Discussing Neil Moran and Rebecca Maloy

Neil Moran wrote:

I have completed a study on MEDIAL MODE OFFERTORIES and have submitted it for publication.

and continued with a quotation and a request for discussion:


In contrast the O.R. versions of Confirma hoc for Pentecost and Oravi deum for Dominica XVI make liberal use of the colouration of the upper tetrachord.  In her discussion of the Gregorian settings of Oravi deum Maloy comments on the ‘nondiatonic pitches … employed in the pretheoretical tradition’!  The versions in Paris, lat. 1121 and Montpellier, H 159 clearly outline the two medial tetrachords, yet Maloy states that “Oravi begins as a deuteros melody and in the majority of sources, closes on E” but then adds “In the pretheoretical tradition, however, it most likely closed on D, with a deuteros E flat’ (sic).[i]  To order to accommodate her theory she rejects the readings in the manuscripts and proposes a ‘hypothetical performance level’ one tone lower.  However both verse 3 of Confirma hoc and verse 2 of Oravi deum include a similar descent from c to D, so why was the introduction of a ‘hypothetical performance level’ only necessary in the second piece?  In fact the same c – D – G flourish appears in lines 6 and as c – D – E in lines 7, 9 and 10 of the O.R. version of Confirma hoc.  Most of these difficulties together with the introduction of all the sharps and flats would disappear if she had given priority to the O.R. versions.

[i] R. Maloy, Inside the offertory, pp.357-358.   Maloy discusses Oravi deum in her article’ Scolica enchiriadis and the 'non-diatonic' plainsong tradition, Early Music History,  28,  pp 61-96.

The terms ‘progressive homogenization’  and ‘perfunctory formulaicism’ are used by Rebecca Maloy to describe the weakly articulated melodies of the so-called Old Roman repertoire, which she believes is a late Medieval creation first written down in the late 11th century.  In a review of her work in Early Music History Joseph Dyer suggests that if is such is the case, then” the local Roman repertory might better be characterised as ‘late’ or ‘new’ Roman chant.”  Any comments?

1) Offertory "Confirma hoc"


Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine, Ms. H159, fol. 117v-118r

(Guillaume de Volpiano)


F-Pbn lat. 1121, fol. 128v-129r (Adémar de Chabannes)

2) Offertory "Oravi deum"


Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine, Ms. H159, fol. 115v-116r

(Guillaume de Volpiano)


F-Pbn lat. 1121, fol. 134r-134v (Adémar de Chabannes)

1271811101?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024F-Pbn lat. 909, fol. 242v-243r (Adémar de Chabannes)


Maloy, R., 2009. Offertory Melodies in Rome, Francia, and Milan. In B. Haggh & L. Dobszay, ed. Papers Read at the 13th Meeting of the IMS Study Group „Cantus Planus“ Niederaltaich/Germany, 2006. Aug. 29-Sept. 4. Budapest: Institute for Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, S. 427–439. Available at: CP 2006.
Maloy, R., 2009. Scolica Enchiriadis and the ‘non-Diatonic’ Plainsong Tradition. Early Music History, 28, S.61–96.
Maloy, R., 2010. Inside the Offertory: Aspects of Chronology and Transmission, Oxford, New York [etc.]: Oxford University Press.
Caldwell, J., 2011. Rebecca Maloy, Inside the Offertory: Aspects of Chronology and Transmission (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). X + 449 Pp., with Companion Website. £37.50. ISBN 978 0 19 531517 2. Plainsong and Medieval Music, 20(02), S.193–201.

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  • I started a new discussion with your remark concerning the book of Nicolae Gheorghiţă in the group "Chanz byzantin et liturgies orientales":


    Discussing Nicolae Gheorghiţă's "Byzantine Music Treatises in the Manuscripts Fund in Romania"
    Already some time ago I announced the new book by Nicolae Gheorghiţă (published in 2010): http://gregorian-chant.ning.com/profiles/blogs/new-book-abo…
  • I guess you hit the point. The angels may have the advantage that they never use notation, so they do not remark the changes in tradition, when they sing (maybe this might be already a human concept of eternity?) ;)

    Let us say that this ideal of a pure "oral tradition" is in the mind of every philologist (though their lack of practical experience makes it often difficult to understand what it really is), but we have also to bare in mind that a book has to be understood as a tool of the art of memory (according to Mary Carruthers). This is quite a contradiction and the cause of every bad translation as the fundament of a new tradition whatsoever!

    The contradiction comes to itself, when you point out, that an idea, as the Greeks learnt their own chromatic and the enharmonic genos by the makamlar of the Ottoman empire, has something in common with the idea, that Roman cantors learnt Roman chant by their own students, the Frankish cantors. Eckhard Neubauer had found a 12th century view of Islamic (?) music history in a prologue of a Divan. It said, that the musician Ibn Misğaḥ (sometimes it is also his contemporary Ibn Muhriz) created "the music tradition of the Arabs" during the 7th century as a combination of the best of Persian music and the best of the Byzantine music tradition of Damascus. The contact was much older and the other way round, but Constantinople was only one centre among others. At least, this influence was recognized among cultivated musicians of the caliphate. Was it just courtesy?

