prōtos", Hucbald followed this kind of synthesis, so that the synnemenon tetrachord started on "G" instead of "a" (see my comment in a recent discussion, where I inserted a diagramme from a publication by Christian Meyer), while the anonymous author of the enchiriadis treatises rather relied on the Byzantine synthesis which used the tetraphonic tone system, and not the GPS.

In the great Western repertory which - because of the high mastering of modal intervals, melodic formulae, words, vowels, etc. - belongs to the Gallo-Roman antiquity (IV-VI c.), I understand the modes more in the Indo-European harmonic way. Namely for the E mode, the interval e-f is high(11/10; interval - taking c as fondamental tone - between the tenth harmonic e and the eleventh f+). It is typical of oral traditions, and of Indian (North or South) music, Spanish cante jondo and e.g. in the antiphon Nigra sum or the extraordinary verse Beati immaculati in via of the Offertory Benedictus es ... in labiis. Because f = f+ (large half-tone) in a descending melodic movement e appears (very) low. Shortly for other intervals, e-g is high; the fourth a is high or pure; the fifth h pure; the sixth c high (h-c is the same interval as e-f: c is high). The Boethian theory, as we know, is concerned only by the theory of main intervals, and of course is far from the oral tradition.

I'm not always in accordance with S. Karas; note that 11/10 > 27/25. We all have interval 11/10 in our ears, because the f+, the high harmonic fourth is easily heard and necessary to form some vowels. When you heard it once and practiced a little, it is quite managable, while 27/25 is not.

Talking of Karas, me neither...

Did I understand you well that the interval between between E and F (according “Pythagorean” tuning semitonium) should have the proportion 11:10, so that the eleventh partial tone of E comes together with the tenth one of F?

If C—D should be a tonus the resulting interval (between D—E) is: 4:3 x 8:9 x 10:11 = 320:297. I think 12:11 (D—E) instead is rather manageable... even if the resulting smallest interval (E—F) is 88:81.

I personally do not expect that E—a is a pure fourth (it does not need to be as a mesos tetartos, but the tetartos pentachord should have the proportion 3:2), but of course 11:10 has the result that E becomes considerably lower...

The decision of Latin cantors to define this mode as deuterus, just because it is an E mode, corresponds to the Greek interpretation of the 17th century, that echos legetos is supposed to be the old diatonic plagios devteros, but both are not correct, because the fifth E—b natural is usually augmented, which is not possible in devteros due to tetraphonia. But if you tune both tetrachords (D—G, a—d) 12:11 x 88:81 x 9:8, there is tetraphonia and the devteros pentachord has 3:2!

When speaking of ancient intervals, based on the sequence of harmonics (overtones), the fundamental tone is supposed, theoretically, to be C (the pitch is irrelevant). Then, the fifth G, is the third harmonic and 3/2 of the height of C; E, the natural third is given (in the third octave) by the fifth harmonic, ratio 5/4; the pure fourth F is never a harmonic but is the complementary to the fifth in the octave (4/3); the second D is given by the nineth harmonic (in the fourth octave) i.e. the fifth of the fifth (9/8); then we have again the third E as the tenth harmonic, and now F+, the eleventh harmonic which ratio to the preceding E is 11/10. This is already sufficient to manage with quite a lot of traditional intervals. Particularly in the fourth octave, the Pythagorian third is given as the second of a second (81/64); the small second as the interval natural third - pure fourth; the high minor fourth by the interval D - F+ (11/9); the high fourth by C - F+ (11/8), etc.

The advantage is that all these intervals can be heard (by a little trained ear; it was certainly the case in ancient times and nowadays with children!). Moreover as harmonics of the voice, they have a meaning, a modal meaning, corresponding to the subbtle expressions of the voice.

I'm not forgetting to send you the CD Le Chant du Mont St-Michel.

Light and Joy in the New Year!

I see!

You would like to use a meantone intonation 9:8 x 10:9 x 11:10, but the result is almost a tritone, if you use 11:10 instead of 16:15. Hence, there is an attraction towards the kyrios tetartos, because the difference of the pure minor third (6:5) is 12:11 for the step between F+ and G.

But which intervals would you choose to descend from G to D?



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