    Concerning the Slavic reception, I already told you that I am not the right person. But it seems that Svetlana Poliakova offers a very useful and well-structured introduction into all these issues and on overview over the history of the Byzantine rite, including the Studite synthesis between monastic and cathedral rite (please have a look on the 1st part of her doctoral thesis). Nevertheless the "two antipoles of Orthodoxy" as they appear to philologists who would like to study the Constantinopolitan cathedral rite, are rather copies of the monastic Studite reform, because no Constantinopolitan book had survived before the Western crusades (it seems that the latter were quite destructive). The earliest Greek sources were written for Greek monasteries in Southern Italy, the earlier Slavic sources in Novgorod. The Greek manuscripts which Oliver Strunk studied for his essay about Constantinople, are monastic chant books from Mount Athos. We often regard this repertory as not appropriate to the monastic tradition. The truth is that this tradition was occasionally celebrated in monasteries during important feast days, when they were expecting guests.

    The influence of makamlar belongs to the history of the Ottoman empire which might be the proper name for the "postbyzantine", because the system of makamlar and usulümler cannot be dated back to an earlier time than 1400. The fact, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople was part of the Ottoman administration responsable for Orthodox Christians, had never been a secret. The integration of makamlar as well in "exoteric" as in "esoteric" genres was only following a certain well-known concept of phthora on the official side. In practice there are even liturgical compositions entirely based on the melos of a certain makam, please just have a look. I left a comment there for you.

    I am very content that you read the book of Gheorgiţa which I once announced. I think that the topic the Boyars and the Fanariots is worth another discussion which has no relation at all for this group.

    As far as we could see, it is not the Greeks' fault that they were less interested in the imitation Western culture as vice versa. If we would like to understand, what divided musicians of the Levante from Western music theory and its institution conservatory until today, Rebecca Maloy's term "theoretical" could be the right answer!

    Svetlana Poliakova's PhD thesis about "the Triodion Cycle in the Liturgical Praxis in Russia during…
    Author: Svetlana Poliakova (http://gregorian-chant.ning.com/profile/SvetlanaPoliakova or http://gregorian-chant.ning.com/profile/SvetlanaYurievnaPoli…
  • (The Origins of Russian Music: Introduction to the Kondakarian Notation, p. 1):  “In addition it is an indisputable fact that the Russians acquired the Byzantine sacred chant repertoire when they accepted Christianity and the cradle of Russian Church is to be sought in Byzantium.  Nevertheless the musical development of scared music within the two traditions took place along two very different pathways. … The heterogeneous influences to which these two antipoles of Orthodoxy were exposed played a pivotal role in determining the style and character of each repertoire.  The music development of the Russian and Greek branches of Orthodoxy could be taken as a prime example of how quintessential relationships can be affected over the course of time by changes in taste and fashion.”

    (N. Gheorghita, Byzantine Chant between Constantinople and the Danubian Principalities, p. 202): "Generally, the Postbyzantine period is perceived either as an epoch powerfully influenced by the Orient, or quite the contrary, as a loyal continuation of the past in a different semeiographic disguise". 

    O. Gerlach ascribes to the latter group, namely that Byzantine music is of divine origin, being transmitted by angels to the people, thus guaranteeing the success of an undistorted transmission both of the liturgical text and its music for more than a millennium.    

    After the defeat of a Moldavian revolt in 1711, only Greeks from the Phanar district of Constantinople were selected for the much-coveted position of Christian pasha in Moldavia and Wallachia.  Almost all the Pharariot princes and boyars maintained Turkish bands as an expression of loyalty to the Sublime Porte .  According to Gheorghita,  “during 1711-1832, thirty-one Phanariot Princes, from eleven families, were to be on the two countries’ thrones on seventy-five occasions.” 

    As for oriental influences  on ecclesiastical chant one is referred to the chapter in codex Bucharest, Romanian Academy Library, Gr. MS 923 with the title Αφημια εκ ποιων, και ποσων…= Comparison between echoi and makams (ff. 304-41v) with 68 music examples.  The codex Drobeta Turnu-Severin, State Archives Gr. MS 9 has a theoretical text on the three melodic genera: diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic (=Ποσα ειδη τηχ μελωδιας;  Τρια: απμονικον, διατονικον και χρωματικον ).   The Byzantine musician Dionysios Photeios wrote a treatise with the title Theoretical and practical didaskalia on the written church music, especially composed for tambour and keman

  • Dear Franco

    Rebecca Maloy did not miss to quote Mr. Rumphorst's publication (see note 4). What does it change in your opinion?

    I agree with your opinion concerning the recent reception of Musica and Scolica enchiriadis.


    Dear Neil,


    'Most of these difficulties together with the introduction of all the sharps and flats would disappear if she had given priority to the O.R. versions.'


    It would be a pity not to give attention to the attempts medieval scribes did to notate the non-diatonic pitches.

    GREG was more colourfull than the customs of the 11th century would allow to write down.


    How to write E and E-flat in one piece? Transpose and write B and B-flat! A very common procedure.


    On Oravi one should read the article by Heinrich Rumphorst in Beiträge zur Gregorianik 44, page 49-66. Included is an extensive tableau of the reading of 5 adiastematic and 7 diastematic manuscripts.(59-66)

    There was an update (only on the last page) of the tableau in BzG 45, 40

  • Meanwhile I have read some extracts of Rebecca Maloy's work, from the beginning of her study in her paper for Cantus planus 2006, her book and the various discussions that it has caused (it had quiet a lot of reviews), and more in detail her essay about "Scolica enchiriadis". This was a lot of work, but I think it was worth, because Rebecca Maloy's essay is not only brilliant, it touches nearly all misunderstandings which we often had to face in other discussions.

    The question of knowledge

    In my opinion concerning her adventurous interpretations in the field of absonia, you take her probably too serious, at least more than she herself would do. On the one hand, we have the Philistines' concept (reflected in several monastic reform orders) of finding the pure and uncorrupted transmission ("unemended") in order to guard the tradition (the orthodox aspect of tradition), on the other hand, there are individual artistic concepts of the cantor's craftship based on a certain local school, which have regularly transformed melodies, while the tonary itself represented a certain local concept (the orthopractical aspect which keeps a tradition alive). The eight sections of the tonary were based on a common background of the octoechos, but the analytical function of the tonary made it evident, that is was not necessarily the background of the cantors, who had once composed the classified melodies.

    I learnt in the discussion about absonia, that transpositions in the sense of the ancient Greek μεταβολή κατὰ τόνον were possible according to the anonymous author of the treatise group "Musica" and "Scolica enchiriadis", which is by the way also the only testimony of a Latin reception of the tetraphonic tone system made entirely of disjunct tetrachords. Under influence of 11th century theorists some musicologists underestimated the practical relevance of the Dasia system (see note 15 in Rebecca Maloy's essay).

    Now a lot of tonary manuscripts are available in digital reproductions via internet, everybody can see, how widespread and common the use of Dasia signs was among the cantors who wrote tonaries, sometimes not only used for the Dasian or tetraphonic system, but also for the heptaphonic—the double octave of systema teleion.

    Because my contribution to the discussion around chant transmission was the explanation of the Koukouzelian wheel (here the "dasia system" was called "trochos system" = "wheel system") and all the possible transpositions, represented by it, I became very curious, how profound the understanding of μεταβολή κατὰ τόνον really was among Carolingian cantors, and in the context of treatises which dedicate some passages to the phenomenon of absonia, it rather seems to me that the understanding was more or less rudimentary.

    The medieval scholarly imagination of being dwarfs on the shoulder of giants has often been misunderstood as a ritual celebration of modesty, in my opinion they were quite more aware of the strong borders towards Ancient Greek knowledge within the Latin language which had the function of a siever.

    So far about the knowledge and the metier of Latin cantors. But what can we say about the scholarly knowledge of philologists who are studying the cantors' manuscripts nowadays?

    What I already learnt from the beginning of Rebecca Maloy's essay, is that there is (in the footsteps of Jacobsthal) a confusion of the concept of chromaticism in modern music theory (which was developed slowly in the following centuries by the expansion of the fifth-fourth chain towards musica ficta) with those of Ancient Greek and Byzantine chant theory. As a result two different categories of changes (metabolai), the transposition of the diatonic scale (μεταβολή κατὰ τόνον) and the change of the genus (μεταβολή κατὰ γένον), as example the change from diatonic to chromatic, are not only confused medieval music theory, but as well in Maloy's discussion and analysis of vitia and absonia.

    Reading the offertory "Oravi deum meum"

    :1 reading Rebecca Maloy

    Nevertheless, in her approach to the phenomenon absonia she reproduced—possibly unvoluntarily—"on the hypothetical performance level" a kind of chromaticism based on the mesos devterosG and its finalis E, which fits well to the Greek concept of the chromatic genus:

    9126742873?profile=originalextract ex. 3 (first solo verse "Adhuc me" derived as a performance level by the reading of Pa 1121)

    This is probably the most colourful of her readings, but reading her argumentation I realized soon that I got it wrong. She took it for granted that her readers will understand that she meant a μεταβολή κατὰ τόνον, by which the pentachord of tritos (F—C in ex. 3a and 3b) can be found on E flat (E flat—F—G—a flat—b flat) in ex. 3c, after it had been transposed about one tonus. The use of the untransposed b flat makes it evident, that it is supposed to be a Guidonian F mode or phthora nana on the "written level"—a phthora nana which has its conjunct tetrachords between B flat, E flat, and a flat (systema kata triphonian). On the hypothetical performance level it was transposed from its third degree (the result is "G la mi re", if you like) at "super (sanctuarium)" (box 3 in ex. 2b). The fourth degree of the mode would be "a fa" (or a flat), if we follow another hypothesis from the written level, which is expressed by an untransposed b flat as the fourth degree of an F mode. The latter hypothesis is based on the school of William of Volpiano as a "majority" example.

    How should this odd and certainly sophisticated reading cause a need for a metabole kata tonon? The reader find the answer on page 70. The repetendumwill otherwise appear the second time (and all the following times) on its right pitch, starting on C and ending on E (the "majority version"). The "alternative version", as suggested by Rebecca Maloy, is to sing the whole offertory as on F mode not unlike the Byzantine concept of echos tritos (ambitus B flat—F—b flat, with the kyrios finalis on F). But she offers no explanation for the definite conclusion on its mesos D, which has be prepared by E (= an untransposed b natural, if B flat should be a transposition of F), while a final E cadence (transposed on D) in a tritus composition would require a further elaboration in order to switch between a tritus and a deuterus melos!

    I doubt that Byzantine psaltes would agree, that her reading has to deal with the level of performance, even if a metabole kata systema indicated by the phthora nana would lead them to sing exactly as she proposed, they would not be convinced by the final cadence on the mesos D, even if it was properly prepared by an E natural, by a metabole kata genon which switches back from the enharmonic genos of phthora nana to the diatonic echos tritos. Concerning the craftship of an Aquitanian cantor, I will discuss the plausibility of an absoniain the following section.

    While I am not so sure that the redaction of William's school was really according to a Gregorian mainstream ("majority version" vs. "alternative version"), despite the fact that he had the authority of a reformer, I am quite convinced that Rebecca Maloy's reading of Adémar is so "alternative", that only a few readers will really understand it.

    :2 reading William of Volpiano

    William's school uses b flat as a melodic attraction in preparation of a G cadence, and it is rather a surprising moment, because the elusion of a cadence on the mesosG prepares an F cadence by turning the attracted b flat into a stable degree, which has certainly no place within a phrygian melos. It is definitely not surprising in the context of the beginning, because the music finishes very late on E, when the cadence formula of the E mode appears the first time, but surprising according to its classification. Here Maloy's concept of the Carolingian era as a "pre-theoretical period" might be regarded on a performance level. According to her, theory starts with the practice, that the Carolingian intonation formulas were replaced by the precantor's intonation of the chant beginning, so its tonality had to be exposed very clearly at the beginning.

    Did the Carolingians never develop any theory? Or does their method simply not fit to the modal theory of the reader Rebecca Maloy?

    I would like to take in mind that the modal classification of William's school is certainly not mainstream, and not only in comparison with the Aquitanian school. The offertory "Oravi deum meum" is classified as "Autentus deuterus" in William's tonary. William's version was not classified as plagal, because some passages and some cadences are set on a higher degree without any transposition. But the Aquitanian school of Adémar could verify easily his classification. The intonation NOIOEANE of tonus tertius or autentus tritus in the tonary of the troper-proser Pa 1121 (see the tonaries of Limoges) finishes on D, before the neuma finds its way to the finalis E—in practice the intonation could be finished directly on E in most chant genres, but the form prolonged by a neuma fits well to a soloistic genre as the offertorium, even with a repetition of the D intonation. So the alternation between D and E cadences, which would presumably cause a change of the ison (if ison singing was practiced together with the intonations by Aquitanian and by other Carolingian cantors), was regarded as part of the phrygian melos. This concept was certainly common for a lot of local schools and the only argument to explain the finalis on E used in this offertory, while the beginning was not in conflict with an intonation on D, identified as the intonation of the phrygian mode. Indeed, the exposed use of F and C at the beginning was ambivalent, the ambitus at the beginning could be perceived as a plagal F mode, but here the later cadence on C prepares the ending one on E.

    :3 reading Adémar de Chabannes

    The distinct ambitus of Adémar's redaction did replace the C at the beginning with B. If readers do not follow Rebecca Maloy's reading, they may suppose that Adémar adapted the melos of the offertory to the Carolingian concept of the "Plaga deuteri". This would be the only explanation, because the intonation formula with neumaof the tonary in Pa 1121 (fol. 203v) rather emphasizes an ambitus descending to C, than to B. Was a tension between B natural and the prominent F already part of preparation which should finally be resolved by the late cadence on the finalis E?

    I certainly like Rebecca's argument that there might have been a reading according to the Dasia system, but Dasian signs cannot be found in any Aquitanian tonary. In a kind of Byzantine echos tritos (kyrios tritos) based on the pentachord between B flat and F would have the finalis and basis on F, certainly not the third degree on E, which is not avoided in the diatonic melos of this echos. An E flat ending would be only possible, if the phthora nana is used between a flat and E flat, but we have no evidence that Aquitanian cantors still had this echange with Greek psaltes. The very rare use of oriscus on D, and the very frequent use on E which correspond to the use of diesisin William's school, prove that the tetraphonia (B flat—F) is usually stronger than the triphonia (B flat—E flat—a flat). I will discuss the melodic attraction later as part of the ethos and character of a church tone.

    9126742888?profile=originalextract of ex. 2b (transcription of Pa 1121)

    A comparison of different sources with the edition of the Graduale triplex, the concept of Gregorian chant today, would certainly lead to further corrections of this edition as well as to corrections of Rebecca Maloy's transcriptions (I agree with her reading of Pa 1121, ex. 2b, until "intende"), but also to the conclusion that the same amount of variants as they can be found between William of Volpiano and Adémar de Chabannes will also be found within the school of Adémar (here, I like to suggest a comparison between the offertorials in Pa 1121 and 909 which you find at the top). At "populum" the scribe of Pa 1121 continued slightly too low, but a comparison with Pa 909 and the parallel transition to the repetendum at "israhel" might convince most of the readers, that "populum" in both versions should be finished on F. On the other hand, the scribe of Pa 909 continues slightly too high. The repetendum looks rather as it was supposed to start on D or E than on C. Rebecca Maloy was misled by these inconsistencies, but she definitely failed to write the epiphonus, which goes up to a third (F—a) and not F—G as in the transcription of GT (p. 335), which was probably supported by the "alternative" redaction of William's school. The edition of GT ignores clearly its own point of reference, the different redactions of Einsiedeln MS 327 ("sursum") and Laon MS 156. Nevertheless all these manuscripts have decisive variants, even within the same school of Roman-Frankish redaction.

    Absonia and vitia in the medium of written transmission

    So who is wrong? William, the first Adémar, the second Adémar, or just the musicologist who expect to find always the same version or even a "majority version" within a soloists' genre as the offertory certainly was?

    Despite all her errors I am very grateful, that Rebecca Maloy was so free to exercise this wonderful discovery of a Byzantine echos tritos which she found during her escape through the open gates of absonia. The possibility of a temporary transposition opens a wide field of interpretation, which does not make it easier to read the diastematic form of Aquitanian notation.

    The problem illustrated by absonia, might rather explain why some theorists or cantors also reacted with the verdict against the exchange the position of tonus and semitonium. Vitia (Fig. 2, 4, & 5: Illustration of a vitium in Scolica Enchiriadis) were associated by Rebecca Maloy with the concept of phthora. What she meant, was the 14th century papadikan concept which used 4 additional ''phthorai'' (according to protos, devteros, tritos, and tetartos) for the eight diatonic echoi in order to mark the exact tone on which a transposition occurs—note 23 is referred to Charles Atkinson's comparison of Musica enchiriadis (9th century) with the Papadikai (Critical Nexus, 114-120). He made no difference between "phthongus" (phthongos), a locus in the musical art of memory, and "sonus" (echos), the use of the intonation formulas (enechemata) which marked each pitch with a certain "echos" (usually translated into Latin by "sonus") as a sort of "pitch class" represented by the numerals of protos, devteros, tritos, and tetartos. For earlier sources, dating back to the 12th century, there had been the philologists' discussion of the "wrong medial signature", because earlier scribes did not use the papadikan phthorai. Today we hae Gerda Wolfram's study of the modulation signs in Paleobyzantine notation, which she found in the sticheraria of the 12th century  (Wolfram, G., 1995. "Modulationszeichen in der paläobyzantinischen Notation". In A. Doda, ed. Studi di musica bizantina in onore di Giovanni Marzi. Studi e testi musicali ; nuova ser. Lucca: Libreria musicale italiana,, S. 33–44).

    Concerning the transmission of Western plainchant, the practice of transposition (μεταβολή κατὰ τόνον) was simply not working well with diastematic neumes—the medium of written transmission which dominated the Cluniac reforms. They probably feared that even diastematic neumes would become unreadable soon.

    Maloy's confusion between metabole kata tonon with the metabole kata genon was probably not only due to Jacobsthal, but also due to his sources, because the discussion of "barbarisms and solecisms" (barbarismi et soloecismi according to "Scolica enchiriadis") was probably referring to an older Hagiopolitan concept of phthora, which was exclusively addressed to the phthorai nana (enharmonic) and nenano (chromatic). Phthorein meant "destroy" and the point of reference concerning the "destroyed" was the diatonic genus. But the Hagiopolites did not just regard these phthorai as a temporary use of "wrong pitches" caused by a metabole kata genon. They were only wrong with respect to the diatonic genus. On the other hand, they were regarded as proper modes, because like proper "echoi" they had not only its proper "melos", but also their own genus (metabole kata genon), and in a case like Maloy's reading even an own tone system (metabole kata systema).

    For Byzantinists a lecture of "Musica" and "Scolica enchiriadis" is of particular interest, because they are no contemporary sources of the Hagiopolites left. A certain Carolingian interest for the Hagiopolitan oktoechos is documented in these treatises, and behind the decision to reduce their own concept of the octoechos to a system of eight diatonic modes we find here unique traces of a reception of the enharmonic and chromatic genus, which were both excluded from Carolingian theory. The Carolingian interest was probably motivated by the transfer of certain Byzantine troparia like the antiphons for Epiphany, and Carolingian cantors were confronted by the fact, that certain chant composed in the melos of the two phthorai will no longer sound the correct way in the ears of Byzantine psaltes, when they will be sung out of the Western concept of chant transmission. At least, this was Atkinson's hypothesis.

    The difference between the Carolingian and the Hagiopolitan concept of transmission was, that only the latter which also used polemic expressions paraphrasing the acts of the octoechos reform in 692, was at least capable to integrate two additional echoi within the eight week cycle of the monastic rite.

    The use of metabolai kata tonon among Byzantine psaltai and Latin cantors

    On page 83, Rebecca Maloy wrote about certain transposition diagramms:

    I would argue, in fact, that this way of thinking about pitch makes such modulations possible.

    In Byzantine chant the use of metabole kata tononwas very limited to a small group of compositions, especially those in which the psaltes had to pass through all the modes of the oktoechos (different manuscripts never agree in every detail, they rather show an individual way of mastering common problems, it was a kind of handwriting of a certain protopsaltis and his school).

    If it was used by some cantors in Western traditions as well, these must have been very particular cases and probably in connection with the Dasia system which allowed to repeat the pentachord of a certain mode based on the fifth degree or to find the same a fifth under the finalis of the previous section. But this was simply a change of register which was also the most frequented effect which can be found in Byzantine compositions.

    They all had in common the law of "restoration", which was just the well-known rule of the labyrinth: You might go wherever you want, but at the end you have to find that door, through which you once entered the labyrinth. This main door was represented in Byzantine notation by the main signature, and its echos should finally be found again and on the same pitch, whatever were the transpositions which a singer had passed through.

    Another accidental possibility is to get lost in the labyrinth of modal knowledge. Nevertheless there are even rare examples of this accidental case, as example the sticherarion quoted by Oliver Strunk (The Tonal System of Byzantine Music, MQ 28 (1942), 202-204) for his transcription of the Doxastikon oktaechon Θεαρχίω νεύματι.

    The use of melodic attraction in the Aquitanian and Norman school

    Concerning melodic attraction I miss any comments about the use of the dieses (microtonal shifts), although a comparison between the offertorials of William's tonary and of Adémar's troper sequentiaries would through some light on Adémar's use of oriscus which is not identical in both manuscripts (Pa 1121, 909). Rebecca Maloy enter the topic very late and only in theory (p. 79), talking about the ethos (virtus) and character (vis) of a certain tonus or echos. Why? Did Adémar's use of diesesnot support her interpretation?

    In Byzantine theory, the use of microtonal shifts did not touch the position of the great, the middle, and the small tone (or tonus and semitonium according to Latin theory), so these changes were not so dramatic like the three cases of metabolai (1: kata genon, 2: kata tonon, 3: kata systema). All these changes were used by soloists or protopsaltes in more artistic chant genres, when changes of the echos were expected within the convention of certain genres and their local traditions. In comparison with this macrocosmos of these elaborated forms and their complex architecture, the echos and its meloswas the microcosmos.

    The character of a certain echos was expressed by microtonal changes to emphasize the function of mobile and fixed degrees (basis, cadential, and finalis), they appear also in the Hagiopolitan chant genres like troparion and heirmologionwhich provided the models for a certain echos, they were part of its melos.

    In Byzantine round notation, the notation of the Hagiopolites, modal signatures always referred to the Hagiopolitan oktoechos, but also neume signs of other traditions as the Constantinopolitan cathedral rite (its books asmatikon, psaltikon, and kontakarion) and the older monastic tradition of the book sticherarion could be integrated. This happened since the late 13th century, when a mixed rite was created by the school of Ioannes Glykys and Ioannes Koukouzeles, which used Byzantine round notation for their revised editions. In 2000 Maria Alexandru argued in her dissertation against the distinction between Middle and Late Byzantine notation, because the reform of the papadikan school created nothing new, it rather mixed the great signs taken from different local traditions, their books and their notation systems, and in the manual of papadike all these signs were taught in one didactic chant (mathema) "Mega ison", regardless of its origin. The level of written transmission was always separated by the method of doing the thesis of the melos, so the modal patterns of a local school belonged to the level of performance. Round notation was stenographic. But the practice of a new method called "psaltic art" which was taken from the psaltic style of the cathedral rite, existed now beyond the methods of other chant genres and their local traditions. It was called kalophonia and adapted the traditional forms as a heirmologic ode or a sticheronto a psaltic form.

    The papadikan solfeggio (parallage) offer a key, because each pitch memorized as phthongos was marked by an enechemaand its echos (= its melos and its ethos) taken from the Hagiopolitan oktoechos: πλ α, β, γ, δ, α (here translated re, mi, fa, sol) were on the side of the microcosmos degrees of a certain mode (the protos pentachord in this case) like any solfeggio today, but on the side of the macrocosmos five ἦχοι, represented by their intonations "aneanes" (ἀνὲ ἄνες = plagios protos), "neanes" (νὲ ἄνες = devteros), "aneanes" (ἀνὲ ἄνες = tritos), "agia" (ἅγια = tetartos), "ananeanes" (ἀνανὲ ἄνες = protos).

    Florid organum used by cantors associated with Cluny since the 12th century, was very similar to the Byzantine practice to kalophonia of the late 13th century, but there never was a theoretical reflection concerning the change to another tonus, when a distinctio or membrumof the cantus was finished by a perfect concordance on the second or third degree of the mode. But what did happen, when a precantor of the early 11th century was performing a monodic form like an offertory? We can imagine the big trouble to describe their practice properly with the primitive tools that Carolingian music treatises offer us. This was the high price, that Frankish cantors had to pay, after they had to manage the transfer of the Roman rite (a repertory ten times larger than the Byzantine rite according to Walter Frère's evaluation of mass chant).

    John of Afflighem like some other authors—of the alia musica compilation and of the Lyon treatise—used the Ancient Greek names related to the tetrachord structure of the systema teleion as names for the phthongoi without any reference to its function within a certain mode, while the Dasia system had still conservated the modal numerals "protus, deuterus, tritus," and "tetrardus", here the tetracords referred to the finales of the diatonic octoechos (copulatio sonorum). The term absonia derives from sonusandit was presumably used for a transposition as illustrated in fig. 4 & 5. The chromatic and enharmonic division of the Boethian diagram served as an explanation to teach the ethos of a certain tonus.

    William of Volpiano did not confuse in his letter system the level of the macrocosmos with that of the microcosmos. He used Latin letters for the diatonic phthongoi, but tyronic letters for the dieses used within a certain melos, its genus, and its tone system. It was a system used to teach the laws of attraction, without changing the position of the tone system. Nevertheless the offertorial of his fully notated tonary offers everything in the very detail, we have no further verbal descriptions. The Aquitanian cantor Adémar de Chabannes did the same, but in his systems the pitch is indicated by its vertical position, and ornamental signs like the oriscus might sometimes be used in an analogue way to the tyronic letters in William's manuscript. Rebecca Maloys absonic interpretation of his system helps to understand, how weak his system was in front of the practice of the metabole kata tononknown in several chant traditions, despite of the fact that it had much more influence on music history, whereas William's letter notation was never used outside his school in Normandy and Burgundy.

    If we would like to describe the melos written down with neumes and letters in his tonary, there are just two options left. If we would like to describe a complex offertory as "Oravi deum meum" or "Confirma hoc", we can decide, if we prefer to operate with simple modal patterns as in the Hagiopolitan oktoechos, we will describe the offertory as a kalophonic elaboration of this model, in which some cadences have grown out as a change to another tonus and its ethos. Or we rather describe one tonus as it was classified by the tonary, but in a very elaborated form and separated from other more simple chant genres. This is the job of a well skilled soloist and two of them might come to different modal classifications.

    In this difficult situation, Guido of Arezzo made his revolution with another radical simplification in which a transposition is no longer a metabole kata tonon, but a mutation of the same hexachord, but I doubt that his system offer us the tools to solve the problems of the two generations between William and Adémar. It was Guido of Arezzo who made scholars of musicology and medieval studies until today looking like the dwarfs which have lost any further knowledge to understand, how ignorant they are. When the new born state Turkey adapted the didactic methods of the Conservatoire de Paris in their recently founded conservatories, the French school of solfège became soon the laughing stock of musicians and students. We need Rebecca's courage to understand, how funny these dwarfs are, and then we will understand, what is her point of reference when she uses the word "pre-theoretical".

    Methodological changes in medieval studies and the end of Gregorian historiography

    With the "friends of Rebecca" (as you liked to call them) I already enjoyed vivid and inspiring exchanges. Some of them finished, after I had tried to encourage them that they base their fascinating discoveries on a methodology, which does not prove as deficient during the discussion of their issues. I can only imagine why, but it was probably, because they feared the radical consequences of their own thoughts. If you are curious about them, I advice to read the summary that John Caldwell's review offer on its first pages.

    John Caldwell also criticised Rebecca Maloy's characterization of Old Roman chant as "formulaic" (chapter 3 of her book "Inside the offertory"), because formulas were used to communicate transitions. These modal patterns were mainly cadences and openings like the intonations which were fundamental for all monodic traditions. I understand that she tried to fill a well-known stereotype since Bruno Stäblein with some concrete meaning which she did quite well. But the discussion is less a characterization of the Old Roman or Milanese in front of the Roman-Frankish sources, it is rather a discussion of how written transmission has changed oral tradition by fully notated chant manuscripts since the 10th century and by tonaries since the 8th century—so mainly a discussion of the Frankish reception of Roman chant since the Carolingian reform, and then the question how later scribes from other local traditions dealt with the common experience with notation and expectations around them.

    Rebecca Maloy's description of formulaic communication with Old Roman chant might be compared with the fresh formulaic communication in florid organum, while the interaction with notation had caused that the communication of the reform tradition was frozen and had to be changed consciously and constantly. So instead of regarding the Old Roman version as an ornamentation of the Frankish version (which turns a river into a source), it is rather reasonable to fix less on the Roman Frankish comparison, but to analyse the different habits of later scribes who might prefer a less rigid and a less detailed transcription of the local oral tradition. All scribes who were usually cantors, have certainly one interest in common: the documentation and conservation of their own local habits in as much as it was possible within a certain reform. Without any doubts the history of reforms is strongly connected with political and church history, and it has caused erosions on the soundscape of local traditions. On the other hand, the cantor's competence of reading and notating was always related to the experience, how to deal with these interventions called "reform". Notation was much more than just the medium of a chant reform.

    J'ai pensé de vous faire profiter de mes notes pour une conférence donnée à Kalamazoo sur le sujet des bémols et des absonia dans le chant ROM. Les e…
  • I am very happy that you keep going discussions in this silent group. But also here I think that this contribution is worth to open another discussion, because there is a lot to discuss about this relationship.

    Similarities between Old Roman Melodies and Mele of the Hagiopolitan Oktoechos
    Neil Moran wrote: One would assume that Atkinson’s The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music would be the study whi…
  • One would assume that Atkinson’s The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Medieval Music would be the study which one would consult regarding the role of John Damascene in the development of the Church modes.  Musicologists dealing with Eastern chant attribute to him the organization of the Oktoechos, a liturgical book containing sets of hymns for each of the eight modes .  Atkinson however does not even mention him but rather, referring to M. Haas, states “one should be extremely cautious in 'backdating' the origins of the Byzantine oktoechos” .  The statement is symptomatic of the approach that researchers on Gregorian chant take in dealing with so-called Byzantine influences.  Yes, the Eastern origin of the church modes cannot be denied but it was supposedly only in the West that the full potential of the system of the eight modes was realized.  Hence Atkinson’s “that medial signatures or other modulatory signs are not found in Western manuscripts, however, is rather telling evidence against an immediate translation of Byzantine practice” and “the likelihood that the Western practice was taken over from the East seems a bit remote” (cf. his parapteres study).   One would appreciate a simple acknowledgement from Gregorian scholars that the system of 8 church modes in use in at the time of John of Damascus (c. 676 – 749) is compatible with the 8 church modes of Gregorian chant.  Once that is established perhaps it might be possible to proceed to a recognition of the numerous instances of Byzantine melodies transmitted in Old Roman chants on the same texts as well as the recognition of the close connection that exists between the Latin modi mesi and the Greek echoi mesoi.


  • This is another discussion which has nothing to do with Old Roman chant and its reception in France. I put it now into the Byzantine group. Please follow this link.

    You will know the best, but don't be too shy. Usually I profitted a lot to improve my own articles by discussions here. Please take in mind: Now you might change something, when I will write a recension, it is too late for changes;)



    The earliest sources of the hymn repertory in the book Great Oktoechos
    Neil Moran wrote: Incidentally Svetlana Kumjudjieva mentioned that Troelsgard recently presented many sources dating from the 4th/5th centuries on wi…
  • Re: papyrus music mss cf. Christian Troelsgård, University of Copenhagen, ‘A New Source for the Early Octoechos? Papyrus Vindobonensis G 19.934 and its musical implications’, in: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of the ASBMH (2007), p. 668.  Abstract: On the basis of palaeographical analysis, the first editors, Kurt Treu and Johannes Diethart, dated the hymnological codex Pap. Vind. G 19.934 to the sixth century. Enough modal ascriptions are found in this fragmentary source to make an analysis of its musical structure and to compare it with other early sources for the Octoechos system.

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